Annual predictions for Nationals (A 2013 do over?)

Verification of last seasons predictions, made before the 2013 season started

In three words, the predictions overall were "not so good". Sorry about the formatting--pasting from Word does not preserve the formatting. A summary follows:

Verification of March, 2013 predictions made and published in FanPost




Team wins: 100

86 wins

Assign myself a C grade

Individual predictions:

1. Cole Kimball will contribute by the end of the season

2. Rendon will perform well in high minors & contribute on or before Sept.

3. J. Zimm will be the Nats best starting pitcher

4. Harper will be a dominant offensive force.

5. Zim will win the silver slugger again at 3B

1. Did not happen

2. Rendon called up in June

3. In some ways he was, in others 2nd to Stras.

4. Due to early season injuries, we will never find out.

5. I thought he was healthy for the start. Just using the last portion of the season this prediction looked a whole lot better.

1. Failing grade, he never recovered to form following injury

2. A grade. Espi offensive collapse accelerated Rendon promotion

3. B+ grade. I got a lot of push back for this one, so I will take a bow.

4. Failing grade, but I have a good excuse.

5. . C grade.

Concerns voiced:

1. Span replacing Morse

2. Dan Haren replacing Jackson

3. Ramos recovery from injury

4. Drop off in LaRoche offensively.

5. Espinosa not improving offensively.

6. Nats not improving small ball techniques

1. In the end, this worked out.

2. Haren not so good overall.

3. Not sure since early season new injury interceded.

4. Sig. drop off in run production

5. Espi offensive collapse

6. Vague concern; subjectively bunting, productive outs, base running & stealing overall not improved

1. Concern unwarranted.

2. Concern warranted.

3. Concern warranted.

4. Concern warranted.

5. Concern warranted.

6. Concern warranted.

Predictions for 2014

Top ten best reasons (in inverse order) for Nationals improvement from 2013 to 2014

10. Having the flexibility of using Zim at first base to spell LaRoche if he is injured, ineffective, or just needs a day off (against tough lefty pitchers), which allows for Espi to play, if he looks to be the 2012 Espi (and will be batting right handed).

9. Having the new Span, who presumably figured things out in the second half of 2013, for the full season.

8. The Nationals have a new, energetic manager, so I expect a positive effect from this alone. No elaboration here-this has already been aired sufficiently.

7. After an unexpectedly poor year for the offensive side of the bench, I expect a bounce back in the numbers coming from the continuing and new personnel in that role: McClouth, Hairston (not so hopeful), Moore, and Espinosa (trying to be hopeful that he can outperform what Lombo would have done).

6. Zim has a healthy shoulder to start the season.

5. Having a more experienced Rendon for the whole season.

4. Detwiller in the pen improves the pitching staff overall.

3. The odds of Ramos having a third straight year with a significant early season injury is small.

2. Harper should have a stronger knee and has one more year of experience.

1. Adding Fister to the starting rotation. This is a big one.

Principle concerns that could materially affect the win-loss record negatively:

1. Injuries, injuries, injuries. Obvious, but it must be stated. Specifically, I worry most about losing a starting pitcher, esp. if two should go down for a month or more for each. Second, losing for an extended time, or the diminishing of, either Zim or Harper.

2. Further regression of LaRoche offensively.

3. Soriano. He seems to be slowly regressing. It would not be surprising if the closer role is moved to someone else by mid-season.

4. Infield defense. It could be above average, but it is not certain given questions about Zim and Rendon, especially.

Team Prediction

Last year I predicted 100 wins since I thought there were reasons to believe the Nationals would be at least as good as they were in 2012, due to probable less important injuries, improved health for those recuperating from 2012 injury, and an additional year of experience for the already talented young players. Well, in 2013 there were still a lot of important injuries to key players, lingering problems for others, and a surprisingly weak bench. I have already stated ten reasons for improvement in 2014. If, as expected, the starting staff is top three in NL, the relief staff is top five, the offense is top five, and the defense is top half then they should have a very good year, barring the unexpected. So I am sticking with the 100 win prediction. I will be in shock if the win total is less than 95, unless the injury list is such as listed above under concerns. In my quite moments I can see 105 wins with a bit of good fortune, such as the starting eight plus the five starting pitchers being mainly healthy, and 8 of the 10 reasons for improvement bearing fruit. I expect the Nationals to be on top of the division before the end of May and leave the Braves in the dust by the end of July. Garrett Hooe's position by position ranking, released thus far for the NL East, is consistent with a division win for the Nationals.

Selected individual predictions

1. Breakout year for Strasburg, especially for the win-loss record. 18 wins minimum, and good stats. otherwise.

2. Rendon may not reach a .300 BA, but will reach .280 .

3. Zim will win Silver Slugger.

4. Det will become a great asset in the pen, and will remain as a relief pitcher the rest of his career.

5. Harper will have a breakout year, after a slow start, and reach 30 HRs and a .280 BA.

6. Garcia will be an important part of a stellar bullpen later in the season, after recall.

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