Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

2023 Draft Order … not finalized


This is a Tank. This is also what Washington did this season. Photo credit: some German newspaper; does it really matter? 🙂

(quick personal note: apologies for the radio silence here. I have not posted since September 9th, more than 6 weeks ago. Not that there was a ton to post about; when the team emptied its coffers of all remaining players with any trade value, it wasn’t a surprise how the rest of the season was going to play out. That being said, we moved at the end of August and i’m working multiple consulting gigs, and, well, its been tough to put the time in on this blog with so many other items pressing for my time. I hope to do better this off-season, doing some typical non-tender, arbitration, rule-5 posts, etc).

It seems typical that the Nats would manage to finish with their worst record since moving to 2005 (and nearly their worst record ever as a franchise, being only pipped by the amazingly bad 52-110 1969 Montreal debut season) in the exact same year that MLB goes to a draft lottery at the top of the draft. So, instead of having the biggest bonus pool and first crack at the top draft talent … we have to wait to see where we actually pick. Perhaps this is penance for the amazing set of circumstances that led us to pick 1st overall two years in a row, which netted us both Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper and set the franchise on a pathway towards multiple playoff runs and the 2019 World Series title.

How quickly the tides turn, and this year we finished 55-107, which guaranteed us the worst record in the league by a full 5 games over the Oakland Athletics.

So, how does the lottery work? Tanks to this excellent NBCsports article, here’s how it works:

  • Each non-playoff team is assigned odds of getting the top pick.
  • The worst three teams each have equal odds at 16.5%, meaning that despite the fact that Washington was worse than Oakland and Pittsburgh, we all have the same chance.
  • The lottery only lasts the first 6 picks, then goes in direct order after that.

So, We have basically a 1 in 6 chance of getting the #1 pick. We have right around a 50% chance of getting a top 3 picks, and we can pick no worst than 7th.

Here’s the exact draft odds/reverse standings for 2022.

So, its a coin flip that we get into the top 3, meaning its highly likely we get a really solid pick. I’ve already started collecting names for the top of the 2023 draft. Right now the top prospects are looking like the following:

College Prospects:

  • Dylan Crews, OF/RF LSU. Opted out of 2020 draft as a projected 2nd rounder, now might go 1-1. Hit .362/.453/.663 as a freshman. sept 2022 #1 player in the class.
  • Jacob Gonzalez, SS Ole Miss. Bonafide SS who hit .355/.443/.561 with 12 home runs and more walks (38) than strikeouts (34) his freshman year. #1 prospect in class Dec 2021.
  • Chase Dollander, RHP Tennessee. 2nd team AA in 2022, mid 90sfb with good off-speed. Helium guy mid 2022, not sure why he’s jumped other candidates.
  • Rhett Lowder, RHP Wake Forest. ACC pitcher of year in 2022, starred for Team USA summer 2022.

Prep Prospects:

  • Max Clark, OF, Franklin (Ind.) Community HS. Vanderbilt commit, lefty hitting OF prospect #1 prep player in the class as of mid 2021. Went 5-5 one day at Area codes. #1 prep player in draft per BA Sept 2022.
  • Walker Jenkins OF, South Brunswick HS, Southport, N.C. 18U national team as underclassman in 2021. #1 HS player in class per Fangraphs Dec 2021, #2 prep in class per BA Sept 2022.
  • Thomas White, LHP Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass. Uncommitted. Highly polished LHP starter.
  • Cam Collier, 3B Mount Paran Christian HS, Kennsaw, Ga.. Louisville commit, huge power, biggest bat in class.

So, even in the worst case, where the Nats are shut out of the lottery and pick 7th, one of these players is absolutely going to be available, or a player who pops up this coming spring. So, all is not lost: don’t forget that we have gotten really solid players drafting in the #4-6 overall range in the past:

  • Ryan Zimmerman was 4th overall in 2005
  • Ross Detwiler was 6th overall in 2007
  • Anthony Rendon was 6th overall in 2011 (via a set of circumstances that still boggles the mind to this day)
  • Elijah Green was 5th overall this year.

The lottery order likely is set at the Winter Meetings, so we’ll revisit this post then.

