Nationals Baseball: CRASH and SOAR '12

Thursday, March 01, 2012

CRASH and SOAR '12

I'm sure everybody remembers when I did this last year, right?   For those too busy to click and read, the thought process is this; every year most players are going to do about what you think they will, some players will do better/worse than you thought, and a certain small percentage will outpace your best/worst expectations.  It's this last group that I'm interested in because the wrong player crashing or the right one soaring can make a game or two difference in where you expect to be in the standings.

What happened last year for the Nats? Of course Werth is the one that sticks out like a sore thumb. Most of us thought he'd underperform expectations, but not like that.  After that you could argue LaRoche (who I had as my CRASH) but that depends on how much you think the injury was at fault. I don't like counting injuries against players in this, since that's something else entirely.  Matt Stairs falling right out of the league is also a possibility but a 43 year bench player dropping off the face of the Earth isn't unheard of.  On the SOAR side, I think Mike Morse fit the bill, and Tyler Clippard, but I can see the arguments saying they were within expectations. Jordan Zimmermann is one people might bring up but I'm not sure we had enough base information on him to feel secure he couldn't make this leap.

So what's up in 2012? While I could probably make up a hard and fast rule for this (based off like PECOTA confidence intervals or the like) I think it's just better to go at this informally.  To reiterate, we're looking for players that will drastically under or over perform expectations. Personally I think rookies/2nd year type players are awfully hard to put into this group. Last year Danny Espinosa hit .236 with 21 homers. This season I think he could hit .260 with 28 homers or .215 with 16 homers this year and neither would really surprise me. We just don't have the data yet.  For someone like Ryan Zimmerman though, equal bumps (say a .315 30 season, or a .265 16) would. Also thanks to small sample sizes, relievers can easily bounce around from year to year, so I'm hesitant to pick one of these guys.  Storen could put up a 1.80 ERA or a 3.80 ERA and I wouldn't bat an eye, but that's me.  Guys coming off surprising good/bad years or injury are also hard to judge because they could bounce back to just above normal numbers or continue to fall a bit and it wouldn't be shocking. So really the Nats don't have many easy candidates for surprises, at least not on the offensive side.

For SOAR, a good chunk of my head wants to go with Gio Gonzalez. The age is right, moving the NL could make a big difference. It's all there. That being said I'm going to go with Wilson Ramos for my soar.  The minor league numbers suggest a batting average ceiling that he hasn't reached yet and he's showing more power in the majors than I thought he would.  I'd probably put his reasonable high expectation now at around .285 22 hrs. Part of me believes that a .300+ 25+ season is there.

For CRASH, Mr. Beast Mode is an obvious choice given the huge flaw in his game and the way he bumped his expecations up after last year. Now a seasons like 2009 expanded out (.250 29 homers) seems almost impossible, but I think the potential is still there.  But just because the potential is there doesn't mean I think it's remotely likely to happen.  I'm going with Edwin Jackson. It's really nothing but pure opinion.  I see a guy who didn't manage to step up his game, despite moving AL->NL, to a team in the playoff hunt, and to a staff known for making pitchers better, in his first year heading into free agency.  I see a guy that was traded 5 times in 6 years.  I know the Nats say they've found his flaw but come on guys, you don't seriously buy that do you?  That 6 other teams, all looking to make their pitchers better to win games, all missed this flaw the Nats spotted? I think the floor on Edwin is probably an ERA season around 4.40. Let's see if I'm right and he crashes through that.


cass said...

Gio Gonzalez: Don't you worry about his home/road splits from Oakland?

Edwin Jackson? You're just bitter that he's bumping Lannan. ;-)

My picks:

Werth (CRASH): I fear he'll repeat his performance from last season, cementing his status as one of the worst free agent signings ever.

Zimmerman (SOAR): I could easily see an MVP type season here. I expected this of him last year, to be honest, but injuries obviously got in the way. Let's hope he makes his new contract look like a steal for the Nats.

Donald said...

CRASH -- This is a tough call, but how about Desmond? I know expectations aren't high but this year is probably his last chance, particularly if Rendon shines. He's also going to put more in the spotlight as leadoff. So there's a decent chance he's out of the line-up by the end of the year.

SOAR -- Espinosa. I think he's a gold glove fielder and if he can improve from the left, he could end up hitting .275 to .290 with 25 hr and 90 rbi.

Harper said...

cass - a little, but for this argument I'll choose to believe it's a comfort issue as opposed to a pitching issue.

It's probably more a to reaction Edwin Jackson sabremetric love.

Werth - I think to be a CRASH he can't do any better, not even a little bit. Such bad contract.

Zimm - It's all about the average. Can he keep it well above .300?

Harper said...

Donald - Ian- I think that's fair. A bad season wouldn't be a CRASH in my mind, but out of a starting role would be.

