Baseball Prospectus’ latest article for ESPN lists their top breakout hitting candidates for 2009. There are three Nationals listed, one of whom is Elijah Dukes. Here is what they had to say about him:
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Elijah Dukes, Nationals, OF (.278/.386/.486, 4.0 WARP, 54 percent breakout rate)
Dukes was dumped by the Rays due to some scary off-field problems, but the Nationals took a chance by buying low, and their reward was the team’s most productive hitter last season, at least when he was available. Unfortunately, Dukes made three separate trips to the disabled list and underwent arthroscopic knee surgery, but he showed excellent power (13 homers), plate discipline (one walk for every 6.7 PA), and speed (13 steals in 17 attempts) in 81 games, while establishing some order in his life beyond the diamond. Forecast to match last year’s .302 EqA, the highest among qualifiers, he should provide a much-needed jolt to the Nationals’ offense, though as you’ll see, he’s not alone here.