Fantasy Baseball Draft 2014: Team Preview - Washington Nationals
Jason's Fantasy Baseball Analysis: Team Preview - Washington Nationals
March 4, 2014
Team Previews - Washington Nationals
The Nationals are considered to be one of the favorites from the NL to make the World Series, and as such, they are loaded with fantasy talent. The strength of this team is their pitching, and depending on who earns the right to be their fifth starter, every pitcher in their starting rotation could make fantasy rosters. The Nationals offense also has several big names and none bigger than Bryce Harper. Harper is considered to be one of the best young talents in the game, but he has yet to put together a full and healthy season. Harper is entering his third year as a big leaguer and 2014 could be the year when he puts it all together.
Can't Miss Picks: Ryan Zimmerman has started to fade off the fantasy radar over the last few seasons, but his numbers have been very consistent over the course of his career. Zimmerman is not a flashy player, but he is a very solid fantasy asset. Fantasy owners who take Zimmerman can lock him in for 25+ homers, 80+ runs, 80+ RBI, and a .280+ batting average. Those are good numbers to get from a 5th or 6th round pick, and Zimmerman, who is actually still in the prime of his career, should have another solid season for the Nationals.
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Sleepers and Value Picks: Jayson Werth has become an injury risk over the last few seasons, but he was stellar when he got back on the field last year. It appears Werth's fantasy value is being driven down by his injuries and the memories of his poor 2011 season. Werth hit for the best average in his career last year with a .318 clip, and that should not be too surprising since he hit .300 in 2012, and he hit .296 in 2010. If not for his terrible .232 average in 2011, fantasy owners would feel more comfortable drafting Werth this season. Werth is being drafted outside the top 25 outfielders, but he is more than capable of ending the season as a top 20 fantasy outfielder.
Breakouts: Bryce Harper is already a household name in the fantasy sports world, but he has yet to have a breakout season like MIke Trout or even Yasiel Puig. Harper suffered some injuries last season due to the fact he plays very hard, and he should be able to overcome that this season. If Harper is healthy for the full season and plays in 150+ games, he should be able to produce the type of numbers that could make him a first round pick in the 2015 fantasy drafts.
Busts: Rafael Soriano did a nice job collecting saves last year, but his velocity and strikeout rates decreased. The loss of power for Soriano is a real concern for fantasy owners, especially since the Nationals have strong arms waiting in their bullpen. Soriano's ERA also jumped nearly a run from 2012 when he was with the Yankees (2.26 ERA) to 2013 his first year with the Nationals (3.11 ERA). Those numbers are usually reversed when a pitcher leaves the American League for the National League. There is risk around drafting Soriano this season, and fantasy owners shouldn't be in a hurry to draft him.
Bounce Back Candidates: There are not too many players that fit the description to be a bounce back player on the Nationals roster, therefore, Adam LaRoche is the player to discuss in this section. While it is hard to recommend drafting LaRoche since he is such an inconsistent hitter, it is reasonable to believe that he will improve his .232 batting average from last season. LaRoche should get closer to his .264 career batting average in 2014 and if the Nationals offense can get going from the beginning, there is a chance LaRoche could hit the 100 RBI mark for the third time in his career. Since the first base position is so deep, LaRoche will go undrafted in most leagues, but if he gets hot in April, he would make a great trade option in May.
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