Sometimes when teams get good they have to let good players go. The 2007 Philadelphia Phillies, for instance, had Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse on their roster and neither were major contributors. Jayson Werth was of course also on Philly before coming to Washington.
It took a lot of roster turnover to transform the Nats into what they are today, a playoff team and division champion. Just look at the 2010 squad, nine different pitchers who made appearances with that team have yet to pitch again in the majors. (Luis Atilano, Scott Olsen, J.D. Martin, Tyler Walker, Jesse English, Matt Chico, Joe Bisenius, Garrett Mock, and Jason Bergmann)
The Nationals over the past few years have traded players away and let others go via free agency, some simply because it was time they switched to the American League. But looking at who has left and where they are now, the talent pool of ex-Nationals players really isn’t that bad.
Here is how I see a team of former Nationals players (still active in the majors) stacking up. The stats included are those from their 2012 seasons.
C – Derek Norris (.201 BA, 7 HR, 34 RBI)
1B – Adam Dunn (.204 BA, 41 HR, 96 RBI)
2B – Emilio Bonifacio (.258 BA, 30 R, 30 SB)
SS – Jerry Hairston (.273 BA, 4 HR, 26 RBI)
3B – Alfonso Soriano (.262 BA, 32 HR, 108 RBI)
LF – Josh Willingham (.260 BA, 35 HR, 110 RBI)
CF – Justin Maxwell (.229 BA, 18 HR, 53 RBI)
RF – Jonny Gomes (.262 BA, 18 HR, 47 RBI)
BN – Wil Nieves (32 G, .301 BA, 8 RBI)
BN – Marlon Byrd (47 G, .210 BA, 10 R)
BN – Laynce Nix (.256 BA, 3 HR, 16 RBI)
BN – Pete Orr (35 G, .315 BA, 7 RBI)
BN – Austin Kearns (.245 BA, 21 R, 16 RBI)
A lineup of former Nationals looks a lot better after 2012 than it did a year before. Adam Dunn had a huge comeback from his awful 2011 with 41 home runs and a league-best 105 walks. He made his second career All-Star appearance and would be the centerpiece of this hypothetical batting order. Dunn along with Soriano, Willingham, Maxwell, Gomes, and even Norris would pack a ton of power.
The ex-Nationals lineup overall would be quite lopsided. Their infield in general would be old and ineffective. Hairston and Orr would likely platoon at shortstop given their age. And Alfonso Soriano would have to move back to the infield given the outfield depth. Willingham, Maxwell, Gomes, and Byrd would combine to man the outfield.
The Nats would be okay at catcher with Norris and Nieves. Norris is a decent starter having blocked the plate for the division champion Oakland Athletics. The bench would also be serviceable with Nix and the fourth outfielder ready to go.
SP – Tommy Milone (13-10, 3.74 ERA, 190.0 IP)
SP – Jason Marquis (8-11, 5.22 ERA, 127.2 IP)
SP – Livan Hernandez (4-1, 6.42 ERA, 67.1 IP)
SP – Brad Peacock (played in minors)
SP – Miguel Batista (1-3, 4.61 ERA, 52.2 IP)
The starting rotation of an ex-Nationals team would be its biggest weakness. The Nats themselves were poor in this department before getting Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, so this could be expected. Milone turned into a quality starting pitcher after being traded to Oakland and led the A.L. West champions in wins and innings pitched. The rest of the rotation, with the exception of Peacock, saw their best years a long time ago. Peacock had promise when he was traded to the A’s, but never made it out of the Pacific Coast League in 2012. He had an ugly 6.01 ERA through 134 2/3 innings in the minors.
CL – Joel Hanrahan (2.72 ERA, 36 SV, 59.2 IP)
RP – Joel Peralta (3.63 ERA, 0.985 WHIP, 67.0 IP)
RP – Jon Rauch (3.59 ERA, 0.988 WHIP, 57.2 IP)
RP – Matt Capps (3.68 ERA, 1.091 WHIP, 14 SV)
RP – Doug Slaten (2.77 ERA, 13.0 IP)
RP – Todd Coffey (4.66 ERA, 19.1 IP)
RP – Chad Gaudin (4-2, 4.54 ERA, 69.1 IP)
The bullpen of the ex-Nationals would be quite decent. Hanrahan is probably the posterboy of former Nats players as even general manager Mike Rizzo has expressed regret for trading him. Peralta, Rauch, and Capps are quality relievers and the overall depth is good. Slaten would be the only left-hander which would pose a problem.
All in all, the group of former Nationals still active in the major isn’t that bad. Making the playoffs would be unlikely, but there is certainly more talent there than the current Miami Marlins.