Dusty Baker fixes the clubhouse.
Late last year, it was clear the Matt Williams and his coaching staff had lost control of the clubhouse. Williams never connected with his players the way a manager needs to do in this day and age. Baker, a consummate player-first manager, should fix that. While he may not be fully on board with the modern advances in baseball, Baker is well versed in cajoling and coaxing the best results out of his 25-man roster on a daily basis.
The Nationals are an interesting team when it comes to leadership. There are veterans on the roster, but it is hard to tell who is actually the top dog in the clubhouse. Zimmerman is a quiet, lead-by-example type. Werth plays hard, but openly clashed with Williams. Strasburg does not always seem to have the requisite fire in his belly to lead a team. In his second year with the team, Max Scherzer may become a more vocal leader.
At the end of the day, this is Bryce Harper’s team. It’s now up to Baker to begin turning him into the type of leader the clubhouse can rally around. Harper is entering his fifth year in the league. While he has toned down most of his antics, Harper still tends to play the game with a raw fury. That does not tend to lend itself well to leading and keeping a ballclub together. With no more Matt Williams fed hustling debate and a new manager, Bryce Harper should begin emerging as a veteran leader so desperately needed in Washington.