With the All-Star Game fast approaching, it’s that time when we get to look forward to half our team going to play in a game that barely matters for anything as the best of the best take each other on for home field advantage in the World Series! Wait, we’re talking about the Nats and not the Yankees…right.
Usually the Nats get one guy to represent the District for All-Star Weekend.Â For years it was Ryan Zimmerman, without question the best player on the team and the only one outside of DC who anyone had heard of.Â With his injury this year, Zim won’t be making the trip.Â That opens up at least one position for one of the other Nats to make the cut.
In fact, for the first time in a long time, maybe even ever, the Nats have a decent case to get two players in.Â That’s hard to argue from a third-place team, but they have a few guys who have really been playing above and beyond.Â There are three main candidates who have a chance at going to Arizona: Michael Morse, Danny Espinosa, and Drew Storen.
Stat line: .309 BA .357 OBP .921 OPS 13 HR 43 RBI
With those stats, combined with timing, it would be somewhat surprising if he didn’t make it.Â While his success has been recent (built within the last month) his stats are at or near the top of the team in most categories.Â He got them going at the beginning of their 8 game win streak, and he stepped up in Zimmerman’s absence to help keep the offense afloat.
One thing working against him is that Morse is listed as outfield, not first base. He is in a rather competitive outfield in the National League, so it will be interesting to see where he falls with fans.Â He doesn’t have as strong defensive play as some of the other candidates, and his offensive numbers may not be enough to compensate for that.
Since Morse has taken over first base with LaRoche was injured, he has become a more intricate part of the team.Â That may or may not factor in to voting, but if Morse had been categorized as 1B instead of outfield, he would be almost a shoe-in. Since he’s not, we’ll see how he stacks up to the rest of the competition.
Stat line: .237 BA .321 OPB .791 OPS 13 HR 43 RBI
If this were the NHL All-Star game, which has rookie voting separate from the rest of the league, Espinosa would be headed to Arizona without a doubt.Â However, he is going up against the entire 2B contingent of the National League.Â That will make his journey a little harder.
Espinosa came into the season with his expectations, and since settling into his third month of the season, he has shown a comfort and maturity that has translated into his play.Â He and Ian Desmond have created chemistry executing double plays in the infield, and many could make the case that he is the Nats best defensive player.Â His name has been mentioned in the same sentence as both NL Rookie of the Year and Gold Glove.
This is where the Nationals lack of national attention will hurt.Â We have gotten to see his development and spectacular play, but that hasn’t gotten any press on a large scale because of the position of the team.Â He would have a much greater chance on a team that’s regularly on Sunday Night Baseball, but the curse of the “small market” might hold him back.
Stat line: 402 2.41 ERA 17 of 19 SVO 1.27 WHIP
Storen, unlike the other “finalists” here and most of the Nats, has gotten the national attention he deserved.Â It took a 22 shutout inning streak and a 9+ straight save streak to start the season to get that attention, but this is something that is in his favor that the other guys don’t have.
At the beginning of the season, Jim Riggleman said that he would employ a closer-by-committee. That became a committee of one a month into the season as Storen lit it up and took the job.Â Since then, he has had very few hiccups and has only missed 2 save opportunities all year.
Since he is the most nationally recognized, he may be the player to represent the Nats in Arizona.Â It would also be easier for the MLB to take a pitcher from the Nats as opposed to a field player, where there is tougher competition.Â Few closers have been as dominating and successful as Storen this year.
Who of these three do you think will make it? Or someone different entirely? Let us know in the comments!