Prior to suffering a season ending knee injury, the Washington Nationals’ Josh Willingham showed that he is the same player that he’s been over the past few years.  Just look at the numbers to see how consistent he’s been:

370 At Bats
.268 Batting Average (99 Hits)
16 Home Runs
54 RBI
56 Runs
8 Stolen Bases
.389 On Base Percentage
.459 Slugging Percentage
.304 Batting Average on Balls in Play

The power has been extremely consistent, though there are some concerns in the 2010 number.  His fly ball rate jumped to 48.8 percent after being between 41.1 percent and 43.3 percent over the previous four years.

So, while the HR/FB remained consistent (11.3 percent compared to a 13.8 percent career mark), he did get a few extra home runs out of his bat.  It’s fair to say that the number will regress some, but if he can finally stay healthy for an entire season he’s going to be in the 20 to 25 home run range.

The bigger concern is his home/road split.  Just look at the numbers:

Home – .294, 11 HR, 25 RBI, 32 R
Road – .242, 5 HR, 31 RBI, 22 R

His BABIP on the road was .268, compared to .321 at home.  It’s possible that he’s altered his swing for Nationals Park, but that’s probably not the case.  It’s simply that he was just luckier at home then on the road.  Considering that he wasn’t overly lucky at home, any improved luck on the road will mean big things for him.

The Nationals are a team that is building something.  They have young pieces to their lineup that have a ton of potential.  Players like Danny Espinoza and Ian Desmond (both of whom we’ll discuss in due time) are just making the lineup deeper and more potent.

Of course, Adam Dunn’s presence (or lack there of) will play the biggest role in things, but there’s a lot to like with that they are doing.  A healthy Willingham should slide back into the middle of the lineup, meaning plenty of opportunities to produce.

What would I expect from him in 2010?  Let’s take a look:

.271 (149-550), 25 HR, 80 RBI, 75 R, 10 SB, .313 BABIP, .378 OBP, .471 SLG

He’s always shown potential in his bat and, if he can stay healthy, there’s no reason to think that he can’t reach these numbers.  While they aren’t elite, don’t overlook the fact that he can help you across the board.

He’s coming off a year with 8 SB, so seeing him kick in a few certainly helps to separate him from the other lower-end outfielders that are available.  Don’t just ignore that fact.  He’s a better option for those in five-outfielder formats, but could hold low-end value in all formats if he remains healthy for the full year.

What are your thoughts on Willingham?  Is he someone that you would consider using in 2011?  How good do you think he can be?

Make sure to check out our 2011 projections:

Freese, David
Jaso, John
Morrow, Brandon


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