Tuesday, January 11, 2011

MLB Power Rankings # 24

Since there was such a big gap between my 26th and 25th teams i thought i would give you 2 teams today. So now we will take a look at the #24 team on my power rankings, the Washington Nationals. This is a team that made some significant changes, although they were not able to change in their one major weak area, pitching. I think they may have added a few wins this season but overall they have overpaid to only be marginally better and will likely still be at the cellar of the division this season. Lets take a little bit deeper look at the Nationals.

1. Livan Hernandez
2. John Lannan
3. Jason Marquis
4. Jordan Zimmerman
5. J.D. Martin

Like many teams this far down in the rankings they lack a true ace at the top of their rotation. That is not necessarily a death sentence but they do not even hold a number 1 or even a number 2 type starter. Livan Hernandez and John Lannan could both make cases to be middle of the rotation type starters but Hernandez is past his prime and Lannan struggled some last season (although he came on strong in the second half). Jason Marquis was a disappointment last season as he was expected to bring some stability to this rotation but was hurt and struggled, hopefully he can rebound. Jordan Zimmerman was also injured last season and has the potential to be a nice middle of the rotation starter and is a player i really like. J.D. Martin is kind of the fill in the blank type player that will likely fill the back end of this rotation and we will likely see many mid-level prospects pitching in this spot. Overall its not the worst rotation but it is worse than some of the rotations of teams that are behind the Nationals in the power rankings.

CL- Drew Storen
SU- Tyler Clippard
SU- Sean Burnett
MR- Doug Slaten
MR- Craig Stammen

I actually think that this bullpen will end up being the strength of this team this season. I am a big fan of Drew Storen and he looked legit in the 54 games he pitched this season. Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard are both effective relievers who both profile pretty well as set up guys. Although Sean Burnett is projected to take a little bit of a fall. Doug Slaten and Craig Stammen are both guys who should provide some pretty effective innings, and Stammen may flip between the rotation and the pen. I think this is a very solid group of young pitcher who will get a lot of innings as the rotation will struggle, and i think they will step up to the challenge.

1. Nyjer Morgan-CF
2. Ian Desmond-SS
3. Ryan Zimmerman-3B
4. Jayson Werth-RF
5. Adam LaRoche-1B
6. Rick Ankiel-LF
7. Ivan Rodriguez-C
8. Danny Espinosa-2B

This team definitely has some stars, but they are not deep enough to stack up against the better teams in the league. They made some big moves in the off-season, acquiring Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche and Rick Ankiel. But they also lost talented players in Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham. Werth should offset the loss of Dunn, and LaRoche will offset the lose of Willingham and maybe add a little bit more value. But overall they will likely be as productive as before in terms of their offense, but they should improve defensively which will benefit their pitching. Morgan is a prototypical lead-off hitter with blazing speed and the ability to bunt but he does not get on base enough or hit enough to be a great lead-off hitter. Ian Desmond was a bit of a surprise in 2010 and hopefully should continue his progression and become one of the top offensive shortstops in the game. Ryan Zimmerman is really the main cog of this team on both offense and defense. He is one of the premier defensive third baseman in the league as well as one of the top hitters in the game. Without Zimmerman this team would lose 100 games, so if he gets hurt they are done. Rick Ankiel is always an interesting power option and maybe moving back to the NL will help him rebound from a rough 2010 campaign. At the back end of the lineup Pudge Rodriguez should continue to hit and hopefully get to 3,000 hits very soon, and Danny Espinosa could be the key to the Nationals success in 2011. If he hits to his potential and has a good season he could propel this offense and team to at least be competitive. I think this Nationals team resembles everything the Expos used to be, a very mediocre team that isn't horrible but isn't good either. They could move up a few slots in the rankings or move down but they will not be a really bad team or a really good team.

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