|2006 Fantasy Take: The Washington Nationals|
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on March 28, 2006
The Top Tier
2B/OF Alfonso Soriano – I want to thank Soriano for putting on one heckuva soap opera this spring training. At least we were spared constant Barry Bonds updates for a few minutes. The angry former second baseman played a few games in left field, but looked like he was actually out in left field. Soriano had a tough time running routes and keeps proving himself as a deficient defensive player every time he takes the field. We shouldn’t expect numbers anywhere near what happened in seasons’ past. Sadly, there will be a decline and someone will grab him long before he should be taken. Hopefully, it won’t be you.
The Second Tier
CL Chad Cordero – All hail to the chief, Chad Cordero. Whenever this pitcher enters from the bullpen, his entrance music is “Hail to the Chief.” George W. Bush must get very confused. With the straight bill of his cap pulled low over his face, Cordero led the league in saves last year with 47. He put up amazing numbers last season, and you should expect more of the same again this year. Closers are more of a fifth or sixth round pick, but don’t be surprised to see a run on them in the late third/early fourth with this guy going early.
SP Livan Hernandez – Livan Hernandez might not be the best fantasy pitcher out there, but he contributes amazingly in one category: innings pitched. Since your league probably has a cap on the number of innings pitched, you’ll probably be better off going in another direction. However, having this guy as your number three or four starter in a 12-team league isn’t a bad idea. He’ll strike out a few batters and won’t damage your ERA and WHIP too badly.
OF Jose Guillen – This outfielder will be missing the first month of the season due to wrist troubles, but he could still put up some very good stats over five months. He’s looking for a contract extension, so he’ll respond positively to that. Draft him towards the middle of your draft and stash him on the DL. Once he comes back, play favorable matchups on the days he’s away from our nation’s capital. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
C Brian “Hoops” Schneider – The Nationals’ backstop has a dog named, almost appropriately, Dinger. He’ll give your squad a bundle of those, maybe 12-15 for the span of an entire year. This won’t help much in deeper leagues because he’ll be lumped behind a lot of guys from the American League, but in the Senior Circuit, he stands almost at the top. I am really pleased with his performance in the WBC and expect good things from him this year.
2B Jose Vidro – It’s been two years since his last healthy season, but I’m still going to rank him in the second tier because he’s so talented. Vidro has the talent to hit around .310 with good power (15-20 homers), runs scored (80-90), and RBIs (65-70). This won’t propel him to the top of anyone’s lists, but his value has dropped so much the past two years that many people have forgotten about him. I hope you haven’t.
The Third Tier
The Nationals don’t have anyone who belongs here. Their guys are mainly second tier producers or won’t put up enough for your team to be considered valuable, even though some guys (namely Ryan Church) have some potential.
The Question Marks
1B Nick Johnson – There’s been a large crowd of people waiting for Johnson to break out, but the only thing he has done lately was get a crazy haircut and get injured. This first sacker was considered a future star for the Yankees because he got on base so darned often, but a trade to Montreal ended that. Now, he’s stuck trying to prove himself as someone who can stay healthy for an entire year. If he does, expect a high batting average, along with quite a few runs scored and runs driven in. He won’t produce much in the home run department, but he’ll be enough to be a backup.
SP John Patterson – This has been an amazing story. The Montreal Expos drafted him, but some kind of loophole allowed him to escape and sell his services. Patterson chose the Diamondbacks for that honor, and he did so well, the Snakes eventually traded him back to his original franchise. The right hander picked last season to break out, striking out 185 in only 198 innings pitched, an amazing ratio for someone who probably didn’t even get drafted in NL Only leagues. He’s doing more of the same in the spring, so I’d be looking at him.
3B Ryan Zimmerman – It took him 87 games to make it up to the Show, but he’s having a little trouble adjusting to the Majors. At the hot corner this spring, he’s committed a few errors, despite being labeled a future Gold Glover there. I don’t know if his bat is ready either. Sure he hit .397 last year, but once pitchers figure this kid out, it won’t become a pretty picture. Just like the MLB ’06 commercials, “Are you ready for the Show?” We should all be asking Zimmerman that question.