Water rising, tears falling, and sprinklers spraying water on the new grass fields at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches complex for the Washington Nationals. When Spring Training starts, it will be all smiles. The Nats will be the reigning NL East champs, and Dusty Baker will have some new faces on his roster.
“If you give good players enough chances, water seeks its level,” Nats GM Mike Rizzo said. “That’s why they call ’em ‘averages.’ ”
Rizzo and Baker spoke often of struggling players like Ben Revere and Ryan Zimmerman returning to their career averages, but it never happened. We can only hope in 2017 that we don’t hear again about ‘water rising to its level’.
It is perhaps though, the returning players, that will be the ones to watch in this Spring Training. We have the question marks from the health of Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross, to who the real player Bryce Harper will be, the player Ryan Zimmerman needs to be, and on and on.
There is no way to answer any of those question marks with certainty—But there has to be some “Plan B” scenarios for each situation, and hope each player improves.
Strasburg and Ross are key parts of the starting rotation, and 40% of the projected 2017 rotation. We have been discussing whether a Chris Sale trade acquisition makes sense.
On Bryce Harper, is he the 2015 player, the 2013 player, or was 2015 an outlier and Harper is just really a solid .810 OPS player who will give you above average defense?
Werth was not mentioned above, and some are concerned about Jayson Werth who will be turning 38-years-old, but Werth was one of the players who bounced back in 2016 and had a .752 OPS. The key for Werth is staying healthy and getting his rest. Werth only took 19 games off in 2016.
“Like I always tell you, water seeks its own level and Anthony has been a good hitter for most of his life,” Dusty Baker made that comment about Anthony Rendon in mid-April and was correct.
Anthony Rendon finished with a solid 2016, and was very good if you take April 2016 out of the equation. Rendon slashed .291/.357/.508/.866 in the second half of 2016. We are all waiting to see if Rendon can be the batting champ we envisioned when he was drafted in the 1st round by the Nationals in 2011.
All players need to rise to their potential.