Each year Baseball America releases their top-10 prospects for each organization. As a baseball fanatic that has rooted for a loosing team much of his life, it’s one of the best parts of the season. It provides a glimmer of hope as you can see the opinions from some of the top baseball experts on the players that could potentially be the future of the franchise you know and love.
A great feature they provide in these pieces is their four-year-into the future projections for starting lineups. For instance, this year Baseball America projected that in 2016 Anthony Rendon will be the Nats starting third baseman and Ryan Zimmerman will move over to first. It’s some really interesting stuff, and you can check it out here.
Personally, however, I love looking at this tool retrospectively. Knowing the 2016 projected lineup is great, but what did Baseball America project the Nationals 2013 lineup would like when they made them four years ago? Here you go:
Catcher - Derek Norris (Wilson Ramos)
First Base - Chris Marrero (Adam LaRoche)
Second Base - Danny Espinosa (Correct!)
Shortstop - Ian Desmond (Correct!)
Third Base - Ryan Zimmerman (Correct!)
Left Field - Josh Willingham (Bryce Harper)
Center Field - Nyjer Morgan (Denard Span)
Right Field - Adam Dunn (Jayson Werth)
No. 1 Starter - Stephen Strasburg (Correct)
No. 2 Starter - Jordan Zimmermann (Correct)
No. 3 Starter - Ross Detwiler (Correct)
No. 4 Starter - John Lannan (Gio Gonzalez)
No. 5 Starter - Collin Balester (Dan Haren)
Closer - Drew Storen (Correct or Soriano)
Looking at that list, it’s actually remarkable how accurate they were. I think this is a true testament to effectiveness of the Nationals player development team, as the talent that they identified early on (some more than four years ago) has blossomed and are now the key parts of a team that is pushing for a World Series championship this year. That’s a serious accomplishment.
If you look at where Baseball America got it wrong, all of the players who have replaced their projections have come from outside sources (or in the case of Bryce Harper, was drafted after this was published). Further more, if you look at the players who have been replaced on this list, pretty much all of the new players are significant upgrades.
It’s very exciting to see what Washington has done to incrementally improve in nearly every move they have made in the past half-decade. Truly amazing stuff.