Spotlight on the 2017 Washington Nationals
Off The Bench’s season previews this year are being run a bit differently. We’ll runa divisional preview for each of baseball’s 6 divisions, and a spotlight on the most interesting team in each division. The spotlight does not necessarily have to be the “most interesting team,” so perhaps a more accurate description is that it is the team that we feel like writing about whenever we sit down to write. It’s our blog, thank you very much.
With that, I will be previewing the Washington Nationals’ 2017 season, not because they are the most interesting team in the NL East (for my money, that’s the Phillies), nor because they’re the easiest for me to write about (this Braves fan could write 4,000 words on Bartolo Colon and the new stadium that could get us ready for 2018). No, I’m writing about the Nationals because they might just be the best team that we never talk about. Sure, Max covered their Presidential tryouts, but the last piece dedicated to the Nats was when we wrote about Trea Turner in November. It just feels like they’re due for a Sean Morash analysis.
So where do the Nats stand? They’re the odds-on favorite to win the NL East, just as they have in 3 of the last 5 years. Unfortunately, they’ve lost in the Division Series each of the three times they’ve made the playoffs since moving to DC. They feel like the Atlanta Braves in the early 2000’s: clearly very good, but definitely not the best team in baseball.
Why though? Well, their superstars Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper haven’t simultaneously carried their halves of the roster. That may sound like tall order, but let’s not forget that these are two of the very most talented players that baseball has seen in the last 20 years. First, let’s look at Harper’s Position Player group.
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