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Washington Nationals Report Cards

4:30 PM, Oct 5, 2012   |    comments
Davey and Bryce following Monday's NL East title celebration (US Presswire)
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WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- This post is already too in-depth for a long intro. Read and provide me positive and/or negative feedback on Twitter -- @Mr_KevinJones.

Adam LaRoche: A+

Stats: 154 games, 33 HR, 100 RBI, .271/.343/.510, 7 errors

Synopsis: He's a leading candidate to win a Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger and will probably snag a few second and third place NL MVP votes. The crazy part about his power numbers? LaRoche arguably has the smallest muscles on the team. His relies on his keen eyesight and timing as much as any player in baseball.

Looking Forward: LaRoche signed a two-year $16 million deal in 2011 with a mutual option for the third year. Considering his stats nearly mimic that of Prince Fielder, this financial situation could get a little sticky. 

Gio Gonzalez: A+

Stats: 21-8, 2.89 ERA, 207 K's, 199.1 IP, 1.33 WHIP, 9 HR allowed

Synopsis: The Nats have secured one of the hardest things to find in baseball: a perennial left-handed Cy Young candidate. I guess you can argue last winter's trade with Oakland benefited both franchises, but Gonzalez has meant everything to the Nats in 2012. His conquered his control issues on the mound, perfected his swooping curveball and reminded teammates with his smile that they play a game for a living.

Looking Forward: His five-year $42 million deal might be Mike Rizzo's best singing ever. On an open market, Gonzalez would probably command $80 this offseason.

Bryce Harper: A

Stats: 139 games, 22 HR, 59 RBI, .270/.340/.477, 18 steals, 120 strikeouts

Synopsis: If baseball history serves us correct -- and it usually does -- D.C. natives are witnessing the next Ken Griffey Jr., or even Mickey Mantle. Harper overcame slumps, set the base paths on fire and finally answered the Nationals eight-year question mark in center field.

Looking forward: My fear? Harper is going to be prevented from busting out in Mike Trout-like numbers because of how careful National League pitchers use the strike zone. Regardless, he will become the Nats MVP candidate for presumably the next 12-15 seasons.

Steve Lombardozzi: A

Stats: 126 games, 3 HR, 27 RBI, .273/.317/.354, 16 doubles

Synopsis: For the amount he was asked to do, Lombardozzi probably deserves an A+. Let's remember correctly: the utility man leadoff for 58 games (including during a critical stretch against the AL East in June), hitting .273 with a .312 on base percentage. He stepped up during injuries to Ryan Zimmerman, Michael Morse and Ian Desmond.

Looking Forward: The Nats are going to have a tough choice, because many teams could use the-better-than-his-stats-say 24-year-old. Does he deserve more burn over Danny Espinosa? Many, like me, think so.

Stephen Strasburg: A- 

Stats: 15-6, 3.16 ERA, 197 K's, 159.1 IP, 1.15 WHIP, 15 HR allowed

Synopsis: The quietest member of the Nats was put under a larger summer microscope than Mitt Romney. That's the one point where I'll criticize Mike Rizzo: you shouldn't have announced to the media that Strasburg was getting shutdown until the night before. Rizzo and the other decison makers screwed with Stephen's head. Even Davey Johnson has admitted that. 

Looking Forward: What if the Nats do win the World Series without Strasburg. How could  that make him feel good about himself. For his sake and for the fan bases sake, let's hope the chains are broken free next season, and the Nats treat him a normal ball player.

Ian Desmond: B+

Stats: 130 games, 25 HR, 73 RBI, .292/.335/.511, 21 steals, 33 doubles

Synopsis: Many, including myself, were growing tired of the broken promises baseball people had long told us about Desmond's potential. The athleticism, rangy glove, scintillating bat speed and forthright leadership all showed simultaneously in 2012 for Desmond.

Looking Forward: Desmond is making $512,500 this season, aka he's one of the best bargains in baseball. The Nationals must pony up and signed Desmond to a long term deal. Five-years $50 million is a legitimate asking price for the shortstop. 

Michael Morse: B+

Stats: 102 games, 18 HR, 62 RBI, .291/.321/.470, 16 BB

Synopsis: His lat sidelined him all throughout April and May, limiting his statistics and stunting his start throughout June. In the 69 games following the all-star break, Morse has mashed 13 homers, 44 RBI's and posted a .320 on base percentage.

Looking Forward: Ideally, Morse is a first basemen, although he's held his own out in left field. He's due $6.75 million in 2013, his last year under contract with the Nats.

Ryan Zimmerman: B+

Stats: 145 games, 25 HR, 95 RBI, .282/.346/.478, 19 errors, 36 doubles

Synopsis: His final numbers look very Zimmerman-esque -- but you never would've guessed it after the start the third baseman had. Following three injury riddled months, Zim was batting .243, with five home runs and 31 RBI's. Then he exploded in July, with 10 homers alone, and never looked back. The 27-year-old's glove remains as solid as any player in the league.

Looking Forward: The original face of the franchise is locked in until 2019, with an option for 2020. Good move Lerner's, good move.

