The Nationals accomplished their first mission on Tuesday night in Atlanta when they clinched the NL East. While the main thing that the Nats will be trying to do over the final week and a half is lock up the best record in the National League, there are also a few key questions that need to be answered regarding the postseason roster.
Today we're going to focus on the question of which position players should make the roster. For the purposes of this exercise, we're going to assume that the Nats will go with a four man rotation and eight man bullpen. This will leave thirteen roster spots for position players.
- Wilson Ramos
- Adam LaRoche
- Asdrubal Cabrera
- Anthony Rendon
- Ian Desmond
- Bryce Harper
- Denard Span
- Jayson Werth
- Jose Lobaton
- Danny Espinosa
- Kevin Frandsen
- (If he can avoid a setback) Ryan Zimmerman
- Up for grabs
- Lobaton is the backup catcher. It's pretty much non-negotiable that they carry a backup catcher, and he clearly gets the spot over Leon. He's an obvious choice.
- Espinosa provides a fine right-handed bat off the bench while being the only player that can provide a backup at both middle infield positions. Just don't let him face a right-handed pitcher. He's also capable of providing a boost as a pinch-runner. His defense alone makes him an obvious choice.
- I've never been Frandsen's biggest supporter. He's been the go to bat off the bench for the Nationals. In terms of his seasonal numbers (.262/.302/.317, 1 HR, 0 SB) that's not saying a whole lot. Frandsen does at least have some recent production on his side, having hit .313/.318/.359 since the break (one walk?). Frandsen is a natural 2b whose bat has never been strong enough for him to become a big league regular. As such, he's learned to fake 1b, 3b, and LF. He doesn't really provide any positive defensive value. He's a glue guy who brings the old "veteran presence." While I kind of felt dirty typing that last sentence, he's a shoo-in to make the postseason roster.
Status Quo Option #1: Scott Hairston
- He hasn't performed well in the one area where he's supposed to perform well (crushing LHP)
- The Nats figure to be carrying Espinosa and Frandsen, who are much better against LHP themselves
- Hairston actually carries a significant amount of negative defensive value
Status Quo #2: Nate Schierholtz
- Yes, he does bat left-handed. He doesn't really have much of a platoon split one way or the other. He actually has a slightly higher (.003 in each) career batting average and on-base percentage against LHP. He does hit for quite a bit more power against RHP (.165 ISO vs. RHP, .093 vs. LHP).
- He has an above average glove as a corner outfielder.
Let's try and find some more exciting options
- The Red Sox carried Xander Bogaerts on their postseason roster despite not making his big league debut until August 20 last season. Bogaerts took over as a starter in the World Series. While he wasn't particularly effective offensively (.238/.261/.333), he contributed to their winning effort.
- The 2012 Giants got solid postseason contributions from Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford, each of whom were in their first full season as starters.
- Allen Craig had a combined 443 PA between the 2010 and 2011 regular season for the Cardinals. He would end up getting 47 PA during St. Louis' 2011 World Series run, hitting 4 HR between the NLCS and the World Series.
- Buster Posey hit .288/.354/.390 in the 2010 postseason as a rookie when the Giants won the World Series.