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Would a team of ex-Nats be any good?

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Would a team of ex-Nats be any good?

Sometimes when teams get good they have to let good players go. The 2007 Philadelphia Phillies, for instance, had Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse on their roster and neither were major contributors. Jayson Werth was of course also on Philly before coming to Washington. 

It took a lot of roster turnover to transform the Nats into what they are today, a playoff team and division champion. Just look at the 2010 squad, nine different pitchers who made appearances with that team have yet to pitch again in the majors. (Luis Atilano, Scott Olsen, J.D. Martin, Tyler Walker, Jesse English, Matt Chico, Joe Bisenius, Garrett Mock, and Jason Bergmann)

The Nationals over the past few years have traded players away and let others go via free agency, some simply because it was time they switched to the American League. But looking at who has left and where they are now, the talent pool of ex-Nationals players really isn’t that bad.

Here is how I see a team of former Nationals players (still active in the majors) stacking up. The stats included are those from their 2012 seasons.

BATTERS

C – Derek Norris (.201 BA, 7 HR, 34 RBI)
1B – Adam Dunn (.204 BA, 41 HR, 96 RBI)
2B – Emilio Bonifacio (.258 BA, 30 R, 30 SB)
SS – Jerry Hairston (.273 BA, 4 HR, 26 RBI)
3B – Alfonso Soriano (.262 BA, 32 HR, 108 RBI)
LF – Josh Willingham (.260 BA, 35 HR, 110 RBI)
CF – Justin Maxwell (.229 BA, 18 HR, 53 RBI)
RF – Jonny Gomes (.262 BA, 18 HR, 47 RBI)

BN – Wil Nieves (32 G, .301 BA, 8 RBI)
BN – Marlon Byrd (47 G, .210 BA, 10 R)
BN – Laynce Nix (.256 BA, 3 HR, 16 RBI)
BN – Pete Orr (35 G, .315 BA, 7 RBI)
BN – Austin Kearns (.245 BA, 21 R, 16 RBI)

A lineup of former Nationals looks a lot better after 2012 than it did a year before. Adam Dunn had a huge comeback from his awful 2011 with 41 home runs and a league-best 105 walks. He made his second career All-Star appearance and would be the centerpiece of this hypothetical batting order. Dunn along with Soriano, Willingham, Maxwell, Gomes, and even Norris would pack a ton of power.

The ex-Nationals lineup overall would be quite lopsided. Their infield in general would be old and ineffective. Hairston and Orr would likely platoon at shortstop given their age. And Alfonso Soriano would have to move back to the infield given the outfield depth. Willingham, Maxwell, Gomes, and Byrd would combine to man the outfield.

The Nats would be okay at catcher with Norris and Nieves. Norris is a decent starter having blocked the plate for the division champion Oakland Athletics. The bench would also be serviceable with Nix and the fourth outfielder ready to go. 

PITCHERS

SP – Tommy Milone (13-10, 3.74 ERA, 190.0 IP)
SP – Jason Marquis (8-11, 5.22 ERA, 127.2 IP)
SP – Livan Hernandez (4-1, 6.42 ERA, 67.1 IP)
SP – Brad Peacock (played in minors)
SP – Miguel Batista (1-3, 4.61 ERA, 52.2 IP)

The starting rotation of an ex-Nationals team would be its biggest weakness. The Nats themselves were poor in this department before getting Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, so this could be expected. Milone turned into a quality starting pitcher after being traded to Oakland and led the A.L. West champions in wins and innings pitched. The rest of the rotation, with the exception of Peacock, saw their best years a long time ago. Peacock had promise when he was traded to the A’s, but never made it out of the Pacific Coast League in 2012. He had an ugly 6.01 ERA through 134 2/3 innings in the minors.

