As part of our recap of the Senators’ season, an annual tradition around these parts is to list all of the players and where they would rank as the team’s MVP for 2014 by what they contributed to the team’s successes and failures.
If you agree or disagree with any ranking feel free to leave a comment and try and sway my way of thinking.
25. John Simms
In his first full professional season, Simms’ last four starts sullied a solid campaign on the mound. What season sounds better for his time with the Senators…2-2 with a 3.43 ERA or 2-6 with a 5.03 ERA? It would be easy to look at his final numbers and think he struggled, but that wasn’t the case. He just hit a wall that even his love of coffee couldn’t help push him through.
24. Scott McGregor
It can’t get much worse than McGregor was in his first three appearances with the Senators: a 38.63 ERA, a 6.00 WHIP, and a .615 OBA. But after coming off the disabled list and working with pitching coach Chris Michalak on a few things, McGregor flashed a mid-90s fastball that he commanded. In five starts, the righty posted a 2.33 ERA with a 0.81 WHIP as held opponents to a .204 average.
23. Destin Hood
I had given up on Hood last season after his second straight disappointing season at Double-A. But something clicked for the former second-round pick from Alabama this past off-season and he successfully carried that over into spring training and beyond. 2014 was easily his best season and he began it with 19 sizzling games in Harrisburg before a well-deserved promotion.
22. Felipe Rivero
Rivero’s season looked lost in his sixth start when he walked off the mound in Reading holding his elbow. Thankfully for the southpaw, Tommy John surgery was not needed and he was able to rehab the injury to return to Harrisburg by mid-August. In those last four starts, he showed the potential the Nationals saw in him when they insisted he be a part of the Jose Lobaton-Nathan Karns trade.
21. Robert Benincasa
Benincasa was inconsistent as the Senators’ closer the second half of the season. Ten walks allowed and five hit by pitches in 29 innings will tend to do that to a reliever. The former Florida State hurler did show progress as the season wore on though. In August and September, Benincasa held opponents to a .139 batting average.
20. Derek Self
The Louisville product was lights out in the first half with the P-Nats before earning a promotion to the ‘Burg. Self did his best work with runners on base as he held opponents to a .164/.216/.276 slash line. Compare that to .310/.364/.465 with the bases empty and you realize how much Self beared down when he ran into trouble.
19. Brian Dupra
Dupra picked up his only wins in his first and last game with the Senators. In between, he made an additional 22 appearances over four months without picking up a victory. Looking into detail at the Notre Dame graduate’s outings and it backs up the 5.60 ERA and 1.60 WHIP. That being said, I always felt he threw better than his numbers. Maybe I’m just delusional.
18. Adrian Sanchez
Sanchez committed six of his 11 errors with the Senators during August and September. It might be easy to forget that prior to that he had gone 25 straight games at the hot corner without an error. Defensively, he is clearly much more comfortable at third base than anywhere else. However, he hits like a light-hitting middle infielder.
17. Paul Demny
Short of his spot start on the final day of the season, Demny finally made the full-time conversion to reliever. And for Demny, who has been forthcoming with his mental issues in the past, it appeared to make a positive difference in his approach and intensity. He still had a few outings where he melted down, but overall he was a solid guy in the bullpen who might finally be living up to his billing.
16. Matt Grace
The southpaw was lights out for the Senators in 22 games before earning a promotion to Syracuse. In fact, he was so good in 2014 that he probably threw his name into the ring as a possible Nationals’ minor league pitcher of the year. More importantly, he is now under strong consideration as a possible LOOGY with the Nats as lefties hit only .144 and slugged .173 off of him.
15. Ricky Hague
From the files of the weird and wacky: last season, Hague hit only .214 at Metro Bank Park and .273 everywhere else; this year, Hague hit .253 at home and only .205 on the road. Signaled by his nine late season appearances in the outfield, the Nationals’ organization seems intent on making Hague a utility player that can play anywhere.
14. A.J. Cole
Cole was the lone bright spot in the starting rotation to begin the season as he compiled a 6-3 record in 14 starts for the Senators. An alarming trend for the Oviedo, FL native was a decreased strikeout rate in Harrisburg and Syracuse that was two Ks per nine innings less than last season. He never seemed to have that punchout pitch in his repertoire this season. That in turn correlated to a more balls put into play, which meant more hits and blew his WHIP up to 1.34.
13. Caleb Ramsey
Ramsey is a grinder that rarely gives away at-bats. However, if he’s going to be little more than a singles hitter (one home run would justify that thinking) he needs to be able to hit better than he did in 2014. Ramsey floundered to a .245 average in 127 games where 97 of his 116 hits were of the one-base variety.
12. Drew Vettleson
A broken bone in has hand derailed Vettleson’s season after just nine games. By the time he returned near the end of June, he seemed anxious to make up for lost time. He showed a lot less plate discipline than he had in previous years (only 11 walks) and a higher propensity to swing and miss (K/AB rate of 30%). That being said, he has a short stroke that he should be able to get back on track in 2015 while fully healthy.
11. Brian Jeroloman
It would be easy to look at Jeroloman’s offensive statistics and discount his contributions to this team. But that would be a mistake. Jeroloman’s influence on the pitching staff and rest of the roster might have been immeasurable. He has a long and bright future ahead of him as a coach whenever he decides his playing career is done.