After years of mediocrity, the Washington Nationals are finally starting to generate some buzz. With young starters Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann, the Nationals already have two of the better pitchers in the NL. Add to that the acquisition of Gio Gonzalez and many pundits are picking the Nationals to contend for the NL East title.
But, will the hype reduce your chances for finding keepers? Let run through their roster and find out.
3B Ryan Zimmerman had a down year by his standards in 2011, hitting only 12 homeruns while posting a slash line of .289/.355/.443. Injuries limited him to just 101 games in 2011, but, if healthy, he should produce 20-25 homers with a .290-.300 average. His ADP is 42.67. He is ranked: ESPN #34; CBS #42; Yahoo! #54.
C Wilson Ramos had a solid rookie season, but does not appear to get much love from the fantasy community. As a catcher who is expected to hit .260+ and hit 15-20 homers, he should be going higher than his ADP of 213.09. He is ranked: CBS #156; Yahoo! #180; ESPN #212.
SP Stephen Strasburg had a breakout rookie campaign before Tommy John surgery put him on the shelf until late last season. Much is still expected from this young righthander and he may not come much cheaper than this year. Now is the time to buy before his value soars again. His ADP is 66.43. He is ranked: CBS #58; ESPN #74; Yahoo! NR.
SP Gio Gonzalez is switching to the “weaker” league and gets to face the opposing pitcher at least once a game. He is expected to produce similar results as 2011, but could outperform those expectations. His ADP is 107.61. He is ranked: CBS #73; Yahoo! #94; ESPN #129.
OF Michael Morse surprised a lot of people by hitting .303 with 31 homeruns last year. His numbers may tail off a little bit this year, as pitchers adjust to him, but he should still be good for 25 homers and a .285 average. His ADP is 84.05. He is ranked: Yahoo! #80; CBS #83; ESPN #83.
SP Jordan Zimmerman had a 3.18 ERA while winning 8 games in 2011. The Nationals limited him to 161.1 IP as he was coming off of Tommy John surgery in 2009. He should see a bump up in innings to the 180 range in 2012 and should be good for a 3.50 ERA and 10 wins. His ADP is 119.73. He is ranked: ESPN #105; CBS #115; Yahoo! #163.
OF Bryce Harper is a future stud, but he has only played 37 games above A ball. In most leagues that have minor leagues or reserve drafts, he is probably already taken. But for those of you in keepers leagues where he is still available, now is the time to pounce. He may not provide much help this year, but he is definitely worth owning. His ADP is 229.94. He is unranked in CBS, ESPN and Yahoo!.
SP Edwin Jackson has good stuff and shows flashes of brilliance, including a no-hitter in 2010, but has yet to put it all together. He is still only 28 and has time to improve. If you can deal with his madding inconsistency, you may reap some rewards. His ADP is 247.39. He is ranked: Yahoo! #178; ESPN #221; CBS #271.
Best of the rest, but not keepers
RP Drew Storen saved 43 games last year and should save 35-40 again this year. However, he does not come cheap. His ADP is 80.28. He is ranked: CBS #93; ESPN #149; Yahoo! NR.
OF Jayson Werth had a down year after signing a huge 7 year, $126 million contract with the Nationals. He should bounce back some in 2012, just don’t expect him to return to his 2009-2010 levels. A .260 average and around 25 homers seem to be reasonable expectations. His ADP is 97.72. He is ranked: ESPN #80; CBS #137; Yahoo! #182.
2B Danny Espinosa has 20/20 potential, but will likely struggle to hit for a decent average each year. His ADP is 149.85. He is ranked: CBS #182; ESPN #186; Yahoo! #248.
With Storen battling some forearm soreness, RP Tyler Clippard could see some save opportunities at the beginning of the season. His ADP is 243.10. He is ranked: ESPN #249 and is unranked by CBS and Yahoo!.
Finally, SS Ian Desmond has some pop and some speed, but until he learns to control the strike zone better, he will be lucky to hit .260. His ADP is 258.39. He is ranked: ESPN #233; CBS #263 and Yahoo! NR.