Oct 3, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals center fielder Denard Span (2) makes a catch off the bat of San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval (not pictured) in the second inning of game one of the 2014 NLDS playoff baseball game at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: H.Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports
2. Washington Nationals
The Nationals are not without their own questions in the outfield. They’ve made the move to flip-flop Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth, allowing Harper a better opportunity to show off his arm while taking the pressure off the aging Werth. Denard Span, on the other hand, will stay put in center.
The biggest question, as it always has been with the Nationals and their outfield, is the health of Bryce Harper. While he managed to avoid crashing into the wall in 2014, a mild feud with Matt Williams helped land the young star on the DL for an extended period of time.
The bright side is that Harper looks like he’s starting to find his swing. He crushed the ball in the playoffs, so if he stays healthy for his age 22 season, he could be a force in the middle of the Nats lineup. He’ll need to clean up his baserunning errors, but the potential is there for a monster 2015.
Denard Span isn’t ready to slow down yet. He’ll turn 31 at the end of February, but he consistently bullied opposing pitchers in the second half of the season. According to Fangraphs , he had a down year out in the field. It may be a blip on the radar or the start of a decline, but either way, it’s no reason to flat out panic.
At the end of the season, Jayson Werth looked like less of a worry. Unfortunately, he underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery earlier this month and his return by the start of the season still isn’t a lock yet. If he can’t go, the Nats will need Nate McLouth or Michael Taylor to step up, which wouldn’t bode well for the Nats offense.
In spite of those clouds hanging over Werth, the Nationals have enough experience and stability to land them at number two on the list of NL East outfields.
Next: Number One?