FanPost

Will history be made in 2013?

It is time for my annual prediction for overall Nationals 2013 win total and a few additional predictions for individual players. I was an outlier compared to the consensus for my prediction for both 2011 (81 wins predicted vs. 80 actual in a shortened 161 game season) and 2012 (93 wins vs., 98 actual). I was not purposely trying to make an outlandish prediction for the past two years. The personnel improvement, including an additional year of experience for a very young team, justified a vast improvement year to year, in my opinion. At the end of this narrative I provide a table of all the predictions and outcomes made at this time last year. First, what will happen in the 2013 season?

Concerns

  1. Compared to 2012 the offensive replacement of Morse by Span is a negative. But Span's better foot speed along with the defensive improvement mostly mitigates this.
  2. Will Dan Haren, coming off recent injuries at an advanced age, be as good as Jackson was in 2012?
  3. Will Wilson Ramos recover completely this year or even ever?
  4. How much, if at all, will the LaRoche offensive production drop off from a stellar 2012?
  5. Will we still be hoping for an Espinosa breakout after 2013 is finished?
  6. Will the Nats improve their small ball techniques, especially their bunting skills?

Improvements

  1. Susuki will be a Nat for a full year in 2013, giving the Nats one of the best catching tandems, assuming Ramos does fully recover.
  2. Harper will be contributing from the start, and with nearly a full year of MLB experience behind him, may be an offensive ‘wrecking ball' in 2013.
  3. Zim. will likely have a much better start now that he has had surgical repair in the off-season.
  4. The stellar starting pitching staff, with four young guys, will have another year of experience. Also, Stras. and J.Zimm. are one more year removed from TJ surgery. And, of course, Stras. will not have an innings limit.
  5. The bullpen has added Soriano, and along with Garcia (if healthy), will improve the already above average bullpen.

Putting it all together

Unless the starting staff suffers lengthy, multiple lose of starts, this team is configured to dominate. Without citing a lot of metrics, which I will leave to others, here is how I rate the Nats in the various categories:

  1. Starting eight offensively: Maybe not the best in the NL, but darn close. Except possibly at 2B, the lineup has few weaknesses, and is going to give the opposing pitchers fits. If Harper moves to stardom this year, Zim. is physically fully back (another Silver Slugger award in 2013?), and the others have similar production as in 2012, then there is more than enough fire power to win most games even when the pitching staff gives up 5 or more runs. Except for Span, the other seven positions may contribute more than 20 HRs each. I rate overall team speed as average.
  2. Starting eight defensively: Perhaps the best infield in the NL, assuming Espy is the regular 2B, and a healthy Zim. is back to Gold Glove Zim. The outfield is good, probably somewhat above average, but not great.
  3. Starting pitching: Simply the best in all of MLB, even if Haren falters. If needed, he could be replaced by using Garcia plus Stammen for 6-7 innings, then bringing in the bullpen.
  4. Relief pitching: With Soriano added to Storen and Clippard on the short relief side and a good group of middle to long relief guys (Stammen, Garcia, Matheus, and Duke), needed when the starters get roughed up early, this is also a best or near best group in the NL.
  5. Bench: With one of the best backup catchers (Susuki or Ramos), pinch hitter with power (Tracy), and utility infielders (Lombo), plus more power off the bench (Moore), and good outfield defense with speed (Bernie), the Nats enter 2013 with the best or near best bench group in the NL.
  6. Intangibles: The Nats have good chemistry and team players that contribute to the total being more than the sum of the parts, a manager who led them to 98 wins in 2012 despite a plethora of early season injuries and who has been successful with each team he has managed, a good group of veteran leaders (Werth, Zim., Span, and LaRoche) to mentor the youngsters , and a fire in the belly attitude that I believe exists following the Game 5 disappointment. In sum, another plus for success.

Team Prediction

This team is very talented in every category, except perhaps in overall team speed. If the starting eight position players had to be replaced by the next best players at each position from the organization, the resulting team, including the current pitching staff, would still be better than several other teams. Though they are a bit weak in small ball basics (too many strikeouts and poor bunting skills), the Nationals can win most of the lower scoring games and also out slug the opposition in high scoring games. The strong bench helps insure that the normal quota of injuries should not be fatal. If the injuries are significant they will likely still win 95 games. If not, then 105 wins is quite possible. My specific prediction is 100 wins. The difference between 95 wins and 100 wins may come down to the head-to-head games against the Braves.

Some Individual Predictions

1. I like Cole Kimball. It may be hard for him to make the team due to the number of talented pitchers in camp, but I can't help but feel Kimball will be a factor at least next year, if not this year.

2. Rendon is going to rake in the high minors and may be in the majors for good starting in September. If Zim gets hurt for an extended period Rendon may be on the big club sooner.

3. Jordan Zimmermann will be the Nationals best starting pitcher in 2013.

4. Harper will be a dominant offensive force in 2013.

5. Zim. will win the Silver Slugger at 3B.

Verification of March, 2012 predictions made and published in FanPost

Prediction

Outcome

Comments

Nats to win 93 games

98 games

Given the prev. year of 80 wins and the 2012 horrible ST record when this prediction was made: the grade on this is: Excellent

93 win prediction predicated on at least 2 of these occurring:

  1. Aquire an OFer by trade
  2. Harper is called up and hits 25+ HR, 70+ RBIs, & .280 BA
  3. Young guys (Ramos, Desmond, Espy, & Bernie increase OBP by 30 pts. and decrease SO by 20 %.
  4. Werth has a stellar year, meeting his average year with Philly.
  5. LaRoche surprises by playing a full season with 25+ HRs, 75+ RBIs, and .270 BA

  1. Did not happen
  2. Yes
  3. Desmond yes, others not so much.
  4. Injury limited his OF totals, but he was clearly back to form in late season, except power.
  5. Yes

2 of 5 did happen

Surprise players for 2012:

  1. HRod
  2. Lombo will have a sig, contrib.
  3. Burnett will be trusted again after several meltdowns in 2012

  1. Prediction looked good in early season, but HRod then self-destructed.
  2. Yes
  3. Yes

  1. Perhaps he was not entirely healthy and HRod can still contribute in the future
  2. I want him to be given a chance to replace Espy
  3. He will be missed, but hopefully replaced by Soriano, Garcia, or Duke.

Other predictions:

  1. Stras. will win ERA
  2. Stras., Gio, & J. Zimm will all be in top 15 in ERA
  3. Morse will rake
  1. He was 15th (3.16)
  2. Yes
  3. Injuries limited OF production, but he was still a force when in lineup

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