Nationals Baseball: Why the Bernadina love?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why the Bernadina love?

When talking about the future of the Washington Nationals, there are names always brought up. Zimmerman, Strasburg, and Bryce, of course. Zimmermann and Desmond sure. Espinosa has been a hot new commodity (taking the place of Detwiler or Marrero or Norris as "THE" minor league guy). Recently another name has been brought up over and over again as a key part of the Nationals future, Roger Bernadina. Not that I'm against the guy, but I'm not sure I see where this is coming from. Let's take a look shall we?

Bryce Harper - Age 17 (18 in Oct) - #1 draft pick and one of the most heralded power bat prospects of the past few decades.
Steven Strasburg - Age 22 (23 next June) - #1 draft pick and one of the most heralded arms to come out of the draft in at least a decade
Danny Espinosa - Age 23 (24 in April) - solid middle infield prospect
Jordan Zimmermann - Age 24 (25 in May) - Mid to Top of the rotation starter with great stuff and good control that has translated so far into the majors (9.1 k/9, 2.8 BB/9)
Ian Desmond - Age 24 (25 in Sept) - rookie shortstop prospect who has given the Nats a season of average play in year one.
Ryan Zimmerman - Age 25 (26 in September) - All-Star caliber player in his 5th season.
Roger Bernadina - Age 26 (27 next June) - solid outfileder that has given the Nats 3/4 a seaons of average play in year one.

It's not exactly that Roger Bernadina doesn't belong but he's the oldest AND the least heralded of the bunch. To me he's a throw-in, not a build around. An "oh yeah - that guy too" player not someone you make a point to mention, that is unless you feel the need to pump up your team's prospects.

"But Harper" you say, "he's doing really well recently and when he takes over CF he'll be worth evern more". "But you guys" I say, "prove it". I'm not hitching my wagon to a 26 year old rookie who's fancy stats remind me a lot of Jeff Francoeur (26 - 27 in January).

Franceour - 6.5 BB%, 18.8 K%, 13.3 LD%, 41.2 GB%, 45.5 FB%, 9.9 HR/FB
Bernadina - 6.9 BB%, 22.1 K%, 13.9 LD%, 46.6 GB%, 39.5 FB%, 10.6 HR/FB

Yeah you can note that Bernadina is probably a bit faster and might have a tiny bit more power (though I doubt it) but the big difference between the two this year is this stat :

Franceour - .259 BABIP
Bernadina - .321 BABIP

Maybe it is a product of the speed/more ground balls, I'll give you that. Problem is Bernadina is hitting his peak. By 2012 he won't be as fast, so if he's not turning more flyballs into homers, he's not going to beat out enough ground balls to keep up his usefulness.

Of course maybe I'm wrong, maybe Bernadina will turn some sort of corner and start hitting near .300, or be able to pop out 20-25 homers a year. He'll certainly get next year to try and it'll be right in his peak. If I were a betting man, however, I wouldn't be putting money down on Bernadina starting for the Nats in 2013, or at least playing with the ability that should have him starting.


Deacon Drake said...

Jeff Francouer is a MUCH better defender, which probably negates any of the batting "luck" (BABiP)... That brain fart he made in left field isn't an anomaly. He is just not a good fielder. Maybe not as bad as Elijah Dukes, but he will likely be "average" through his peak seasons. Which is fine, as the Nats really only have 3 above average players, and everyone else struggles toward that goal.

Deacon Drake said...

players = position players in this context

Hoo said...

But Harper, here's what you're missing on Bernadina. He's not Justin Maxwell and he's a lot younger and smarter than Morgan. He does have more upside than our starting CF since Bernadina has much greater pop and is less likely to make incredibly dumb base running gaffes.

So Bernadina gets love b/c he's young and is hitting over .200. There's not much in the minors for the OF. And that's why Rizzo touts him b/c I don't think Rizzo is going to say we're going to completely flip our OF in 2 years, when that seems pretty darn likley.

Harper said...

I would say Francouer is much more talented period. However, his achilles heel (complete lack of recognition of a strike) is far worse than Bernadina's tendency to hack.

I hear everyone saying - "oh just put Roger in center", but I just don't see it. Not that he couldn't be fair but because the Nats made such a fuss over getting better than that in the field.

Harper said...

hoo - I guess "not old" and "the best we have available" are the new "young and good". Nats Fever!

Doctorow said...

I would go a step further. Why the Desmond love as well?

John O'Connor said...

I get the Desmond love. The guy is a rookie playing the most difficult position on the diamindn and is hitting .280 with a little bit of pop. Yes, he has made way too many errors, but he also makes a lot of extra plays with superior range and arm. I think everyone expects the errors to drop significantly over the next few years, which will be the test as to whether we have a keeper.

Hoo said...

Harper: If I was a cynical sort, I'd guess that the buildup of Roger B. is to justify not spending on a FA OF next year.

I'm rooting for him but Roger and Morse should be solid role players on a good team.

Harper said...

Dr. - as JohnO said the position Desmond plays is more important and the quality of players available for that position is worse (which ups Desmond's value in comparison). Also Desmond has a couple more years to peak while Roger is pretty much there. what we see, which is average, is what we're probably going to get with Roger, while Desmond has a decent chance of making some big strides.

It's the same reasons that Danny Espinosa excites the team. His numbers aren't great but they might be good enough to go right now at MI and he should get better for several years.

Harper said...

Hoo - I've said that before and totally agree Bernie and Morse would be fantastic 4th and 5th OFs.

