(ed. note - "The following is reprinted with the permission of the author from a post on www.fantasybaseballgenerals.com by writer Mike Podhorzer, who emailed federalbaseball.com suggesting that some Nationals' fans might be interested in a recent piece he wrote entitled, "Five Players -- Da Nats", from a series of articles that takes a close look at Five Players from each MLB team and then suggests each players' potential fantasy value. Let Mike Podhorzer know what you think in the Comments section below." - e chigliak)
by Mike Podhorzer
Five players from the Washington Nationals.
And alas, we finish up the Five Player series. It's been a fun trip, and I thank Patrick for allowing me to write the last 8 or so entries. If nothing else, the Nationals are interesting this year as they move into a new ballpark. Everyone seems to agree it will be closer to neutral, rather than the hitter's hell RFK was. Of course, no one will really know how it plays until we get a full season in the books at the very least.
Lastings Millege How can I not start this entry with his name at the top? It seems the hype has increased by the day, with PECOTA leading the charge. He has a lifetime .860 OPS in the minors, he takes a walk, has decent power, and has good speed. He needs to improve his base stealing, however, as he was only successful 68% of the time in his minors career. Manny Acta seems like a sabermetric-type manager with many of his quotes, and is willing to give Milledge the green light if he could succeed 75% on his stolen base attempts. Hitting 2nd in the Nationals lineup, and with no playing time issues, I think there's a big range of what he could do this year. I could see batting averages anywhere from .270-.300, 15-20 HRs, 140-160 RBIS+RUNs and 10-30 steals. The SBs are the wildcard as he obviously has speed, so it's all a matter of how willing he is to steal and if he could succeed enough to keep the green light. I own him in several leagues, all drafted rather late and for $6 in my 12-team mixed, auction league. I am quite excited to see how he performs.
Austin Kearns No one may be more excited to leave RFK than Kearns. Last year he had an .832 OPS away, but only a dismal .695 OPS at home. His PX plummeted to below 100, but he increased his contact rate to over 80% for the first time in his career. We've always known about his potential, from the time he was considered a better prospect than Adam Dunn, to his scorching MLB debut. He's still only going to be 27, so he's young enough to have that big breakout year we expected years ago. Getting out of RFK is as good a chance as any to show us WHY he was supposed to be better than Dunn. If you can draft him at a price based off last year's stats, he could end up being a steal.
Jason Bergmann I'm not much of a fan of his. He's an extreme flyball pitcher, allowing 50% of his balls in play in the air last year, and has had walk rates consistently over 3, which isn't bad, but that just means all the HRs he'll give up will be 2 or 3-run shots. His strikeout rate is above average, making it his only real skill, albeit the best skill to own. I can't see an ERA much better than the mid-4's, with a 1.35+ WHIP. Fun Fact: He went to my high school (Manalapan High School in NJ) and graduated a year before me.
Chad Cordero He's another closer to avoid. His skills are very mediocre, being a flyball pitcher with an increasing walk rate and a strikeout rate that has been up and down. His xERA was 4.45 last year and the high 3's the previous 2 years. The other worry is that the Nats finally trade him mid-season, as they've been speculated to have done for eternity it seems. It depends on his destination of course, but only a contending team would trade for a closer I'd think, so he'd most likely move into middle relief, killing his value.
Chris Marrero The Nats have a pretty poor farm system, with Marrero being their consensus #1 prospect. Only 18 last year in single-A, he posted an impressive .822 OPS, with 23 HRs in 477 ABs and a .209 ISO. Marrero doesn't exactly have a position right now, having played left field last year and expected to be moved to 1st this year. His strikeouts weren't too much of a problem given the power he showed, as he posted a respectable 79% contact rate. He also took a walk at an 8.8% clip, not too bad for an 18 year old. He's still so young, so if he continues to progress, it's possible he becomes a star. But if he's moved to 1st, it will obviously be hard for him to stand out from the pack offensively.