We're excited to be part of the Internet Baseball Writers Association: DC Chapter's pre-season predictions for 2011. If you click on the link above, you can see the results from voting from baseball bloggers and writers across DC. Below is our predictions. Some were easy, some were hard, some we went with an off-the-wall pick. Here's our picks with some justifications. As always, comments are welcome.
1) Who will lead the Nats in home runs in 2011?Ryan Zimmerman - With the loss of Adam Dunn, this isn't the boldest pick in the world, but it could also be Werth and LaRoche. We're going with the franchise here.
2) Who will lead the Nats in RBI?Jayson Werth - Zimmerman could be the guy here, too, but we sent this in before Riggleman basically said Ryan Zimmerman would be the clean up hitter quite a bit.
3) Who will lead the Nats in stolen bases?Danny Espinosa - We're not convinced Nyjer's even going to make the team in 2011, let alone be a starter. After him, the guy with legs that we can bet on is good old Espi. Hopefully he gets on base enough to make us right.
4) Who will lead the staff in wins?John Lannan - Yea, that's right: John Lannan people. Again, we sent this in over 2 weeks ago. Now, with Ross Detwiler's and Yunesky Maya's success in the spring, plus the near locks that are Livo and Marquis, we're not convinced Lannan will be with the Nats on Opening Day. None the less, we think that, should Lannan make it into the rotation, he has the potential to be the wins leader if looks at all like he did to end 2010.
5) Who will lead the staff in saves?Sean Burnett - We think there's a chance that Drew Storen doesn't make the Opening Day roster this year. He has options in his contract, he's been lit up this spring, and getting a little extra time in the minors couldn't hurt. That leaves Burnett and Clippard to share the closers duties this season, and we think Burnett gets the advantage.
6) Which starter will lead the team in starts?Livan Hernandez - This is easy for us. Livan is the workhorse of the rotation. Then, with Lannan not making it through all of last year in the majors, Marquis coming off injury, JZimm not 2 years from Tommy John surgery, and a host of other guys that are bound to get a chance in the rotation this season, Livan is probably the guy.
7) Who will pitch more innings for the Nats this season: Chien-Ming Wang, Yunesky Maya, Ross Detwiler?Yunesky Maya - Maya is coming off an offseason where he was named Dominican Winter League Player of the Year and has had a good spring start so far. But Detwiler has been incredible so far this spring, so he also has a pretty good shot. We went with Maya on pure gut, plus we hadn't seen Detwiler at all this spring yet. Seriously, he's been awesome.
8) Who will get more at bats for the Nats this season: Rick Ankiel, Jerry Hairston, Alberto Gonzalez?Rick Ankiel - Hairston and Gonzo will be around and will probably get some ABs. But with Nyjer Morgan's inability to... you know... play baseball, he might get some real action in center field.
9) Who will get more at bats for the Nats this season: Ivan Rodriguez, Jesus Flores, Wilson Ramos?Wilson Ramos - Ramos has been incredible behind the plate this spring, Flores has yet to get a hit, and Rodriguez isn't getting any younger. Flores will most likely end up behind the plate in AAA, at least to start the year, so Ramos it is.
10) How many all-stars will the Nats have? Who?1; Ryan Zimmerman - We're convinced Zimm won't get snubbed again in 2011 like he did in 2010, but we're not convinced that anyone else on the team has the potential to be an All-Star this season. The Nats will get their mandatory one.
11) Total wins and what place in the division?76; 4th place in NL East - The Nats won't hit .500, but they'll get closer than last year, and they won't be nearly as bad as the team we predict to be the cellar dwellers in the NL East: the Mets. They're basically broke, have old, washed up talent, oh... and they're really broke.
12) Single most important thing for the Nats this season?Young player development - There's little to no chance that the 2011 Nats end up bound for the post-season. But one thing they need to focus on is developing their staggering amount of young talent. In addition to the development, the entire baseball world, NatsTown included, will be focused on Stephen Strasburg's recovery from Tommy John surgery. If Strasburg completes his recovery and the minor leaguers can show some real progress, we can have a different story in 2012 and beyond.