Nationals Baseball: Hey! Who stole the offense?

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Hey! Who stole the offense?

On Friday night the Nats put together a 7 run game. It was a nice game for the team to have (and more importantly, it led to a win) but it was the first time since April 21st that the Nats have managed to score more than 5 runs. In fact, in their last 10 games the Nats have only scored more than 3 runs twice, the 7 run game and a 5-1 win versus LA.

Now the Nats have managed to win half of those games, taking games of 1-0, 3-1, and 3-2 along the way, but no team can keep up a .500 record scoring 3 runs a game. The question is whether this is a blip, or are there larger issues that might be at play here that could mean a season of problems?

Unfortunately for Nats fans, there isn't a single issue bringing the offense down. The Nats are not hitting for average, and they are doing a worse job at getting on base. Their power hasn't really dipped, but that wasn't great to begin with so it's not going to carry the team through rough patches. Where's the problem at? The first two spots shouldn't surprise you.

2B - Adam Kennedy has been just awful hitting .214 / .269 / .329 for the year and .188 / .206 / .344 in the past 10 games and after a hot start Guzman has really slowed down, hitting .176 / .200 / .294 during the same stretch. (if you're wondering Orlando Hudson is batting .308 / .385 /.413)

RF - Willie Harris over the past 10 days is BY FAR the best hitter and he's only hitting .143 / .294 / .286. Bernadina is hitting .091 / .231 /.091 and Maxwell and Taveras have combined for a single hit between them.

Right now one-third of the Nats lineup is worthless (the pitchers are as one would expect). Along with that Josh Willingham has stopped hitting (.161 /.316 / .161) and Nyjer Morgan is still not getting on base enough (.333 OBP the past 10 games) when that is all the Nats want him to do.

The Nats are down to four players now, and four players do not an offense make. Zimmerman is awesome, but when he's not in Alberto Gonzalez is terrible. Pudge is still smacking singles, but he can't play everyday at his age and Nieves is not more than an emergency back-up. Dunn has been hitting a lot better, but isn't parking them over the fence like he should. Desmond is doing allright, but has no walks and only 2 doubles.

You might say "Well Willingham and Morgan should get better" and sure they should. In fact, I'll go ahead and say they will, but at the same time 2 of the other 4 should slump and then the Nats are back where they started (maybe in a worse position if the two slumpers are Dunn and Zimmerman). The Nats cannot work around the fact that right now they have 2 big holes in their offense - two holes that everyone could see coming into Opening Day. With the holes at 2nd and RF, the Nats have to hope either 5 of the 6 remaining guys are coming through at the plate or they keep winning these close games with some better than expected starting pitching and nearly flawless bullpen work in tight games. It's worked for a month - anyone want to bet on two?


Hoo said...

Rizzo really deserves a lot of grief for the RF spot. Every at bat that Willy T. gets is a waste of not just the present but the future. Bernie, Maxwell, and Harris should get those bats. While I'm still pretty happy about the year, it's still about the future. And the future means knowing if Maxwell or Bernie can be worth anything. Having Willy T. up takes from that mix.

And having Willy Tavares up takes away from a spot in the BP. It would be really nice if we had a guy that could work lefties in close games instead of just ClipnSave. Glad Clippard and Capps got some good rest this weekend.

I'm not too worried about 2nd. Kennedy and to a loser extent Guzie or whoever is ok there. I wasn't counting on much. But you need something from your RF or you're screwed.

I think that Maxwell should get some more rope. In some ways, he's a younger, less powerful Adam Dunn. He's taking more pitches and drawing more walks than anyone else on the team, with only 1 of those intentional (most are at #7 instead of #8 spot). Maxwell only has 23 ABs. And you're giving Willy T. 2 ABs yesterday instead of Maxwell? Really?

I'd guess the Nats offense is average at half the spots, exceptional at 3rd, a little low at C, low at 2nd, and off the radar bad at RF. It's the latter that's killing the team instead of the flailing of Nieves.

Harper said...

Seems like classic Nats OF management, Maxwell got 4 games or so to show the team something, now Bernie got the same. Is that not enough?

Don't dismiss the importance of 2nd base - the Nats got nothing from it last year but it's getting worse this year. That is not expected and the Nats don't have the type of offense that can handle a position not meeting even modest goals

It really is RF that's the key, though. The rest of the offense was probably going to be consistent with last year - RF was the one that could be much better. Instead it's much worse and the team is suffering for it (even if it hasn't been seen yet thanks to the record)

Hoo said...

Quick look at the month: Dunn, Morgan, Desmond are ranked 7th in NL OPS at their position. (Desmond already an upgrade over guzie). Pudge doesn't qualify but is in the top half. Willingham #4. Zim doesn't qualify but is currently lapping the other 3rd baseman, with already the most XBH despite way fewer at bats. No way he can keep this up as he's gotten a bit lucky and his metrics are out of line (but not out of line from him duplicating if not slihgtly improving on 2009). It's a staggering pace that can't be enjoyed b/c of his injuries(4 more XBH than Wright despite 30 less ABs. 1 less homer than Wright but 5 more doubles for example).

Kennedy is dead last. And RF is below dead last (Harris/Maxwell have solid OPS but sample size problems).

Mostly average offense with the suckitude of 2nd mostly offset by Zim. The problem with mostly is that corner OF, which is the unescapable anchor.

The good news is I think the offense improves slightly as the season goes on and we make it to roughly 8th place instead of sitting 10th across the board.