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Nats breakout stars of 2012

Nov 15, 2012, 8:58 PM EST

Photo by US-Presswire

As the true breakout team of the 2012 MLB season, the Washington Nationals benefitted from a lot of players performing above expectations. The Nats saw injuries to nearly every key player early in the season and had to rely on depth and in some cases guys who weren’t intended to play major roles.

Along the way, several Washington players had what can be called breakout seasons. Some played above what was expected of them, and some finally reached the potential people always thought they had.

Here are a few that legitimately became break out stars for the Nationals:

SS Ian Desmond – .292/.335/.511 – 25 HR – 73 RBI – 72 R – 21 SB

The talent was always there with Desmond, but the shortstop didn’t put it all together until 2012. He cut down his errors in the field to become one of the game’s best defensive shortstops and raised his offensive numbers all around. Desmond lost out on the Gold Glove award, but won a Silver Slugger award and may get MVP votes. A case could also be made he was the best overall shortstop of the 2012 campaign.

SP Ross Detwiler – 10-8 – 3.40 ERA – 105 SO – 1.223 WHIP – 164.1 IP

Detwiler was the 6th overall pick in 2007 and before 2012 hadn’t established himself as the reliable starter Washington had hoped he would be. He wasn’t expected to be in the rotation at the beginning of the season and spent time in the bullpen, but through the year proved consistent and sometimes even dominant. His stellar playoff performance in Game 4 of the NLDS further guaranteed his spot as a core player for the Nationals in the future.

OF Bryce Harper – .270/.340/.477 – 22 HR – 59 RBI – 98 R – 18 SB

Considered a ‘can’t miss’ prospect, Harper was expected to be a good major league player. But being called up in April and thriving from the start was not predicted by many. The former number one overall pick immediately showed he belonged and finished the season as the National League Rookie of the Year. He had perhaps the best season ever for a teenage position player and could reach another level as soon as next season.
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  1. baseballswami - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:13 PM

    Chase – thanks for the post, but you do know that this will kick off another round of the Lombo debate, don't you? There are many on this post who think that he could not ever, ever, in a million trillion years compete for the second base job. He is, we are told again and again, nothing more than a pretty good utility player. Yes, Danny has a cannon, which is somewhat wasted by him not playing SS,he has outstanding range, yes he has the potential for power – potential is the word of the day, though. I saw a lot of value to the team in Lombo in 2012 – even though this will surely cause some more " you don't know anything about baseball" talk. I prefer the smart, hard-working, consistent player that listens and learns.You can find them on almost every team and they just seem to find ways to contribute. Not everyone on the team has to be the hairy-chested home run hitter. We need some players that can get on base and make contact to move other players over. He also hit his first home runs this year. If Danny can clean up his act I will be thrilled, and happy to see him keep his job, but I do see that Lombo, with his more-sane approach, baseball iq and consistency could come from behind and threaten for that starting spot. There is only so long the organization can have that free spot in the order. Sometimes I think our pitchers had a better approach.

  2. SonnyG10 - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:17 PM

    Jayson Werth had sort of a breakout year. At least over what he did last year.

  3. sjm308 - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:25 PM

    I am not contrarian by nature but I will disagree with this post in that too many players are listed. To me, a breakout year is characterized by Ian Desmond. He went from being someone who people on this site and others were wondering if he should be part of a trade, or sent to the minors, to one of the best SS in baseball. That is a breakout!!I can even see Detwiler who was between the bullpen and starter and ended up a solid starter for the best team in baseball.I guess Harper can also make this list but he was never thought of (by me at least) as anything other than a player who was going to reach stardom and yes, he did it sooner than later, but it was predicted from the get-go.The others lited here had nice seasons, but so did lots of others (Matheus is the one who I feel needed to be here if we are going to list bunches of players.) I mean you have a relief pitcher with 13 games having a breakout year? Hard to figure that out. Moore made the big club and contributed, but breakout?? If he broke out, he would have been a starer in my mind, same with Lombardozzi. So I will put my contrarian attitude away and go back to being a fan. If nothing else, thanks for a new post.

