Saturday, March 5, 2011

Finding Keepers: Washington Nationals

(Stop me if you've heard this one before. COSFBA would like to introduce another guest blogger to you all. This edition of "Finding Keepers" was written by Geoff Bloom of I hope you enjoy Geoff's style of writing about fantasy baseball as much as I do.)

The Washington Nationals improved by ten games in 2010 and hope to do the same in 2011. Their lineup is slowly improving and the addition of RF Jayson Werth will provide protection for 3B Ryan Zimmerman in the lineup. This lineup has some fantasy keepers lead by Werth and Zimmerman. However, Werth's home run total fell from a career high 36 in 2009 to 27 in 2010 and Werth is projected by some to have even fewer in 2011. The change in scenery could be a huge detriment to Werth's fantasy stock. Werth hit 50 points higher and twice as many home runs in Philadelphia last year than he did on the road. He won't see a lot of pitches to hit with RISP in the Nationals lineup. He probably will drive in 87 runs, but Werth is going to have to be extremely efficient when his opportunities present themselves. A hamstring injury slowed Zimmerman's production a bit in 2010, but he continued to be a four-category monster. If the top of the Nationals order had gotten on base more, he would have easily had 100 RBI based just on his clutch hitting last year (.365 BA two-out with RISP). With Werth and 1B Adam LaRoche protecting him, expect Zimmerman to have a monster year. LaRoche does not have Adam Dunn power, but he has hit at least 20 homers each of the last six seasons and should continue to provide respectable production numbers as long as he can cut down on his strikeouts.

SS Ian Desmond stole 17 bases and knocked in 65 runs, but he had nearly four times as many K (109) as BB (28). 2B Danny Espinosa rated as the #66 prospect by Baseball America is a potential future fantasy stud. In 2010, he posted huge numbers between Double-A, Triple-A and the majors: 151 G, .259 BA, 96 R, 28 HR, 84 RBI and 25 SB. Look for him to have a productive 2011. Desmond and Espinosa can provide double-digit power and speed as well as strengthen the Nationals defensively up the middle.

With RHP Stephen Strasburg expected to miss the entire 2011 season after reconstructive elbow surgery, the ace of the Nationals injury-riddled staff is RHP Livan Hernandez. Enough said.

The Nationals bullpen is led by RP Drew Storen. He pitched well enough last year to warrant the closer role when this season begins. He went 5-for-7 in save chances. His 22 walks were uncharacteristic of what he did in the minors, but he did strike out 52 batters in 55.1 innings. If Storen stumbles, RP Tyler Clippard is next in line for saves. If your league includes the HOLDS category, look no further than Clippard who had 23 holds last year.

Geoff Bloom writes his own fantasy baseball blog,, dispensing fantasy baseball advice. I recommend checking out his blog and following him on Twitter. Geoff is also a member of a COSFBA-sponsored fantasy baseball league.

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