The Nationals start the second half of what seems like a beautiful season so far tonight. Back in early April, we posted our predictions for the coming season. I was fairly optimistic, and Ashley tempered my optimism. And apparently, we shouldn’t have been quite so moderate in our guesstimations. Let’s take a look at those prognostications and see just how things stand here before the Nats start up again.
1) Who will lead the Nats in home runs in 2012?
Original Answer: Ryan Zimmerman
Current Leaders: Desmond at 17, LaRoche at 15 … Zimmerman 8
Oh Ryan. He had a rough first half, and things didn’t turn around until about 3 weeks ago when he got that cortisone shot. In the mean time, Desmond is having a career season, and Adam LaRoche is getting off to a faster start than usual.
Modified Answer: LaRoche – I’m not sure Desmond can keep up his furious pace through the rest of the season though I’d love to see him try.
2) Who will lead the Nats in RBI?
Original Answer: Danny Espinosa
Current Leaders: LaRoche 53, Desmond 51… Espinosa 24
This prediction was probably wishful thinking in the first place. Espi had a great first half last year – would it be silly to think he’d repeat? Maybe he’ll bounce back in the second half this time around, but it looks like it’ll be difficult to catch up with LaRoche and Desi who are running away with this so far.
Modified Answer: If we’re going with the “second place guy takes it” again, then we’ll give it to Desmond.
3) Who will lead the Nats in stolen bases?
Original Answer: Roger Bernadina
Current Leaders: Espinosa 14, Desmond 11, Harper 10 … Bernadina 8
This is a situation where the Shark’s new role as a pinch hitter has hurt him. He’s still a speedster, as evidenced by the fact that he’s only 6 bases behind Espinosa despite his fractional number of plate appearances.
Modified Answer: Gotta give this one to the Kid. Harper loves to run, and I have a feeling he’ll do a lot of base stealing in the second half.
4) Who will lead the staff in wins?
Original Answer: Jordan Zimmermann
Current Leaders: Gonzalez 12, … Zimmermann 5
Poor Jordan. We should have known from last year that the team’s bad habit of not giving him any run support would hold over. He deserves a better win-loss record (and fingers crossed tonight gives him another W in that column).
Modified Answer: Gotta go with Gio. He’s a workhorse, and he seems to love pitching in Nats Park. I have a feeling this one is locked up.
5) Who will pitch more innings for the Nats this season: Chien-Ming Wang, John Lannan, Ross Detwiler?
Original Answer: Ross Detweiler
Current Leaders: Detweiler 78.2, Wang 23.2, Lannan 0
This is one of the few answer’s we’ve got right so far. Yay us! With Wang’s hip acting up again, and Lannan pouting in Syracuse, we’ll stick with our original answer.
6) Who will get more at bats for the Nats this season: Rick Ankiel, Roger Bernadina, Bryce Harper?
Original Answer: Roger Bernadina
Current Leaders: Harper 248, Ankiel 158, Bernadina 111
With Ankiel in a reduced role, Bernadina as pinch hitter, and Harper debuting in the big leagues WAY before anyone expected, it looks like we were wrong on this one.
Modified Answer: Harper. He’s run away with it so far, and the only way I see this changing is if the worst comes to pass.
7) Date of Bryce Harper’s Major league debut?
Original Answer: June 2
Actual Answer: April 28
We were OH SO WRONG. But really…whoulda thunk? And dude is really proving himself.
8) Which minor leaguer are you most interested in keeping tabs on this season (other than Bryce Harper)?
Original Answer: Anthony Rendon or Matt Purke (btw, check out that photo!)
With Rendon essentially out for the season with a broken ankle, and Matt Purke not starting his season until late May followed quickly by a trip to the DL, it seems that both of them won’t be doing much for a while. In the mean time, we’ll be keeping an ear to the ground about Alex Meyer who did an awesome job at the MLB futures game.
9) How many all-stars will the Nats have? Who?
Our Answer: 2, Zimmerman and Strasburg
Real Answer: 3.5, Strasburg, Gonzalez, Desmond (withdrew), Harper
Let’s give ourselves partial credit. Of course Strasburg would go – that was the obvious answer. But the other 2.5 (we’ll call them that since the Nats technically had 4 all stars, but only 3 showed up) were awesome surprises. Congrats to the team on making the great leap from the last few seasons when they had someone at the All Star Game only because every team HAD to have someone at the All Star Game.
10) Total wins and what place in the division?
Original Answer: 85, 2nd
Current Answer: 49 wins, 1st in NL-East, 1st in NL, 3rd in MLB … more than halfway there!
This is amazing. The team currently stands 10 wins behind their entire win total from both 2008 and 2009. They’ve got 79 more games to win the 36 games needed to meet our prediction. That’s .456 over the second half of the season. It’d have to be a big drop-off on the current pace, but that means this team is likely to at least meet and probably exceed our expectations.
We won’t amend our prediction (just because we’re cautious), but yeah. This is very good.
Essay Question: Single most important development for the Nats this season?
Original Answer: The team really needs to stay healthy. Physically, this includes trying to avoid silly injuries early in the season that could be avoided and not overworking injury prone players. Mentally, the team needs to keep up camaraderie in the clubhouse and not get caught up in early season hype until they’ve proven themselves.
Response to Essay: DAMN STRAIGHT. How many more games could this team have won early on if they’d had Morse from the get-go? Had Storen as their closer, and didn’t have to deal with the nagging Lidge elbow-issues. What if Zimmerman had gotten his cortisone shot earlier? Or if Werth could have continued producing in his sophomore season without the devastating wrist injury? If Desmond and Harper didn’t have nagging injuries that they’re playing through (to All-Star caliber), that might be holding them back from their full potential? Who knows what would have happened…but it would have been fun to watch. Thankfully the camaraderie has been there to make up for the other failings. This is a team with clubhouse chemistry like you would not believe, and they seem to be having fun, but also being realistic about expectations. Good on them!
Ok – the second half starts now. Good luck, boys!