Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Most Improved/Impressive Nats: 2010 Edition

While national and local media will start covering the MLB Postseason and the start of the Caps season (is this finally the year for Lord Stanley's Cup?), we don't have to be done with the Nats 2010 quite yet. I think it's time to give credit where credit is due on the 3 (and a half) most improved and impressive Nationals this season. Disagree? Yell at me in the comments.

1. Sean Burnett - I think that this is hard to argue against. There's a real argument to be made that Burnett was the best pitcher for the Nationals. Period. (Besides SS, of course.) Now look at him in terms of improvement over the course of the season. Compared to the first half, his strikeout to walk ratio shot up, batting average, on base %, and slugging % against all plummeted after the All-Star Break.

2. Michael Morse - After months of coming off of the bench and still managing to hit close to .400, the new Michael Morse proved that he could still hit on a full-time basis. Although he struggled at first with the every day role, he came into it well as the season progressed. He finished the season with 293 plate appearances, a .289 batting average, a .352 OBP, and 15 homers. While his fielding and range are less than stellar, he's certainly not bad. And a lot can be learned in the field in the spring if he has in fact earned the right fielder's, or maybe first baseman's, starting job.

3. Ian Desmond - As much as I destroyed Desi before the All Star Break for his terrible fielding and his low average, I have admitted on a few occasions already that I was wrong. Let me do so again. I was w-r-o-n-g wrong. Let's just go over these stats between first and second half quickly for Ian.
  • Batting average: 1st half - .255; 2nd half - .283
  • On base percentage: 1st half - .297; 2nd half - .320 (although that still needs improvement)
  • Errors: 1st half - 21; 2nd half - 13.
While 13 errors in the 2nd half is still more than the top 6 MLB shortstops committed all season long, he cut the errors after the ASB by over 1/3. And Desmond is still a rookie! Have you seen him throw across the diamond? It's like a bullet.

And finally, I think an Honorable Mention is due: Matt Capps - The Capper is where he belongs now, in the playoffs for the first time in his career with the Minnesota Twins. Capps was the Nats lone All-Star representative (although Zimmerman was screwed, don't even get me started), and he was certainly the Nationals most consistent player, earning 26 saves in 30 opportunities. He's done the same in Minnesota, earning 16 saves in 18 opportunities. I hope Jon Rauch (another former Nat) can get himself healthy to set up Capps in the playoffs. They'll be hard to beat in the playoffs.

So that ends this summary of 2010. Stay tuned for another post featuring the most disappointing players of 2010 in the near future.


  1. You forgot one: Joel Peralta. Normally a middle reliever who did not join the big club in June wouldn't be worthy of a mention, but his season was insanely good. Not only was his ERA (2.02) almost half of his previous career low, but he had 49Ks in 49 IPs with an microscopic WHIP of 0.796.

    You could argue it was a fluke, but if so it was a DOMINANT fluke.

  2. I definitely didn't forget Peralta. I was struggling between a few guys for spots. I thought about making it top 5 and doing Peralta and Livo, but I stuck with 3. The absolutely incredible season that Peralta had is certainly not lost on me.

  3. Problem is, all of these rookies seem to play for themselves more than they play for the team. always trying to get a home run and end up striking out. Too many errors, not thinking baseball fundamentals.
    My vote is Matt Capps. He was most improved, most enthusiastic, most impact. And of course, we traded him for ????? a hopeful 2nd or 3rd string catcher. Why not wait for Bryce to become catcher.