Corner infielder Chad Tracy was one of the best stories the Nationals had last season. After spending 2011 in Japan, seemingly signaling the end of his MLB career, he came back, earned a bench job in Spring Training, and played great off the bench. As the leader/founder of the “Goon Squad”, the lefty hit .269/.343/.441 with 3 homers, 7 runs, and 14 RBI in only 105 plate appearances, given that he missed over two months with a groin injury. He is still only 32, so he should be able to keep contributing as a powerful bench bat. Our projectors support this claim, albeit with limited playing time:
March 05, 2013; Viera, FL, USA; Washington Nationals first baseman Chad Tracy (18) gets an RBI double against the Houston Astros during the spring training game at Space Coast Stadium. Washington defeated Houston 7-1. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
ZiPS: 168 AB, .255/.310/.366, 20 RBI, 13 RS, 0 SB, 3 HR
MLB.com: 75 AB, .253/.341/.467, 10 RBI, 8 RS, 0 SB, 3 HR
CBSSports: 80 AB, .250/.310/.350, 10 RBI, 6 RS, 0 SB, 1 HR
ESPN Fantasy: 105 AB, .286/.339/.429, 14 RBI, 11 RS, 0 SB, 3 HR
Averages: 107 AB, .261/.325/.403, 14 RBI, 10 RS, 0 SB, 3 HR
Curiously, this line is all but identical to Tracy’s 2012 line. I suppose when you’re 32 and hit right near your career averages, there’s not much that can change. The most interesting part about these numbers is how much playing time Tracy is expected to have. He had 105 at bats last year, but missed a large chunk of time to injury. When discussing their projection for him, MLB.com said Tracy will “have [a] hard time finding [a] spot on [the] Opening Day roster”, instead seeming to believe that catcher Chris Snyder or second baseman Will Rhymes will claim his spot. Given that Tracy was given a one-year extension last season, it seems unlikely that he will be cut from the team or sent to the minors, which means that MLB.com is underestimating his playing time. He should match the projected rates, but in perhaps 175-200 at bats. Again, like any bench player, he will be of no fantasy value unless at least one regular suffers a serious injury, and even then won’t be worth much. As a Nat, however, he should continue to be the face of the Goon Squad, delivering clutch pinch-hit doubles whenever Davey calls on him.