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Looking back on our 2020 preseason predictions for the Washington Nationals

It’s time to look back on our preseason predictions for the Washington Nationals. It didn’t go all that well...

MLB: Game Two-New York Mets at Washington Nationals Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

We’re not even a full week into November yet and it already feels like a lifetime ago since the Washington Nationals concluded their 2020 season in late September.

While many, including some of us here at Federal Baseball, thought the Nats would at least be competitive in their World Series title defense, that was nowhere near the case. Eventually, they finished joint-last in the NL East and three games out of a playoff spot.

Now that the relevant awards and finalists have been announced, it’s time to look back on the predictions we made at the beginning of the season in July and see how we did.

So, once again, let’s take a look at our participants...

The Participants

  • Patrick Reddington - Ask him if he has any Instructional League box scores
  • Blake Finney - Er, am I the pessimist now?
  • Marty Niland - Balancing out Blake with optimism
  • Brett Barnett - Prolific all over SB Nation
  • The ghost of Will Kubzansky - Oh, he’s still lurking apparently

Will the 2020 MLB season be played to a conclusion?

  • Patrick - No
  • Blake - Yes
  • Marty - No
  • Brett - Yes
  • Will - No

Answer: Yes

Winner: Blake and Brett

Well, they did it. Whether it was the right decision to do so is still up for debate, but the fact that they made it through is a success to some degree. There were times early on that it looked like team outbreaks might derail the season, but as protocols tightened, they became less frequent. Brett and I pick up the point on this question.

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

  • Patrick - Juan Soto, 15
  • Blake - Eric Thames, 13
  • Marty - Juan Soto, 17
  • Brett - Juan Soto, 14
  • Will - Juan Soto, 17

Answer: Juan Soto, 13

Winner: Brett

Even though he missed the first few games due to what may have been a false positive test, Juan Soto was almost unstoppable this season when he was on the field and could’ve been MVP had he played in those games. Though I got the amount right, my Thames guess didn’t go anywhere near to plan. Brett gets the point here being only one long ball off.

Who will lead the team in saves? How many?

  • Patrick - Sean Doolittle, 14
  • Blake - Sean Doolittle, 9
  • Marty - Sean Doolittle, 25
  • Brett - Sean Doolittle, 18
  • Will - Sean Doolittle, 12

Answer: Daniel Hudson, 10

Winner: Nobody

Even though Sean Doolittle was declared the closer to begin the season, he quickly appeared to be well off his normal performance-level and was demoted from the role before being put on the Injured List. Hudson took over and recorded 10 saves in 15 opportunities as he had a Jekyll and Hyde season, but none of us predicted it.

Which pitcher will lead the team in wins? How many?

  • Patrick - Stephen Strasburg, 7
  • Blake - Patrick Corbin, 8
  • Marty - Stephen Strasburg, 7
  • Brett - Stephen Strasburg, 6
  • Will - Patrick Corbin, 7

Answer: Max Scherzer, 5

Winner: Nobody

Well, Stephen Strasburg only made two starts before his season ended due to a nerve issue in his hand, while Patrick Corbin regressed from his outstanding debut season with the Nats. With those two ailing and less wins in general for the Nationals because of the poor season, we were all well off with our guesses and Scherzer led the way with five wins.

Which player will hit third in the batting order the most?

  • Patrick - Starlin Castro
  • Blake - Starlin Castro
  • Marty - Juan Soto
  • Brett - Howie Kendrick
  • Will - Howie Kendrick

Answer: Juan Soto

Winner: Marty

Things looked good for Patrick and I early on. Through the team’s first 16 games, Castro hit third in 13 of them. Unfortunately, his season ended early with a right wrist fracture, leaving something of a free for all as after that injury Howie Kendrick hit third eight times, Asdrúbal Cabrera hit third 10 times, but Soto hit third 20 times, meaning Marty gets the point.

How many stolen bases will Trea Turner get this season?

  • Patrick - 25
  • Blake - 18
  • Marty - 30
  • Brett - 14
  • Will - 25

Answer: 12

Winner: Brett

Much like the home runs, saves, and wins, it was always going to be tougher to project stolen bases for Trea Turner because of the shortened season. That said, Brett was only just short of the infielder’s 12 steals, perhaps slightly down because of how well he was hitting the ball this season, including plenty for extra bases, limiting stealing opportunities.

