The NL East is going to be a stacked division. The Braves are returning after a solid run in the 2020 playoffs. Meanwhile, new owner Steve Cohen has the Mets spending however much money they want. The Phillies have an incredible amount of talent and the Marlins actually made the postseason last year.
Every game is going to be hard to win in this division but the Nationals have made some acquisitions for their roster that should get some production. Kyle Schwarber agreed to a one-year deal with the Nationals after hitting just .199 with 11 home runs in 59 games. Some would say he’s going down the Chris Davis (Orioles) path. He’s got all the power in the world but he hasn’t made much contact.
Schwarber is just 27-years-old and a couple years ago was thought to be the best power hitter in baseball. One of the main reasons Schwarber chose the Nationalss was because of manager Davey Martniez, who was a coach with the Cubs from 2015 to 2017. Schwarber loves Martinez to death and is extremely excited to play for Martinez.
But the NL isn’t going back to the designated hitter this season and will instead allow pitchers to hit in 2021. That would mean Schwarber would have to play some left field, moving Juan Soto to right field. With the Cubs, Schwarber hit a career .230 average with 121 home runs in 551 games. He’s had his moments of stardom, especially in the playoffs with the Cubs but the inconsistency is what led Schwarber off the Cubs and onto the Nationals.
Let’s not forget that Schwarber was once the fourth overall pick in the 2014 draft. He was a power slugger coming into the league with plenty of hype. But you’d just expect Schwarber to realize that going to the American League was probably a bigger and better fit.
The Nationals struggled last season with no depth and most of their star players finally off their team. Bryce Harper left for the Phillies one year before the Nationals ended up winning a title but then the Nationals ended up winning a title. Anthony Rendon packed his bags for the Los Angeles Angels.
The Nationals will have a better lineup this season compared to last. They were able to bring in Josh Bell, who dominated in 2019 but struggled in 2020. In 2019, Bell, another first baseman, like Schwarber, hit 27 home runs and 116 runs batted in in 2019 but hit just .226 in 2020 in a shortened season with the worst offense in baseball; the Pittsburgh Pirates.
There’s now protection in the lineup and absolute power, which makes Washington more appealing for MLB picks. Having Soto, Bell and Schwarber in the same lineup will scare any right-handed pitcher.
The Nationals already ranked at the bottom last season in defense runs saved. Schwarber won’t help that area. Even Victor Robles, the center field for the Nationals, had a down year defensively. Maybe that all changes moving forward but don’t expect it to. The Nationals defense seems like it could be a disaster. However, the offense doesn’t.
After Trea Turner, Schwarber, Soto, and Bell, the Nationals have a thin rest of their lineup, which is reflected by them being in the middle of the pack on the MLB odds to win it all. For example, currently BetOnline has them at (+4000) to win the World Series (visit our BetOnline Review). The Nationals are going to rely mainly on those four guys to produce plenty of runs. Schwarber will get his at-bats and should be able to see plenty of solid pitches with Soto and Bell behind him.
That lineup, against righties, at the top, is scary. Schwarber is in a good spot when it comes to lineup protection. Maybe the Nationals aren’t done yet either. It’s only January 19.
To answer the title and question, Schwarber can help the Nationals. Ultimately, it comes down to himself and three other guys in the lineup to produce at a heavy rate. He’s in a great spot offensively but the Nationals are going to lose some runs with him defensively. Schwarber doesn’t make the Nationals the top team in the NL but I’m sure he’ll produce more than what he did in the shortened season.