Saturday, April 6, 2024

The Early Leader in Strangeness

Every year, among the teams that probably won't compete or will hang around the bottom of the division, there's always one or two baffling, bizarre teams that are fascinating to write about. I think about the Rays in 2018, as they were figuring out their 'opener' strategy, or the Marlins a couple years ago before they became competitive, or the Tigers last year with their strong bullpen and exactly nothing else. 

And this year, already, I'm seeing some very strange things afoot in Washington. Like how, on their WAR leaderboard, three of the top 6 are pictured with prior Photo Day sessions because they weren't with the team for that stage of camp. Derek Law, who was a late addition, Jesse Winker, who was a very late addition, and Trey Lipscomb, who was a late call-up due to Nick Senzel's poorly-timed injury.

And how another one of their current WAR leaders is...well, Joey Gallo. God bless April, right?

There are so many wild aspects of this Nats team, who, despite their relative inexperience, are still around the middle of the NL East thanks to the torrid starts for the Mets and Marlins. The bullpen consists of like 7 or 8 guys over 30, including Matt Barnes, who I had no idea was still in the league. I know there's been a lot of talk about bullpen regimen this year, how the Yankees have done it and how the Rangers have fixed theirs, and having like three 33 year olds mop up games is...definitely an approach. At the very least some of them, like Derek Law and Dylan Floro, are still on top of things. The rest are having some trouble, being...33-year-old relievers. 

What's interesting, though, is how you're beginning to see more genuine Nationals farm products poke their heads out. That was the problem I had with last year's team, how it was basically just Victor Robles and Luis Garcia, and everybody else was either a trade inclusion or a free agent guy. Now Robles is hurt, which...figures, and Garcia is still holding his own at 2nd. But thankfully, thanks to people like Lipscomb, Jacob Young and, despite being in the minors right now, Jake Alu, you are seeing a replenishment of the team's actual development. Lipscomb has actually been a nice rookie piece, he's hitting .286 with 2 RBIs and a homer already. Jake Irvin is also a nice homegrown guy, he can eat innings just fine.

But for now, the team is still gonna be led by guys like C.J. Abrams, MacKenzie Gore and Keibert Ruiz. Which isn't a bad thing, as they're all still good. Especially Abrams, who's off to an excellent start, hitting .321 with 5 RBIs, 2 homers and 3 steals. When he came up with San Diego, I'd worried he'd never find a solid enough opportunity to start regularly, but the Nats have not only given him that, but a place where he can be the star. And I'm glad that their season can be defined by someone like Abrams, rather than someone like Patrick Corbin who's probably gonna lead the team in IP despite getting killed every game.

This is a very strange Nats team, and they'll hopefully continue to be this entertaining to talk about as we go.

Coming Tomorrow- Well, it's April, which means this guy's on an absolute tear in Cleveland again..

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