Nationals

Nationals

Let’s take a burn around the National League East position groups while waiting for baseball to return.

The earliest a pitch could be thrown is mid-May. So, we’ll be going around the division group by group. Today, the outfielders.

For consistency, we’ll use Baseball-Reference’s WAR computation when looking at the players. And keep crossing fingers baseball will be back as soon as possible.

1. Washington Nationals

Juan Soto, 4.6
Victor Robles, 4.1
Adam Eaton, 1.5

Overview: What’s next for Soto? What’s next for Robles? Is Eaton healed and going to perform better? These are the questions around the Nationals’ outfield. Robles has room to grow at the plate after a .326 on-base percentage last season. He is already one of the best center fielders in baseball. Eaton said at spring training he began to play on two healthy legs around the middle of last season. He’s entering his age-31 season with back-to-back bad defensive years, but expects to be better this season and for the trio to be the best defensive outfield in baseball. Soto is a 21-year-old MVP candidate. Enough said there.

2. New York Mets

J.D. Davis, 1.0
Brandon Nimmo, 0.7
Michael Conforto, 3.4

Overview: This is one of the league’s worst defensive outfields, but an intriguing offensive one. Davis finished with a 138 OPS-plus (which accounts for park factors). Compare that to Harper’s 125 or that it was the equivalent of Soto. Davis also hammered the Nationals with a 1.125 OPS against them last season. Nimmo is back healthy and the lone decent defender in the group. He was a 4.2 WAR player in 2018. Conforto is left-handed power and little else.

 

3. Atlanta Braves

Marcell Ozuna, 1.9
Ender Inciarte, 0.6
Ronald Acuña Jr., 5.7

Overview: Ozuna comes to left field in Atlanta as a partial offensive salve for Josh Donaldson’s departure. His OBP was not much better than Robles last season (.328 to .326, respectively). And, his defense is declining the last two seasons. Inciarte was injured last season. He’s an interesting player and one of the best center fielders in baseball when healthy. He won three consecutive Gold Gloves before being hurt last season. Acuña is a 22-year-old MVP candidate. Enough said.

4. Philadelphia Phillies

Andrew McCutchen, 1.6
Roman Quinn, -0.2
Bryce Harper, 4.3

Overview: Philadelphia may gain a large benefit from the season being delayed. Andrew McCutchen, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee June 4, could be ready when games resume. Otherwise, the outfield will consist of Quinn, Adam Haseley and Harper. Philadelphia fans saw a different version of Harper in 2019 than Washington fans did in 2018. Harper played defense and ran the bases much harder. He stole 15 bases and his defensive WAR went from -3.0 to 0.3, a stunning, effort-based jump.

5. Miami Marlins

Corey Dickerson, 0.7
Lewis Brinson, -2.0
Brian Anderson, 3.7

Overview: This is not Ozuna, Yelich and Stanton. Far from it. Dickerson enters his age-31 season with solid offensive numbers in part-time work last season. Brinson, who was a central figure in the Yelich trade with Milwaukee, was one of the league’s worst hitters last season when playing in Miami. He had a 24 OPS-plus in 248 plate appearances. He struck out 30 percent of the time. Anderson is a very good player quietly subsisting in Miami. He improved in each of his two full seasons in the majors. This year could be a breakout one for him, but few will notice considering where he is playing.

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