What will Carter Kieboom’s batting average be?

  • Patrick - .265
  • Blake - .248
  • Marty - .240
  • Brett - .257
  • Will - .253

Answer: .202

Winner: Marty

In general, we were all somewhat down on Carter Kieboom batting average-wise this season. He didn’t have a great first season in the majors in 2019, and while 2020 was better, the batting average sitting just above the Mendoza Line combined with the fact he only recorded one extra-base hit justified it. Marty went for the lowest average, so gets the win.

Aside from the big 4 who will make the most starts for the Nationals?

  • Patrick - Austin Voth
  • Blake - Austin Voth
  • Marty - Erick Fedde
  • Brett - Erick Fedde
  • Will - Erick Fedde

Answer: Auston Voth

Winner: Patrick and Blake

Even though both Voth and Fedde made the same number of appearances as each other this season, it was the former who made the most starts with 11 to the latter’s 8. Not that either particularly stood out this season. Patrick and I take the points in this round.

What will the final NL East standings be? * for Wild Card

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

Answer: 1) Braves 2) Marlins 3) Phillies 4) Nationals 5) Mets

Winner: Nobody

It should be noted that we made these predictions before MLB decided to enact an expanded postseason, so the Wild Card selections are off. Even so, we were all well off. The Marlins came out of nowhere to be a playoff team and the Nationals finished joint-bottom of the division. It was wild. Though I was probably the closest given I got the Nationals placing right, I can’t give myself a point when my division-winner also finished last.

How many wins will the Nationals have?

  • Patrick - 40
  • Blake - 30
  • Marty - 35
  • Brett - 34
  • Will - 35

Answer: 26

Winner: Blake

It was always going to be tough to predict a win total for the Nationals this year with the variance a 60-game season was going to provide, but none of us predicted the 2020 season would be quite as miserable for Washington. I came closest with 30 wins, just four more than they actually recorded.

How will the Nationals’ season end?

  • Patrick - NLCS loss
  • Blake - Fail to reach the playoffs
  • Marty - World Series loss
  • Brett - NLCS loss to Dodgers
  • Will - NLCS loss

Answer: Fail to reach the playoffs

Winner: Blake

As is already clear at this point, the Nationals missed the playoffs in disappointing fashion, with this prediction following the same theme as the two above. Again, as the only one truly pessimistic about the Nats’ chances, it’s another win for yours truly.

Will any Nationals win any awards at the end of the season?

  • Patrick - No
  • Blake - Juan Soto, Silver Slugger
  • Marty - Stephen Strasburg, Cy Young; Juan Soto, MVP
  • Brett - Max Scherzer, Cy Young
  • Will - Juan Soto, MVP

Answer: Juan Soto, Silver Slugger

Winner: Blake

It wasn’t a particularly fruitful award season for the Nationals in 2020 with no finalists for the marquee awards. That’s not a huge shock in such a disappointing season, but Juan Soto did at least scoop up a Silver Slugger on Thursday. I get the win here with a spot-on prediction.

One bold prediction not covered by the previous questions

  • Patrick - Juan Soto will win the 60-game batting title.
  • Blake - Howie Kendrick will receive multiple MVP votes.
  • Marty - Michael A. Taylor will have a good year at the plate, pushing Victor Robles all year for the starting CF job.
  • Brett - Patrick Corbin finishes with a sub-3 ERA.
  • Will - Victor Robles is going to have an extreme season — either dominant or atrocious.

Winner: Patrick! And Will, kind of.

For a man who thinks that opinions are overrated, Patrick has now gotten two-straight bold predictions in these articles spot on. Last year, it was about Strasburg starting at least 30 games, this year, he correctly predicted Soto winning the NL’s batting title. That’s why he’s the boss.

If I was feeling kind, I could give Will a point because Robles did finish with a negative fWAR this season. I’ll give him half a point though, because while it wasn’t completely atrocious, he was definitely a negative for the team this season. Marty, Brett, and I were all way off though.

And now, with all the points totaled up, the 2020 FBB staff predictions winner is... Me, Blake! My low-key pessimism about how this season would go paid off for me predictions-wise and grabbed me a couple late points to get to four and pip newcomer Brett to the crown.