The season is still young, and the Nats are not in last place (thanks Mets!). Events on the field have been the complete opposite of all pre-season prognostications; starters have been the stars of the team, everyone else taking a back seat. Knowing what we do a month into the season, lets take a look at some of those players that are playing above/below expectation.
Rick Ankiel - Mystery Man
Several things have been evident through his career - 1) Guy can seriously throw the ball and 2) He doesn't get on base much, but can hit for some power and 3) Aside from his arm, his defense is mediocre. So how is he doing so far in those departments.
Fielding - 2 assists thus far and a 1.6 UZR (7.6 UZR/150) placing him 7th in the NL.
Power - Way down, his wOBA is nearly .050 points lower than his career average.
OBP - At .302, .012 below his career average.
Wilson Ramos - Pudge 2
We knew that the kid was going to be good, being listed in the top 5 of several Nats Prospects lists. I don't think anyone really expected him to be this good. Right now he leads the Nats in Batting Average, On-Base Percentage, Slugging Percentage, and WAR. His rookie ranks are just as good, 1st in MLB in Batting Average, 1st in MLB in WAR, 3rd in MLB in OBP, 4th in MLB in Slugging. Expect to see Ramos as the #1 contender for NL Rookie of the Year.
Oh yea, and he has thrown out 4 of 11 would-be base-runners. And the pitchers have a better ERA than when Pudge is behind the dish.
Kid could be Pudge 2.
Danny Espinosa - Slick Danny
Lately he has struggled at the plate, then again so has everyone on the Nationals. But the front office brass isn't at all worried. Second base offense is a luxury, and most teams choose to focus on top notch defense at the position rather than power or batting average. IE his bat will come around, but his defense is already top notch.
Given the job in spring training it was all but assured that Espinosa would have some struggles in his first full season in the big-leauges. But so far his defense has proven to be extremely high-value to the team - racking up a 0.7 UZR thus far and a 0.7 WAR (3rd on the Nats behind Ramos and Zim).
Consider that just 3 weeks ago when the first UZR ratings came out when Espinosa was just at 0.1 he has added 0.6 to that since. Espinosa has really adapted to the Majors really quickly.
Adam LaRoche - Anti-Dunn
So far, once again, his offense hasn't been what we expect but a quick look at the numbers shows that he isn't far off his career numbers. LaRoche is a notoriously slow starter, having a .254 AVG before the ASG and a .296 AVG afterwards. Now, his numbers are even close to .254 right now but he has plenty of time to raise that numbers. For the record, here are his averages by month; April .208, May .255, June .263, July .289, August .314, September .287. Things will get better in time.
His offense, however, isn't what makes him Anti-Dunn - that would be his defense. LaRoche's calm demeanor on the field transfers good vibes to our young and replacement infield. It seems like every game LaRoche digs a ball out of the dirt, or scoops up a short hop saving the team precious runs. It should be noted that LaRoche is one of 4 MLB First-Basemen that still has a 1.000 Fielding Percentage.
Stay tuned for the Pitcher edition coming up around lunch time. But for now, share your thoughts on these Standouts in the comments section!