Danny - he had a .270 ave across minor leagues, so that would be a big unexpected leap - but hey that's what this is about.

Hoo said...

Soar: Espinosa (tempted to go with H-Rod)
Crash: Clippard.

Anonymous said...

CRASH = Lannan, does losing his starting spot or being traded by mid-season count as crashing?

SOAR = Detwiler, I have a feeling he could become the best 5th starter in the league. He was very solid last year for 1.5 to 2 trips through a batting order (4-5 innings). If he comes out and can stretch that control and composure to last 2.5 to 3 trips through an order, then he gets us to Clip and Storen and you can chalk up some W's.

blovy8 said...

I hate to say it, but I would be concerned about Ramos maintaing last year's numbers. He had a traumatic offseason, and pretty much just went right back to playing. I think the expectations going into last year were low and easy to exceed, and now he's established, but still has to be a bit affected by what happened to him. Maybe playing is his therapy, but I'm not betting on it.

As much as I think Desmond is miscast as a leadoff guy, and not even the best SS on the team, I think he's going to have a breakout power season, maybe 15-18 homers, and surprise people that way, even if he still only has a 310 obp or whatever.

Harper said...

Hoo - H-Rod would be a fun one because it would set up an absolutely lights out pen

Clippard sure, why not?

Anon - If he gets kicked off the rotation before the season starts it's more like Rizzo crashed him.

Detiwler - see that's what I'm thinking. At least worth a look.

blovy8 - maybe the psychology of it is beyond me. I'll toss out the counter argument "makes him see things are more important, keeps him loose, he does better" before we see it in print. Really I still think talent will win out (but no matter what people will ascribe influence to the kidnapping. Remember in armchair psychology if A happened before B, A caused B)

I didn't think so at first glance of you're statement but Desmond hitting 15+ homers would be a surprise. He's only shown that power for a year once in 2007 A+ ball and even then it's just on that cusp of 15 homers.

Wally said...

CRASH - Storen. Relievers are flukey, plus his stuff doesn't look so dominating that a 4.00 ERA would be that surprising. Espy was my second choice.

SOAR - I am going Desi. Not sure why, 'cause I don't really feel it, but with most people bashing him (at least as far as I can tell), I'll go against the grain and say that Davey comes up with some magic Pixie dust. 20/20 is my prediction.

Wally said...

BTW - My brain was actually telling me JZimm was the CRASH candidate. He would regress his HR/FB% and finish with an ERA around 4. But my man love refused to allow it.

Donald said...

I didn't intend to bash Desi. I don't actually think he'll crash -- just the potential. The issue for him is that he's getting squeezed. If they find the lead-off CF they are looking for, he drops down in the order to 7 or 8 where he hasn't done so well. Then they've got Rendon trying to break into the infield, which would force someone out. So the margin for error for Desi isn't that great. The status quo for him probably isn't good enough to hold his job. There's always a chance that Espi crashes and buys Desi some time, but it would have to be a pretty hard crash. Espi has a higher ceiling all around, I think.

Donald said...

Harper -- out of curiosity, what would constitute a soar for Strasburg? Obviously, winning the Cy Young would fit that bill, but if he goes 15 - 9 with a 3.2 era or something?

David said...

Crash - Bryce. Davey wants him up and I can see him getting the call at the end of April but I don't see him being ready and only staying up for a bit before we realize it was a mistake. Nowhere near expectations.

Soar - Werth. I think he will rebound. To like 2009 numbers 270/375/500 with 20 SB. Still a horrible contract but with at least a one year reprieve

Anonymous said...

CRASH- Adam Laroche. They guy is not 100 percent, and if he struggles at the plate, Morse is coming back to the infield. It should also be noted that WHEN Harper comes up, if Laroche is struggling...hes gone. Too bad we didnt get the 25 HR 90 RBI Laroche.

SOAR- Both Zimmerman(n)'s. Jordan has all the ingredients to mow through batting orders. No doubt the best pitcher not named Stephen Strasburg, and we know the Tommy John is in the rear-view. Ryan will be healthy...none of the injuries he had are lingering injuries. The National's lineup isn't murderers row, but it's probably the best he's been surrounded by as a Nat. I expect a .310 33 HR 105 RBI year.

Tyler R. said...

CRASH: I am inclined to pick Desmond as my crash player due to such a poor on base percentage and the potential he has shown to commit too many errors, but I think our coaches are great and Davey has confidence in him. He also came on the last 6 weeks of the season so I am not picking him. My CRASH is WILSON RAMOS. I know this is very unpopular, but expectations have grown so much for him. There obviously is potential for greatness here, but also for failure due to too much pressure. I can see .220 9 hrs 40 rbi, while I am hoping for numbers like .290-20-80.

