Yesterday, I gave out NE’s End of Season Grades to the pitchers. Today, it is the position players’ (and manager’s) turn. Feel free to argue with me, or agree if you will, in the comments:
Denard Span – B As this season progressed, Span finally started to look like the complete centerfield package the Nats were looking for when they traded for him: defense, speed on the basepaths and, most importantly, table setter at the top of the order. He even set the single season team record for hits (184) along the way. Too bad only the first one of those elements showed up for the playoffs.
Anthony Rendon – A Rendon did it all this year: hit for average, hit for power, stole bases, provided spectacular defense at third base–and proved to be about as model a citizen as you could want on your team. His 111 runs scored led the league and his 6.5 bWAR led the Nats. Were you paying attention, Bryce Harper?
Jayson Werth – B- Werth had a solid (and healthy) season but was spectacularly awful in the playoffs. Based on that alone, his position at third in the lineup should NOT be inviolable next year.
Adam LaRoche – B Despite being a streaky hitter and missing a couple of weeks due to injury, LaRoche led the team in home runs and RBIs. His playoff performance, however, was stone cold.
Ian Desmond – C+ Desmond’s third consecutive 20-20 year was an odd one. Despite setting personal bests for RBIs and stolen bases, his error and strikeout rates increased and his OPS dropped for the second consecutive season, finishing .102 below his career high set two years ago.
Bryce Harper – B- Harper missed about two months due to injuries and then looked lost at the plate for weeks after coming off the DL. Even worse, his defensive bWAR was down in negative figures despite him playing in a corner outfield position and he stole only 2 bases all season. Then came his lonely heroics in the NLDS–sigh.
Wilson Ramos – C+ Ramos also missed a couple of months due to injury, but looked like he was fully back as the Nats began their surge to the division title. He faded badly down the stretch, however, with only three extra base hits and his OPS falling to .474 after August 29th. And in the playoffs, he was even worse.
Asdrubal Cabrera – C Odd that you would say that the acquisition of a rental player who spent only two months with the team and batted only .229 represented a “good” trade. But Cabrera’s OPS was a solid .700, and unlike most of his offensive teammates he held his own in the playoffs, oh and the alternative at second base was Danny Espinosa.
Ryan Zimmerman – I When he was able to play, there was nothing wrong with Ryan’s bat, as he put up a solid .790 OPS despite twice battling back from the DL. Hopefully, the switch across the diamond will keep him in the lineup all season next year as the the team’s horrendous offensive performance in the NLDS showed just how much they miss him being there every day.
Kevin Frandsen – D Picked up off the waiver wire at the start of the season, Frandsen actually showed why the talent-strapped Phillies were willing to dump him as he put up a bWAR of -0.5 for the season.
Jose Lobaton – C+ On the other hand, after being acquired from the Rays in an offseason trade Lobaton was a perfectly adequate backup backstop, sporting a positive season bWAR of 0.5. He was particularly strong defensively, scoring a 0.8 d/bWAR for the year.
Danny Espinosa – D+ As long as we’re talking bWAR, Espinosa was perfectly replaceable at 0.0.
Nate McLouth – F You hate to see any player get injured, but McLouth being knocked out for the year in early August had the benefit of opening up opportunities for rookies Michael Taylor and Steven Souza. The Nats paid McLouth $5 million to put up a -0.7 bWAR, and with one year remaining his signing is easily turning out to be GM Mike Rizzo’s worst free agency move to date.
Scott Hairston – F He can’t hit anymore (1 lousy home run) and he doesn’t play good defense. Remind me again why Hairston remained on the team for the entire season despite putting up a putrid bWAR of -0.6. I would really like to know.
Tyler Moore – D+ Ironically, the Nats gave Moore his fewest number of at bats in a season the very year his bWAR turned positive for the first time in his career (0.4).
Sandy Leon – D Because of Ramos’s injuries, Leon got way too many at bats with his unsightly .156/.229/.219 slash line. He did put up a defensive bWAR of 0.3, however.
Matt Williams – B Many have been excoriating Williams for the Nats’ playoff collapse and some of the shaky moves he made in the series. My take is that no move he could have made would have made any difference save having a crystal ball tell him before the NLDS that after scuffling at the plate for much of the past two seasons Harper was suddenly going to explode and needed to be moved up to third in the lineup behind Rendon in order to offset the complete collapse by every one of the older veterans in his lineup. What Williams DID do was take a very talented team that greatly underachieved in 2013 and guide it to the NL’s best record despite another major rash of injuries.