2021 Nats media season predictions

The day has come at last. The 2021 baseball season begins today. All 30 clubs are scheduled to play, including the Nationals in tonight’s nationally televised opener against the Mets. Fans will be in attendance everywhere, 5,000 of them here.

Alas, five members of the Nats’ expected opening night roster will not be there after one tested positive for COVID-19 and four others were deemed close contacts to him. It turns today into more of a bittersweet event than a full-on celebration of baseball, but the show must go on and there will be ballgame tonight on South Capitol Street, no matter who’s on the roster.

Thumbnail image for Nats-Park-WS-G5-Night-Sidebar.jpgWhich means it’s time to continue our annual tradition around here and ask the entire corps of Nationals beat reporters to make some predictions for the upcoming season. Some of the names have changed over the years, some old friends have departed, some have found their way back. All were willing to put their reputations on the line and risk ridicule for these picks (which, of course, will be revisited at the end of the season).

There is some semblance of consensus in certain categories, but there’s a fairly wide range of predictions in others. Truly, this season may have been among the hardest to predict in a while, given the number of question marks surrounding the Nationals.

Hope you all enjoy. Feel free to make your own predictions in the comments section below. And feel free to mock us later this year when we’re proven to be horribly wrong about something ...

WHICH NATIONALS WILL BE SELECTED FOR THE ALL-STAR GAME?
Jess Camerato (MLB.com) - Josh Bell, Juan Soto
Jesse Dougherty (Washington Post) - Max Scherzer, Juan Soto
Todd Dybas (Inside the Clubhouse) - Max Scherzer, Juan Soto
Craig Heist (106.7 The Fan) - Josh Bell, Juan Soto, Stephen Strasburg, Trea Turner
Chelsea Janes (Washington Post) - Starlin Castro, Max Scherzer, Juan Soto
Pete Kerzel (MASNsports.com) - Max Scherzer, Juan Soto, Trea Turner
Bill Ladson (MLB.com honorary) - Josh Bell, Max Scherzer, Juan Soto
Maria Torres (The Athletic) - Victor Robles, Max Scherzer, Juan Soto
Mark Zuckerman (MASNsports.com) - Juan Soto, Stephen Strasburg, Trea Turner

WHAT WILL JUAN SOTO’S OPS BE?
Bill Ladson - 1.111
Jesse Dougherty - 1.042
Mark Zuckerman - 1.037
Jess Camerato - 1.015
Maria Torres - .987
Todd Dybas - .978
Chelsea Janes - .978
Pete Kerzel - .954
Craig Heist - .920

RANK JOSH BELL, KYLE SCHWARBER, JUAN SOTO AND TREA TURNER IN ORDER OF HOME RUNS.
Chelsea Janes - Soto, Bell, Schwarber, Turner
Pete Kerzel - Soto, Bell, Schwarber, Turner
Bill Ladson - Soto, Bell, Schwarber, Turner
Jess Camerato - Soto, Bell, Turner, Schwarber
Todd Dybas - Soto, Bell, Turner, Schwarber
Mark Zuckerman - Soto, Bell, Turner, Schwarber
Jesse Dougherty - Bell, Soto, Schwarber, Turner
Craig Heist - Bell, Soto, Schwarber, Turner
Maria Torres - Bell, Schwarber, Soto, Turner

WHO WILL BAT LEADOFF THE MOST TIMES?
Jesse Dougherty - Victor Robles
Todd Dybas - Victor Robles
Craig Heist - Victor Robles
Pete Kerzel - Victor Robles
Maria Torres - Victor Robles
Mark Zuckerman - Victor Robles
Jess Camerato - Trea Turner
Chelsea Janes - Trea Turner
Bill Ladson - Trea Turner

WHO WILL BAT THIRD THE MOST TIMES?
Jesse Dougherty - Juan Soto
Todd Dybas - Juan Soto
Craig Heist - Juan Soto
Chelsea Janes - Juan Soto
Bill Ladson - Juan Soto
Pete Kerzel - Trea Turner
Maria Torres - Trea Turner
Mark Zuckerman - Trea Turner
Jess Camerato - Josh Bell

WHO WILL START THE MOST GAMES AT THIRD BASE?
Jess Camerato - Starlin Castro
Jesse Dougherty - Starlin Castro
Todd Dybas - Starlin Castro
Craig Heist - Starlin Castro
Chelsea Janes - Starlin Castro
Pete Kerzel - Starlin Castro
Maria Torres - Carter Kieboom
Bill Ladson - Luis García
Mark Zuckerman - Kyle Seager

HOW MANY PLATE APPEARANCES WILL RYAN ZIMMERMAN GET?
Chelsea Janes - 398
Maria Torres - 320
Jesse Dougherty - 313
Todd Dybas - 296
Mark Zuckerman - 286
Craig Heist - 285
Pete Kerzel - 265
Bill Ladson - 250
Jess Camerato - 210