BarneyBear said...

Can't say I agree with your assessment. I think that you're seeing 'toolsy', 'old', 'long time in the minors' and some stats, and ignoring some of the actual evidence that watching him provides.

1) He's a 'young' 26. He's from Curacao, he didn't play baseball growing up.
2) He's toolsy (in a positive way) - he can hit (look at his BA in AA and AAA), hit for a small amount of power (I'd expect 15+ HR and a good amount of doubles), run, throw, and field (I've absolutely no idea what the first poster meant about him not being a good fielder - he can play all 3 outfield positions well, even RF passably.)
3) He's improving and adjusting as the season is going on. The ability to make adjustments is the thing that separates a ML player from a AAA or AAAA player. He's showing signs he might genuinely be the former.
4) He's freakin' ripped. I mean, some of those throws, and laser line drives, have been absolute rockets. Combine that with the wheels to steal up to 30 bases - hard hit balls - when he squares them up consistently - and speed is a great combo.
5) He's got a track record of hitting. Patience - not so much; but it's not as diabolical as some.

I agree - he's not a franchise player, but I think he tops his career out with a shot at playing in an all-star game if it breaks the right way for him. Not consistently, but a good first half one year might do that. And you'd take that from your farm system every single day of the week.

Harper said...

1) I kind of see "date-wise" where this is coming from (he won't turn 27 until the early-middle of next season) but as far as not playing it growing up - that's fine for a few years but he's now been playing high-level ball for 8 years. How long does he get to still be learning?

2) "toolsy" makes him a useful 4th OF - but he either has to start excelling at (at least) one aspect or has to keep being good at all of them to be worth starting...

3) ...which he may just be doing. He may be adjusting - but there isn't any real evidence of consistent improvement, yet. A very good June here, a more patient August there. He could put it together but he has a more limited time frame to do it than the other "players of the future"

5) His track record of hitting is 2008 and June of this year. It's enough to be interesting but not enough to start calling him out, in my opinion.

"I agree - he's not a franchise player, but I think he tops his career out with a shot at playing in an all-star game if it breaks the right way for him."

I think you're talking about EVERYTHING breaking right for him for several months in a row. Take his best month this year and make it half a year and that may give him a "shot" at the game.

I'm seeing more of a very slightly above average player for a year or two and a slow decline. He'll probably be useful in 2011 maybe 2012 but that's all I see. Prove me wrong, Roger. Prove me wrong.

Donald said...

BarneyBear said something at the end that I think is what differentiates the people on Harper's list. It's easy to see all of them on an All-Star team, EXCEPT for Bernadina. In that regard, I think Barney gives him too much credit. I think Wilson Ramos is a better name to be added to this list than Roger.

Harper said...

Why do I always forget Ramos?? 23 - 24 next August actually younger than Espinosa.

Anonymous said...

I don't see a lot of Francouer, but from what Mr. Drake writes, it seems he's hardly watched any of Roger Bernadina. Otherwise, I can only conclude that his comments are actually based on MLBizarro.

In fact, Bernadina is an excellent outfielder. And the sheer mention of Elijah Dukes in this context is laughably irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

I don't see a lot of Francouer but, from what Mr. Drake writes, it seems he's hardly watched any of Roger Bernadina. Otherwise, I can only conclude that his comments are actually based on MLBizarro.

In fact, Bernadina is an excellent outfielder. And the sheer mention of Elijah Dukes in this context is laughably irrelevant.

Harper said...

I would say I've heard far more positive things about Roger's fielding than negative. I'm not sure if he's "excellent" (if he was wouldn't he, and not Maxwell, have started in center in AAA? Of course I guess Maxwell could just be an awesome fielder...) but I've always been an advocate of capable defense and above average offense as opposed to the other way around

pdt278 said...

As Harper said, Bernadina has the tools and he is quite "young" with respect to baseball years. He hasn't been in the game all that long.

He can hit for a decent average and good power, but what I see is his defense greatly improving. His speed and arm are way above average and his glove is approving.

This guy has only been up a few months. Mind you is 26, but he's doesn't have the miles of 26 year old minor leaguer.

Desmond on the other hand doesn't seem to be improving. His mental errors and glove are horrendous to the point that he would not normally be seeing the likes of a major league team if it wasn't for the Nats. Also, his history in the minors does not translate to getting any better. He had a terrible glove then as he does now. For crying out loud, he has committed over 30 E's already in 126 games, with another 30 or more still to play. That's horrendous. Forget about the range or the arm. He loses a lot more games than he helps win.

Rizzo needs to play Espinosa this fall and give him as much as a chance he has given Desmond. Maybe keep Kennedy for another year as he will not hurt the team. Try Morse in RF and Bernadina in CF. Morse is still questionable, but he has only been playing RF a short time and looks to be vastly improving. Try dealing one of the extra arms like Olsen or Lannan for some new position players like 2b.

This team has a strong future. Rizzo just needs to capitalize and tweak a few spots.

Harper said...

If you think Desmond won't improve with the glove focus on the fact that his bat might improve to the point where it cancels it out. From what I've read the team actually still believes in Desmond on the field, and they think his range helps make up for the mental errors.

I agree - no reason to play anyone but the youngsters now (ramos!) and then tweak in the offseason based on what you see.

Donald said...

Interesting post. On a related note, it's said that Rizzo has a board in his office with names penciled in by position for 2012. What do you see as that line-up and where are the holes? Or maybe this could be a separate post, like the projected rotation for 2011.