Most Valuable Nationals: Position Players

Alex DanversContributor IOctober 9, 2009

DENVER - JULY 08:  Josh Willingham #16 of the Washington Nationals takes an at bat against the Colorado Rockies during MLB action at Coors Field on July 8, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Nationals 10-4.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The season is over, and some might say not a moment too soon for the Nationals. Yet I often find the off-season as interesting as the regular season, because the offseason is a time to reflect.

What are our assets? Our weaknesses? Where do we go from here? It’s like being in college all over again, struggling to pick a major.

With six months before the Nationals play another meaningful game, there is a lot of time for analysis. The following is a list of the Nationals most valuable position players, according to wins above replacement (WAR) and dollar values.

This is a starting point for understanding the Nationals’ relative strengths.

The Top Five

1. Ryan Zimmerman:

WAR: 7.1 Value: $ 31.8 million

Ryan Zimmerman was a superstar for the Nationals in 2009. But did you know he was also the fourth most valuable player in the National League last season? That’s more valuable than David Wright, Prince Fielder, and Ryan Howard.

Play on, playa.

2. Nyjer Morgan

WAR: 4.8 Value: $ 21.8 million

The 12th most valuable player in the NL? Nyjer Morgan. People may say Lastings Milledge has more potential, but he would be hard pressed to put up a season this good at any point in his career. So was Ryan Braun—he finished with a 4.7 WAR.

3. Josh Willingham

WAR: 2.3 Value: $ 10.4 million

The Hammer was a little miffed to be riding pine while the inferior-in-every-way Austin Kearns started. Well, after clubbing baseballs like they were seals, he caught management’s attention (like I just did with that metaphor). The fact is, since he can play a little D in between at-bats, Hammer is a better overall player than Adam Dunn.

4. Adam Dunn

WAR: 1.1 Value: $ 5.2 million

The big, Will Ferrell-y looking scamp didn’t hit 40 home runs, but he did hit 38 with a career high in average. The thing is, with that awful defense, he was only worth about half as much as his $ 10 million salary.

5. Willie Harris

WAR 1.0 Value: $ 4.6 million

How can you not love Harris? He’s all hustle, hard work, and defense. Seeing him on this list highlights his contributions, but it also highlights just how thin the Nationals offense is.

Honorable Mentions

6. Cristian Guzman:

WAR: 0.9 Value: $ 4.1 million

7. Josh Bard:

WAR: 0.7 Value: $ 2.9 million

8. Will Nieves:

WAR: 0.3 Value: $ 1.4 million

Guzman started strong, but hardly even looked like a starter by season’s end. Did his Lasik surgery wear off?

The value of the two catchers is more in that they didn’t sweat outs while calling games. There’s a significant positional bonus given to them just for donning the tools of ignorance.

The good news is there is room for improvement. Players worth four or more wins in a season are few and far between, and the Nationals have two of them to build around. But they can also improve rapidly just by finding slightly above average players at more spots around the diamond.

Here that, Mike Rizzo? All we want for Christmas is an adequate second baseman.


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