If you want to take prediction to it's simplest level you can make every call into "better", "worse", or "about the same". If we take a look at the Nats offense on those terms the situation doesn't seem like it has big bust potential.
- There are three players I'd expect to hit "worse" this season. Werth (old and injured), Span (career year) and Rendon (young player exceeding expectations). The amount of worse is different and what that actually means for the player is different but still this is what I think.
- There is one player I'd expect to hit "better" this season. That's Bryce Harper who is the flip side of Rendon, a young player who underachieved expectations.
- The remaining players, Zimm, Ramos, Desmond, and Escobar (and the bench as a whole if you care about that). I'd expect to be about the same.
That's the way it should work and the way you would normally project it.
But if I take it a step further and look at all those players that should hit "about the same" I come to the same conclusion for all of them. If forced to choose, I'd predict that they'd hit worse than better. Zimm and Escobar are in their very early 30s so they are heading into decline years. They haven't hit significantly better than they did in 2014 in a while. I can't predict better over worse. Desmond has been trending in the wrong direction for a couple years. While I think he'll stabilize, I can't see how he'll suddenly reverse the trend. Ramos, I'm the most wishy-washy on, as I've always been a big fan. But honestly he's a guy who also has trended the wrong way and has mutliple years of injuries on his body. You want me to pick "better" for this guy? I can't.
This is important because how a season can turn is based on injuries and where expectations are not met. In general some guys will outperform and some will underperform the guesses we put out there. If taken at the major league level it would come fairly close to 50/50. But this is never equally distributed through the teams. A lot of team roughly get 50/50 splits but a couple will have more outperformers than underperformers, and a couple will find themselves in the other boat. Looking at the Nats, I see them as decent bets to be one of those in the wrong boat.
Of course this doesn't mean DOOM. The offense was very good last year. If they find themselves being one of those teams where more goes wrong than right then they'd likely still be average. And as we saw yesterday, even if everything goes wrong hitting wise (excluding injury), the pitching should carry them into the playoffs. It's a 98 win type team when we don't think about injury, it takes a lot to get them to miss the playoffs.
No 2015 should be fine (and could be awesome as we'll see tomorrow), but don't be surprised if the Nats aren't a dominating all-around squad but a pitching led team with an unpredictable offense.