Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie

Monday, July 02, 2012

Monday Quickie

So the "fun part" is over.  The Nats played through interleauge, through NL East rivals, and through weather that nearly killed Steven Strasburg, and in the end the went 22-17 (Anonymous commenter had them at 22-18, so he wins the Marvel No-Prize.  Excelsior, Anonymous!).  My own personal prediction was 19-21, and while I had the Nats just a game better to start and just a game worse to finish, the sweeps of Boston and Toronto basically killed the AL East part of the prediction.  Even though they finished up getting swept by the Yanks and beaten by Baltimore 6-9 became 9-6.  There's the difference right there (I should have known the Red Sox would come back to screw me. Nothing good comes from the Red Sox)

If you are the ultimate pessimist and find yourself looking for reasons to be unhappy, maybe you want to discount sweeps as luck (kind of silly if you ask me). Well if you do that you'd have to discount the Yankees sweep as well. Even throwing out all those games that's still not enough to pull the Nats under .500 for this time frame.

What does it all mean? I would say this : "The Nats pitching is too good for them to lose.  They have to be the favorites to take the NL East. The questions now should revolve mostly aroundgetting playoff ready"

Way ahead of myself? The Phillies, after getting swept by a division rival, are wisely moving to seller mode. There is just too much that has to go right for them to get back in it.  The Marlins, they still have a shot but one more big losing streak and that's it for them as well.  This HAS to be the start of their push and frankly I don't see it. The Braves are managed by Fredi Gonzalez who on Friday said "Well he's warmed up anyway, let's put Chad Durbin in in a 4-4 game, even though I really wanted him to pitch in a game we were down 4 runs in. What's the worst that could happen"? In other words Fredi doesn't know how to prioritize games and the Braves are likely to lose a handful more to the likes of the Mets and Reds, so Fredi can get a few more wins vs the Astros and Rockies. That could very well cost that team the playoffs. This all leaves the Mets who aren't as much smoke and mirrors now as they were in the beginning of the year, but it's a team with a bad pen that feels like a jenga puzzle - about to fall over if they get one wrong piece of luck. I can't find a team to worry about in this division.

Notes

Everybody loved Colorado and if you look at the past week only Bryce and Danny have OPS's under 1.000.

Speaking of Colorado - along with the fans major idiocy (for voting in Furcal), Desmond can thank Coors field for getting him in.  He was 8-15 with 5 doubles and 2 homers right at a point where LaRussa would have been thinking "Ok who do I take to the game". You could argue Lowrie was more deserving* but Desmond shone when the right eyes were watching.

Since almost everyone killed in Coors, I'm gonna wait to say anyone is back but a few choice stats.  Morse would go in hitting .215 and come out hit .265 (a 4-4 in ATL would bring it up to .296) Ryan Zimmerman had 5 XBH in the series - you'd have to go back a full month to get 5XBHs for Ryan Zimmerman.  Not in a series, like in those ~30 games.

Speaking of Mike Morse his walk yesterday was his first in 20 games.  Any pitcher that throws him a strike deserves to get it crushed.

Pitching had some rough spots but it was as much Davey's fault as them. He wanted Detwiler to get that last out and forced him to go a few batters too long.  Normally I'd be ok with Gio getting to face Freeman, but in that heat and as gassed as he looked I think pulling him was the right move. (easy to say now of course) Really the only worry is how long until they DFA Wang because he is not suited for relief and it shows.


*I think so. Lowrie main fault was not getting as many at bats as Desmond. But it's not like picking Ian over Jed is crazy.  I can see both arguments

71 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Any pitcher that throws him a strike deserves to get it crushed."

He doesn't chase as much as you'd like to believe. A lot of his K's are on balls in the strike zone. This is very bad logic.

Jeff Hayes said...

Good update. I understand the Met's Janga argument, and it comforts me to think its true, but the longer they go without the pieces falling, the more nervous I get.

