1. Biggest surprise from the first half of the season?
Tom– The complete and total implosion of Trevor Rosenthal. I watched multiple spring training outings here in Florida and thought he looked great, and even wrote an “Old Takes Exposed”-worthy District on Deck article stating that he “looks dominant” and the addition of Rosenthal could make the Nats bullpen “one of the division’s best.” What was I thinking?
Ross– – Trevor Rosenthal and just how awful he was. On a percentile outcome spectrum, it was worse than the 1st percentile outcome. His struggles set the entire bullpen back about two months due to other players getting forced into roles for which they weren’t prepared.
Danny– The biggest surprise for me from the first half was Davey Martinez’s ability to keep this team on track despite stumbling to a 19-31 start. You typically don’t see teams go on runs like this when following that bad of a start. Putting some of Davey’s in-game managerial decisions aside, he’s done a heck of a job this season. We saw in 2015 what can happen when a manager loses the players and we very well may be seeing it happen right now with the New York Mets. It’s not easy to keep an upbeat attitude and keep believing when you’re on a 62 win pace a little over 30% into the season, but that’s exactly what the Nationals were able to do.
Monty– Gerardo Parra’s impact. Prior to joining the Nationals, Parra was hitting .198 with 3 doubles and a home run in 30 games with the San Francisco Giants. In 38 games since joining the Nationals, Parra has hit .259 with 6 doubles and 4 home runs. But more importantly, Parra has become the team’s ‘glue-guy’ and his off-field impact has allowed the team to play loose. He’s served as a mentor to Robles and Soto. The team is 33-20 since he joined the team on May 9th and now currently in a playoff spot. Even better, the team has celebrated with dance parties in the dugout after home runs rather than smashing cabbages.
Corey– The biggest surprise of the first half of the season has to be the resurgence of Brian Dozier. A career .245 hitter is hitting .233 with 14HRs. Over the last 30 games, Dozier has 27 hits with 17 RBI’s. Having platooned with Howie Kendrick his time has been limited but he’s come on strong the last few weeks and is definitely a player to watch going into the second half of the season.
Matt– My biggest surprise of the first half is the play of Kurt Suzuki. Coming into the year I thought Suzuki would be a nice backup but Yan Gomes would be the clear starter, and I could not have been more wrong about that. Suzuki is hitting .270/.313/.515 with 11 home runs and 38 runs batted in and has clearly been the Nationals’ best catcher.