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2018 MLB Preview: Washington Nationals

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A look at the Washington Nationals with fantasy baseball in mind.

Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Basic Stats:

Final Record: 97-65
Runs: 5th
Home Runs: 14th
Stolen Bases: 5th
ERA: 6th
Saves: 5th
Strikeouts: 7th

If I’m allowed to have two favorite teams, Washington is that for me! The Nationals were a fantasy goldmine once again in 2017. The team had 8 players inside the top 60 overall in fantasy. This comes at no surprised as they finished top 7 in five of the six categories I’m tracking above. The lineup isn’t facing any major changes in 2018 either so I expect them to be just as good, if not better, next season.

Let’s take a look towards 2018.

The Superstar: Bryce Harper/Trea Turner/Max Scherzer

This team is loaded. Top loaded too. Six top 50 players in terms of Expert Consensus Ranking and potentially nine in the top 100 come April. Harper and Scherzer are pretty well known commodities at this point. Harper has 5-time All-Star with a Rookie of the Year and MVP award already etched on his 20XX Hall of Fame plaque. Scherzer has 3 Cy Youngs and hasn’t finished worse than 5th in the Cy voting since 2013. Turner is the best player in fantasy baseball if he stays healthy. Don’t believe me? His 162-game average is 20 HR 66 SB and a .304 AVG.

The Sleeper: Adam Eaton

In 2016, Eaton hit .284 with a .362 OBP 14 HR 14 SB and 91 runs while playing for a very bad White Sox team. He finished just outside the top 100 overall in fantasy at #103. In 2017, Eaton was off to a hot start hitting .297 with a .393 OBP 2 HR 3 SB and 24 runs in just 23 games with the Nationals. If Eaton does exactly what he did in 2016 but on a much better offense, he’s a lock for 110 runs scored at the minimum. A healthy Adam Eaton is a top 100 player in 2018. He currently has a ECR of 172.

The Guy to Avoid: Gio Gonzalez

I’m high on most Nationals players, justifiably so considering how fantasy friendly the team is, so this pick was hard to make. I’m probably going to end up higher than most on Gio but I can see red flags telling me to avoid him in 2018. Gonzalez finished 2017 as the #11 SP in fantasy. He had a 15-9 record with a 2.96 ERA and 188 K. This was his best season since 2012. The underlying numbers suggest this was a fluke. He had a crazy high FIP of 3.93, the highest in his career as a full time starter. His WHIP was also down to 1.18. The 2 seasons prior, Gonzalez had a 4.18 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. Even if you look at the end of 2017, you start to see some red flags. He finished the year with a 5.31 ERA and 1.44 WHIP over his final 7 starts. This included two 5 earned run outings againt the Brewers and Braves and a 6 earned run outing to end the year against the Pirates. Looks like the FIP finally caught up with him. It’s a risky bet to draft Gonzalez as your #2 or #3 SP in fantasy.

The Prospect To Watch: Victor Robles

2018 looks to be the year Robles is unleashed on the fantasy baseball world. He was a top 10 prospect entering 2017 and is currently the #3 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline. He even ranked #2 overall by our staff here at Fake Teams. Robles will turn 21 in May but has already made a big splash in the minors. Over 4 minor league seasons, Robles has hit .304 with a .470 SLG. He has 26 HR 141 RBI 242 R and 110 SB in 332 games. That’s a 162-game pace of 13 HR 69 RBI 118 R and 54 SB. Kind of Trea Turner like. Did I mention he’s not even 21 yet?!? Robles is unquestionably the next big thing in fantasy baseball. He’s a 5 category superstar in the making with the potential to be a future 1st rounder for years to come.