Friday, December 16, 2022

Uncustomed Heroes of 2022: Nationals


The 2022 Washington Nationals. A team so frustrating, they ran their marquee star out of town on their own unmitigated gall. What a ballclub.

The Nationals were far and away the worst team in baseball this year, with 107 wins, just three years removed from their monumental World Series win. I'm not saying that Kurt Suzuki cursed the team by showing up to the meeting with the 45th president by wearing a red cap that didn't have a curly W on it, but I'm also not NOT saying that either. But now that the regime has changed in Washington, the subsequent seasons for the Nationals have consisted of the team, heh, falling asleep at the wheel.

Now that everybody's pissed off, here are the Uncustomed Heroes.

Patrick Corbin had a stellar 2018 season, and a stellar 2019, and apparently he thought that was enough. 2022 was Corbin's worst season to date, which isn't a good look for the pitcher who's the closest thing they had to an ace this year. Corbin led the league in losses for the second straight year with NINETEEN, a number so embarrassing that even Joan Adon thought it was too many, and pulled a blistering 6.31 ERA while allowing 210 hits and 107 runs. It's one of the worst seasons in recent memory from someone who very nearly won a Cy Young. Ubaldo Jimenez is just happy he's been forgotten about.
2023 Prediction: Two more years of this damned contract left. Hopefully he's a little more competent in this one.

In the absence of Patrick Corbin's ability to not get the shit beaten out of him for five innings, the Nats turned to the man who's become their #2 due to lack of options, Erick Fedde. Saying Fedde had a better season than Corbin is a lot like saying having someone's fingernail poked into your back for ten minutes is less painful than the same fingernail digging into your forehead for ten minutes. I don't know if you can tell, but originally that analogy was dirtier. Anyway, Fedde had a 5.81 ERA this year, as well as a 6-13 record. What's funny is that even if the Nats have 4 starters with 10+ losses, they also have three starters that started 27 or more games, which is...impressive for a terrible team. Corbin, Fedde and Gray lasted pretty much the whole season with them. Joan Adon and his 1-12 record mercifully got demoted after a bit, though.
2023 Prediction: On one hand, I'm happy he's out of Washington, but on the other hand, I have no idea who the hell would wanna pick him up after this season? I say somebody takes a chance on him, and he plays decently for them in May and June.

Luis Garcia was the Nats' primary shortstop this year, and the reason you didn't hear about it was that his defense stank to high heaven. Lord almighty. A -13 defensive WAR column? Even if he hit .275, with 99 hits and 45 RBIs, nobody wanted to start him in the infield because he's terrible there. Between Garcia, Alcides Escobar and Lucius Fox, the team was in DIRE need of infield help before the Soto trade.
2023 Prediction: A bench role. PLEASE MAKE HIM A BENCH GUY.

This was nice. For his last season in the bigs, Anibal Sanchez returned to the city where he earned his World Series ring to finish strong. Honestly, Sanchez did alright for himself, with a 4.28 ERA in 14 games, and a 1 WAR to show for it, which on this team is like a 4 WAR pretty much. Sanchez was a great pitcher for a large number of great teams, and I'm glad he got to save this one for a bit.

So, the Nats trade Soto and Bell to Washington, and one of the big pieces of the deal is C.J. Abrams, who was already stuck behind Fernando Tatis and Ha-Seong Kim in San Diego. Abrams is still working his way up at 21, and while he was mostly a defensive asset in Washington [which, after Luis Garcia, was welcome], he also found time to hit .258 with 41 hits in 44 games. The Nats see this guy, along with Keibert Ruiz and a few other guys, as the future, and this season was a decent start.
2023 Prediction: Like the guy he was playing next to in San Diego, Abrams is gonna take another year or so to figure out the majors, and then he'll be incredible. So I don't think he'll be mind-blowing in 2023, but he'll get his reps in.
And finally, the Nats brought up Alex Call, a longtime minor leaguer who was floundering in Cleveland before getting waived. Call, 27, had a pretty intriguing go of things, hitting .245 with 13 RBIs and 5 homers in 35 games. It's a great plate boost from a career minors guy. Maybe not as huge as another Washington National, but they took it.
2023 Prediction: That said, I don't know how he factors into the team's future. Maybe he gets some reps? Maybe he's a transition piece? I'm just not sure he has staying power like a lot of other 2022 pieces.

Tomorrow, the Orioles team that almost made the playoffs, and some people that helped.

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