Hey Svrluga and Kilgore decided to get together and argue out position by position which division winner was better. No, not between the Red Sox teams of the past 15 years, though that's not a bad guess. Between the 2012, 2014, and 2016 Nats. Since the link to all players doesn't work yet I can give you my opinion without being tainted with what should be smart and fair analysis but may not be because they already messed up picking 2012 Det over 2014 Gio.
C - If you go by in-season performance it's an easy win for Ramos '16 over Ramos/Lobaton '14 and Suzuki/Ramos/Flores '12. If you are really going by playoff starter, now that Ramos is down, Suzuki '12 wins out. Wilson's inabililty to take a walk was at its peak terribleness in 2014.
1B - I'll take the more powerful, younger '12 LaRoche, over the more patient, older '14 LaRoche. Both look curiously at the mess that now occupies 1B for the Nats
2B - If '16 Ramos' win was easy, '16 Murphy's win just happens without you even doing anything. Espinosa's defense is better but come on. '12 "peak" Espy beats '14 "should have gotten the surgery" Espy
SS - These are are strangely non-competitive choices so far. '12 Desmond was a revelation. He'd get worse each subsequent year so he bests '14 pretty handily. It's tempting to pick '16 Espy over '14 Desmond because "defense"! But no. Danny isn't super elite anymore and there's a big gap between offensively as Danny has been terrible for months now.
3B - The heart wants to go with 2012 Zimmerman. It was arguably the last year of his peak, before arm troubles in 2013 took him down. And he felt like a big clutch player still. But Rendon in 2014 was a legit MVP candidate. He did everything Zimm did at the plate, was possibly better in the field, and definitely better on the basepaths. If I'm team building I may pick '12 Zimm for leadership, but I'm not so '14 Rendon wins. '16 Rendon hasn't been bad at all but these two set high bars
LF - OK I pick 2014 Bryce here. He was the only one of the three who was not a liability in the field and 2012 Mike Morse wasn't so much better at the plate that I'd have to choose him. Plus if you look past Bryce shaking off the injury rust and recovery in July he's right there at the plate. Better probably - he's the only one that seemed to hit in the playoffs. Though if you want to go with Morse I won't blame you. You probably get mad that they traded him, too. '16 Werth is fine but not in the running.
CF - This to me is the most fascinating choice. You have rookie, out-of-position but still athletic, '12 Bryce, defense first, (though slipping) surprising offense force, '14 Span, and a possibly misleading half-season of rookie sensation Trea Turner. If it was 120 games of Trea doing this it would be a slam dunk but you have to wonder if in 3 years we look back and go "Oh that was quite a run. Wish he could do that again". Still... I pick Trea. I mean we have to go on what we have and it's been awesome. Even fielding - Denard was on the way down in '14 so it's not as big a fight as you'd think. I also pick '14 Span over rookie Bryce if we have to order
RF - 2014 Werth was everything but the fielding. He bests 2016 Bryce, who's the best fielder probably but has been hobbled. He bests '12 Werth who was a Singly Joe coming back from his injury. A very good Singly Joe, but a Singly Joe nonetheless.
Now are we going playoffs or reg season? I say reg season. Feels more right. Ordering pitchers is hard bc how they fit into a rotation may not be about performance. It may lefty - righty based. It may just be where they slide in after injury. I'll try to use performance and reality of perception to separate, but it's not going to be perfect.
SP1 - This is a tough challenge but '16 Max has been 100% worthy of a Cy Young. And you feel a little more confident with Max, don't you? '14 Stras was masterful. '12 Stras was unhittable. You can't go wrong but that's the order I put them in.
SP2 - 2012 and 2016 are deep staffs but you can't find the bottom of 2014. 2014 ZNN was one of the great underrated pitching seasons of all time. After that, I like '16 Stras over '12 Gio. The pitching performances are comparable but '12 Gio was still a bit wild, where as '16 Stras was just rounding into veteran form in my opinion. It's very close though
SP3 - 2016 Roark. 2012 ZNN was very good but didn't quite have it together yet. 2014 Fister was good but also a tightrope walk that we all rightfully knew was going to come down at some point. You can choose that over young ZNN but not over this Roark showing for the second time what he can do over the course of a season.
SP4 - The one we saw and they are wrong. I know we've all grown tired of Gio and his inefficiency making his average outings seem to drag on and his below average outings unbearable, but '14 Gio was a slight nod back to his 2012 season and he did practically everything as good or better than '12 Detwiler. His best would blow Det's best out of the water and even if you had them even overall, '14 Gio, walks and all, would more reliably give you longer outings. I don't see how they made their choice. '16 Ross is good but not in the discussion
SP5 - 2014 Roark. Two Roarks! '12 Edwin Jackson was better than we give him credit for because we remember the playoff performance over all. '16 Gio is also not that bad. I tell you these are deep staffs. Honestly I probably pick this Gio over that E Jax.
Set-Up - was Storen or Clippard the closer in '12? I'll say Storen. Clippard only got the saves in the interim. So this is Clippard vs Clippard vs... well Rivero was it. Then Kelley. Let's go with Kelley. This is tough. Nothing against '12 Clippard, you were very good, don't let the ERA fool you, but you have to sit this one out. You may not have noticed but Kelley has been dominant, striking out more and walking less that '14 Clippard. But as I said recently - Clippard may be the best middle reliever in baseball history when it's said and done (it's true!) and this was one of his two best seasons. I just trust him more. Plus Kelley has a HR problem that Clippard just doesn't have. You can work around a walk. You can't work around a homer.
Closer - Without looking I bet 2014 Storen would have the best stats but screw that head case. Give me fresh-faced '12 Storen. The one in line for the fictional NLDS MVP before he was set-up to fail by Davey and still almost pulled it off if not for some borderline calls, bad fielding, and bad breaks. Melancon slips inbetween the two because 2014 Storen was post-pouting Storen who had to prove he could do it to me and he didn't.
There you go - now let's see if the link is working and who they picked. Nope. Well we'll come back when the Post gets their act together
Ed Note -
It's working now the order SP differently (by playoff starter) so here are my choices for their order
SP1 - '16 Max, '14 Stras, '12 Gio
SP2 - '14 ZNN, '16 Roark, '12 ZNN
SP3 - '14 Fister, '12 EJAx, '16 Gio
They also add general RH relief, LH relief, and bench
RH relief - '12, '16, '14 - '16 Treinen is the best individual but '12 really just had no weakness Stammen and Mattheus were solid. Garcia was the flash in the pan they should have ridden the next year.
LH relief - '12, '14, '16 - You could flip '14 and '16 if you like, '14 wasn't impressive at all getting Blevins worst year, but '12 was easily best.
Bench - '16, '12, '14 (2014 had more talent but 2012 caught like 3 career yrs for these benchies)
They also put Asdrubal in for 2014, but personally I still take '12 Danny over that.
If we score 3-2-1 then - using their match-ups we get 33 pts for 2014, 32 for 2012, and 31 for 2016. That's really close. The 2012 team had OF issues and their starting pitching was great but young and understandably in question for the playoffs. The 2014 had a killer rotation but some infield issues and real questions on the bench and in the pen. 2016's offense is fine but doesn't inspire the same confidence and could be a real issue with the injuries. If you count losing Ramos that becomes 34, 33, 29 and if Murphy is gone that's 35, 34, 27.