  4. Unknown - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:28 PM

    I love Espinosa and always thought he'd learn how to make contact, but today I'm not sure. He struck out 262 times in 275 career minor league games. In the majors, he's whiffed 385 times in 346 games.I just don't see it changing. For Lombardozzi, he's struck out 183 times in 447 career minor league games and just 50 times with the Nats in 139 games.I'm beginning to prefer Lombardozzi's contact style to Espinosa's swing-and-a-miss ways.Farid @ Idaho

  5. JaneB - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:38 PM

    I love that you included Det and Garcia. Both deserve the mention and the love. And Ian, goes without saying. But I'm still glad you did. Who is standing out in AZ these days?

  6. Doc - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:47 PM

    Small sample of 'breakoutedness' but Christian Garcia seems to have his own destiny for a MLB career, with what he did this past season.In a recent interview, Davey gave us a hint that he still intends to work CGar into the starting format that he played in his initial professional career. Davey went on to say that his stuff, "….was as good as Edwin Jackson's…".Whether he has Ejax's endurance is the bigger issue. Seasoning at AA/AAA will soon tell.

  7. Section 222 - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:50 PM

    I agree with 308, though I would add that Stammen probably deserves to be on this list. Remember, at the beginning of the season he was on the bubble (along with Mattheus) because he had options left. He made the team only because of the injury to Storen. Then he became a mainstay of the bullpen and had some truly heroic performances. By the time Storen came back, there was no way he was getting sent down. While Moore and Lombo, and to a much lesser extent Garcia, were solid contributors this year, they aren't breakout stars.

  8. Don - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:57 PM

    I think Lombo deserves a shot to play every day. The Nats need gusy who can bat at hte top of the order. Espi can't. They have to be shopping one of these 2B guys, I guess.Desi really upped his glove game in 2012 but Chase is over the top a bit with the Desi's "become one of the game's best defensive shortstops" (whether you grade him out with advanced metrics or old-school fielding percentage stuff, he's not elite with the glove). Maybe next year he climbs into that category. We'll see.

  9. bowdenball - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:58 PM

    I can't help but think people wrongly incorporate expectations into their player preferences.Espinosa, for all his faults, had the same OBP as Lombo in 2012 while exceeding his slugging percentage by over 50 points and playing better defense by all accounts. Both are about the same on the basepaths. And Espi is only one year older than Lombo, so both have room to improve. So what exactly is the argument for Lombo over Espinosa? Why sacrifice power and defense without a corresponding gain in any relevant aspect of the game? Because you like to root for Lombo? Because you as a fan get frustrated watching strikeouts? Strikeouts don't matter. Don't believe me? Take a look at the teams with the most and least strikeouts at the plate in 2012 and get back to me.

  10. Theophilus T. S. - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:00 PM

    Saying someone's stuff is "as good as Edwin Jackson" is praising with faint damns. I think Garcia's "stuff" is better than that. Starting and relieving, however, are radically different breeds of cat.

  11. Theophilus T. S. - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:07 PM

    In with 4:58 p.m. Bowdenball.

  12. NatsNut - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:08 PM

    Chase, I think these picks for breakout season are absolutely spot on. Christian Garcia. Never flinched and with just a month of service time, earned a solid spot on the postseason roster. Wow. As for Lombardozzi, I'm firmly in his camp. He was a little rusty when he first started at second, but he learned his lesson quick when that one runner reached after he lollygagged his throw. Otherwise, my impression is that he reliably sprayed hits all over the place, even coming cold off the bench, and made very few errors going back and forth between infield and (brand new for him) outfield positions. I totally think he can and should be a starting position player and his great work as a utility guy is just to bide his time until he can.

  13. Ghost Of Steve M. - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:35 PM

    Lombos numbers vs RH pitching was very good. His defense was more than fine.

  14. Don - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:41 PM

    bowdenball — good points, but when Lombo played every day — take out the pinch hitting and the occasional starts at different postions, and go with the July and August numbers where he played 2B pretty much every day — he hit well over .300, rarely Kd and his OBP was about .330. The guy can play. His talent is not what Espi's is, but his skills at the plate might be better for this club. Espi's power is his strength, but 189 Ks for 17 HRs is a hefty price to pay and the club's big flaw was not having guys on to knock in. There's little doubt that Lombo prjects to hit for better average and to get on at a better rate given how much more likely he is not to miss when he swings than Espi is. Espi would make a nice SS for a club like the Twins or Seattle – a club that would love the good glove and that needs the 20 HRs a lot more than the Nats do. We'll see.

  15. waddu eye no - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:57 PM

    94 days….

