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Best/Worst Spring Trainings of 2013

Mar 30, 2013, 3:00 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today

Before the Nationals get the new season underway, let's look back for a moment at the 2013 spring training that was. Though spring stats don't really count, sometimes they can give clues as to how a player will begin the regular season. We'll see if the past month produced any trends that will continue over the next few weeks.
Here are the five best spring trainings by Nats players this year and the five worst:

BEST

Bryce Harper, OF
2013 Spring Stats: .478/.500/.716 – 3 HR, 15 RBI, 11 R
What more can you say about Harper’s spring? The kid was so good, so hard to get out, that many now think he is an N.L. MVP favorite (Mark predicted that to me last September, I might add). And hits in nine straight at-bats? Just ridiculous.
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
2013 Spring Stats: .298/.293/.579 – 4 HR, 9 RBI, 9 R
Davey Johnson said on Friday he thought the most gratifying part of this year’s spring training was Ryan Zimmerman’s health. Zimm looked shaky on one throw against the Yankees, but was a force at the plate and scored both of the team’s runs. He could be gearing up for a career year.
Anthony Rendon, IF
2013 Spring Stats: .375/.412/.875 – 4 HR, 11 RBI 7 R
If he weren’t on the league’s deepest roster, Rendon would have played himself into the majors, if not a starting position. He showed the ability to hit contact that made him a top draft pick and flashed power and defensive skills that could make him a special player some day. We’ll see when he gets his chance.
Gio Gonzalez, SP
2013 Spring Stats: 3-0, 1.50 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 18.0 IP
Gonzalez wasn’t affected whatsoever by the linking of him to the performance enhancing drug scandal involving Biogenesis. All he did was continue what he did last season, dominate lineups. Gonzalez finished second in N.L. Cy Young voting last season and looks poised to be at the top of the list once again.

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  1. Theophilus T. S. - Mar 30, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    You might as well add Strasburg and Storen to the "worst" list. Espinosa's was better than Zimmerman's, espec. as Z'man spent only about a third of ST with a glove on.

  2. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 30, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    Jordan Zimmermann on the "Worst" list? How soon we forget that he went 2 straight starts and shutdown exactly 27 straight players.Add Espinosa on the "Best" list.

  3. MicheleS - Mar 30, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    Span.. How can he be on the worst list with a .347 OBP? we got him for his glove and his ability to get on base (I don't care how he does it either through walks or hits). One thing I loved in Spring is how twitchy opposing pitcher's got with Span or Werth on Base. Smart base running is great to watch.

  4. Positively Half St. - Mar 30, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    It is funny that I cared more about bad spring stats this year than in years past, because the default assumption is that the team will be great. I remember hanging on to good performances of marginal players in the past.+1/2St.

  5. Another_Sam - Mar 30, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    Most heartstopping moments — HRod striding to the mound. I'm deferring to the baseball professionals running the club: go Henry.

  6. baseballswami - Mar 30, 2013 at 3:38 PM

    Sometimes in the spring, guys are auditioning or have something to prove— Ramos and Espi. Sometimes they are slowly getting back from an injury– Zim. Veterans are trying to work out, pitchers are trying new pitches – JZ, some guys come in ready. They are all in a different place as far as what they need to use that time for. Some are ready more quickly, some need the adrenaline is real games. Spring training is a tool. It needs to be used as such. Now we will see if they used it well.

  7. UnkyD - Mar 30, 2013 at 3:42 PM

    Ditto Ghost and MicheleS, on JZim and Span…. This post looks like Chase couldn't finish in time for deadline…. Sorry, this is incomplete, at best…

  8. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Mar 30, 2013 at 3:42 PM

    I think if Chris Young gets an MLB job, that has to be counted a good spring.

  9. baseballswami - Mar 30, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    Chris Young back to the Mets??? With the Santana news……

  10. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 30, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    Yep kudos to MicheleS on Span. As a leadoff man I care about OBP much more than BA, seeing several pitches per AB, staying on base (no pickoffs and High Steal %) and scoring 100+ runs if the guys behind him are doing their jobs!

  11. JayB - Mar 30, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Danny should indeed be on the BEST list. He looks like a completely different hitter. Small sample size is a concern and the fact that in my view the problem with him has always been mental approach. He could very easily go back to a big leg kick and swing from his heals. I hope not.

