Strong Septembers Setup Spring

How’s that for alliteration? The Nationals finished the season going 13-16, after September 1. Nothing spectacular, but that .448 winning percentage certainly beats their .364 for the whole season. Of course, their second half winning percentage of .440 trounced the .229 in the first half. Just goes to show you how bad that April and May really was. Anyway, you’d expect some players, therefore, to have done well in that post-August timeframe. And certainly some of the vets did play pretty well. But the youngsters are playing for a spot on the team next year, and auditioning to be part of a rebuilding process. Let’s take a look at some guys who impressed:

Ian Desmond

By now, everyone knows what this Desmond did, but it’s not a bad idea to recap. He showed incredible range at short, looked a little more flustered at second, lost in the outfield, and still had some trouble on the “easy” plays. But with his arm and his range, he may be hard not to play at short. What was surprising was how well he hit. After struggling at the plate for much of the last few years, he put together a great offensive season in the minors, earning his promotion. He hit a homer in his first game, and while having some ups and downs, finished with 4 HRs and a line of .280/.318/.561. The fact that he hit with such power shows he can handle major league pitching, and he’ll need to develop a little more patience. But he looks like he could be a solid regular if not more in the near future.

Ross Detwiler

Detwiler is a former first rounder and will just turn 24 next spring. The 6’5″ lefty looked great in September, and has an impressive 1.92 ERA after being called up. He still has some work to do, as he pitched 23 2/3 while walking 11 and only striking out 10, but he showed promise nonetheless. He worked himself out of trouble on several occasions, and lowered his ERA for the season from 6.40 on Sept 1 to 5.00. He looks like a different pitcher mentally than the one that was playing in the early part of the year, and may already be penciled in as part of the starting 5.

Justin Maxwell

A strikeout-prone hitter who got a chance to play early in the season, Maxwell was sent down after batting .125/.276/.167 with 11 Ks in only 24 ABs. He came back up in September and proceeded to tear the cover off the ball, including a walk-off grand slam. He hit 4 HRs, stole 3 bases and batted .292/.370/.554. This kind of production is probably over his head, but he also worked to cut down his K rate and prove he didn’t just have a lucky month. If he can keep up the average, while walking, hitting with power and speed, he has a chance to play every day. Because with his range in the field, if he could hit well enough to play a corner, he’d be impressive. That’s probably not quite where he’s gonna get, and for now, another talented center fielder would be nice.

Mike Morse

What can be said about Mike Morse? At 27 years old, with a few stints in the majors including a not too shabby albeit powerless rookie year where he got 258 ABs (he’s only had 134 in the 4 seasons since), he’s been seen as a guy that is probably not much of a prospect and only usable against lefties. But first of all, a platoon isn’t the worst thing in the world, and second of all, he hit pretty well this September. Since the 1st, he hit .262/.311/.524, not enough walks, but a good amount of power. He managed to hit much better against righties this fall, with 10 of his 13 hits and all 3 of his home runs coming against them. While his numbers weren’t spectacular, the fact that he didn’t look lost against righties might give him a chance as something more than a spare 28 year old part next year.

Alberto Gonzalez

Even the Attorney General played well in September, which shows either that he has some promise or that we shouldn’t put too much stock in these fall numbers. He hit .303/.329/.379 trying to show that he is a worthwhile utility man. It was a good month for his bat, including a game winning RBI in the 15th inning for a final game victory. But the numbers are still a bit scary for his future prospects. He didn’t walk nearly enough and hit for no power. If his average only dropped to a still-respectable .275, he’s hitting .275/.301/.351. So don’t be too fooled by his good September. Still, while you wouldn’t want your starting 2B to hit that poorly, that’s not atrocious from a utility infielder, and his ability to field may make him a valuable bench player.

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