Filtering by Tag: 2016 Preseason Coverage

Player Preview: Jose Lobaton

Jose Lobaton was all but guaranteed a returning role as the Washington Nationals’ backup catcher once the Nats signed him to a one-year deal for just under $1.4 million this past December.

Known to be much more of a defensive asset rather than a contributor from the batter’s box, Lobaton made just 155 plate appearances last season, during which he recorded a .199 batting average and .279 on-base percentage. Offensively, both output and the number of opportunities afforded Lobaton have been in steady decline since 2013, a year in which he pulled a .249 batting average in 311 appearances.

But, when the Nats acquired him along with southpaw Felipe Rivero and outfielder Drew Vettleson in a deal that sent right-hander Nathan Karns to Tampa Bay, they praised Lobaton’s work behind the plate – namely, his ability to frame pitches and buy strikes.

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Player Preview: Jonathan Papelbon

Well here we are less than a week from Opening Day and Jonathan Papelbon is still a National. Back at the end of September I'd guess few would expect that to be the case, however we had a good idea after the Drew Storen trade in January that he would be sticking around for another year.

And with those sentences let's move on from the already well-discussed topic of Papelbon's transgressions last season and on to a proper preview of what we can expect from him on the mound this year.

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Player Preview: Jayson Werth

Jayson Werth's 2015 season was his 5th year in D.C. after signing the fabled $126 million contract before the 2011 season. Werth had the unfortunate luck of getting injured early on in the season after getting nailed in the wrist with a 92 mph fastball. The result of his injury was a fractured wrist and being out of action until the end of July. Prior to that, Werth had been struggling a bit at the plate regardless. In the 27 games Werth played prior to getting hit with a pitch, he was batting .208/.294/.287, well below what can be expected of the veteran outfielder. Werth was fortunate in the fact that he wasn't out for the whole season, but there were other issues he would face during the season.

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Player Preview: Yusmeiro Petit

The evolution of the modern bullpen has made Yusmeiro Petit one of the last few swing men in baseball. Petit can work out of the bullpen for an inning, as a long reliever, or make a spot start when needed. While versatility is being valued among position players it has been devalued in pitchers. Gone is nearly all uniqueness of relievers and the modern reliever is a tall, broad shouldered, fastball slinging strikeout machine. nearing extinction is variety of ground ball specialist, fork ball specialists, junk hurlers, and swing men. Yusmeiro Petit is the last of a dying breed and he could be the glue that holds the Nationals bullpen together. 

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Player Preview: Wilmer Difo

Little is known about where Wilmer Difo came from, but what is known is he burst on the scene and would not be forgotten. At some point in his career as a minor league player Difo became a prospect. It's hard to pinpoint exactly when this happened but it may have something to do with his .315/.360/.470 batting line at Hagerstown in 2014. Difo continued that hot hitting in 2015 at Potomac and earned a surprise call-up mid-season. 

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Player Preview: Rafael Martin

Whenever Rafael Martin’s name is mentioned in discussions of 2016 predictions, two possible narratives should come to mind. 

The first – and preferred scenario for Nationals fans– is a tale that would more closely resemble a movie screenplay than a real-life story of “how to make it in baseball.” 

The second – and, arguably, more likely – narrative is one of an everyday John Doe who had just the right amount of talent to catch the eyes of baseball scouts, but who lacks the experience and development needed to shut down batters on the main stage.

Before laying out either scenario, one has to acknowledge how amazing it is that Martin’s name is even relevant in baseball today. And, should the fairytale play out, the Nationals could benefit from the ultimate underdog’s story. 

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