Nationals Baseball: Commenter Beach Party!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Commenter Beach Party!

Without the beach!

Yesterday's game was as expected, as Riggleman threw a "hope the other team is laughing so hard they can't pick the ball up and everyone hits inside the park home-runs!" lineup out there. They did not laugh. The Nats got no inside the park home runs.

A few days ago commenter Hoo mentioned that he was no longer buying the from quantity comes quality arms theory. That got me thinking. How many elite major league pitchers were not 1st round picks? I went over to and looked up the Top 10 in ERA last year in the NL and AL. The breakdown was as follows.

  • 11 1st round picks, 3 amateur free agents, 1 each in 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 11th, and 38th rounds (Randy Wells since you must know)

That's not exactly what I was looking for however. Any year can have a freak guy showing up in the ERA. What about the last three seaons and looking at ERA plus? A similar pattern emerges

  • 8 1st round picks, 4 amatuer free agents, 3 2nd rounders, 1 each in 3rd, 4th, 8th, 15th, and 23rd (Ted Lilly - what is it about these Cubbies?)

It's more top heavy the higher you go though - 5 of the the Top 11 (with 2 FAs), 3 of the Top 5 (with one FA). The point is that you are far more likely to get an special pitcher by drafting a pitcher everyone thinks is special, rather than drafting a bunch of very good pitchers and hoping one turns out to be special. Quantity is nice, but the difference makers are not hiding. Yes, I mean Strasburg, but you know who I also mean? Luis Atilano - drafted in the 1st round (albeit with a compensation pick) Just something to keep an eye on.

Commenter Bryan brought up yesterday a common theme that's followed Nats discussions this seasons so far. Basically - "The Phillies are so good that they screw up everything". Their lineup is so overwhelming and the Nats have played them so many times - that that's a big reason why the Nats pitching looks so bad. Ok. Let's see.

Phillies Bats vs Nats: .315 / .406 / .535
Phillies Bats vs Everyone else: .263 / .335 / .404
Other Bats vs Nats : .257 / .410 /.431

Hmmm. What if we pull Livan from the numbers. He's been super hot and he never faced the Phillies.

Other Bats vs Nats (-Livan) : .288 / .459 / .471

Well there's something here. The Phillies did slug the Nats at a much higher level than other teams, but they got on base far less (Jesus - a .459 OBP? Really?). So they did hurt the Nats pitching a bit more than if the Nats had faced a team of Joe Q Averages. But the Phillies also hit a LOT worse against guys that didn't have Washington written across their chests. What it all means that in the battle of what mattered more, the Phillies awesomeness or the Nats suckitude, the Nats suckitude wins by a landslide.


Hoo said...

Don't forget my player of destiny, Aaron Thompson (1st rounder!).

This is a lot like college football recruiting...Being a 5 star HS player doesn't guarantee you success. But it makes it a lot more likely that you'll be a star and play in the NFL than sleepers.

You can get some solid pitchers from the "quantity" camp (John Lannan!), but overall, there chances of success aren't great.

Of all the Nats arm acquisitions in the past few years, I think only Clippard/Lannan are stars and were drafted after the 2nd rnd. Stammen could make it (12th rnd) or Olsen (6th rnd). Marquis was a first, Livo/Wang were FA's. Sean Burnette was a first, Tyler Walker a 2nd, Capps and English 6/7th rnd. Bruney a 12th rnder.

So starters are pretty likely to be drafted in the top 2 rnds but the pen is very variable.

Bryan said...

Its all about perspective.

The problem in the MLB (and NFL) is fans always remember the Kerry Woods/Pat Combs of the world. Half of all first rounders (let's say) make it, but its the flame outs who are remembered.

If Stras makes it, he was a first round pick expected to make it and he has to be almost HOF exceptional to make any lists. If he crashes and burns, he's on a Top Busts Of All Time list.

Meanwhile, the 8th round guy, the Tom Brady, Joe Montana - that is the guy from the lower rounds that is remembered. Everyone talks about how you can get a QB in Round 5 because that's where they got Brady. No one remembers the 75% of guys who went bust in that round.

Plenty of other variables in your break down of hitting v. pitching, including park where they were playing, conditions, and the quality of the non Phils/Nats opponents.

I still say the Phils have a pretty damn good lineup and that our pitching has to have suffered as a result.

Harper said...

Hoo - relievers are going to be a funny bunch since failed starters often mix in there. Hell probably a smattering of failed position players too. So your including a bunch of guys that weren't initially used of evaluated solely for relief, perhaps if they were - they would have been drafted higher.

Bryan - you could make the argument that the Phillies drop in hitting was do to a high caliber of pitching - they really struggled vs Florida and ATL, but the Nats suck any way you look at it - even against the Mediocre bunch they've faced so far they've been killed.

Perhaps the Nats pitchers were all traumatized by the Phillies and the Phllies batters grew overconfident feasting on the Nats?

Anonymous said...

The Nats are 10-9, despite Zimmerman not starting in nearly half the games, Dunn not really crushing the ball, and the biggest free agent signing on the DL. I don't know what's going on with this team, but I like it. We could have swept the Dodgers!

Hoo said...

My player of destiny of Aaron Thompson is now in AAA. I'm telling you now the Nats will have a glorious starting rotation of Lannan, Marquis, Thompson, Stras and Olsen for a brief period of time this summer. Sorry Ross, you missed your window although you can replace Stras when he hits his innings limit.

BTW, I think the Nats are making a strategic mistake carrying 7 in the pen with such a lackluster hitting bench. If Harris/Zim can't go, the Nats bench options are...either Kennedy or Gonzalez, Nieves and Tavares. I bet Livo is higher on the pinchit chart than Nieves or Willy, which means the Nats have 1 bat and a rehabing Zim available.

Hard to believe but in a 3 game series with a 13 IP game in the middle, Rigs only used 4 relievers out of 7. Walker, English and Burnett haven't pitched in a week. That tells me a) Riggs isn't too concerned about matchups and b) He rightfully has little confidence in his lefties.

I was pretty surprised that Batista and Capps went out for 3 IP/2 IPinstead of Walker or English.

I wonder if some of the wins right now is b/c Rigs is riding his top 2 pen guys way too hard and we'll pay it for later. Capps and Clippard won't work today, meaning the BP has limited options.

I believe Riggs is trying to ride his main guys really hard to keep the Nats in contention till Stroen/Stras come up and he has more options.

For evidence: Batista/Clippard lead the majors in IP as relievers (Batista not surprising given the early starter flameouts. Clippard is worked very hard whenever Nats have a lead)). Capps also has the most IP of any closer and has worked multiple innings twice in his 10 appearances (in a huge tie for 3rd)