KFFL answers some important fantasy baseball questions for each Major League Baseball team as spring training approaches. What must fantasy baseball players know about the Washington Nationals?
What's Jayson Werth's fantasy value in D.C.?
Not much less than it was with the Philadelphia Phillies. His skills are stabilizing - still a nice power-speed combo that puts him among top-level outfielders. Some small concerns are his newfound lack of protection and his heavy splits that favored his home games last year.
Storen open for closing?
However, he hasn't had concerns like that in the past. Also, Nationals Park wasn't detrimental to righty power - it's better in that realm than Citizens Bank Park per some metrics. Washington enjoys swiping, too, and Werth could push up his SB total in this more aggressive offense. For 2011, expect more of the same from Werth with a potential thread-based discount.
Who will be the Nats' closer?
Washington will probably give Drew Storen the first shot unless they sign a Brian Fuentes type. Storen saved five of seven opps and flashed promise last year but lacked control in his first big-league action. Of course, it was his first professional season, so if Washington expected brilliance....
Storen's job isn't set in stone. Sean Burnett lurks for lefty matchups (ahem, NL-only). Tyler Clippard was reliable as a wins vulture in 2010 and might be trusted in desperate times for the late innings. Heat-flinging righty Henry Rodriguez, acquired from the Oakland Athletics, is a sleeper.
Storen remains your top target here, but it's unknown if Washington will agree with the fantasy world's notion. At least at the mixed draft spot or price where you'd take him, he'd be easily replaceable.
What can Washington's double play combo offer the fantasy baseball world?
Better question: Are you sure they aren't the same person? Shortstop Ian Desmond, 25, and keystoner Danny Espinosa, 24 in April, boast 20-steal profiles with some semblance of power that could come in handy for a mixed MI spot. Espinosa is the better bet for the 20-homer plateau thanks to a better fly-ball body of work. Desmond's high grounder rates probably won't let him sniff that level without some good fortune.
A poor batting eye plagues each of these options, so your ratio cats will suffer with whichever one you own. Desmond, given his slightly more extensive MLB experience, is probably the better choice if you're looking strictly for swipes. Espinosa, however, is the better value and holds more all-around upside.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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