  16. Ghost Of Steve M. - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:57 PM

    Take Lombo's LH atbats and Espi's RH atbats and combine them and the result is an All Star 2nd baseman. Is a platooning situation in play for 2013?

  17. MicheleS - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:22 PM

    Adam came in 7th in the NLMVP votes. Desi/Gio/Ryan/Bryce all got votes. Cool.

  18. MicheleS - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:59 PM

    Things we have learned from the shows this week. Whoever the reporter representing the team is first in the debate, wins (amanda was first for Davey/Bryce, but second for Gio to the NY guy and Morosi for DET was first tonight). Wear a tie or have cute kids in the picture. Apparantly the voters like you to dress up (RA/Price) or have a baby in the picture (Posey/Cabrera)If you are are a rookie, you can dress in plaid or a nice dress shirt, it helps that you play in the AFL the year before.VOTE Amanda first on all 4 shows next year

  19. Feel Wood - Nov 16, 2012 at 12:01 AM

    Espi needs to quit striking out so much. But that doesn't mean he needs to be replaced by Lombo.

  20. Get Some Players - Nov 16, 2012 at 12:04 AM

    Anthony Rendon will be one of next year's breakout stars.

  21. Don - Nov 16, 2012 at 12:08 AM

    Espi all of sudden not striking out, when it has been a hallmark of his game forever, could happen but it is not very likely. And if he changes his approach to such an extent that he ca make great contact, then it might be at the expense of his big power anyway. Desi is too good to trade and Lombo has no pedigree to get great return. Espi has the power, switch bat, and could play a quality SS. I hope that Rizzo moves one of these guys becasue we are in win now territory and there's no room in the lineup for all of them. We'll see.

  22. UnkyD - Nov 16, 2012 at 12:10 AM

    I like Lombo.

  23. Feel Wood - Nov 16, 2012 at 12:11 AM

    In the NL MVP voting, the two Washington voters, Amanada Comak and Ken Rosenthal (Ken Rosenthal?!?!? WTF?) had identical ballots from first through fourth, and both had Adam LaRoche eighth. All I can say here is this: Get a room, you two.

  24. MicheleS - Nov 16, 2012 at 12:18 AM

    FW. The Reason that Rosenthal is on the WAS ballot, is that BWAA considers WAS/BAL the same market (sigh, Angelos' reach is deep). Plus I know that WaPo doesn't allow their writers to vote on any ballots or Boz would be the WAS/BAL voter every year.

  25. Feel Wood - Nov 16, 2012 at 12:30 AM

    I know that's the reason Rosenthal is on the ballot. It just goes to point out the stupidity of the Washington Post's policy of forbidding their writers to vote. They probably have the largest percentage of members in the DC-Baltimore chapter of the BBWAA, and they forbid them from voting. The BBWAA should kick their asses out.

  26. Feel Wood - Nov 16, 2012 at 12:33 AM

    Ghost Of Steve M. said… Take Lombo's LH atbats and Espi's RH atbats and combine them and the result is an All Star 2nd baseman. Is a platooning situation in play for 2013?No, because that puts Lombo in too many games and his defense is nowhere near Espi's. Certainly not All Star caliber.

  27. Feel Wood - Nov 16, 2012 at 12:34 AM

    Also, Lombo is due for a sophomore slump, just like Espi and Desi and Zim had before him.

  28. Faraz Shaikh - Nov 16, 2012 at 12:43 AM

    How pathetic! BBWAA manages to mess up one award every season.

  29. Theophilus T. S. - Nov 16, 2012 at 1:00 AM

    Lombardozzi already had his sophomore slump. It was called September, when he had his worst month of the season. He did not do well when he wasn't getting a lot of PAs (compare June and July). It's hard to be consistent when you don't get to hit very often. Which could very well be the case in 2013 because, if everyone is healthy he won't have nearly as many starts.If someone comes asking about him in a trade Rizzo ought to give it serious consideration as this may have been his high-water mark, if being a bench player doesn't work for him.

  30. sm13 - Nov 16, 2012 at 1:10 AM

    The forgotten piece of Ian's season is that he battled his oblique injury most of the year and had hamstring issues. In that context, his numbers are even more impressive.

  31. sm13 - Nov 16, 2012 at 1:11 AM

    And, I'm very glad to see Stammen on the list. He had found his niche in the bullpen and was an unsung hero for this team.