  12. baseballswami - Mar 30, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    I really, really wish our hitters would all become tougher outs. I love it when they foul off pitch after pitch and make the pitcher work very hard. I think sometimes they make it way too easy for the opposing pitcher.

  13. baseballswami - Mar 30, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    I don't think that is something that can be quantified, but it makes a difference. In game four, for example.

  14. SCNatsFan - Mar 30, 2013 at 4:00 PM

    I hope Lombo isn't Willie Harris 2.0, who looks awesome as a super sub then disappears

  15. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 30, 2013 at 4:03 PM

    baseballswami, the Mets said they weren't interested a week ago. Could they be now? You would think so but you also have to think Young may not be interested in them. Players sometimes put pride before opportunity.

  16. baseballswami - Mar 30, 2013 at 4:06 PM

    How long does Young reasonably have at this point? He is rusting as we speak.

  17. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 30, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    baseballswami, I thought yesterday was Young's day and will probably announce his decision today or tomorrow.The Nats are probably also looking at some other veteran starters who were recently released.

  18. baseballswami - Mar 30, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    Tick Tock. Look what happened to Kyle Lohse when he waited for GM's to blink. Last year our discussions at this point were about our sixth starter headed for Syracuse. This year, who will the back up pitcher be. Last year we also went into opening day with our slugger and closer on the DL. Hope no one does anything stupid this weekend.

  19. Drew - Mar 30, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    Denard Span is here to score runs and save runs. On both counts he is a tremendous asset.He scored 71 runs for Minnesota in 128 games. If he stays healthy he might score 100 for the Nats.His speed and defense in center take pressure off Harper, who appears posed to have a breakout season.Span also appears to be a pleasant, level-headed gent.Look, I like Tyler Moore and Anthony Rendon. That doesn't mean I can't appreciate Denard Span.There's no crying at Baskin-Robbins. It's all good.

  20. NatsLady - Mar 30, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    It's far from clear Rendon would have "made" the team out of spring training for a lesser team. Almost all the famous, top prospects have been sent down, if not for service reasons, then for seasoning. If won't hurt Rendon to polish his D.

  21. Mac - Mar 30, 2013 at 4:48 PM

    Minor league seasons don't start for another couple weeks, so there's no need for Young to sign a minor league deal yet if that's the best he's gonna get. He can hold out for a major league deal somewhere for a while.

  22. Rich P. - Mar 30, 2013 at 4:53 PM

    Re the scattered single opening day tickets the Nats are selling online, Charlie said yesterday on the radio that they have already sold a lot of SRO tickets for Monday. If people don't want to pay an inflated price online for those singles, the Nats will surely sell those seats as walkups. This game is probably going to have close to record attendance.

  23. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 30, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    Mnor league seasons start a couple of days after the Major Leagues kick off…..like mid week next week.

  24. MicheleS - Mar 30, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    PNats have a game next Saturday night.

  25. Section 222 - Mar 30, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    Rich P, so if you go to the box office today or on Monday, can you buy a scattered single at the regular price? At least there are no service fees there.

  26. Doc - Mar 30, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    Correctomundo JayB!D. Espinosa was the most the most remarkable Nats' specimen for a really good spring–how could Chaser have used his eraser???? Dannyboy will have a breakout year!

  27. Unknown - Mar 30, 2013 at 5:10 PM

    My guess as to starting lineup production for the Nationals in 2013 (keeping in mind I penciled in a .287 batting average for Davey Nelson for the Senators in 1970–so don't hold me to it):CF-Span: .280-5-56, 25 SBRF-Werth:.282-15-62, 18 SBLF-Harper:.311-31-110, 20 SB3B-Zimm: .282-27-1001B-LaRoche: .268-25-89SS-Desmond: .277-20-75, 24 SB2B-Espinosa:.266-17-61, 20 SBC-Suzuki/Ramos: .261-17-55My best bet to have a down year: Span, because it will make us the most grumpy. Morse is probably going to hit .300-35-100 for Seattle and if Span doesn't hit is career average, the trade(s) won't look so good.My bet bet to have a breakout year: Espinosa, because he's healthy and has always impressed me. I wouldn't be surprised if he hits .275-25-75 with 25 steals and 140 strikeouts (good for him).If Werth gets his power back, I wouldn't be surprised to see a .280-22-70 from hims out of the 2-hole.That said, man, I'm still so uncomfortable with the baseball world anointing the Nationals as the sport's primo team. I've been following Washington baseball since 1963 and being the front-runner is a heretofore unknown feeling. I don't want them to go 90-72 and feel like they let us down. Farid @ Idaho

  28. Rich P. - Mar 30, 2013 at 5:30 PM

    Hell if I know. The box office price is probably the same as the online price minus fees, I'd guess. That's the way it usually works.

