2009 Washington Nationals Baseball Preview

Last season, the Washington Nationals (59- 102) won the fewest games of any club in the majors. This season may be more of the same. Last year, the club caught a bunch of bad breaks due to injuries. Still, you can't blame injuries alone. Even if they do improve this year, it's doubtful the Nationals can be good enough to compete versus the elite in the NL East.

The weakest aspect of this club is its pitching. Both the starting rotation and bullpen are in desperate need of quality hurlers. Lefty Scott Olsen (8- 11 W/L, 4.29 ERA, .253 BAA) has shown improvement, working faster and developing consistency. His two- and four-seam fastballs offer good movement as they come in at 85 to 91 mph. The club's second southpaw, John Lannan (9- 15 W/L, 3.91 ERA, .252 BAA) finds the right spots with his curve and is best when his fastball is sinking at 86- 90 mph. When his pitches are up, batters smash him. Both Shawn Hill (1- 5 W/L, 5.83 ERA, .331 BAA) and Daniel Cabrera (8- 10 W/L, 5.25 ERA, .286 BAA) are coming off of injuries. Colin Balester (3- 7 W/L, 5.51 ERA, .288 BAA) is aggressive and offers a range of pitches, including two- and four-seam fastballs, a downward spiraling curve and a decent change. The bullpen, which includes potential closer Joel Hanrahan (3.95 ERA, 9 SV, .233 BAA), is thin. Hanrahan has some decent stuff but needs to spot the ball better.

Switch-hitter Anderson Hernandez (.333 BA, 17 RBI, 0 HR) puts the ball in play from both sides. Christian Guzman (.316 BA, 55 RBI, 9 HR), another switch-guy, is aggressive at the plate. Ryan Zimmerman (.283 BA, 51 RBI, 14 HR) likes to jump on the first pitch and Willingham, who is inconsistent, powers the ball. If healthy, Nick Johnson (.220 BA, 20 RBI, 5 HR) will drive in runs and put the ball over the fence. Lastings Milledge used his speed to steal 24 bases in 2008.

This is not a bad defensive team. The corners feature the sure fielding Zimmerman at third and the solid play of Johnson at first. The middle is good with shortstop Guzman offering average range and a decent arm and second baseman Anderson Hernandez providing spectacular play. Catcher Jesus Flores is a young talent. The best of the outfield is Elijah Dukes. He can track down tough to get balls and shows a strong, accurate arm. Milledge in center and Willingham in left are both below average.

Manager Manny Acta likes to be optimistic, pointing to teams like the Rays and Rockies that have come out of nowhere to become contenders. Of course, that's pie in the sky, but it may create some optimism amongst the young players and that could yield hard work and more improvement. GM Jim Bowden is always looking to make a good deal.

There was not a whole lot of movement during the hot stove season, which means the Nationals are expecting some of their youngsters to show marked improvement. Even with a decent amount of progress, this team, which in 2008 was near last in every major statistical category, will still finish in the NL East cellar.

Read more on the Nationals other NL East division opponents, New York Mets, Florida Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves.

For more info on the Nationals check out the MLB official page for Washington.


2009 Baseball Preview

The 2009 Major League Baseball season is here and Maddux Sports once again has unveiled their annual preview of this years summer pastime. We go in-depth on all 30 baseball teams as well as our divisional predictions including order of finish. To find your favorite team click on the division links to the right. At anytime you can return to the 2009 baseball preview page.

09 MLB Division Previews

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