October 30, 2014

DC-IBWA announces 2012 Pre-Season Survey Results

Members of the Washington, DC chapter of the Internet Baseball Writers Association were asked to reply to a survey of 11 questions regarding the Washington Nationals upcoming season. Twenty-one members of the association replied to the survey, which asked for predictions on several position battles, statistical leaders, and win projections for the 2012 Nats.

You can find a link to the survey responses here.

As a founding member of the DC-IBWA, we of course responded. Below were our choices, and we welcome your comments or opinions.

1. Who will lead the Nats in home runs?  Dave: Zimmerman; Cheryl: Zimmerman; Tyler: Morse.

If Ryan Zimmerman can stay healthy all season, he could be in line for a career year at age 27, just entering his prime. 

2. Who will lead the Nats in RBIs?  Dave: Morse; Cheryl: Zimmerman; Tyler: Zimmerman.

As I’ll explain further below, the Nats top of the order lacks in on-base skills, so I went with Morse for the RBI category, who at least will have Zimmerman getting on base ahead of him. Though if Morse missed more than a couple of weeks, this prediction will be off.

3. Who will led the Nats in stolen bases?  Dave: Desmond; Cheryl: Espinosa; Tyler: Desmond.
 
Desmond, Espinosa and Bernadina all are fairly efficient stealing bases, but Desmond takes the opportunity much more often than Espinosa. Bernadina just won’t have the playing time to keep up with the other two.
 
4. Who will lead the Nats in wins? Dave: Gonzalez; Cheryl: Zimmermann; Tyler: Zimmermann.
 
Gonzalez has been a work horse the last two years, starting 33 and 32 games and going over 200 innings both times. Starts and innings pitched are keys for pitcher’s wins. The deeper you pitch into games the more likely you are to be the winning pitcher. Gonzalez might not end up the best or most efficient pitcher the Nats have, but he likely will be the work horse of this staff as well.

5. Which pitcher (Chien-Ming Wang, John Lannan or Ross Detwiler) will make more starts for the Nats? Dave: Detwiler; Cheryl: Detwiler; Tyler: Detwiler.
 
Most of the survey answers came in before John Lannan was demoted on Tuesday, but the Nats really want to see what they have in Detwiler. This is his best, and perhaps last, opportunity to finally prove he belongs in the Major League rotation. Detwiler, 26, is not all that young anymore.
 
6. Which center field candidate (Rick Ankiel, Roger Bernadina or Bryce Harper) will get more at bats for the Nats? Dave: Bernadina; Cheryl: Bernadina; Tyler: Ankiel.
 
It could still be Harper, but my guess is that he ends up playing in the minors to long to have more games at center than Bernie and will eventually be at a corner once he gets up to the bigs anyway.
 
7. What date will Bryce Harper make his MLB debut? Dave: June 19; Cheryl: June 1; Tyler: June 15
 
My response was June 19, but I could envision a bunch of scenarios. Really, it’s going to depend on Harper. If he makes a swift and resounding transition to the more experienced pitchers of Triple-A, we could see him a few weeks earlier, and you know he’d love to be in uniform for the Yankees series June 15-17. I can also picture him playing in the minors all season and coming up when rosters expand. Regardless, it will be fascinating to watch when he does arrive.
 
8. Which minor leaguer are you most excited to watch this season? Dave: Matt Purke; Cheryl: Ryan Tatusko and Eury Perez; Tyler: Destin Hood.
 
To me, Matt Purke is the most interesting minor leaguer the Nats have, other than Harper. Purke was the best pitcher in college his freshman year at TCU and he exhibited top of the first round stuff. If he’s fully healthy after injuries limited him his sophomore year, he could be a real difference-maker for the Nats and wind up being a steal out of the third round of last year’s draft.
 
9. How many all-stars will the Nats have and whom? Dave: One, Zimmerman; Cheryl: Three, Zimmerman, Espinosa, Strasburg; Tyler: Two, Strasburg and Zimmerman.
 
Even though the Nats are seemingly the darling of the national media right now, the trendy pick for a playoff spot, it’s tough for me to envision them getting more than one All-Star representative. They won’t have anyone voted on to the team by the fans, that’s for certain. Zimmerman is the only position player with enough name recognition, and I just don’t think Strasburg will get out of the box quickly enough to merit his inclusion. But if they get off to a hot start, who knows?
 
10. Number of wins and place in division? Dave: 83 wins, third place; Cheryl: 87 wins, second place; Tyler: 87 wins, second place.
 
As I mentioned in my projections post yesterday, I think the Nats are closer to playoff-quality baseball than they ever have been, but aren’t quite there yet. I just don’t think there’s enough offense to push them over the top. We’re going to see a lot of 3-2 games — winning and losing — this season. But I expect the pitching will keep them in the conversation all season long.
 
11. Most important development for 2011? Dave: Top of the order offense; Cheryl: Outfield situation; Tyler: Top of the order offense.
 
If the Nats are going to make strides in their offensive game, it’s got to start at the top of the order. The Nats were 13th in the N.L. is total base runners last season and to score more runs they simply have to get more runners on base. In 2011, Nationals 1-2 hitters OBP’d .285 and .283 for the season. That’s not batting average, that’s on-base percentage, and it’s atrocious. In order to score more runs the top of the order has to do a better job of reaching base.
About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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