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2016 Nats roster outlook: An important year for Wilson Ramos


2016 Nats roster outlook: An important year for Wilson Ramos

Age on Opening Day 2016: 28

How acquired: Trade with Twins, July 2010

2016 salary: $5.35 million

2015 stats: 128 G, 504 PA, 41 R, 109 H, 16 2B, 0 3B, 15 HR, 68 RBI, 0 SB, 21 BB, 101 SO, .229 BA, .258 OBP, .358 SLG, .616 OPS, 64 OPS+, 6 E, 0.8 WAR

2016 storyline: There is no question this is an important year for Wilson Ramos, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract. He is due to make $5.35 million in 2016 before becoming eligible for free agency for the first time in his career.

Last season Ramos proved he could stay healthy and catch a full season. Now he needs to show he can not only stay on the field, but reach his potential as an offensive player as well.

Ramos' numbers in 2015 were a disappointing considering the talent he displayed in previous years. His .229 average, .258 OBP, .358 slugging percentage and .616 OPS were all career-lows. They were all far below the .268/.318/.434 slash-line and .752 OPS he posted from 2011 through 2014 with the Nats.

Ramos was durable and played good enough defense to be a Gold Glove finalist in 2015, but he will likely need to improve his offensive numbers to earn a new contract with the Nationals. And whether he ends up staying in Washington or signs elsewhere, this next season will be very important in determining his MLB future.

Best-case scenario: This one is quite simple. Ramos could earn himself a lot of money next offseason if he stays healthy like he did in 2015, but produce with the offensive numbers he put up in the four years before that. 

If Ramos could hit .270 with an OPS north of .740 or so, with somewhere close to 20 homers, he would rank among the best catchers in baseball. There is generally so little offense coming from that position, that he could really separate himself and set up for either a lucrative long-term deal in Washington or in another city. Good, power-hitting catchers don't grow on trees and Ramos has the ability to be one of the best of them.

Worst-case scenario: Let's set health aside for this because if he misses 100 games again due to some injury, then obviously that's a worst-case scenario. But what could be just as damaging for Ramos is if he stays healthy, but sees his offensive numbers dip even lower.

If Ramos hits below .229 and creeps towards the Mendoza line, and if his OBP falls below .250 or so, he could raise questions about his viability as a starting catcher altogether. That would not be good for him considering the timing of his contract.

Most-likely scenario: Assuming Ramos can stay healthy again - he says he's working three times as hard this offseason to prepare for 2016 - one has to expect his offensive numbers to go up. As much as him staying off the DL this past season was an aberration in his career, so were his prolonged slumps at the plate.

Ramos is more likely to see his average go up to or over the .250 mark with his OPS eclipsing .700. Both Baseball Reference and FanGraphs project that for him in 2016, with BR having him set a career-high with 17 homers. 

Now, whether that is enough to keep in D.C. long-term is hard to tell at this point.

[RELATED: Bryce Harper gives emotional acceptance speech for MVP award]

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The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.

It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.

They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training. 


Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.

Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.

Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats. 


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Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches


Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches

We are fortunate enough to live in a world where we can watch a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback (attempt to) hit against a three-time Cy Young pitcher in a Major League Baseball preseason game.

Max Scherzer took less than a minute to strike out Tim Tebow, who was batting cleanup for the Mets in a spring training game Friday. You can watch the whole at-bat here:

It looks like Tebow and Scherzer are starting to develop a pattern - last year’s matchup between the two went down the exact same way.

Tebow was able to redeem himself later in the game with his first hit of the year against Nats prospect Erick Fedde. He will likely begin the season with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, but Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he believes Tebow will eventually see some at-bats in the Majors.