Our second-to-last stop on our trip around the Washington Nationals comes in the outfield. Since a good portion of the season saw many different outfielders, we’re going to group this one together. It shouldn’t affect the rating too much as they were pretty good all around.
In the offseason prior to the 2013 season, general manager Mike Rizzo filled an obvious hole at center field with free agent Denard Span. Span was one of three key free-agent signings by the Nationals with Dan Haren and Rafael Soriano being the other two. When I say key, I mean they stepped right into key roles.
Of those three players, Span certainly performed the best. He put together a Gold Glove-like season as he finished with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage and had a couple web gem receptions including a game-winning ninth inning catch against the San Francisco Giants back in mid-August.
At the corners, we primarily found Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper, although Harper did miss five weeks after smashing into the outfield walls in Los Angeles and Atlanta. In his absence, Tyler Moore, Steve Lombardozzi, Jeff Kobernus and Corey Brown all had a chance to make a different. They played well, but it’s hard to replace a presence like Harper’s.
For Harper, his MVP-like start sputtered after his injury, but he still had a strong season all things considered. He finished a batting average of .274, 20 home runs and 58 RBI. He finished with a 97.3 fielding percentage and committed just six errors in 221 chances while collecting 13 assists. Many times this season did he give us all another reason why we shouldn’t question his arm.
In the corner stood Jayson Werth. Werth not only had one of his best seasons of his Nationals’ tenure, but of his career in general. He batted .318 and finished with 25 home runs and 82 RBI. He did miss sometime due to injury, but he became the Nationals biggest difference maker down the stretch. In the outfield, he finished with a 99 fielding percentage while committing just two errors in 244 total chances.
In 2014, expect to see the same faces in the outfield for the Nationals. This group of guys was one of the more underrated trio’s in baseball, in my opinion. Span quietly had a Gold Glove season and Werth and Harper were reliable and solid all season long. Overall, I give them an A grade for the season.