Until then … are you finding yourself actually rooting for Philadelphia and Bryce Harper in the playoffs? Are you rooting for San Diego with their own ex-Nat super star Juan Soto? Great games so far.

Written by Todd Boss

October 18th, 2022 at 9:34 am

11 Responses to '2023 Draft Order … not finalized'

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  1. Welcome back on the radar, Todd. I guess you picked the right September to move, as there was very little to discuss in NatsWorld other than whether Joey Meneses is actually semi-legit.

    (Also, all of your disruption would explain why you forgot that Cam Collier did the Harper JUCO thing and already has been drafted.)

    It really does suck that the one year the Nats were legitimately the worse team in baseball is the year that the long-needed draft lottery starts. I don’t think the Nats began 2022 intentionally trying to tank, but a lot of questionable personnel decisions all went bad at the same time and created quite a train wreck . . . at the same time that three teams in the division were making the playoffs, two with more than 100 wins (but already sent home). (And hell will freeze over before I pull for the Phils and Bryce — GO JUAN! Remember how to hit!)

    I tried to have the “need” discussion before the 2022 draft, but A) everyone jumped up and down about BPA, and B) the real NEED was pitching, and there wasn’t any that was top-10 worthy (despite the Rocker pick — quick check reveals that Rocker didn’t pitch after the draft until the AFL, where he hasn’t been good so far). But I bring this up again because the Nats have 10 quality outfielders in the system now and just traded for their shortstop of the future. So the need is much more for HEALTHY starting pitchers.

    Checks Dollander stats: DANG, only 13 walks in 79 IP! Also only 5.7 hits per 9, in the nation’s toughest conference. He did allow 7 HRs, but Tennessee plays in a bandbox, which makes the 2.39 ERA even more impressive. Lowder had 8.2 hits per 9 in a lesser league, shades of Cavalli, where his stuff is getting hit when contact is made.

    Worth noting that since the Nats drafted two Vols in 2022, they probably got some looks at Dollander.


    18 Oct 22 at 3:08 pm

  2. Welcome back Todd!

    Mark L

    18 Oct 22 at 4:59 pm

  3. I thought Cam Collier’s name sounded familiar. I should have checked it before cutting and pasting.

    MLB draft is always BPA. There’s just so much uncertainty, so much lead time between when you draft a kid and he matriculates … you just can’t project 4 years down the road. NFL and NBA you draft for need, because those players immediately go to the active roster.

    Todd Boss

    18 Oct 22 at 5:12 pm

  4. For a reminder of how much things can change from one summer to the next, check out this early mock for 2019:

    Note in particular #4 and #5, who fell to the Nats much later in the draft and have floundered. (There were some mocks around that time that actually had Dyson 1/1. Mendoza was consensus top-5.) Note also #7, who ended up picked at #6 and should be playing shortstop for the Nats for the foreseeable future. Rutschman was at #24. Logan Davidson fell to #29, well after the Nats thought they got yet another steal in Jackson Rutledge.


    18 Oct 22 at 8:19 pm

  5. Cheaters vs. Traitors — who ya got? LOL. I’m definitely on Team Dusty for this one. Schwarbs seems like a good guy, but no way am I ever pulling for the Evil Horde from up I-95.

    What the Trashstros have done this far is amazing, particularly the Houston pitching. We’ll see whether it can continue against the beer league softball team. Both ballparks are bandboxes.

    I do shake my head at Schwarber’s regular-season numbers: 46 homers, but a .218 average and 200 K’s.


    24 Oct 22 at 1:53 pm

  6. Although I am not excited to root for the Astros, it’s not a hard choice. I’ve been verbally assaulted by over-served, mouth-breathing, mullet-sporting, unbuttoned-jersey-wearing Phillies’ fans too many times at Nats Park over the years to want anything good to happen to that franchise. I have no ill will towards Bryce (and certainly no ill will towards Schwarber). I hope those two guys hit well in a losing effort. The best outcome for the world is clearly an Astros sweep, so this misery ends as soon as possible. The only silver lining to a Phillies victory would be an increase in the number of NL East World Series victories by clubs that aren’t the NY Mets, which nicely illustrates the decades of failure for that dumpster fire of a franchise (which has its own set of terrible fans, who are slightly – but meaningfully! – better than Phillies’ fans).