  32. Gonat - Nov 16, 2012 at 1:58 AM

    MicheleS said… Adam came in 7th in the NLMVP votes. Desi/Gio/Ryan/Bryce all got votes. Cool. November 15, 2012 6:22 PM ___________________________________I am very pleased with the fact LaRoche and Desi got good MVP recognition and that Bryce also got votes.

  33. Gonat - Nov 16, 2012 at 2:06 AM

    Jon Heyman was the writer who voted a 9th place for Bryce Harper. Have to love the Boras sniffer placing the vote.Bryce will now have AS, ROY, and MVP31 next to his name.

  34. Gonat - Nov 16, 2012 at 2:10 AM

    Tracy Ringolsby with the most bizarre ballots.

  35. Faraz Shaikh - Nov 16, 2012 at 2:15 AM

    I don't know much about his ballot besides Kimbrel being second on it.

  36. Gonat - Nov 16, 2012 at 2:18 AM

    Anthony Rendon went 1-1 with 2 walks and 2 stolen bases and 2 runs scored today. Now batting .338 with a .436 OBP and a .930 OPS.

  37. Gonat - Nov 16, 2012 at 2:22 AM

    Ringolsby:1. Posey 2. Kimbrel 3. Braun 4. Holliday 5. Zimmerman 6. Phillips 7. McCutchen 8. Wright 9. G. Gonzalez 10. Molina Kimbrel #2? Holliday #4 Zimmerman #5 Brandon Phillips #6Sorry, this guy shouldn't be allowed to vote again. He made 1 serious vote for Posey and then made some ridiculous votes.

  38. Faraz Shaikh - Nov 16, 2012 at 2:27 AM

    don't get me wrong but I wouldn't put Zimmerman and Harper anywhere on that ballot.Pretty horrible ballot by him and even worse tweets by that guy and Mr Grant (another voter).

  39. Gonat - Nov 16, 2012 at 2:38 AM

    Faraz, I wouldn't have had Zimmerman on my Top 10 Most Valuable ballot but how can he put Zim on there and not have LaRoche or Desi.

  40. Drew - Nov 16, 2012 at 4:03 AM

    While we're stirring the pot, let's resign LaRoche, then throw Michael Morse, Danny Espinosa, a catcher and a pitcher at Tampa.Let's see if the Price is right.In a couple of years Price goes from a $9 million a year pitcher to a $20 million a year ptcher. Tampa will have to deal him at some point.With Rendon, Goodwin, Skole, Meyer and Giolito coming the Nats must make room for young talent — and with the Nats' depth at 1b, infield and catcher, they have quality players to deal.Why not make a play for the big lefty?

  41. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Nov 16, 2012 at 4:06 AM

    Tracy Ringolsby is this cowboy character who lives in Wyoming (honest) but alleges to cover the Rockies. Often wears a black cowboy hat to games. Judging from his MVP ballot, I'd say he's fallen off a horse one too many times.Zimmerman fourth in the league in MVP? Heck, he wasn't even the MVP on his own team (ALR was; Desi a close second, maybe Harper or Gio third).As always, the BBWAA is stocked with guys who last covered baseball on a daily basis in, oh, 1977 and still think Sandy Koufax is coming off the DL to pitch soon. The out-to-lunch bunch. They've always been there.

  42. SonnyG10 - Nov 16, 2012 at 4:55 AM

    Lombo will get traded before Espi!

