Summer means no grades for kids, but professional athletes are always being graded. So here is my “first semester report card” for some Washington Nationals. As a team, the Nats have so far won about half of their games, which is average, but an improvement over last year.
I am a tough grader. A “C” from me means average. In other words, a C player is an average major leaguer for his position.
Jim Riggleman F
Davey Johnson I (Incomplete)
Riggleman resigned after 75 games because of uncertainty about whether he would be the team’s manager next season. I don’t know everything that went on between Riggleman and the Nats, but it seems to me that Riggleman quit on his team. Managers are supposed to be leaders. They ask players to play hard and keep trying even when things get tough. Riggleman set a bad example for his team — and for kids — by quitting. That deserves an F. Johnson, who took over for Riggleman, hasn’t been in the job long enough to earn a grade.
Michael Morse A-
Danny Espinosa B
Ian Desmond D
Ryan Zimmerman I
Morse has been a big surprise at first base. He hits with power and is a good fielder. Espinosa is a great fielder who might end up rookie of the year if he keeps improving with the bat.
Desmond has been a huge disappointment at shortstop. His fielding is much better than it was last year, but his hitting has disappeared. Zimmerman has been hurt most of the season, so he gets an Incomplete. If he can start hitting like an all-star, that will help.
Livan Hernandez C+
Jordan Zimmermann A-
John Lannan B-
Jason Marquis B-
Drew Storen B
Tyler Clippard A
The pitching staff has been the backbone of the Nationals’ improvement this season. The starting pitchers have done a good job of giving the weak-hitting Nats a chance in almost every game. Zimmermann is a star in the making. Reliever Clippard is already an all-star.
Wilson Ramos C+
Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez C -
Rodriguez was a great catcher. But at almost 40 years old, he now has trouble hitting fastballs. Ramos, who is only 23, will be a terrific player. Together they have done a solid job defensively.
Laynce Nix C+
Roger Bernadina C-
Jayson Werth D-
I like Werth. He hustles, and he plays hard and smart. He’s got a cool-looking beard. But he hasn’t hit a lick. Nix has some power and Bernadina has some speed. But Nats fans can’t wait until minor leaguer Bryce Harper is in the outfield.
Hopefully the pitching will stay strong, the hitting will improve and the Nats will have a winning season. That would be worth a B.
Fred Bowen writes KidsPost’s weekly sports column. He is the author of 16 sports books for kids.