  29. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 30, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    NatsLady said… It's far from clear Rendon would have "made" the team out of spring training for a lesser team.Glad you brought that up. He makes possibly 10 teams at 3rd or 2nd base as a starter for sure BUT not their Opening Day roster as nobody wants to give a Boras client an extra year so you wait for the end of April or go into June to avoid Super 2 all together.Rendon was very impressive and keep in mind he got robbed of what could have been his 5th HR.

  30. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 30, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    Drew said… Denard Span is here to score runs and save runs. On both counts he is a tremendous asset.He scored 71 runs for Minnesota in 128 games. If he stays healthy he might score 100 for the Nats.His speed and defense in center take pressure off Harper, who appears posed to have a breakout season.Span also appears to be a pleasant, level-headed gent.All great points. I like that he sees a lot of pitches which is going to be important given the bottom of the order with a more aggressive Espi along with Desi will not be seeing many pitches.Going DSpan to Werth could generate a 10 pitch inning even before they get to BHarper. This is what the Yankees did to JZim yesterday. This is the one area the Nats must improve as a team strategy in batters 1-5.When you are up against an Ace, your strategy has to shift to getting him tired quicker than you would otherwise and I think DSpan/Werth/Harper/RZim/LaR can execute that to some 25+ pitch stretches just between the 5 of them!

  31. baseballswami - Mar 30, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    Watching Lannan pitch. Kendrick was getting lit up and they brought him on. So weird to watch . He is a teammate of Nix again. Remember the 1-0 game Lannan won against the Phil's two years ago in June? Layne Nix made a spectacular catch to save the game. Funny how things turn out.

  32. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 30, 2013 at 6:39 PM

    baseballswami, good for Lannan who I became a fan of as the underdog he became when the staff got so good. Now my only hope is that Haren is better than both Lannan and EJax!

  33. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 30, 2013 at 6:45 PM

    Bray and Kimball are both starting off the season on the Syracuse DL. Who is Mike Crotta?Here's the Cuse current pitchers. 5 starters and 8 relievers:Ryan PerryYunesky MayaTanner RoarkRoss OhlendorfDanny RosenbaumRyan TatuskoJeff MandelJ.C. RomeroPatrick McCoyFernando AbadMike CrottaJeremy AccardoErik Davis

  34. baseballswami - Mar 30, 2013 at 6:48 PM

    Lannan is K'ing hitters like crazy. He is actually out- pitching Halladay. Who saw that coming?

  35. slidell2 - Mar 30, 2013 at 6:55 PM

    Crotta- Ex-Pirate reliever signed to a minor-league contract in February.

  36. baseballswami - Mar 30, 2013 at 6:57 PM

    Coke Hamels has a silly stache. Looks like Snidely Whiplash. I hope we light him up.

  37. baseballswami - Mar 30, 2013 at 6:57 PM

    Uh– Cole Hamels.

  38. Drew - Mar 30, 2013 at 7:00 PM

    Crotta's past numbers aren't good, but the Nats took a shot after he threw in the 90s at a tryout, according to a Pirates blog.

  39. baseballswami - Mar 30, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    Syracuse chiefs could be a good team this season. Some guys there who really want a spot in DC. Stay hungry my friends. Is the Bryan Harper in Hagerstown Bryce's brother?

  40. Drew - Mar 30, 2013 at 7:54 PM

    Yes, he's Bryce's older brother, a lefty reliever.

  41. MicheleS - Mar 30, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    Swami, yes Bryan is Bryce's brother. Would be curious how he develops, I believe he is a lefty reliever and just turned 23

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 89 64 --
ATLANTA 76 77 13.0
MIAMI 74 79 15.0
NEW YORK 74 80 15.5
PHILADELPHIA 70 84 19.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Friday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON 89 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 88 66 1.5
ST. LOUIS 86 68 3.5
-------------------------
SAN FRANCISCO 84 69 5.0 +1.0
PITTSBURGH 83 70 6.0 --
MILWAUKEE 79 75 10.5 4.5
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Friday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
SAT: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
MON: OFF
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

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