Craig Stammen: B+

Stats: 59 appearances, 6-1, 2.34 ERA, 87 K's, 88.1 IP

Synopsis: It won't be surprising if Stammen comes up humongous in the playoffs, because he has all year long. In 11 appearances during September and October, Stammen allowed just two earned runs. The ability to use him as a long reliever in tight spots has been ever so helpful for Davey Johnson.

Looking Forward: Stammen is making just $485,000 in 2012, and is up for arbitration this offseason. He's good enough to be a setup man or closer on a struggling team.

Jayson Werth: B

Stats: 81 games, 5 HR, 31 RBI, .300/.387/.440, 8 steals, 42 BB

Synopsis: I waffled for 20 minutes on this one, almost giving Werth a B+. His power numbers look terrible, but it's been his patience at the plate, his willingness to serve as the leadoff man and noted mentoring of Bryce Harper which has made his second season in Washington one to be proud of

Looking Forward: Werth is locked in until the end of the 2017 season. You have to think he's not a permanent solution atop the order.

Jordan Zimmermann: B

Stats: 12-8, 2.94 ERA, 153 K, 195.2 IP, 18 HR allowed

Synopsis: In June and July, Zimmermann was the Nationals best pitcher -- a baton that passed between the four horseman of the rotation. Down the stretch months though, Zimmerman wasn't close to being the Nats must trusted arm. All in all his season was above average -- nothing extraordinary.

Looking Forward: Zimmermann, 26, is up for arbitration following this season.

Tyler Clippard: B

Stats: 74 appearances, 2-6, 3.72 ERA, 84 K, 1.16 WHIP

Synopsis: Yes he was awful in September and lost his role as the closer. But to me, Clippard's season is defined by his 21 inning scoreless streak from May 18th - July 7th. Remember, that was the period where the Nats had to take on the grueling AL East, mostly on the road.

Looking Forward: Clippard is another arbitration guy this offseason, but if he isn't used to his liking during the playoffs, I can see the 27-year-old looking for other work.

Roger Bernadina/Tyler Moore/Chad Tracy: B

Synopsis: They are all awesome, and all deserve more playing time. Bernadina especially grew as a player this season. 

Looking Forward: Surprisingly, Tracy, 32, is young than he seems and Moore 25, is older than he seems. Moore is definitely the dark horse (and fan favorite) candidate to replace LaRoche at first base in the future.

Drew Storen: B

Stats: 37 appearances, 3-1, 2.37 ERA, 30.1 IP, 24 K's, 0.99 WHIP

Synopsis: It took him awhile to get back into his groove, but it was worth the wait for Nats fans. His control has been superb and he's finally gotten his strikeout count ramped up. Also, he's allowed just two earned runs since the beginning of September.

Looking Forward: His roommate Tyler Clippard won't like to hear this, but Storen will be the Nats closer for the next decade.

Kurt Suzuki: B-

Stats: 43 games, 5 HR, 25 RBI, .267/.321/.404, five doubles

Synopsis: If you are around the Nats locker room enough, every now and then you can catch Suzuki watching the Oakland A's on his iPad. It was tough for him to leave something special, but Suzuki has been an obvious upgrade behind the dish. He's also proved he can be a clutch hitter in the eighth spot.

Looking Forward: It's kind of crazy, but if Suzuki does well enough in the playoffs, he may garner the starting role over Wilson Ramos.

Sean Burnett: B-

Stats: 70 appearances, 1-2, 2.38 ERA, 57 K's 56.2 IP, 1.24 WHIP

Synopsis: Am I the only one who is scared when Burnett comes into a game? It didn't used to be this way. He had two blown saves against St. Louis in early September and then a loss against Atlanta a few days later. Davey needs to be careful using Burnett in the playoffs, in my opinion.

Looking Forward: Burnett, 30, played well for most of the year but he hits the free agent market this winter.

Edwin Jackson: B-

Stats: 10-11, 4.03 ERA, 168 K's, 189.2 IP, 23 HR allowed, 1.22 WHIP

Synopsis: Maybe I'm biased, but I think Jackson has the second dirtiest stuff on the rotation -- behind Strasburg. My only problem with the player affectionately nicknamed Ghetto Cheddar: he made 31 starts and allowed 0 runs in just three of those appearances. It's been a challenge for him to be dominant for an entire outing.

Looking Forward: Jackson has been ranked as a top-five free agent during this offseason. It's likely the Orioles, Red Sox and Mets will throw substantial bids at the 29-year-old.

Danny Espinosa: C

Stats: 160 games, 17 HR, 56 RBI, .247/.315/.402, 189 strike outs, 37 doubles, 20 steals. 

Synopsis: Espinosa isn't a bad player by any means, but compared to the rest of the team, he had a down season. He struck out a mind-boggling 189 times and his batting average hovered around .220 for the first half of the season.

Looking Forward: If the 25-year-old second baseman let's down the city during the playoffs at the plate, people will be calling for his replacement.

Jesus Flores: D

Stats: 83 games, 6 HR, 26 RBI, .213/.248./.239

Synopsis: He was replaced because of his terrible judgement and throwing arm on defense, and his bat may be the worst on the team.

Looking Forward: He will not be on the 25-man roster next season.

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