  43. Unknown - Nov 16, 2012 at 5:29 AM

    Feel Wood said… Ghost Of Steve M. said… Take Lombo's LH atbats and Espi's RH atbats and combine them and the result is an All Star 2nd baseman. Is a platooning situation in play for 2013? No, because that puts Lombo in too many games and his defense is nowhere near Espi's. Certainly not All Star caliber.Not sure that I agree on Lombo's defense. In 2011, he won the minor league Gold Glove for all second baseman at all levels. That's pretty good. Granted, he doesn't have the arm of Espinosa, but he'd be a plus-plus defender of the course of a full season.=============Drew said… While we're stirring the pot, let's resign LaRoche, then throw Michael Morse, Danny Espinosa, a catcher and a pitcher at Tampa. Let's see if the Price is right. I've thought about this exact trade possibility since the season ended.I have a feeling that if Mike Rizzo does "something," it's going to be spectacular. The Nationals are built to win and win now, and win for the next 4-5 years.Price would cost more than Gio and would likely require more seasoned players.They need a shortstop and Espinosa would fit in perfectly there. Michael Morse would be a perfect DH. I'm not sure about a catcher; Ramos is a question mark at this point and they will need Suzuki in case Ramos doesn't come back.But if the Nats sign LaRoche, Tyler Moore would make sense at first for Tampa.Morse, Espinosa and Tyler Moore. They could even add John Lannan in the deal. He could make pretty much any rotation in the league except in DC and SF.They'd have to add a stud minor leaguer. Maybe Alex Meyer? Maybe Brian Godwin? Morse, Espinosa, Moore, Lannan and Alex Meyer for David Price. You'd probably have to add one more minor leaguer, a C+ or B guy. I'd do that in a heartbeat. That would mean the Nats would have to sign a free agent center fielder, Bourn or someone like that.That's a team that would vie for the World Series for the next half-decade.Farid @ Idaho

  44. staring out the window waiting for spring - Nov 16, 2012 at 5:59 AM

    The Rays might want cheaper guys. They might take Moore, Leon, and Detwiler.

  45. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Nov 16, 2012 at 6:12 AM

    @Farid. I like you. You think big. So does Rizzo.But a rotation of Jesus, Gio, J-Zimm, Price and Det has my juices flowing. OMG. How many strikeouts are in THAT rotation, 1,000?

  46. Gonat - Nov 16, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  47. Gonat - Nov 16, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    Farid, I agree on #1 about Lombo. Yes, Lombo isn't Espi and Espi isn't Lombo. The day Rendon was drafted I commented about a Braun switch from 3rd to LF when it looked like Danny was going to be the 2011 Rookie Of The Year at 2nd base. Times have changed and I still wonder where Rizzo will find a place for Rendon in the near future and my Magic 8 ball says 2nd base which makes me think a trade will happen.

  48. Gonat - Nov 16, 2012 at 11:51 AM for anyone bashing Lombardozzi for defense and propping up the defense of Espi, there's 10 spots on the leaderboard between the 2 of them. Its not like you go from Espi #1 in the Majors to Lombo at #42 in the Majors (42 ranked with 300 innings or more). Some surprising names below Lombo.

  49. Gonat - Nov 16, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    Ghost Of Steve M. said… Take Lombo's LH atbats and Espi's RH atbats and combine them and the result is an All Star 2nd baseman. Is a platooning situation in play for 2013? November 15, 2012 5:57 PM _________________________________Lombo LH .287/.332/.382/.715 Espi RH .281/.344/.431/.775 Those are impressive numbers, and yes, considering the starting 2nd baseman of the 2012 All Star game was Dan Uggla, I would say "Lombespi" would have been an All Star!Oh, and by the way, the reserve 2nd baseman in the All Star game was Jose Altuve and he was 2nd to last in the Majors in 2nd base defense with a -15.8 UZR(From Feel Wood: No, because that puts Lombo in too many games and his defense is nowhere near Espi's. Certainly not All Star caliber.)Certainly not All Star caliber? Did you research to see who gets picked for the All Star games? JOSE ALTUVE

  50. 320R2S15 - Nov 16, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    I have this terrible feeling that Rizzo will go for a front line starter, and while that is probably a good thing the cost is what bothers me. Here is why, Anthony Rendon is the only guy that will make it happen. I also think sonny is wrong, I expect Espi to be gone too.

  51. Gonat - Nov 16, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    Ian Kinsler is willing to change positions if the Rangers ask, the second baseman tells Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "Where I play on the field is not my decision. I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team win regardless of where I am on the field or where I’m hitting in the batting order," Kinsler said. A move from second could open room for both Jurickson Profar and Elvis Andrus in the infield, while Kinsler could replace Hamilton in left or play first base______________________________________Speaking of 2nd baseman and position changes. Kinsler has played 2nd base his entire All Star career with the exception of 1 game at 3rd base.

  52. Tcostant - Nov 16, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    Remember in the spring when Davey wonder if he could get Lombardozzi 300 AB's; I like what Lombardozzi did this year.Price is getting traded off a Cy Young, won't happen. Maybe Shields will get traded, but not Price.Can't wait for 2013, but I need to find some partners for my season tickets…





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