Spring Training is in full swing, and while we must take every performance with a grain of salt and a handfull of small sample size, it’s important not to ignore what’s happened so far. Here are a few highlights after the first few weeks:
The Position Players
The middle infield – Danny Espinosa is batting .324/.378/.559 and Ian Desmond is batting .314/.351/.400 while having the two highest AB totals on the team. They’re not walking much, which is troubling, but at least they are hitting the ball. Without walking, they will have to sit lower in the lineup, they just won’t get on base enough, but hopefully some of that will come.
Left Field – It would be hard to deny Mike Morse the starting job at this point. He’s hitting .469, he’s slugging 1.000, and he’s got 5 HRs in only 32 ABs. This compares with Rick Ankiel‘s .194/.219/.548. Ankiel has shown enough power that you’d think he’d make the team, but he doesn’t look like the starter yet.
Center field – Nyjer Morgan is now batting .212/.242/.261, while Roger Bernadina is hitting .281/.324/.438. Bernadina is putting together a strong case to be the 4th outfielder, since Morse is hitting so well. But if Morgan continues to slump this way, Bernie’s got a chance to be the starting centerfielder.
Catcher – Wilson Ramos and Ivan Rodriguez have nearly identical low average/no walks/no power. Flores is probably still a bit away from being ready to hit real pitching, so those two guys will get the job at this point. The main difference is that Ramos has a strong chance to improve, and that’s probably the best you’ll get from Pudge.
Bench – Jerry Hairston and Matt Stairs have shown enough life in their bats to possibly make the squad.
The dominance shown by Jason Marquis is good to see. He’s started 3 games, he’s only allowed 1 ER in 12 IP, while striking out 8 and walking only 3. It’s unsustainable in the regular season, but he certainly could go on a 4 or 5 game stretch, more than once in the season, where he pitches similarly. The Nats would greatly benefit by this, especially if it happens before the trade deadline.
Jordan Zimmermann and Ross Detwiler have both looked very good. Zimmermann will start in the rotation, Detwiler may well get shipped down to the minors, but he probably doesn’t belong there.
John Lannan and Livan Hernandez have not looked good yet. There’s time, but I’m not sure if either of them will be left off the initial starting rotation despite how they perform.
Tom Gorzelanny is also in the poor performance group, and will need to improve in order to win a spot in the rotation, otherwise he’s probably the long relief man.
Drew Storen hasn’t looked good either, which probably does have a real affect on the season. He has possibly convinced the team he isn’t ready to be the closer yet, which means there’s likely to be a big shuffle of guys in that spot throughout the season. Storen could still end up there eventually, but I doubt it’ll happen in April.