MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Breakout year from Harper would be huge for Nationals

Outfielder missed time due to thumb injury in 2014, but he excelled in postseason

Breakout year from Harper would be huge for Nationals

WASHINGTON -- Although they had the best record in the National League last year, the Nationals had several players who missed significant time because of injuries. They also had some players who simply were not productive. With that in mind, here's a list of the players who need to put together a strong season in 2015.

OF Bryce Harper: He missed a lot of time because of a left thumb injury, but Harper was arguably Washington's best player during the NL Division Series. Manager Matt Williams expects Harper to have a breakout season in 2015.

1B Ryan Zimmerman: His days as a third baseman are over. Zimmerman admitted that injuries are the reason he is no longer an above-average third baseman, so look for him to be the starting first baseman for the Nats in 2015.

Outlook: Zimmerman, 1B, WSH

LHP Gio Gonzalez: He got off to a slow start because of a left shoulder injury in May, but Gonzalez turned it on in the final month of the season, going 4-1 with a 2.48 ERA. The southpaw will be the fifth starter in the rotation this year.

C Wilson Ramos: He did not play in the 2012 postseason because of a devastating right knee injury, and he has had a tough time staying healthy since then. In '14, Ramos broke his left hamate bone and had hamstring problems for the second year in a row. When he is right, he can provide power near the bottom of the lineup.

OF Nate McLouth: He arguably had the worst season of his big league career in 2014. McLouth got off to a slow start and then didn't play after Aug. 1 because of a right shoulder injury. He has another year left on his contract and is expected to come off the bench.

McLouth's two-run single

LHP Jerry Blevins: When he first came to the Nationals, Blevins was supposed to have the ability to get hitters from both sides of the plate out, but right-handed hitters had a .298 batting average against him in 2014. It looked like he wasn't going to make the Nats' postseason roster, but in his final five games, Blevins didn't allow a run and struck out 11 in 5 1/3 innings.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.