Washington Nationals: Can Brian Goodwin Make Opening Day Bench?
By Ricky Keeler
Heading into spring training, what are the chances Brian Goodwin makes the Opening Day roster for the Washington Nationals?
Towards the end of the 2016 season, the Washington Nationals saw many good things from outfielder Brian Goodwin. Goodwin didn’t make the postseason roster and hit .286 in his first 22 games in the big leagues. Now, heading into 2017, what are Goodwin’s chances to make the Opening Day roster?
Before Goodwin was called up, he had a strong season at triple-A Syracuse. In 119 games, he had a slash line of .280/..349/.438 with 14 home runs, 68 RBI’s, and 15 stolen bases in 18 attempts. He was tied for the team lead in hits (with Matt Skole), second in RBI’s, and third in stolen bases.
When Goodwin got the call up to join the Washington Nationals, the first round pick in 2011 took advantage of his opportunity. In the month of September, he hit .320 (8-for-25) with four doubles, a triple, and three RBI’s. Plus, he showed good plate discipline as he saw nearly four pitches per plate appearance (3.98 to be exact).
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With spring training a little over a month away, the Washington Nationals roster doesn’t have many holes in it and not many position battles. But, one battle to keep an eye on will be for one of the final outfield spots. Chris Heisey has one of those secured after signing a one-year deal this winter.
As for the other spot, it could easily come down to Goodwin or Michael Taylor. According to Roster Resource, Taylor does have one option left, so it is possible for the team to start the year with Goodwin on the big league level and Taylor at Syracuse.
Taylor did hit 14 home runs in 2015, but he struck out 158 times during that season. Last season, he struggled mightily. He hit .231 with seven home runs and struck out 77 times in 76 games. Even when he got regular playing time at Syracuse, his production wasn’t much better (.205, one home run, nine RBI’s in 31 games).
Two years ago, I wrote about Taylor and Goodwin with Taylor having the upper hand between the two. Now, heading into spring training next month, Taylor may still be the favorite for a bench spot, but Goodwin isn’t that far behind.
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While Taylor may still have the high upside and the potential, he needs to cut down on the strikeouts, especially in a reserve role. If Goodwin can have a strong spring training, it wouldn’t surprise me if he won the job. Plus, even if he loses out, Goodwin should still play a part in how the Washington Nationals do in 2017.