Washington Nationals: Brian Goodwin quickly becoming valuable asset

Jun 20, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Brian Goodwin (8) scores a run in the fifth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 20, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Brian Goodwin (8) scores a run in the fifth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

Brian Goodwin was given a chance to play left field for the Washington Nationals in Jayson Werth’s absence and he has run with it. In just a few weeks, he has transformed from a fringe major leaguer to a valuable asset.

After displaying some potential as a September call-up last season, Washington Nationals outfielder Brian Goodwin became a candidate to be a contributor off the bench in 2017. A lousy Spring Training changed that and he lost the job to Michael Taylor.

Now, both Goodwin and Taylor are starting in the outfield nearly every day. Coming into this season, that would be a dreadful thought for Nats fans. However, both have impressed and played remarkably well.

Goodwin, especially, has impressed. After starting the year as a struggling AAA outfielder, he has quickly transformed into a valuable asset and contributor at the big-league level. His rapid improvement has been huge for the Nats and he has made the loss of Jayson Werth much easier to handle.

Goodwin has played exceptionally well and has been a five-tool player. First of all, he has performed admirably while batting at or near the top of the lineup. He has played in 30 games this season and is currently batting .253. The Nats would take .253 from Goodwin since he’s not a permanent everyday player, but he has actually been even better than what his average would lead you to believe.

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In his 14 starts this month, he is hitting .286 with four homers, ten RBI’s, and nine runs scored. With regular playing time, Goodwin is a solid player and still has not peaked. At 26, he is still relatively young and has time to improve.

Goodwin’s on-base percentage this month is .333, so he does a good job of hitting for contact and getting on base, but he has also shown flashes of power. He has four homers this month, including homering in three straight starts.

On top of hitting the long ball, he has also displayed gap-to-gap power and is able to utilize his speed to record extra base hits. This month, he has three doubles and a triple to go along with his four homers. Between his offensive prowess and his speed, he has been the perfect two-hole hitter in Werth’s absence.

Goodwin hasn’t used his speed to rack up a ton of stolen bases, but is still a good baserunner. He has typically hit second this year, so he is in front of Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, and Daniel Murphy. Stealing in front of that trio is risky for a few reasons. If you get thrown out, you wasted a baserunner while the heart of the lineup is up. Secondly, if you successfully steal, the opposing pitcher could elect to intentionally walk whoever is up in order to set up a double play. Goodwin stealing could end up hurting the Nats more than it helps them.

Even without stolen bases, Goodwin is able to make an impact on the basepaths. His speed forces the pitcher to pay attention to him, which makes the batter more likely to get a good pitch to hit. Goodwin also does an excellent job of using his speed and instincts to advance from first to third on base hits.

Finally, Goodwin plays solid defense in the outfield and is capable of making highlight-reel plays. He features an above average arm and uses his speed to track down nearly any ball in his vicinity. On June 2, he made one of the best plays of the season, covering 60 feet in just 3.8 seconds and laying out to make an amazing catch.

Another way that Goodwin’s excellent performance could benefit the Nats is by using him in a trade. The Nats’ farm system took a big hit this off-season and could potentially be drained even further in order to acquire bullpen help. However, the Nats could use Goodwin in a trade and save the farm system.

His value is currently at an all-time high and Mike Rizzo has made a similar trade before. A few years ago, Rizzo traded outfielder Steven Souza and acquired Trea Turner and Joe Ross. Souza, like Goodwin, had been a prospect for most of his professional career and was likely overvalued on the trade market at the time. He had just made an unbelievable catch to save Jordan Zimmermann‘s no-hitter and the Nats took advantage of his high trade value. Goodwin’s trade value isn’t likely to remain this high, and the Nats could potentially use him to acquire some much-needed bullpen help.

Next: Examining Tanner Roark's recent struggles

After losing Jayson Werth to a foot injury, Brian Goodwin has stepped up and filled in admirably. In just a few weeks, Goodwin has become an extremely valuable asset and could even potentially help the Nats save their farm system. After being drafted in the same draft as Anthony Rendon, Goodwin is finally excelling at the big-league level.