I believe the 2009 Nationals will prove to be, by far, the best club that Manny Acta has had during his tenure as manager.
For today, let’s take a look at the offensive potential:
Adam Dunn will hit his customary 40, score 100+ and drive in 100.
Nick Johnson is healthy again and swinging the bat well. There is no reason that he can’t hit .290, score 100 and hit 20 home runs while playing Gold Glove caliber first base.
Ryan Zimmerman will show why the Nationals recently demonstrated their confidence in him by signing Zimmerman to a five-year contract. With Johnson and Dunn surrounding him, he should return to the numbers that he posted during his rookie campaign when he drove in over 100 runs.
Elijah Dukes has shown both patience and power hitting, mostly in the 5 hole. I won’t even predict where his numbers will end up. I do believe that they will be exceptional in several categories. He has power plus and makes enough hard contact to hit for average and have a .500+ slugging percentage.
Austin Kearns and Josh Willingham are almost clones of each other. They can hit, hit for power, run a tad above average and play their positions exceptionally well. If they can somehow both get 450 to 500 ABs, they should hit .280 or better, hit at least 20 HRs, and drive in 75 to 85 runs.
Cristian Guzman was off to another great start. He is hitting almost .330 since 2007. He will hit .300 and play a quality SS.
Jesus Flores has shown a penchant to drive in big runs almost since day one. He is getting better every day at calling pitches and handling the talented young staff. His strong throwing arm can shut down oppositional base stealers.
Anderson Hernandez needs to improve his on-base percentage or he will be a bottom of the order defensive specialist. I do like his swing, but he just hasn’t been patient enough at the plate in the early going.
That basically leaves us with our bench, which I like a lot. Nobody does it better than Willie Harris. He can play anywhere and is a threat to drive the ball and steal a big base. Belliard has proven over the last two years that he can really swing the bat and loves pressure situations. Wil Nieves is a solid #2 that is such a positive, mature influence on this young team. I hope Roger Bernadina can come back in six or eight weeks. He is the IDEAL 4th outfielder. He runs, throws and can play all three outfield positions. His hitting stroke looked shorter to me this year, and I believe that he will HIT.