2021 Fantasy Baseball Statcast Deep Dive: Washington Nationals

by Jordan McDonald
2021 Fantasy Baseball Week 3 Drop List

Welcome to another edition of the 2021 Fantasy Baseball Statcast Deep Dive featuring the Washington Nationals!

We will stay in the NL East after discussing the state of the New York Mets last week. The Nationals currently find themselves at the bottom of the division after being in first place at the beginning of May.

The roster includes consensus first-rounders Trea Turner and Juan Soto, as well as trusted fantasy pitcher Max Scherzer. They have seen significant contributors like Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon leave over the past few years, leaving them with an average group of position players around the diamond.

Besides the aforementioned big three, does the rest of the team have any fantasy relevance?

2021 Fantasy Baseball Statcast Deep Dive: Washington Nationals

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Josh Bell

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Bell was a popular sleeper pick heading into the season after being traded to the Nationals from the Pittsburgh Pirates. During the 2019 season, he slashed an incredible .277/.367/.569 with 37 home runs and 116 RBIs. However, he followed that up with a disappointing .226/.305/.364 in 2020, as the Pirates ended up with the worst record in the league.

His inaugural season with the Nationals did not start according to plan. He was one of several players placed on the COVID-list before Opening Day and made his official debut two weeks later. And he hasn't been able to find his footing since his return, only hitting .133/.198/.289 for the season.

According to his Statcast page, the lack of solid contact is the blame for his shortcomings. His Sweet Spot Percentage currently sits at 23.6 and that is well below the league average of 32.8 percent. Also, his current Launch Angle is 3.2 degrees, which means the majority of balls he puts into play are on the ground, leading to more outs. And to make matters worse, his current walk and strikeout rates are the worst of his six-year career.

However, the opposite can be said about his power numbers. He is currently recording career-highs in average Exit Velocity and Hard Hit Rate. But all that power is meaningless with his low Launch Angle.

Unless he finds a way to make better contact on the ball, he should continue this prolonged slump. If you're a manager hanging onto Bell hoping for his 2019 self to emerge, you may be waiting longer than expected.

Kyle Schwarber

Schwarber is another new face on the Nationals for the 2021 campaign. And similar to Bell, his first season in Washington has started in disappointing fashion. So far, he is currently hitting .189/.274/.347 and only three home runs on the young season.

During his time with the Chicago Cubs, he was well known for his abilities as a serviceable power hitter, which includes a 38 home run season back in 2019. Although, he never recorded a batting average over .250 in his seven-year career.

For this season, his power numbers compared to the rest of the league are considered average. His average Exit Velocity is currently under 90 MPH and his Hard Hit Rate is only ranked in the 66th percentile.

His Expected Batting Average and Slugging Percentage are better than his actual numbers, which suggests there is room for improvement. But with his low ceiling for batting average and the current lack of power, you may want to search for more consistent outfielders with better offensive production.

Victor Robles

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Speaking of inconsistent outfielders, we now bring our attention to Robles. He was once considered a top prospect in the MLB, but unfortunately, he has not panned out thus far. And the numbers that he has accumulated over the last two seasons should be worrisome for anyone who is invested.

For the season, Robles is hitting .223/.330/.266 with no home runs and only one RBI, and usually finds himself near the bottom of the batting order. Last season, his power metrics ranked in the bottom two percent and that should have sounded the alarms for this season. He has seen a slight uptick in power for this season, but it has not been enough to make a difference.

And what he lacks in power, he is not making it up with contact. Much like his teammates, Robles has posted a lower Sweet Spot Percentage than his career average -- 7.5 percent lower to be exact. If he can start making better contact on the ball, his numbers should begin to rise as well. However, his overall lack of power will ultimately hold him back as a well-rounded hitter.

Josh Harrison

Harrison has been a pleasant surprise for the Nationals this season. Lately, he has fallen back to Earth after a scorching start, but he still has a slash line of .278/.363/.422.

He has a career average Exit Velocity of 85.9 MPH and his career-high for home runs in a season is 16. Therefore, he is not going to provide much in the power categories. But he is currently posting a career-high in Sweet Spot Percentage as well as the highest Launch Angle. Plus, he has shown an improvement with his strikeout rate.

If he can find his way out of this current slump quickly, he may continue to hold fantasy relevance for the rest of the season. The Nationals have provided him with the opportunity to hit near the top of the lineup, and with the lack of supporting hitters behind Turner and Soto, they are hoping that he remains offensively consistent.

Patrick Corbin

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As much as the Nationals are seeking offensive help from their other hitters, they need just as much from their starting rotation. When they won the World Series in 2019, they were carried by their big three starters - Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Corbin. Right now, Scherzer is still going strong, while Strasburg is back on the IL (again), and Corbin has completely bottomed out.

There is a lot of blue when you check out Corbin's Statcast page. Statistically, he is having the worst season of his career starting with his current ERA of 7.36. His expected ERA is even higher than that, currently sitting at 8.01. And his xBA (.321), xSLG (.612), and xwOBA (.426) are all ranked in the bottom three percent of the league.

His ownership rate is sinking like a stone, and for good reason. Once a reliable fantasy option, Corbin has been relegated to occasional spot start status. His last two starts may provide optimism for a turnaround, but I wouldn't risk it until the underlying numbers begin to improve.

Check out the rest of our 2021 Fantasy Baseball content from our great team of writers

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