The Washington Nationals have more or less been the faces of the NL East for a number of years but have yet to win a World Series or a National League Pennant. This 2017 Nationals team looks locked and loaded to make a deep playoff push. There are a few questions, although not many. One of them being can Daniel Murphy return to his 2016 form, and what about Bryce Harper? I’ll answer all of those and more as I look in depth at the roster and make my 2017 Washington Nationals lineup.
1. Adam Eaton CF: This is one of the easiest lineup spots to project solely because the Nationals made a deal bringing Eaton to the Nats to be the leadoff hitter. The deal sent Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dane Dunning to the Chicago White Sox, with the return of just Eaton he has a lot to live up to in Washington. This will be Eaton’s third team in five years however it’s not due to 28-year-olds play he’s been a consistent player offensively and defensively throughout his career. In fact, last season Eaton hit for a 284 average with 14 home runs, and 59 RBI’s out of the leadoff spot. The Nats are hoping he continues to hit for average and get on base to set up the rest of the order.[StephenReed]
2. Trea Turner SS: Turner is set to be one of the premier shortstops in baseball. The 23-year-old is entering his first full season in the majors. In his limited AB’s in 2016, he hit for a 342 average adding 13 home runs, and driving in 40. I think he fits perfectly behind Eaton for a couple of reasons; first off if Eaton doesn’t get on base there’s a good chance Turner will, and second when Eaton gets on base Turner will more than likely be able to move him over in any situation.
3. Bryce Harper RF: Harper was coming off of his first MVP season in 2015 and appeared to be in a bit fog for most of the season. He had the worst average of his career to this point hitting for a subpar 243, but still obtaining career averages in home runs and RBI’s where he had 24 and 86 respectively while also stealing more bases. Harper is still the face of not only the Washington Nationals but the face of right field for baseball at this moment. Look for Harper to bounce back this season and return to MVP form.
4. Daniel Murphy 2B: Murphy is coming off a year in 2016 where he set career highs in batting average, home runs, RBI’s, on base percentage, extra base hits, and well you get it. In his first season in Washington Murphy exceeded all expectations and made a case for MVP while also almost winning the NL batting title. I think most Nats fans are pleased by the signing. Murphy solidified himself last season as the everyday shortstop and will be going forward. In 2016 he hit for a 347 average with 25 home runs and drove in 104 which makes perfect sense to put him behind Bryce Harper and force pitchers to pitch to him.
5. Anthony Rendon 3B: There are a couple players who I think could bat in this five spot but I think the young Rendon fits it perfectly, however, if he can remain healthy is yet to be seen. Last season Rendon hit for a 270 batting average, with 20 home runs, and 85 RBI’s a very solid season. However, like I mentioned before Rendon’s ability to stay healthy is still in question even though he played close to a full season in 2016. Rendon came to the majors with a bunch of hype and for good reason, now just needs to prove he’s worth the hype.
6. Jayson Werth LF: Werth is still somewhat trying to live up to the huge contract he was given a number of years back from the Nats. He hasn’t exactly returned to the 2009 form we saw him in with the Phillies as far as the power numbers go however he still has some power and can still hit for average which is a big plus. Last year’s stats don’t exactly reflect that but going off of previous season’s he could return to hitting for average with no problem. The 37-year-old hit for a 244 average, with 21 home runs, and 69 RBI’s hopefully he can improve upon his average while staying consistent in home runs and RBI’s.
7. Ryan Zimmerman 1B: Zimmerman still being on the Nats roster goes to show what he meant to the team during the bad times for Nationals. He had been the face of the franchise for a number of years up until Bryce Harper came up and made the impact he did. However, Zimmerman has shown signs of regression which isn’t good news for Nationals fan. The 32-year-old hit for a measly 218 average, while driving in 46 runs, and hitting just 15 home runs. I’m personally hoping we see Zimmerman return to the form he was in a couple seasons ago and lead this Nats team to a Pennant.[Kenny2]
8. Derek Norris C: Isn’t it funny how things work out in this world sometimes? Derek Norris was originally a draft pick of the Washington Nationals, however, was shipped to Oakland in the deal that brought Gio Gonzalez to the Nats. Since he had been dealt in 2011 he cracked the major league roster for the Athletics, got traded to the Padres where he spent a couple of seasons before being traded back to Washington. Wow, what a sequence of events, right? Norris didn’t have too much success in the 2016 season hitting below the Mendoza line at 186 with 14 home runs and 42 RBI’s something Nats fans better hope he improves upon.
There you have it my 2017 projected lineup for the Washington Nationals, a team in which could win a pennant if everyone does what they’re capable of doing. A very top-loaded lineup, however, there is potential from all of these players to hit for 20 plus home runs and very well could.