Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Opening Day Predictions

Over the past several days, commentators and bloggers alike have been prognosticating about what they expect to see in 2011. The hot stove season has been very active this year for the hometown team, making big offers to multiple free-agents and offering blockbuster trades. As of now there are still a few holes, but a signing here and a good-old-fashioned-Spring-Training-position-battle there should settle that.

Now its my turn to make some predictions. Today we are going to play the first edition of Predict the Opening Day lineup.

Leading off - Nyjer Morgan - 8

Kid is working on his 5th out of 9 lives. He came over to DC with a bang in 2008 2009 but couldn't live up to the hype in 2009 2010; offensively, defensively, or mentally. Under club control for several more years, it's his job to lose.
Ballsy Prediction: Will lose his job to Ankiel by July.

Batting 2nd - Ian Desmond - 6

This is his spot. Last year he was stuck for a while in the 7 and 8 hole, where he hit .289 and .254 respectively. That all changed on July 31st when 2 hole stalwart Cristian Guzman was traded to the Rangers. After that day the Nats brass decided to try Desi 2nd, he proceeded to hit .326 for the rest of the season.
Ballsy Prediction: His errors will go down by 15.

Batting 3rd - Ryan Zimmerman - 5

I got nothing.
Ballsy Prediction: Participates in the all-star game home run derby, and wins.

Batting 4th - Jayson Werth - 9

The big ticket free agent has a lot of weight on his shoulders, about $126 million dollar bills worth. He has extremely limited experience in the 4 hole, but that shouldn't bother him based on the way he has it at Nats Park in the past. He will settle in nicely to that role and will give Zimmerman some delicious protection in the lineup.
Ballsy Prediction: Werth will regret his signing in DC, at least for a year or 2.

Batting 5th - Adam LaRoche - 3

He hasn't signed with the Nats, yet. I believe that it is only a matter of time. No other team has the need for and can afford LaRoche. Ladson has been reporting that a 2 year deal has been progressing nicely. LaRoche provides a very important left handed power bat into the lineup, one that can provide protection for Werth as well. His defense will make our infield exponentially better all the way across the board.
Ballsy Prediction: LaRoche succeeds so well, Nats trade away former prized prospect Chris Marrero.

Batting 6th - Roger Bernadina - 7

The Nats are going to start the year with a platoon in LF between Bernie and Morse. I believe this. The Nats are starting the year against the Braves, whose 3 best pitchers are all right-handed. Bernadina has been in the Nats system for years and he finally has the backing of the General Manager, especially in this defense-first system. His 3.1 UZR from 2010 will be great for the team, and his bat should take a leap this year.
Ballsy Prediction: Bernadina will steal 30+ bases next year.

Batting 7th - Ivan Rodriguez - 2

Barring injury, Pudge is going to be the Opening Day starter for the Nats; the future Hall of Famer has earned it. Most of his 2010 season will be spent mentoring both Ramos and Flores, in different capacities.
Ballsy Prediction: Will have both hips replaced, and not miss a game.

Batting 8th - Danny Espinosa - 4

A September call-up, the Nats representative for the 2010 Futures Game came into the league with a bang, hitting .300 with 3 HR and 10 RBI in his first 10 games. After teams started getting tape on him however, things changed. But one of the things that never changed was his attitude, his defense, and his speed. His defense will help make the Nationals one of the best fielding teams in baseball. Espinosa's UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating averaged over 150 games) is 13.3 which places 3rd in all of Major League Baseball; behind Adam Rosales and Jerry Hairston.
Ballsy Prediction: He won't be hitting 8th for long.

Batting 9th - Jordan Zimmermann - 1

This is easily the toughest of all the predictions thus far, should I have gone with history and tenure (Livan), recent history and dues paid (Lannan), or the guy with the best stuff (Zimmermann). I can't imagine how hard it must be to have to recover from major surgery, wondering if you ever can get to the precipice again. It is a long and arduous journey, and it makes you stronger in the end. They say that it takes over two years to fully recover from Tommy John, but Zimmermann has been ahead of the curve all the way through this process; he will continue to do so and will take the bump on March 31st, 2011.
Ballsy Prediction: Zimmermann no-hits the Mets.

Oh, by the way. Only 39 days til Pitchers & Catchers.

Thoughts? Arguments? Disagreements? Compliments?

Sound off in the comments!


  1. Sounds pretty likely to me. :)

  2. Way to go out on a limb! Great post - started my day with a smile :)

  3. Hard to quibble with anything. I think Morse is a better player and in-arguably had better numbers than Bernadina, but as you point out he'll play versus righties, at least unless he finishes april batting .200 or so and forces the Nats hand.

    I would not put Zimmermann as the opening day starter frankly. I'd guess it would be Livan or Lannan based on "seniority of staff." Probably livan.

  4. Sounds about right, although Nyjer Morgan will turn 31 this year so isn't really a "kid." My gut sense is that we've seen the high (2009) and low (2010) range of what he can do. Will Espinosa, Bernadina, or Ankiel play well enough to threaten his leadoff spot and light a fire under him? I suppose he could have a mid-career renaissance like Jayson Werth, but it seems unlikely.

  5. Morgan should never bat against a left handed pitcher again in his career, unless its the 13th inning or later in a game.

  6. Joe - Your over/under on Nyjer is July and I think Morgan loses his job to Corey Brown by June.

    I don't think Bryce Harper can get here soon enough and I also hope for Eury Perez to follow right behind.

    It is Desmond and Espinosa who will be the keys to the future as we see it. A lot riding on these guys!

  7. Any thoughts about LaRoche batting 4th instead of Werth? Get the right-left-right punch of Zimm-LaRoche-Werth instead of right-right-left?

  8. Steve,

    I don't think Brown is going to be appearing in a Nationals uniform before September, he is just a mini-clone of Nyjer. I think that it will happen before July but it will be Ankiel, if not Bernadina.


    I did think about flipping them around but I think Werth provides more protection for Zim than LaRoche. Especially considering that Zim hits over .300 vs both lefties and righties.