What's your take on the Harper All-State vote? Bob and FP spent all weekend declaring he'll win just because he is so exciting. I question that assertion. Aren't there still a lot of people outside Greater Washington that hate Harper? On the other hand, won't Bourn and Chipper cancelled each other out by splitting the Atlanta vote?

Finally, it seems possible that Larouche might still get in as a substitute. Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I forgot this: "You could argue Lowrie was more deserving"

No you couldn't. As of this moment, Desmond is the 5th or 6th best SS in baseball. Lowrie is somewhere around 15th.

cass said...

The Atlanta fans will likely choose Chipper over Bourn pretty universally, even if Bourn deserves it more. Chipper is beloved in Atlanta.

Harper said...

Anon - I'm not sure why you say that. If Morse had enough at bats to qualify he'd be the tied for 18th in the majors for swinging at pitches outside the strike zone. He'd be 16th for highest percentage of swings and misses outside of the strike zone. Short of that - yes he does chase a lot of pitches and he swings and misses at them alot.

That doesn't mean he doesn't strike out on a lot of balls in the strike zone, but it does mean pitchers should probably make him chase more. He's around the Top 20% of seeing pitches in the strike zone. That's silly given the above information. Pitchers shouldn't be giving him anything near the plate and making him prove he can adjust to that approach (which is possible - most will struggle but occasionally you get a Josh Hamilton type)

Jeff - No way Bourn and Chipper split votes. I bet Bourn comes out soon and says vote for Chipper. That being said love or hate people are fascinated by Bryce. I'd be surprised if he didn't win even if he keeps slumping.

As for LaRoche - it's just a weak 1B field. Goldschmidt is a better choice, and pretty obviously but after him Adam's probably better than anyone.

Harper said...

Anon - The ONLY way you could say Lowrie is the 15th best shortstop in baseball is if you are just looking at his batting average. He walks more than almost any other shortstop, he slugs more than any other shortstop and he's a adequate to good fielder. Ian may be 5th/6th but Lowrie is right there with him.

Harper said...

slugs more than "almost" any other shortstop. forgot the almost sorry forgot the almost

Anonymous said...

Maybe you're forgetting that they also play defense in baseball. Lowrie is an atrocious shortstop, Desmond is very good.

SS better than Lowrie in the Show right now in no particular order: Elvis Andrus, Asdrubal Cabrera, Derek Jeter, Alcides Escobar, Rafael Furcal, Ian Desmond, Mike Aviles, Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins.

So he's 10th. A little exaggeration.

Anonymous said...

Hey Harper, you cant argue that Desmond has come ALONG way. When we drafted Anthony Rendon I couldnt wait for the day when the infield was Zimmerman, Espinosa, Rendon (at 2nd), and Morse. But Desi really has turned into a MLB shortstop not just an athlete playing short. Im happy for him.

Harper said...

Anon - Lowrie had a terrible 2011 but by all indications (stats and scouts) had worked himself into being an average shortstop before that and has been an average one this year. You don't know for sure but there's no reason to bet on him being awful again anytime soon.

This is important because this is about who's been the best SS up to this point. With excellent hitting and average fielding Lowrie has a better case than say Aviles (terrible hitting) Jeter or Furcal (too old to field) and I'm not sure what half-season of Jose Reyes you're watching. Alcides is having an uncharacteristically bad fielding first half, and his hitting can't compensate for that (though this probably just a fluke). You can't make Jed any worse than 5th so far this year if you want to stretch it.


Where he'd rank as a "solution" is an entirely different question.

Harper said...

Anon #2 - oh totally. He's smoothed out both his fielding issues and is hitting better than ever. In the past he's been streaky with great months and terrible ones, so I'm still holding out though, until he shows he can go a year without that killer month+ of hitting.

Ben said...

Who would you have liked to see the fans vote for at SS ... welcome to the Desmond bandwagon Harper! Are you sure the state of SS in the NL isn't even more laughable than 1B?