SOAR: This is a tough one. I want to pick Espy for this due to his amazing glove and strong power numbers, but his inability to hit for average scares me. Still a very good 2nd baseman. My SOAR pick is CHIEN-MING WANG. This guy has been beat up and if he can stay healthy he can become our #4 with Ross as our #5 after either and injury or when the shut Stephon down. I know this may be unpopular as well, but numbers don't lie. This guy has proven that he is a very capable pitcher if he can stay healthy hence his TWO 19 win seasons. I think numbers we can constitute a soar for Wang would look like 17-6 with a 3.70 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. Before you discount these number look at his stats. Last year coming off an injury he had 4.04 ERA, 4-3 record, and a 1.28 WHIP. With a much better line up, being healthy, and better defense my SOAR numbers are very possible.

DezoPenguin said...

Tough choices here, because for the most part these guys are who we thought they were. Like Werth having a horrific season and still often being our best outfielder. Let's see...

For CRASH I'll take Espy. Sophomore slump and all that as pitchers have more of a book on him, with a slight decline in average/OBP and a power drop in the 10-12 HR range.

(I have to agree with Harper about Jackson. Seriously, if the Nats genuinely thought they were on to something with him, they'd have signed him to a multi-year deal like they did with Gio. Though $10M/1-year sounds more like a bribe to Boras to set something up for next year than anything Jackson's earned. Still, I don't see him as a crash candidate, more like he'll put up numbers along the lines of those he has in his previous stops.)

SOAR...that's a tougher one. I want to pick Zimmerman, but I don't really see "coming back from injury to put up career-average numbers" as soaring, really. I guess I'll go with Werth; he can't be THAT bad two years in a row...can he? @_@

Section 222 said...

For a CRASH, I'll go with LaRoche. Not that any reasonable person would have high expectations for him after labrum surgery, but all winter long we were hearing that he'd be back as good as new -- the 25/100 guy that Rizzo fooled himself into thinking he was getting. Ain't gonna happen.

Clippard is another possibility. Expectations are way high for him. But a reliever just can't be that good three years in a row, can he?

For SOAR, I'm going with Morse. Lots of folks expect he will come back to earth, but remember, his beast of a season included a terrible Apri/early May. Second choice Espi -- being far removed from hamate surgery could really make a difference.

Don't fool yourself into thinking Desi will be anything other than Desi. Not gonna happen.

Nick said...

My picks:

SOAR-I wish I could say Desi, but I just can't justify it at all. I'm gonna go with a surprise pick and say Rick "The Stick" Ankiel. The defense alone is worth 2ish WAR, and maybe he can regain some power and learn to get on base and bring a 4 WAR season? (It must be spring if I am typing nonsense like that)

CRASH-gotta go with Wang on this one. He doesn't miss any bats and has Detwiler breathing down his neck. I could see a handful of awful April starts before he is replaced in the rotation.

Anonymous said...

My soar would be Zimmermann. I think he'll really break out after a limited season last year. Crash would be Desmond. I'm not confident he has what it takes and with Rendon blowing everybody away, Ian is the weak link. As for last year--don't forget the nightmare that was Riggleman. Obviously, his departure has only helped the ball club.

Harper said...

Wally - not sure about Storen (looks sound enough) but Espy did cross my mind. ZNN would basically need his HR/FB rate to not just regress but become unlucky in the other direction for that to happen, no? Good luck with that Desmond pick

Donald - these are basically wild guesses so just let it fly.

As for Strasburg 3.2 would be worse than he's pitched so far. I'm thinking the ERA would have to be real close to 2.00 for him to really outpace reasonable expecations.

David - since he has NO time in the majors he'd really have to flounder for me to think he crashed, but that is possible. AA was pretty close to that. As for Werth... that's right on the edge for me. Since last year was just one year it could be an enormous fluke and therefor something like 2009 wouldn't be crazy. And 2010 was even better. Still 2011 did happen.

Anon - yep I see LaRoche losing his spot as a crash and it totally could happen. ZNN soar would be in the talk for Cy Young. Does he have that next step?

Tyler - obviously I don't agree with Ramos, but we're calling a coin flip here. Considering Wang hasn't put up those numbers in 5 years I think those numbers are a fair SOAR.

Dezo - Espy does have some flaws that could be deadly, he hovered around .225 for a couple of weeks mid-season. The pitcher adjustments could be killer. I like the "average out" thinking on Werth. Was terrible last year so he has to be great one of these other years right?

222- LaRoche is a popular pick, I wonder how much is just being down on him in general. Morse SOARing? Now that's a season I'd like to see.

Nick - so Ankiel is gonna have his best offensive season and keep up arguably his best D season? You're right. Must be spring. Still these are supposed to come out of nowhere.

Wang is contigent on him making the rotation to begin with. can't crash if you aren't driving.

Anon - Zimm Zimm Zimm. I think SOAR would be the most exciting honestly.

Riggle as the CRASH? like it.