The Washington Nationals continue to be hit by injuries during the early part of the season, and now outfielder Bryce Harper is expected to be out until at least early July after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. Harper’s fantasy owners will be without one of their top draft picks for a while, but does his replacement in Washington’s outfield have a chance to become a suitable option?
Nate McLouth started in left field against the San Diego Padres on Sunday, and went 1-for-3 with his first home run of the season. He saw some time in center field when Denard Span was out with a concussion, but he has not played a lot so far this season and nothing notable should be taken from his .118 batting average over 34 at-bats.
McLouth emerged as an underrated producer for fantasy owners with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2008 (.276, 26 home runs, 94 RBI, 23 stolen bases) and he had another solid season in 2009 (.256, 20 home runs, 70 RBI and 19 stolen bases) even after being traded to the Atlanta Braves. After a few down years he enjoyed a bit of a resurgence with the Baltimore Orioles last season, with 12 home runs and 36 RBI along with 30 stolen bases while topping 500 at-bats (531) for the first time since 2009.
Simply put, there’s no way fantasy owners can replace Harper’s production with one waiver wire addition at this point in the season. But McLouth is available in 96 percent of Yahoo! leagues right now, and with the likelihood of regular playing time his two-category potential (home runs and stolen bases) is enough to make him roster-worthy in NL-only and deeper mixed leagues while Harper is out.
Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter.