I hate duplicating work. It's such a time waster. Turns out James O'Hara at Citizens of Natstown did an Ian analysis not to long ago (I bet other places have too, but this is what was noted to me). So go read that.
Ok for those of you too lazy to read that the gist is - as of early June Ian is swinging wildly, but is walking more and is still hitting for power. All in all he's not the elite player from the last couple of years but he's still good. Let's see how things have progressed since the article.
Ian walks more!
BB% : 7.9% in early June -> 6.5%
Outside Zone Swing % : 33.3% -> 33.9%
Turns out that since that analysis Ian has walked one, count 'em one, time in the past 18 games. The walk rate is now more in line with this career numbers - which is a big "eh". The swing rate isn't as bad but it's trending away from the "he can really ID those pitches" area. I'm thinking that it was a nice two months of an Ian willing to take a walk, but that's it. He's back to his old self.
Ian's got pop!
ISO : .188 -> .189
Was there a question in your mind? Shouldn't have been if there was. Ian still has good power, especially for a shortstop.
Ian is missing those pitches he does swing at!
K% : 27.4% -> 28.7%
Contact% : 71.3% -> 70.0%
Swinging Strike% : 14.1% -> 14.8%
Everything here has gone from worse to worser. He is having trouble making contact which is giving him all sorts of problems
Ian is getting a little unlucky, but also he's not hitting the ball well!
BABIP : .268 -> .298
GB/FB : 1.23 -> 1.30
LD% : 11.1% -> 13.7%
IFFB% : 16.4% -> 13.0%
Everything else here is getting better. If you look at the last set of games he's hitting a bunch more line drives and ground balls which helps with all these numbers except the last one. What helps with that is the fact he hasn't popped up in the last 18 games.
OK! So that's a lot of fancy stats! What's the take away? Well, it looks like Ian has reverted to his old ways in the fact that he is no longer even faking trying to walk off the island. Not only have his walk numbers died a quick and painful death, he's taken those crazy swing and strikeout numbers and made them even worse. BUT this wild swinging is helping Ian hit more like he used to. He's hitting .280 and slugging .467 in the past 18 games. That's right in line with 2013.
Unfortunately that's not great news. Before, Ian could hit like he wanted to striking out a little over 20% of the time and walking rarely. Now it's drifting into a scenario where he has to strikeout almost 30% of the time and walk once a month. His OBP during the past 18 games is .286. Remember to think of OBP as "not getting out" and that getting out is literally the worst thing you can do as a batter. Ian is getting out a lot more.
Is this Ian more useful than the Ian that walked a little bit more but couldn't hit? Of course. Is this Ian more useful than 2013 Ian? Nope.
Of course it's just 18 games, perhaps once comfortable he'll start walking again. Even at a level he had the past couple years that would be something. But I'm not betting on it. That K% continuing to rise shows me a guy wanting to hit his way out of a mediocre couple months and the average and slugging numbers tells me he can do it. I'd be surprised if his K-rate drops under 25% and I'll bet his BB-rate drops under 6% before the All-Star break. Think Alfonso Soriano-lite at the plate. A few more singles, a few fewer home runs.
OK so Ian is getting out a bunch more and Werth maybe can't hit for power anymore. Can Ramos and Bryce ride to the rescue?
Probably, but with a but.
The "but" is the fact we have no idea how long it will take them to get back into the swing of things at the major league level. LaRoche picked up where he left off. Zimm is still struggling. A few off weeks is probably the best expectation with a month or so off not being out of the question. If it takes a while this does nothing for the offense. You have to play them to get them right.
The "probably" is the fact that they weren't doing all that well before going out. Bryce was pulling a Desmond - walking at a lower rate than he ever had and striking out more. More concerning, he was hitting with far less power than he had the past two years. His ISO dropped from .286 to .133, from slugger to singles hitter. To start Bryce was walking a lot and not striking out too much, and he's just a better hitter, so even all this didn't make him a bad hitter, but it was making him a mere above average guy when the Nats are looking for a star. Ramos is even more worrying - older, playing a tougher position, more injury prone, not as good a hitter. His ISO dropping to .109 is even more important to him because he wont' put up the average or walk as much as Bryce probably will.
Still I like Bryce to get his act together at some point this year and Ramos isn't going to be worse than your average back-up catcher. By August at the latest we'd expect them to help the offense. Is that soon enough to avoid a major playoff missing let down? This year, in this division, probably so. Will they add enough to make the Nats a playoff favorite like we would have thought a healthy Nats team would be? We'll have to see.
Stats in order of use
BB% : walks per PA, Outside Swing % : how often you swing at pitches that are outside the strike zone, ISO : same as isoSLG, SLG taking away your singles to see "true power", K% : strikeouts per PA, Contact% : how often you make contact when you swing, Swinging Strike % : How often a pitch to you is a swing and miss, BABIP : you know this, GB/FB : groundball to flyball ratio, LD% : percent of your balls in play that are line drives. IFFB% : how many of your FBs are pop-ups.