2016 brings new manager, a new second baseman, a new center fielder and a new vibe for the Washington Nationals. Obviously is it way too early to know if this trend will continue, but the Nats’ solid play in spring games seems to have washed away some of the major disappointment that the 2015 brought.
With the new season just around the corner, it might be fun to look at some Nationals over/under options and try to predict how things might turn out in the upcoming season.
BRYCE HARPER HOME RUNS- OVER/UNDER 40.5
2015 was a season to forget in many ways, but watching Bryce Harper excel in his breakout season brought us memories to cherish. Harper’s MVP campaign was achieved at such a young age that there are valid reasons to think that, like his walk-up song says, the best is yet to come. With a better lineup around him and with Harper’s continued growth as a player, I am going with the over on this.
RYAN ZIMMERMAN/JAYSON WERTH- COMBINED GAMES MISSED DUE TO INJURY 70
The two Nationals players with the most “skins on the wall” in terms of accomplishments in the game are Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth. Both appear to be hard workers who play the game with intensity, but both also seem to be prone (as many veteran players are) to unfortunate injuries. Zimmerman’s foot issues and Werth’s wrist problem will likely never be fully healed, but one thinks that the pair’s luck will change for the better in 2016. I am going with the under.
ANTHONY RENDON/DANIEL MURPHY- COMBINED DOUBLES 80.5
When they are on their games, Anthony Rendon and Daniel Murphy are driving balls to the gaps and putting up big extra-base hit numbers. Rendon’s “Tony Two Bags” nickname was well deserved in 2014 when he had 39 doubles, and Murphy had 38 of his own in 2015. Can the pair combine for more than 80 in 2016? While I think that Rendon and Murphy will be two of the Nats’ more productive hitters, a combined 81 doubles may be a reach. I think they’ll be in the 76-78 range so I am going with the under by a hair.
BEN REVERE- STOLEN BASES 35.5
Speedy Ben Revere gives the Nationals perhaps their best stolen base threat since Alfonso Soriano was the Nats’ stolen base leader in 2006. Revere has 176 career steals, but has topped 35 steals only twice in his Major League career. Even with that in mind, Dusty Baker’s love of the speed game and Davey Lopes’ expertise as a first base coach/running game guru give Revere a great shot at having a career year on the base paths in 2016. I am going with the over in a landslide, and wouldn’t be surprised if Revere was pushing 50 steals by the end of September.
WILSON RAMOS- HOME RUNS 19.5
The Nats’ hard-working catcher has never had more than 16 in a season in his career, but he’s tearing the cover off of the ball so far in the spring of 2016 and there’s legitimate hope that the recent Lasik surgery he underwent might be the impetus for a career year for the backstop. That being said, Lasik surgery may help Ramos see the ball better but it won’t help him endure the wear and tear that goes with being a catcher in the Major Leagues. I think Ramos will have a solid year, but that he’ll just miss out on approaching the 20 home run mark so I am going with the under.
NEXT UP- PITCHING STAFF OVER/UNDER PICKS