CL – Joel Hanrahan (2.72 ERA, 36 SV, 59.2 IP)
RP – Joel Peralta (3.63 ERA, 0.985 WHIP, 67.0 IP)
RP – Jon Rauch (3.59 ERA, 0.988 WHIP, 57.2 IP)
RP – Matt Capps (3.68 ERA, 1.091 WHIP, 14 SV)
RP – Doug Slaten (2.77 ERA, 13.0 IP)
RP – Todd Coffey (4.66 ERA, 19.1 IP)
RP – Chad Gaudin (4-2, 4.54 ERA, 69.1 IP)

The bullpen of the ex-Nationals would be quite decent. Hanrahan is probably the posterboy of former Nats players as even general manager Mike Rizzo has expressed regret for trading him. Peralta, Rauch, and Capps are quality relievers and the overall depth is good. Slaten would be the only left-hander which would pose a problem.

OVERALL

All in all, the group of former Nationals still active in the major isn’t that bad. Making the playoffs would be unlikely, but there is certainly more talent there than the current Miami Marlins.

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Even after two-plus years, Hunter Strickland couldn't forget last meeting with Bryce Harper

Even after two-plus years, Hunter Strickland couldn't forget last meeting with Bryce Harper

965 days. That's the amount of time that separated the second time Bryce Harper and Hunter Strickland faced each other on an MLB diamond and the third one.

In that second matchup, which came back in Game 4 of the 2014 NLDS, Harper launched a game-tying home run in the seventh inning off of Strickland. Harper also hit a blast off Strickland in Game 1 of the same series.

Well, apparently, the Giants reliever still hasn't gotten over his last time he saw the Nationals star, because on Monday, the right-hander plunked the MVP candidate with a fastball the first chance he had since their postseason encounters almost three years ago.

Ironically enough, after San Francisco beat Washington in the NLDS, Strickland told the SF Chronicle how he would have to "have a short memory" on the mound for the rest of the playoffs and keep his composure after the home runs. Judging by this video, however, it's clear that Strickland's had some issues moving on:

RELATED: MORE ON THE HARPER VS. STRICKLAND BRAWL

When you look back at that Game 4 meeting, you'll see Harper pause at home plate and watch his moonshot after sending it into the McCovey Cove, then glare at Strickland a few times as he rounds the bases. Some will call what No. 34 did a violation of baseball's unwritten rules, but it was a huge moment on a huge stage, which contributed to Harper's emotional reaction.

The fact of the matter is that plenty of pitchers have moved on from much more egregious things in much shorter time frames, but for whatever reason, Strickland just wasn't able to.

Afterward, Harper explained why he thinks the hit by pitch should've never happened.

But Ryan Zimmerman had the best quote of all when talking about the sequence:

The veteran is right on with that statement. Harper was better than Strickland back in 2014, so Strickland felt the need to tag Harper first before Harper had a chance to tag him again on Monday. Essentially, the pitcher followed the, "If you can't beat him, bean him" strategy.

965 days is a long time to get over a grudge. For Hunter Strickland, though, 965 days still wasn't enough.

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Bryce Harper charges mound, throws punches after Hunter Strickland hits him with pitch

Bryce Harper charges mound, throws punches after Hunter Strickland hits him with pitch

In their two previous meetings, Bryce Harper took Hunter Strickland deep. Very deep, in fact.

So in their third encounter, Strickland made sure that Harper wouldn't have the chance to do it again. 

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In the top of the eighth inning of Monday's Nationals-Giants game, the San Francisco reliever went after Washington's best player on the first pitch and hit him in the thigh with a 98 MPH fastball.

Harper — without hesitation — responded by charging the mound and throwing his helmet at Strickland, and the two then squared off and exchanged punches.

Here is the wild video of the whole sequence:

Harper and Strickland were, of course, ejected after initiating one of the best MLB fights in recent memory. This was the pair's first time facing each other since Harper's two home runs in the 2014 NLDS, meaning Strickland's had a long time to get over No. 34's blasts but simply couldn't do it.