Fangraphs asked yesterday if the Nats were being overrated again. It's a silly question for a silly time of the year. Why are they overrated? Because some people are picking them to win again? That'll happen when you won 98 games two years ago, were pretty injury riddled last year, and face only one team who should be competitive. I mean really that's it. No one is overrating the Nats. The Braves just are not a dominant team and everyone else in the NL East is somewhere on the suck scale.
But ignore the headline and get to the meat. He wonders about the Nats because their depth chart ratings put the Nats in the lower middle of the pack. Why are the Nats there? What are the problem areas defined by the depth charts? Are they the same that we note? Instead of looking at production (which will always skew toward average in these things) I look at rank. That's why Desmond putting up a 3 win season after two 5 wins doesn't get me ruffled. The team is 6th best in SS and only falls that low because of poor back-ups, defensive projections (hard to get right), and what I must believe is a paid advertisement from the Brad Miller for ROY SuperPAC. Where do the Nats fail in rank?
Catcher - 22nd place (remember this is a team rank). Ramos would actually fall around the 13th starter and give him more ABs and he'll crack the Top 10 easy. The problem is two fold though. There's no guarantee he'll be healthy and his back-up, currently Solano, is garbage. We know this.
First - 24th. LaRoche was bad last year, is getting older, and his back-up stinks. Hey, we know this too!
Second - 16th. Bad Back-ups and the uncertainty of Rendon. A little better and he's like the 5th.
Center - 19th. Two thirds the world is covered by water. The other third is covered by land. On the tiny patch of that land between Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth, Denard Span does a good job of getting to balls. (Span can't hit and while he is very good in center he's not an elite game changing fielder.)
Right - 16th. Jayson Werth can't stay healthy, hits poorly when injured, and is falling in the field. It's admittedly low but when you are trying to factor in "injury that makes him miss one-third of a season, and hit like garbarge for another third" that's what happens. Again we pray for health
Another thing to note about the OF. Nate McLouth does not help all that much. While he was decent last season, he wasn't so much the season before that, and the one before that, and the one before that. I like putting him on the Nats bench but I don't like the fact that he's the best player on said bench.
Relief Pitching - 24th. Well this is just guessing. I'd love to see how good their RP projections did last year. Can't find it though. These numbers bounce around too much to be reliable especially when you start to weight on recency of unstable numbers.
We learn anything new? Not really. Maybe that McLouth is less useful than we thought. But really the Nats right now have a strong starting 5 in Ramos, Desmond, Zimm, Bryce and Werth. Rendon has good potential to be added as the 6th. With Span and LaRoche, the Nats are hoping for the best seasons they can squeeze out of them. And the Nats are desperately trying to avoid major injuries because their bench in thin. You might say that last part about a lot of teams. It wasn't what we thought we could say initially about the 2013 Nats. They looked deep and strong across the board. But when LaRoche collapsed and Espy's injuries killed his production it became pertinent to them and it's what we can say now. Since the Nats haven't built up a strong bench a lot will ride on their health and Rizzo's ability to quickly deal for talent mid-season if needed. We'll be saying that over and over until the season starts or something changes.