2021 Nationals Player Grades Part 3

Photo by Sol Tucker for TalkNats

Ryne Harper, RHP: Harper is one of the strangest pitchers in the entire league. His strikeout rate was as low as ever in his career. However, his FIP (a stat that measures how well a pitcher is doing at preventing home runs and walks while striking players out) was not on par with the league average. He also threw far fewer fastballs than the average reliever. Overall, he was nothing to write home about, save for a stretch where he had the lowest ERA on the team. He might get resigned due to his dependability and experience. 

Will Harris, RHP: In the second year of his three year contract, Harris was looking to make an impact after pretty much sitting out the entire season in 2020. He almost immediately found himself on the IL. Harris returned briefly, but he did not last long. He suffered a season ending injury and his future is very much in question. 

Josh Harrison, UTL: J-Hay was one of the unsung heroes in 2020, so it made perfect sense for the Nats to bring him back. He was tremendous for the team all year, no matter the role. Harrison was moved around the field as much as humanly possible and made the best of it. He hit well in just about every clutch spot. Eventually, he was dealt to Oakland with Yan Gomes where he was a platoon player for the A’s down the stretch. 

Yadiel Hernandez, OF: Last year, Hernandez was a player that came up late in the season and did not make a huge impact. As a rookie over the age of 30, he does not impress many fans on the surface. In 2021, he took a big step forward once he gained everyday at bats. He was a stabilizing presence in the middle of the order with a knack for making contact. Whether or not he has a long term role with the club remains unseen. He projects as a player that will consistently perform at an adequate level. 

Daniel Hudson, RHP: Hudson is a DC sports legend for his contributions in 2019. Not only did he retire the final out of the World Series, but he was a key contributor down the stretch. He has continued to produce at a high level in the back end of the Nationals’ bullpen. However, when the team fell out of contention, the Nats traded the veteran hurler to the Padres. The Padres were looking to make a run for the Postseason, but ultimately fell short. While the entire team faltered in the second half, Hudson was not his usual productive self in San Diego. His ERA was over 5.00 in San Diego, but he still will likely find his way onto a roster come Spring. 

Carter Kieboom, 3B: One of the most hyped infield prospects since Trea Turner, Kieboom took over at the hot corner after the departure of Anthony Rendon in the offseason after the 2019 season. In 2020, Kieboom struggled mightily. Offensively, he was unproductive, defensively, he floundered. The Nats gave him every opportunity to take the job again in Spring Training, which he did not. Kieboom played in AAA at a relatively unastonishing level. In an ironic twist of fate, Kieboom got his chance when the Nats traded away the last great infield prospect (among others), Turner. Kieboom got off to a slow start, but picked it up for a two week stretch in August. Unfortunately, he went ice cold down the stretch, leaving more question marks than answers following his uneven play. Does Kieboom have a role moving forward? Absolutely, but the actual question is whether or not he has that due to the organizational faith in him or because he is the best option?

Gabe Klobosits, RHP: Klobo was called up to make his MLB debut in the second half of the season. That was a time where the Nats were (no pun intended) throwing mud at the wall and hoping some of it stuck in terms of the bullpen. Klobosits was decent in his time in the MLB, but ultimately, he was sent down due to his shaky control. That being said, it is certainly not the last time Nats fans will see Klobosits trot out from the bullpen.

Jon Lester, LHP: Lester was brought in by the Nats in late February to bring a veteran presence to the rotation. The left hander flopped in nearly every manner imaginable. He was unable to rebound from his horrid 2020, and looked washed up wearing a Curly W. His stats all but prove this as his 81 ERA+, a stat used to measure how pitchers compare to the average pitcher, was 19% below league average (100 is average). He was the final player traded by the Nats when he was shipped to St. Louis for Lane Thomas. At first, Lester struggled in St. Louis, but did help them rally to make the Postseason. 

Kyle Lobstein, LHP: Lobstein was called up for less than a week and was wildly unimpressive. After not being active in the MLB for multiple years, the Nats needed left handed assistance in the bullpen, prompting them to bring up Lobstein. He was ineffective and was designated for assignment after just three appearances. 

Jonathan Lucroy, C: One of the biggest heroes for the Nats early in the year, Lucroy represents a small footnote for the Nats’ season. When the Nats were struck by a Covid outbreak before Opening Day, both catchers for the Nats tested positive for the virus. Lucroy was called up after not initially breaking camp with the team. On Opening Day, just a day after being activated, he caught and hit an RBI double. Ultimately, he was active long enough to earn 10 years of service time in the MLB before being granted an outright release. He later signed with the Braves when they were at a deficit of catchers. 

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