Jayson Werth to hit second for the Nats

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When Jayson Werth signed his massive deal with the Nationals back in December, my first thought was “wow, they paid elite slugger prices for a guy who really isn’t an elite slugger.” They still may have overpaid Werth, but to the Nationals’ credit, they’re not going to expect him to be something he’s not. Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post:

Jayson Werth, the right fielder the Nationals signed this offseason for $126 million over seven years, will bat second in the lineup to begin the season, Manager Jim Riggleman said. The move comes as a surprise, but it is logical given Werth’s ability reach base and the Nationals’ needs at the top of the lineup.

Werth has power, sure, but he led the league in doubles last year while his homers went down. His true value is getting on base, with his OBP over the past four years being .404, .363, .373 and .388.  Reasonable people may disagree about lineup theory, but this is pretty classic second hitter material.  The worst thing for him and for the Nats would be if there was some expectation that he try to be the 40 home run guy that he’s never shown any real indication of being.

Nice move, Nats. Me likey.

2017 Preview: The National League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League West.

The Giants had the best record in all of baseball at the All-Star Break and the Dodgers lost the best pitcher in the world in Clayton Kershaw for a big chunk of the season. Yet, somehow, L.A. won the NL West by four games. The biggest culprit was the Giants’ suspect bullpen, which they put some real money toward fixing this winter. Is it enough? Or is a a Dodgers team with a healthy Kershaw just too talented for San Francisco to handle?

Below them is an intriguing Rockies team, though probably not a truly good Rockies team. The Dbacks have a lot of assorted talent but are nonetheless in reshuffle mode following a miserable 2016 campaign. The Padres, meanwhile, are in full-fledged rebuilding mode, but do possess some of the best minor league talent in the game.

Here are our previews of the 2017 NL West:

Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres

2017 Preview: The American League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League West

There’s not a lot of separation between the top three teams in this division. Indeed, it would not be a surprise for either the Astros, Rangers or Mariners to end the year on top. Part of that is because none of these contenders are perfect, with all three facing some big challenges in putting together a strong rotation.

Meanwhile, the best baseball player in the universe toils in Anaheim, where he’ll most likely have to content himself to playing spoiler. Up the coast in Oakland . . . um, green is pretty?

Our 2017 AL West Previews:

Houston Astros
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Oakland Athletics