By Michael Wong
West Palm Beach, Fla.--Is THIS finally the year the Washington Nationals win it all? It seems like the last five years this has been the ultimate question centering around the team's spring training and that effort so far has been an abject failure despite some very impressive regular seasons performances. 2018 takes on some extra urgency with the free agency status of outfielder Bryce Harper and the fact a major chunk of the rest of the team are on short-term deals. So with that said, here are some of the fantasy baseball storylines centering around the team this spring.
1. Is Bryce Harper overrated in terms of fantasy baseball? There is not a more hyped player in the game on a yearly basis outside of maybe Mike Trout than Bryce Harper. Unlike Trout however, Harper has not put forth the blockbuster numbers on a yearly basis as a status like that would require. The fact of the matter is that Harper has reached 30 home runs just ONCE in six MLB seasons and he has also has NEVER reached 100 RBI. Throw in some serious injuries over the years and a constant ebb-and-flow in the steals column and Harper is quite volatile for a guy who is a locked-in first-round pick this spring.
2. Anthony Rendon should absolutely be considered a top tier third baseman. This goes without saying as Rendon put forth an MVP campaign in 2017 when he clubbed 25 home runs, collected 100 RBI, scored 81 runs, and batted .301. Locked in the middle of a loaded lineup, Rendon's natural hitting ability has jived nicely with his burgeoning power. Add in the fact Rendon will come cheaper than the Kris Bryants, Nolan Arenados, and Manny Machados of the word and this is one terrific fantasy baseball buy.
3. How many more Cy Youngs can Max Scherzer win? It seems like each and every season Scherzer is a candidate for the Cy Young and 2018 should be no different. This site has constantly stuck with the opinion that Scherzer is a better pitching investment than Clayton Kershaw given the fact he has much better durability and we stand to that mantra for 2018 as well. Still in his prime years, Scherzer should come close to or hit 20 wins with his customary monster K totals and splendid ratios.
4. What is the status of Daniel Murphys knee? Microfracture surgery was performed on Murphy last winter and that is a very scary surgery for any player at any position. This is especially true for someone who is moving toward his mid-30's like Muprhy is. While the Nats keep saying Murphy will be ready for Opening Day, this is looking like quite the scary investment given what we know here.
5. Remember to not forget about Adam Eaton! It is easy to do so after Eaton missed virtually all of 2018 recovering from a torn ACL but he is expected to be 100 percent for Opening Day and thus front a massive lineup that should make scoring 100 runs easy as pie. Throw in some moderate speed and power and Eaton could be a snaky OF 2 play this spring.