The Washington Nationals starting outfield is set in stone, but the guys behind them are just as important to their success, and are an asset for them.
Going into the offseason, it was basically a given that the Washington Nationals were going to try to acquire an outfield upgrade. They did just that. Albeit the hefty price of pitching prospects Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dane Dunning, the Nationals acquired White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton. Eaton has been one of the more underrated players in baseball the last few years, and is under contract for the next five years. That’ll prove to be a very team friendly deal for them.
Eaton will man center field for the Nationals, while Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth man their corner outfield spots. Although their starting outfield is looking solid for the upcoming year, it’s the Nationals depth behind their starters which will prove to be an asset for them.
Eaton, Harper and Werth will likely produce in 2017, but it’s unknown by many who’s playing behind them. One player who may ring a bell to some is center fielder Michael Taylor.
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The 25-year-old Taylor had a very productive 2015 season. Despite finishing the year with a low .229 batting average, Taylor drove in 63 runs, to add onto his 14 homers. He also stole 16 bags. Taylor’s 2015 season was a success considering that it was his first full year in the big leagues, but his 2016 campaign wasn’t as successful.
In 2016, Taylor’s batting average was a tad higher than his 2015 one, but his power numbers were significantly lower. He finished the year with just 16 runs batted in, and he cut his 2015 home run total in half. A key factor to his struggles were that he played in only 76 games, as opposed to his 138 in 2015. The question becomes though, will Taylor bounce back in 2017?
With the Nationals starting outfield likely set in stone, Taylor’s role will be at best the first outfielder off the bench. Last year, expectations were set high on Taylor as many expected him to overtake Jayson Werth in the outfield in terms of production and because of his durability. That never happened.
Taylor has very few expectations set on himself though in 2017, which may lead to a more productive year both at the plate and in the field. His role as a backup to Werth, or Adam Eaton will prove to be a valuable one. Having a guy like Taylor who has proven he can start when necessary, as he did in 2017, is an asset for the Nationals. Another guy to keep an eye on though is Brian Goodwin.
Goodwin played very little in 2016. He had only 42 at bats, but he hit .286, which isn’t so bad considering the limited amount of swings he was able to get. Goodwin’s young legs are an asset for the Nationals considering that both Werth and Eaton may be wearing down.
Also, while he doesn’t provide speed, resigning the veteran Chris Heisey gives the Nationals a power bat off the bench.
Last year, Chris Heisey hit only. 216, but he hit 9 home runs, and hit a big two run homer for the Nationals in game five of the NLDS. His power bat is an asset for manager Dusty Baker, as he can pitch hit in late game situations, and start when necessary.
The Washington Nationals outfield is set in stone, but the guys behind them are just as important, and are an asset for the club. Michael Taylor is primed to have a bounce back year after a rough 2016 campaign. Brian Goodwin is getting ready to take the next step in his game, if he makes the roster, and Chris Heisey is a power bat off the bench for manager Dusty Baker.
A deep bench behind a solid core.