It has been almost a month since the two-year $10.75 million deal was signed by Nate McLouth to become a Washington National. He comes to the Nats from Baltimore where he spent a year and half. He really came out of his shell in Baltimore and became a player that was talked about among their team of big hitters. He did one thing for the Orioles, set up the rest of the offense.
How much of an impact will McLouth make as a Washington National over the next two seasons?
It is hard to tell at this point as he will be coming off the bench and it is particularly hard to predict bench production. One thing is for sure, he should get about 70 or so starts in the outfield this season. He can play each of the three outfield positions, and brings a solid bat to the lineup. He won’t be used for his defense as much as for his ability at the plate though. He has been a below average defender for most of his career and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
He gives flexibility to the Nationals order when he is in the lineup as well. He can hit in the leadoff spot, a little in the five hole and or possibly in the eight to roll the lineup over if needed. He is a very flexible player that can really help the Nationals in the long run.
Other than the 70 starts that he will most likely receive, he could see some time as a pinch runner late in games. He has above average base running ability and can swipe a bag if needed in the late innings. This plays right into the flexibility factor I spoke of.
Does he hit .330 and steal 30 bags in 2014? I highly doubt it, but he still will have a lastly impact on the team. He has never been a huge average hitter, but his walk rate is what makes his valuable. He walks around nine percent of the nine which puts his on base percentage around .325. The Nationals will take that if they can get it from him off the bench.
One thing is for sure, you look around the Major Leagues and he could be the best bench option. The Dodgers have four outfielders as well, but we could see one on the move if something comes up. So if that happens, I give top bench honors to Nate McLouth. He will make an impact that won’t show up necessarily in the box score, but in the win/lose factor of a game.