Throughout the offseason, The Nats Blog will look back at every player’s 2012 season to summarize and analyze his performance, and we’ll look ahead to his possible role in 2013. We’ll go from #1 Steve Lombardozzi all the way to #63 Henry Rodriguez until Spring Training. Enjoy.
Stephen Strasburg was one of the hottest topics in baseball throughout the 2012 season because of his controversial innings limit, but he didn’t waste the innings he was given.
Of his 28 starts for the Nationals last season, Strasburg made 20 quality starts (pitching at least six innings and allowing no more than three runs). He finished with a 3.16 ERA, a .230 batting average against, and a 1.15 WHIP. He had the highest strikeout rate on the Nationals staff (11.3 per nine innings), and his 197 strikeouts ranked seventh in the National League. For much of the early part of the season, he and Gio Gonzalez were battling each other for the first- and second-most strikeouts in the NL, contributing to the Nationals pitching staff being nicknamed “K Street.”
His early-season dominance won him the title of NL Pitcher of the Month for April, and earned him a spot on the 2012 All-Star Game roster, but his biggest award was not one you would quickly associate with a flame-throwing right-hander.
With as much hype as has surrounded this pitcher since the Nationals drafted him in 2009, no one expected that his first major award would be for hitting. But he surprised everyone by winning the 2012 Silver Slugger for National League pitchers. He finished the season with an offensive slash line that could easily be attributed to a middle of the lineup hitter: .277/.333/.426. In 47 at-bats, he struck out just 13 times, and hit one home run and four doubles. Yes, those numbers come from a small sample size because he is a pitcher, but I was I was graced with the opportunity to see the man take batting practice from the field, and trust me, it was incredible.
Next Year: Strasburg was shut down after just 159.1 innings last season, but many in the Nationals organization are hopeful that he will reach 200 innings in 2013. In his first full major league season with no innings limit, there will be no limit on Strasburg’s potential to rock Washington. If he pitches even better than he did in 2012, which is likely now that he is over two years removed from his Tommy John surgery, you will be hearing his name in the Cy Young conversation.
Up Next: #38 Michael Morse, “The Beast”