Nationals Baseball: Shockingly - I'm not always right.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Shockingly - I'm not always right.

The Dog Days are almost over and thankfully that'll mean some new topics to talk about. I can rehash stuff about Desmond until the cows come home (where did they go?) but it's getting tiring, right? You know what's better than that? Strasburg.

Strasburg. Strasburg. Strasburg.

Before we get the influx of new Strasburgian topics, let's take a second to look back at a couple of things I had wrong.


Back in Mid May commenter Wally noted that Zimmermann was on his way to a 3.5 WAR season if he pitched 160 innings. I of course, expected less. What did he end up with? 161.33 IP, and a WAR of 3.5. That's very very good as Jamie Mottram notes.

It may look like ZNN never faltered, but he did have an iffy July. A fantastic June and very good August helped balance that out, though. Looking at it - you can really see the impact of luck on a given game/time period. His June featured a mediocre strikeout rate of 5.7. His July had a much better K-rate (8.1) and an incredible 2 walks in 30 innings. Yet his June was epic and his July was below average. Why? HR-rate and BABIP. In June he gave up 1 homer in 42 innings and opponents had a BABIP of .256, in July he gave up 3 in 30 and the BABIP was .356. Part of that was pitching (more LDs in July) but part of that was luck, too.

But I feel like I'm getting away from the point. What you have with Zimmermann is a pitcher who pitched well all-season. He caught some breaks here, he didn't there, but that'll happen over the course of a year. In the end the HR-rate evened out, the BABIP evened out and he was STILL very good. Like Wally said he would be, and better than I thought.

On Clippard

In March I said that there was no way Clippard would be as good this year as last. Short and sweet - he HAS pitched better. It still isn't sub-2.00 ERA better (he has had a lot of things go his way this season) but better is better.

Really the lesson I'm learning here is never to say a reliever is going to do anything. It's like saying a pinch-hitter is going to hit .100 or .300. The sample size is going to be so small that anything is possible. Clippard could have pitched the same way he did this year, had a few GBs go in the wrong spots and ended up with a worse ERA than last year, which would have been totally unrepresentative of how well he's done. Hell, that happens to starters throwing close to 200 innings.

Anyway - there's a sandwich eating to come.


Wally said...

Wow, I have made the big time. Where do I get an agent? Fickleness of fame: stupid to headliner in a few days!

Your August stats are pretty interesting on JZimm, since I had the impression that he was starting to slip a little, maybe showing some fatigue. Probably it was just the HR rate leveling off. Anyhow, adding a Danks or Billingsley to JZimm, Stras and Lannan sets up a pretty good rotation, no? I say that Rizzo should pay the prospect price if he can get a #3 with that kind of age profile. Even if 2012 isn't the year, those guys should roll into 2013 still strong.

On Clip, hard to blame your prediction, although I would like one of those sandwiches (hold the Avacado and Tomato, tho, and add cheese and mustard, on a nice baguette). BABIP says lucky, but where do you think it levels off for top end relievers? With K/9 kind of the same, and pretty big uptick in HR%, it really seems like it came down to walk rate for him, doesn't it? I mean, big drop this year. What else explains the ridiculous LOB%? I haven't been a McCatty fan, but this year's 'pitch to contact' philosophy seems to have paid dividends across the board.

Anonymous said...

Well at least you were right about Pudge...

kick me in the GO NATS said...

although I like generally what you write, I think your rushing to judgement on Desmond as well. You say his previous 85 games matter, but you are discrediting his offensive work prior to this season. He hit awesome for a Ss prior to this year. Then he had a bad half season as a sophomore. Plenty of superstars have had bad half seasons, and quite commonly as sophomores as well. He deserves to play his age 26 season and possibly his age 27 season before he is fired. Age 26 seasons are typically much better than age 25 seasons, and age 27 seasons are often career peeks. he is not a liability with the glove at a premiere defensive position, so lets be patient here.

Harper said...

Wally - Danks or Billingsly would be great and I agree - pay the (not Bryce) price. Danks though would have to come with a contract extension.

I looked at a few top relievers and the best - like perennial All-Star, HOF best - can keep it under the average but even some of them can't do it. I think this year for Clip is just one of those years. Pitch like this next year and he's still good but with an ERA about a run higher.

Anon - I think my best call was on Nyjer Morgan leading the Brewers to the playoffs.

GONATS - Maybe I'm rushing a bit but it's because the timing I think demands it. What you are looking for is the fewest holes to fill going into 2013 (when most of us think the Nats can compete for a WC) The question is do you think starting Ian next year makes it more likely to be a hole or less likely?

I think more because (1) I think he's shown an inability to hit well at this level* (2) his fielding has not become the plus everyone thinks it could be (3) if he does fail, given the MI strength of the Nats, they are likely to bring up a rookie in 2013 who would have a tougher time than someone with a year under their belt.

*He did not hit awesome, even for a SS, before this year. Well, I take that back. He did in '09 but that was 20 games. In '10 he was average at best.

Froggy said...

Switching gears back to your 'Disregarding Livan?' post a couple days ago, I think you got that one right as well. He would come cheap and the following article supports your assertions. All up side I think.

Now if I could get you to come around on Nix...

Wally said...

On Clip, was just thinking how we lucky we are that he hasn't been annointed the closer, and relegated to 9th innings with leads. This way he gets into the highest leverage situations.

Re: Desi, I keep going back and forth. Initially I was thinking the same thing (namely, the conclusion that he wasn't the SS on the WC contender) and wanted to see a change from outside (Reyes or Phillips, with Espy taking whichever other spot), but then I started thinking about things like Rendon and where payroll should be allocated in 2014, etc. Then I said 'leave him there for another year'. Flipped flopped again by saying 'well, if Espy needs to moves to SS, better to move him now rather than in 2013'.

Anyhow, the only thing that I know for sure is that they need at least 1 more good bat, and it has to be either CF or MI. If they got a good hitting CF, I am flexible about Desi so I would focus primarily there, one good SP and some bullpen additions.

Harper said...

Froggy - If you can get the Nats to eat LaRoche's deal then ok - bring back Nix. (although really the Nats need to find at least one more great hitting bat and Laynce isn't that so they'd be grabbing a CF and/or making a revelation in the MI in this scenario)

Wally - well if he were the closer than Storen would be free to take his role. He hasn't been Clip good but he's been good enough. What I'm really glad is that neither Johnson or Riggs were married to the Clip in the 8th idea. (though Johsnon has drifted in that direction)