Nationals Arm Race

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

My DC-IBWA Ballot…

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Nationals News Network blogger Dave Nichols runs a few polls beginning and end of season, hitting up all the Nats bloggers out there for opinions.  Here’s the 2011 post-season results.

Here’s how I answered his questions, with some thoughts added in.

  • Nats MVP: Morse, Clippard and Zimmerman.  For me clearly Morse was this team’s most valuable player this year, going from 4th outfielder to 30 homer clean up hitter in short order.  Clippard was your all-star but Morse was the more deserving candidate.
  • Starter of the Year: Zimmermann, Lannan, Marquis.  I think Zimmermann’s come-back was fantastic, and he was clearly your best arm in the rotation (at least until September).  Lannan continued his boring-if-effective career, and everyone seems to forget that Marquis was pretty good the first couple of months.
  • Reliever of the Year: Clippard, Storen, Coffey (though it pained me to say it).  Finding the first 2 was easy; finding a third reliever candidate who wasn’t mostly awful this season was really tough.  Burnett struggled mightily but turned it around.  Henry Rodriguez has been lights out in September, but September only.  Slaten was awful all year.  Broderick and Gaudin couldn’t exit quickly enough.  Perhaps Mattheus was more deserving of the year-long award.
  • All around Hitter of the year: Zimmerman, Morse, Hairston.  Probably could have switched the first two here as well, based on Morse’s excellent BA with power.  Hairston’s contributions over the course of the season were pretty understated, but he was a solid member of this team.
  • Slugger of the year: Morse, Espinosa, Nix.  Morse is obvious.  Espinosa showed some pretty rare power for a 2nd baseman.  And Nix’s homer/ab ratio puts him on nearly a 30-homer pace for a full season.  Can’t beat that.
  • Defensive player of the year: Zimmerman, Espinosa, (amazingly) Desmond: pretty obvious candidates.  However UZR/150 was not kind to this team generally this year.   Espinosa is a plus defender at 2nd and Desmond made huge strides.  Probably in retrospect should have included Ankiel, who has the best UZR of any near-regular in the lineup.
  • Comeback player of the year: Zimmermann, Wang, Flores: 3 pretty obvious candidates.  We’ll save Strasburg for the 2012 version.
  • Humanitarian of the year: Zimmerman, Desmond, Storen.  I’m only even aware of Zimmerman as someone who has a charity or a foundation.  Desmond was the team’s Clemente nominee, so he must be doing something right.


  • Minor League player of the year: Peacock, Lombardozzi, Moore.

The phrasing of this question threw me off.  The minor league “player of the year” is DIFFERENT from “player most destined for big league success,” which was the explanatory text Nichols put into the survey.  Clearly Peacock and Lombardozzi were our minor league players of the year and were so awarded by the team, but I’m not sure either is really a top-ceiling MLB prospect.   Our three best prospects most destined for success in the majors (<2011 draft version) are probably Harper, Cole, and either Solis or Ray.  Throw in the 2011 draft and that list probably becomes Rendon, Harper, Purke.

Additional Questions: here’s a few add-on survey questions.

1. Players we’re parting ways with after 2011: Livan, Coffey, Balester, Slaten, Pudge, Cora, Gomes, Elvin Ramirez.  This implies we’re going to keep Gorzelanny, Wang, Bixler, Nix, Ankiel and Bernadina.  I’m guessing Bernadina passes through waivers and stays.  Gorzelanny becomes a long reliever.  Wang resigns, Nix stays on as the 4th outfielder and Ankiel sticks in CF.
2. Does Zimmerman sign an extension this coming off season?  No; he’ll sign it AFTER the 2012 season.
3. Biggest Surprise: Morse clearly.
4. Biggest Disappointment: LaRoche.  Maya 2nd.  Lots of people will say Werth, but in the end we all kinda knew the contract was a mistake and he’s struggle to live up to it.  LaRoche was supposed to at least contribute, and he did nearly none of that.
5. Favorite pro beat writer: Zuckerman
6. Favorite Nats blogger: Love Sue Dinem’s work; my blog would be twice as hard without it.

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