Top Notes From the Washington Nationals ZiPS Projections for 2024

Can the Nationals start to claw their way out of the basement in 2024? Here's what ZiPS has to say about the rebuilding club.

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 11: CJ Abrams #5 of the Washington Nationals flips his bat after hitting a two-run home run during the third inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on September 11, 2023 in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

There’s no need to dance around the subject: The Washington Nationals won’t be very good in 2024. With a roster full of scrubs and slightly better scrubs, few will be surprised if this team loses upwards of 90 games for the fourth year in a row.

Look at any odds or projections and they’ll tell you the same thing. It’s not exactly controversial to suggest the Nationals are a poorly constructed baseball team. The FanGraphs Depth Charts have the Nats producing the second-lowest WAR total in the game next year, barely edging out the Colorado Rockies. Meanwhile, the newly-released PECOTA standings at Baseball Prospectus give the Nationals the lowest simulated win total in either league.

Meanwhile, when it comes to projecting individual players, ZiPS is one of the best tools on the internet.

ZiPS is a player projection system created by Dan Szymborski (currently of FanGraphs), who has spent the past twenty years developing and refining the design. Here’s a quick summary of how it works, courtesy of

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ZiPS is a system of player projections developed by FanGraph’s Dan Szymborski… ZiPS uses past performance and aging trends to develop a future projection for players. On FanGraphs, the projections are updated daily and predict each player’s numbers over the course of the remainder of the season… Obviously, no one is claiming that every ZiPS prediction will come true, but it is widely regarded as one of the most accurate predictors in the industry.”

sZymborski Projection System (ZiPS)”

As the offseason drags on, Szymborski steadily releases the ZiPS projections for each team, along with an in-depth write-up. Back in November, he first put out the projections for the Nationals. Even for a team as depressing as Washington, ZiPS gives us plenty to talk about. Let’s dive in.

Nationals ZiPS: Position Players

  • A big step forward for Keibert Ruiz – Although he won’t turn 26 until the summer, Ruiz already has 279 games of MLB experience under his belt. Up until this point, his offense has been disappointing. He has a 93 career wRC+, adequate for a catcher but dismal for a middle-of-the-order bat, which the Nationals have asked him to be. In 2024, he projects for a 102 wRC+, thanks in large part to a .162 isolated power. If his defense bounces back, which ZiPS expects it will, Ruiz will improve tremendously upon his 0.0 fWAR season last year.
  • But CJ Abrams is still leading the way – ZiPS has Ruiz leading the Nationals in fWAR, but ZiPS DC (which uses manual playing time estimates) has Abrams as the most valuable player on the roster. In his third big league season, the shortstop projects to pretty much replicate his 2023 campaign. The system doesn’t think he’ll steal quite as many bases, yet it also suggests his defense will improve. He’s not the star he looked like as a prospect, but he’s a solid shortstop with plenty of time left to grow.
  • ZiPS isn’t optimistic about a change of scenery for Nick Senzel – After five disappointing seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, Senzel seemed like an interesting “change of scenery” candidate when he signed with the Nats. Unfortunately, ZiPS doesn’t agree. The system thinks he’s in for the least productive season of his career in his age-29 campaign. The system has him pegged for a dreadful -0.9 fWAR. According to ZiPS DC, that’s the worst projection in the league.
  • The offense is severely lacking – ZiPS only has three Nationals hitters producing a wRC+ above league average, led by Lane Thomas with a projected 103 wRC+. Only Thomas and Joey Gallo figure to provide much power, while only Ruiz and Victor Robles project to reach base at an above-average rate. No one projects for more than 25 home runs or 90 RBI. There’s no way to sugarcoat it: This is one of the worst lineups in the National League.

Nationals ZiPS: Pitching Staff

Starting Pitchers

  • MacKenzie Gore looks solid – The southpaw’s projected 4.27 ERA and 4.17 FIP would represent a step in the right direction; currently, he boasts a 4.45 career ERA and 4.63 career FIP. If he can maintain his projected numbers over a full season, he’ll be the most valuable starter the Nats have had since the days of Max Scherzer.
  • The back of the rotation is a mess – After Gore and fellow youngster Josiah Gray, Washington’s rotation options are wholly uninspiring. Jake Irvin, Patrick Corbin, and Trevor Williams all project as No. 5 starters. That’s two too many.

Relief Pitchers

  • How about that Hunter Harvey? – Harvey has proven to be an excellent pickup for the Nationals, pitching to a 2.70 ERA and 2.81 FIP in exactly 100 IP over the past two years. The projections aren’t quite so high on his ERA and FIP, but ZiPS DC has him as one of the top ten relievers in the National League in 2024. That’s pretty great for a waiver wire find.
  • ZiPS is skeptical of Dylan Floro – ZiPS loves Harvey, but unfortunately, it can’t say the same about Floro, Washington’s only notable pitching acquisition this winter. While the veteran righty had impressive underlying numbers last year (2.96 FIP, 3.38 xERA), ZiPS has him pegged for his worst ERA, FIP, and fWAR since his first full season in 2018.

Nationals ZiPS: Final Thoughts

What’s there to say that hasn’t already been said? Everything could go right for the Nationals this coming season, and they could still finish at the bottom of the barrel in the NL East. They’ll be counting on veterans to bounce back and young guns to break out, but even if all that happens, there just isn’t enough talent on this roster for it to make much of a difference. Welp.