    Go Dusty! You deserve it!


    26 Oct 22 at 11:19 am

  7. Derek, I agree with EVERY single word of that comment. Well said!


    26 Oct 22 at 12:35 pm

  8. I didn’t think it was possible to hate the Phillies even more . . . but yeah, it is. This team shouldn’t even have been in the playoffs, only got there because of the Brewer collapse.

    In thinking about the draft:

    I’ve noted that I’m a mark for Dollander, as the Nats’ biggest deficit right now seems to be starting pitching. I could see a good case for the Two Jakes, though, Gonzalez and Wilson. Why? I have some real concerns about Luis Garcia. He seems to be profiling way too much like Robles for comfort. And there’s really not much middle infield depth in the organization, unless you consider Alu as a 2B rather than a 3B, where he’s been spending more time. Darren Baker’s progress has been a nice story, but there’s nothing in his past to indicate that he has the ceiling of an everyday player. Bonus baby Sammy Infante is already looking like a bust, and Aramndo Cruz has a long way to go.

    A SS draftee also could be in consideration at 3B, where there’s a fluid situation. Despite all logic, Keiboom seems likely to get another full shot there. The Natosphere thinks that he should have to beat out Alu for that job, but who knows whether the team will actually give Alu a shot. Most thought that House was drafted to ultimately be the 3B, but he pretty much lost 2022 due to a variety of injuries. Draftee Trey Lipscomb will already be ahead of him in the organization in the 3B pecking order. Lipscomb had one big college season, in a bandbox home stadium. He isn’t huge, though, and has played some SS, so he might also be a possibility to get a look at 2B. His initial stats at Fredericksburg (1 homer in 101 plate appearances) don’t show a lot of promise that his college power is going to carry over to the pros.


    2 Nov 22 at 1:35 pm

  9. With the offseason now officially launched, I hope Todd will have time to do his annual previews of Rule 5 protection deadline (11/15) and possible non-tenders (11/18). There are some very interesting decisions for the Nats on both fronts. Big names coming eligible for Rule 5 include first-round picks Rutledge and Denaburg. Here are the arb/non-tender eligible Nats, with projected pay from MLBTR:

    Carl Edwards Jr. (5.169): $1.6MM
    Luke Voit (4.169): $8.2MM
    Erick Fedde (4.099): $3.6MM
    Victor Robles (4.033): $2.5MM
    Tanner Rainey (3.127): $1.5MM
    Hunter Harvey (3.047): $1MM
    Victor Arano (3.022): $1MM
    Lane Thomas (3.014): $2.1MM
    Ildemaro Vargas (3.007): $1.1MM
    Kyle Finnegan (3.000): $2MM

    Voit seems like a hard no at that price. I’ve been lobbying for a Fedde non-tender for at least a couple of seasons. It would be surprising if they non-tender Robles, but there’s also no evidence that he’s going to become a viable MLB offensive player (wRC+ for the last three seasons: 66, 68, 64). Fedde and Robles may be covered by the Rizzo-never-admits-a-mistake policy, though, as may Rutledge and Denaburg (and explaining why Antuna is still on the 40-man).


    6 Nov 22 at 1:06 pm

  10. $100+ M and 5 yrs for Edwin Diaz????

    With Dan Snyder (perhaps) on the way out (mercifully), Steve Cohen appears to be filling the gap on overpaying for stuff. I don’t understand how even a person with just a casual knowledge of the last decade in baseball could think paying a relief pitcher that kind of money for that number of years is a good idea. Maybe Steve Cohen has infinite dollars, but I suspect having committed that money to Diaz is going to keep the Mets from spending more money on other (better, more important) players.


    7 Nov 22 at 10:40 am

  11. Yes, $20M a year for a reliever certainly sounds like “stupid money,” to use the Phillie term. Diaz does have a good track record of staying healthy, but still . . .

    In other news, what a radioactive HOF Contemporary Baseball Era ballot:

    It includes Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, and Palmeiro, along with the untainted McGriff, Murphy, Mattingly, and Belle.


    7 Nov 22 at 12:46 pm

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