Washington Nationals: Previewing the Spring Training position battles

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WEST PALM BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 28: Michael Taylor #3 of the Washington Nationals is congratulated by teammates after hitting a home run to win the game against the Houston Astros in the ninth inning during a spring training game at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on February 28, 2017 in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Nationals defeated the Astros 4-3. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 28: Michael Taylor #3 of the Washington Nationals is congratulated by teammates after hitting a home run to win the game against the Houston Astros in the ninth inning during a spring training game at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on February 28, 2017 in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Nationals defeated the Astros 4-3. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) /
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Washington Nationals Victor Robles
(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /

Starting Center Fielder

Another one that is only really a battle in the loosest sense of the word this spring. This time last year, Michael Taylor has the starting job in center field sewn up, but Victor Robles has a chance to impress. Now, it appears to be the other way around.

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Robles dazzled in his brief big league time last season to the tune of a .288/.348/.525 slash line with three home runs and a triple. He would’ve been up even sooner if it wasn’t for a hyperextended elbow in April that kept him sidelined for a few months.

Meanwhile, Taylor couldn’t replicate his breakout 2017 season, eventually slumping to post a measly .644 OPS with just six home runs last year. The one positive on the offensive side of the ball for Taylor was that he was able to swipe 24 bags in limited playing time, but it’s clear his bat will likely never be good enough at the major league level.

While Taylor’s calling card and a major strong suit is his gold glove defense, something that doesn’t get enough attention is just how good Robles is on the defensive side of the ball. While he’s not quite a gold glover yet, he possesses all the raw tools and flashed that in center last season.

Perhaps the nail in the coffin is that one way or another Robles will have to get regular playing time, either in the bigs or in the minor leagues. Say Taylor won the starting job, that would mean replacing Robles with Andrew Stevenson on the big league roster until they deem him ready.

With that in mind, the Nationals may as well let Robles work through the kinks at the highest level, as he is clearly the more talented player. Get excited Nats fans, it’s the Victor Robles era.

Prediction Victor Robles

Next. Best Nats Prospects at Each Position. dark

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