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Federal Baseball staff predictions for the Washington Nationals 2019 season

As we get ready for another season, it’s time to unveil our preseason predictions for the Washington Nationals, which we’re sure will all be 100% correct.

MLB: Spring Training-St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

It’s that time of year when baseball writers across the country make predictions about the upcoming season that will no doubt come back to haunt them. We’re no different at FBB as we make predictions about the 2019 season for the Washington Nationals.

Following a disappointing 2018, the Nats have successfully built a team that has a great chance to return to the top of the National League East.

First, let’s look at who will be taking part in these predictions before we dive into the questions and predictions from our esteemed writing crew.

The Participants

  • Patrick Reddington - Our overlord editor-in-chief and FBB stalwart
  • Will Kubzansky - Tapper of wires, eternal pessimist
  • Matt Weyrich - In his third season, almost at arbitration
  • Blake Finney - The guy whose predictions you need to read in a British accent

Who will lead the team in home runs? How many?

  • Patrick - Juan Soto, 30
  • Will - Yan Gomes, 31
  • Matt - Juan Soto, 33
  • Blake - Juan Soto, 37

Though most of us hopped on the Soto bandwagon, there’s no clear-cut candidate following the departure of you-know-who. There’s a case for a few players, including Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, Brian Dozier, and even Yan Gomes, who Will has boldly predicted here.

Who will lead the team in SBs? How many?

  • Patrick - Trea Turner, 50
  • Will - Trea Turner, 53
  • Matt - Trea Turner, 50
  • Blake - Trea Turner, 52

Looks like we were all on the same page for this one as we all picked within 3 steals of each other. The only other player worth considering here was Victor Robles, but we’ve all gone for the safe and likely correct choice in Trea Turner.

How many saves will Sean Doolittle record?

  • Patrick - 30
  • Will - 29
  • Matt - 39
  • Blake - 40

So we’re split down the middle here. Patrick and Will are both on the lower end, perhaps wary of another injury or Trevor Rosenthal sniping some saves. However, Matt and I both believe he’ll be back to his dominant best in the ninth inning for the Nats.

Which non-Scherzer pitcher will lead the team in wins? How many?

  • Patrick - Patrick Corbin, 15
  • Will - Stephen Strasburg, 11
  • Matt - Stephen Strasburg, 16
  • Blake - Patrick Corbin, 15

Thought it would be too easy to include Scherzer in this, so we had to pick from the rest of the field to lead the team in wins. Again, we were split between Strasburg and Corbin who help form one of the best 2-3 combinations in the league. Will was a little low on his total, likely assuming injury and regression for a lot of the rotation.

When will Carter Kieboom make his MLB debut? If at all?

  • Patrick - September
  • Will - Probably no debut — a September cup of coffee, at most.
  • Matt - June 24th
  • Blake - September 4th - 2 days after AAA season finishes

After an impressive spring, Carter Kieboom is knocking on the door of the major leagues. But it looks likely he’ll have to wait until September to get a cup of coffee with Brian Dozier locking down second base. Matt has him making his debut midseason, perhaps if someone in the infield suffers an injury, requiring Kieboom to fill in for a while.

Will Anthony Rendon sign an extension? If so, when and how much?

  • Patrick - Rendon signs in May and gets a six-year, $180 million deal
  • Will - I don’t think it’ll get done
  • Matt - No, he becomes a free agent
  • Blake - They lock him up on May 9th to a six-year, $170 million deal with a team option.

Could the Nationals have two homegrown stars test free agency in two straight offseasons? Well, Matt and Will both think Rendon makes it there, providing another roller coaster of emotion for Nats fans. Mike Rizzo seems confident something will get done eventually, something he didn’t have with Harper, so Patrick and I think they can make it work.

Name the Nationals’ 2019 All-Stars

  • Patrick - Max Scherzer, Yan Gomes; Juan Soto
  • Will - Juan Soto, Anthony Rendon, Max Scherzer
  • Matt - Max Scherzer, Anthony Rendon, Trea Turner, Juan Soto
  • Blake - Max Scherzer, Juan Soto, Sean Doolittle, Trea Turner

This question was trickier than you may think. Scherzer is likely the only lock, and Soto isn’t far off, and we all picked the pair to represent the Nats. Turner and Rendon get a pair of selections here, after they were borderline candidates last year. Gomes and Doolittle are outside candidates after they got the nod last year, so a repeat isn’t out of the question.

Will any Nationals win any end of season awards? If so, who and what?

  • Patrick - Victor Robles RoY
  • Will - Nope. Victor Robles will come in second for RoY, though.
  • Matt - Brian Dozier Comeback Player of the Year
  • Blake - Max Scherzer - Cy Young, Juan Soto - Silver Slugger, Victor Robles - RoY

Another tough question for us and it got the most mixed response. Most of us seem to think Robles has a great chance at Rookie of the Year, then I appear to be more optimistic with Scherzer and Soto taking home hardware. Matt’s shout for Dozier and Comeback Player of the Year is a good under-the-radar pick.

How many wins will the Nationals have?

  • Patrick - 92
  • Will - 92
  • Matt - 93
  • Blake - 90

Now we get to the important section as we predict how the Nats’ season ends. We’re all pretty close on this prediction and agree that the Nationals will be right up there this year. But with four teams aiming to compete in the NL East this year, it caps the potential win total somewhat, meaning mid-to-low 90s seems like a good bet.

What will the final NL East standings be? (Wildcard marked with a *)

  • Patrick - 1) Nationals 2) Phillies 3) Mets 4) Braves 5) Marlins
  • Will - 1) Nationals 2) Phillies* 3) Braves 4) Mets 5) Marlins
  • Matt - 1) Nationals 2) Phillies* 3) Braves 4) Mets 5) Marlins
  • Blake - 1) Phillies 2) Nationals* 3) Braves 4) Mets 5) Marlins

In a hugely competitive NL East, predicting the standings is no mean feat. Three of us pick the Nats to get back on top of the division despite the loss of Bryce Harper. While I’m the only one picking the Phillies, three of us did have both the Phillies and Nats making the postseason in what should be a thrilling NL East race.

How will the Nationals season end?

  • Patrick - NLCS Loss
  • Will - NLDS loss. Things do not change. They never will.
  • Matt - NLCS Loss
  • Blake - NLCS Loss to the Brewers

I give you permission to boo Will in the comments section. If the Nats make it out of the NL East, then they could be poised for a deep postseason run. However, the senior circuit still has plenty of talented teams that could leave the Nats’ licking their October wounds yet again.

One bold prediction not covered by the above questions...

  • Patrick - Stephen Strasburg will make 30 starts for the first time since 2014...
  • Will - Patrick Corbin won’t be worth the money. He’ll put up a mid-to-high 3s ERA and will struggle to pitch deep into games.
  • Matt - Juan Soto finishes higher in MVP voting than Bryce Harper
  • Blake - Nationals lead MLB in Catcher WAR (bWAR or fWAR, take your pick)

Finally, we give ourselves a chance to be very wrong with some bold predictions. Matt’s isn’t overly bold, but it would definitely go down well among Nats fans if Soto exceeds Harper’s MVP vote count. Will is wary of Corbin’s iffy history, which would be a huge blow for the Nats. Patrick is a Strasburg believer as he might genuinely be in the best shape of his life™. And then I may be the boldest of all, thinking the Nats catchers will be huge difference makers.

So that’s all we have time for. We want to hear your bold predictions for the season, and what you think we got wrong in these predictions in the comments. But most importantly, baseball is back folks!