And speaking of laughable, Anon, I am pretty sure the only thing Jose Reyes leads Jed Lowrie in is over-celebrations after hitting a single with no one on base (BTW, Reyes is tied for the MLB lead with Brandon Phillips in this category).

blovy8 said...

Clearly, there's an anon that doesn't believe in the defensive metrics. While I think they are dubious when not used judiciously, and in a general way, since they also seem to indicate the improvement in Desmond that my flawed eyeballs have, I'd give it some weight absent a lot of defensive shifts, etc. I think with his power numbers, they probably could have included Lowrie, but LaRussa likes Desmond, plus it's just easier hitting homers in Houston's park. In any case, if it came down to picking between Altuve and Lowrie, you have to like the former - he's 5'5", it would be easy for him to go unnoticed, well, except here, where he hit the crap out of everything the Nats' pitchers threw.

Anonymous said...

"Clearly, there's an anon that doesn't believe in the defensive metrics."

Yeah, because they're even more meaningless than the offensive metrics.

How many times do I have to say this? The game isn't played in a calculator. You can't use formulas to display who is better than who. You have to watch them play. Anybody who has seen both Desmond and Lowrie play can tell that Desmond is a much better all around player.

Ben said...

How can we tell how many times you have said anything if you choose to remain anonymous?

Also, I think I'd be more inclined to trust your "its true because I said so" argument if your SS list wasn't truly insane (Aviles/Reyes/Rollins better than Castro/Lowrie!?).

Anonymous said...

"Aviles/Reyes/Rollins better than Castro/Lowrie!?"

Good call, I somehow forgot about Starlin Castro. So Lowrie is 11th in baseball then.

An it is true because I said so and also because it is a fact. And if you knew anything about baseball you'd know it too.

blovy8 said...

Anon, if you knew anything about baseball, you'd know runs are also statistics. Why keep track of the score - it's just numbers? Your eyes tell you who's best regardless, right?

Strasburger said...

We look pretty solid. What we've done with our injuries is pretty impressive, and I am very pleased with the way Ross is pitching so far. I think he is head and shoulders above Wang from what we've seen this year. The break is coming up which means Drew will be back and maybe we will get Werth at some point soon. Even so, if he does t back, where do we put him? Obviously Moore is playing out of his mind right now, so will there even be room for Werth?

As for the pitching overall, its been really good, but I feel like we are one careless or missed pitch per game from being insanely good. Gio and Stras and ZNN have been carrying one run or shut out performances into the 3rd and 4th and then let up a three run shot or have a 30 pitch inning. Is this just from wear and tear in the game at that point?

I would estimate that the Nationals will continue to pull ahead in the division and will finish the season off around 6-7 games up on second place. The divisional series need to be the times when the Nats really fire on all cylinders, hopefully we can see a couple of sweeps before the end of the year in the East.

Anonymous said...

This other anonymous guy has to be a troll, right? "The game isn't played in a calculator" had me laughing. These statistics anonymous is railing against are representative of the plays made during actual games- not simulations created in a computer. While not perfect, they provide at least a starting point to attempt to assess a player's defensive value. Apparently anonymous has enough time to watch every single game so that he knows who the best players are at every position without referring to any statistics to assist in his evaluations.

Harper said...

Strasburger - If Moore keeps it up then they would likely enter some rotation with Werth playing at least every 3rd game (probably more given Morse and LaRoche some extra time off) Eventually Morse / LaRoche / Werth / Moore missing games, though Moore would probably sit like 40% of the time. But that's a wait and see issue. The whole Detwiler / Wang thing worked itself out with minimal issues. These things usually do.

You could say they were 1 or 2 at bats every game from being historically good, but on the flip side they are 1 or 2 at bats from being just better than average. This far into the season, and not so much off usual stats you gotta take what they give you.

Anon - could be a troll. What's important is to use any comment as an opportunity to create a better argument. If they listen, that's great. If not - doesn't matter.

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