WHO WILL LEAD THE PITCHING STAFF IN WINS? HOW MANY?
Bill Ladson - Max Scherzer, 20
Maria Torres - Max Scherzer, 19
Todd Dybas - Stephen Strasburg, 17
Craig Heist - Stephen Strasburg, 17
Mark Zuckerman - Stephen Strasburg, 17
Jesse Dougherty - Patrick Corbin, 17
Pete Kerzel - Max Scherzer, 16
Jess Camerato - Max Scherzer, 15
Chelsea Janes - Jon Lester, 12

RANK PATRICK CORBIN, JON LESTER, JOE ROSS, MAX SCHERZER AND STEPHEN STRASBURG IN ORDER OF ERA.
Maria Torres - Scherzer, Strasburg, Corbin, Lester, Ross
Jess Camerato - Scherzer, Strasburg, Lester, Corbin, Ross
Pete Kerzel - Scherzer, Strasburg, Lester, Ross, Corbin
Bill Ladson - Scherzer, Lester, Corbin, Strasburg, Ross
Jesse Dougherty - Scherzer, Corbin, Strasburg, Ross, Lester
Craig Heist - Strasburg, Lester, Scherzer, Ross, Corbin
Todd Dybas - Strasburg, Scherzer, Corbin, Ross, Lester
Mark Zuckerman - Strasburg, Scherzer, Corbin, Ross, Lester
Chelsea Janes - Strasburg, Scherzer, Lester, Corbin, Ross

HOW MANY SAVES WILL BRAD HAND RECORD? HOW MANY BLOWN SAVES?
Jess Camerato - 31, 8
Jesse Dougherty - 31, 7
Pete Kerzel - 26, 6
Bill Ladson - 25, 5
Mark Zuckerman - 24, 4
Craig Heist - 23, 5
Todd Dybas - 21, 4
Chelsea Janes - 21, 4
Maria Torres - 20, 6

RANK BRAD HAND, DANIEL HUDSON, TANNER RAINEY AND WANDER SUERO IN ORDER OF APPEARANCES.
Todd Dybas - Suero, Rainey, Hand, Hudson
Craig Heist - Suero, Rainey, Hand, Hudson
Mark Zuckerman - Suero, Rainey, Hand, Hudson
Chelsea Janes - Suero, Hudson, Hand, Rainey
Pete Kerzel - Suero, Hudson, Hand, Rainey
Maria Torres - Suero, Hudson, Hand, Rainey
Jess Camerato - Suero, Hand, Rainey, Hudson
Jesse Dougherty - Suero, Hand, Hudson, Rainey
Bill Ladson - Hudson, Hand, Rainey, Suero

WHO WILL HIT THE MOST HOMERS AGAINST THE NATIONALS THIS SEASON?
Jess Camerato - Freddie Freeman
Todd Dybas - Freddie Freeman
Craig Heist - Freddie Freeman
Chelsea Janes - Freddie Freeman
Bill Ladson - Freddie Freeman
Maria Torres - Freddie Freeman
Pete Kerzel - Bryce Harper
Jesse Dougherty - Michael Conforto
Mark Zuckerman - Pete Alonso

WHAT WILL THE NATIONALS’ RECORD BE?
Craig Heist - 93-69
Bill Ladson - 93-69
Mark Zuckerman - 91-71
Jess Camerato - 89-73
Maria Torres - 88-74
Jesse Dougherty - 87-75
Todd Dybas - 87-75
Chelsea Janes - 87-75
Pete Kerzel - 84-78

HOW WILL THE NL EAST FINISH FROM TOP TO BOTTOM?
Jess Camerato - Braves, Nationals, Mets, Phillies, Marlins
Maria Torres - Braves, Nationals, Mets, Phillies, Marlins
Todd Dybas - Braves, Nationals, Mets, Marlins, Phillies
Mark Zuckerman - Braves, Nationals, Mets, Marlins, Phillies
Craig Heist - Braves, Nationals, Marlins, Phillies, Mets
Bill Ladson - Braves, Nationals, Marlins, Mets, Phillies
Jesse Dougherty - Braves, Mets, Nationals, Phillies, Marlins
Pete Kerzel - Braves, Mets, Nationals, Marlins, Phillies
Chelsea Janes - Mets, Braves, Nationals, Phillies, Marlins

HOW WILL THE NATIONALS’ SEASON END?
Jess Camerato - Lose NLCS
Craig Heist - Lose NLCS
Bill Ladson - Lose NLDS
Todd Dybas - Lose NL Wild Card Game
Maria Torres - Lose NL Wild Card Game
Mark Zuckerman - Lose NL Wild Card Game
Jesse Dougherty - Miss playoffs
Chelsea Janes - Miss playoffs
Pete Kerzel - Miss playoffs

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