Very early in the year, when the Nats pitching was looking like 4 Bob Gibsons and a Bob Welch (who was a pretty good pitcher mind you) I took at look at some of their stats. I was trying to see what was potentially "unsustainable". That doesn't mean just outperforming, it means underperforming, too. Months later the Nats pitching is still awesome (5 guys somewhere between Gibson and Welch) so I thought it would be interesting to revisit those same stats and see where we've ended up.
These are values that can vary from pitcher to pitcher but in general
fall within a defined range. There can be an outlier or two in any
given year but they are rare and barely fall out of the expected range. With so few games left this year though, you can't say anything off will be corrected this season. Really it's more of a next season thing. (rough past 2 year average in parenthesis)
BABIP (usually ranges from .250-.325)
Strasburg: was .262, now .314 (.275)
Gio: was .228, now .277 (.280)
ZNN: was .200, now .280 (.270)
EJax: was .250, now .262 (.320)
Detwiler: was .238, now .265 (.272)
Strasburg, by this measure alone, is having some terrible luck and yet he's still usually awesome. Gio, ZNN, and Detwiler are back around average. Jackson is way lower but it isn't an impossible number based on the usual ranges. Notice they are all pretty low but all within range. That's what Rizzo was going for getting talented groundball pitchers to go along with with great infield D.
HR/FB (6.0% - 13.0%)
Strasburg: was 0.0%, now 10.6% (4.5%)
Gio: was 0.0%, now 6.7% (8.5%)
ZNN: was 4.2%, 9.0% (14%)
EJax: was 5.0%, now 11.9% (9.4%)
Detwiler: was 9.1%, now 6.9% (10.6%)
Everyone was sitting too low. Everyone came back to the pack. Strasburg's been hit more with this than we'd probably expect going forward. That Detwiler number is a big reason he's doing so well. He's getting to the edge of normal there.
LOB% (66% - 80%)
Strasburg: was 82.5%, now 75.4% (71%)
Gio: was 80%, now 72.2% (77.5%)
ZNN: was 80.7%, now 80.7% (73.3%)
EJax: was 51.3%, 75.8% (72%)
Detwiler: was 73.5%, now 70.6% (78.7%)
Early on Jackson was getting screwed here, but things evened out for him helping him out alot. That ZNN number is high, but the rest are right on target.
Here what we want to see if anyone has improved enough in these stats to
justify the change in results we are seeing on the field. There IS a
range but it's very broad and frankly I think it's more telling to look
at their stats last year. It's difficult to improve on something like
BABIP or LOB%. but I like to believe you can for the below. Let's see who held up over the year and is showing real improvement.
Strasburg: was 42.9%, now 43.9% (42%)
Gio: was 52.7%, now 46.5% (48%)
ZNN: was 48.7%, now 44.7% (44%)
EJax: was 51.1%, now 46.5% (46%)
Detwiler: was 64.3%, now 52.0% (43%)
We aren't seeing the same great leaps here that we did early in the year, so the all-staff improvement dream is probably gone. Detwiler though might have. Yes his number is still high in large part to that crazy start we saw. But since then he's probably in the 49% range. That's not as good but that's still an improvement over his past numbers.
Strasburg: was 9.00 / 2.16, now 11.14 / 2.63 (11 /2)
Gio: was 10.27 / 2.66, now 9.49 / 3.39 (8/4)
ZNN: was 5.33 / 0.67, now 6.65 / 1.79 (7.5 / 2.3)
EJax: was 9.47 / 1.42, now 7.92 / 2.79 (7.4 / 3)
Detwiler: was 8.44 / 2.25, now 5.62 / 2.44 (5.5 / 2.73)
A couple things pop out. Strasburg's walks have gotten worse. It's hard to complain when he was starting from the !!!!! position, but it looks like my early column thinking he might do things we've never seen before was jumping the gun a bit. On the flipside, Gio's K's have remained higher. Now alot of that has to do with being in the NL now (he's struck out pitchers in 33 of 49 at bats) but you know what? He pitches in the NL now. Other things that might be worth following, both Gio's walk rate and ZNNs seems to show consistent improvement.
First thing - Those ranges are real things you must accept. Everytime early in the season you say "This guys is doing X - he can't keep that up" someone will come back and say "No! He's gotten better/worse and he is doing this, this, and that now! He can keep it up!" No. With the exception of ZNN LOB rate (which was only 0.7% above the range I set) everyone fit back into the normal pitcher ranges. Thousands of pitching seasons over dozens of years tells us one thing. You only make yourself look foolish if you don't agree.
As for the staff. I see real improvement with Gio in particular, and in parts with Detwiler and ZNN. At the same time the last two have had their share of luck which makes me think they are slightly outproducing what would be reasonable to expect from them. Same thing with Edwin, slightly lucky, though with no real improvement. (Though he'd spent most of his career being unlucky so it's not like I'm telling you he's a 4.50 pitcher in disguise). Strasburg has been the unlucky one, and along with a real regression in control, that's cause him to underproduce.
But no one is getting REAL lucky (or real unlucky) so they deserve the spot they've earned as one of the top rotations (if not the top rotation) in the majors. What about next year? Plenty of time to talk about that in the offseason.
With “Moneyball” barely out of theaters, they are already several years down the road of giving scouts a “65-35” say over stat nerds in their decisions... “We’ll lean a different way.”Mythology : While the entire league was going crazy turning their teams over to computers, the Nats understood the true value of scouts and used stats, but in their proper place.
Narrative : There really isn't any way to dispute what Boz says because it's not based on any facts, just Rizzo stating the team is different than everyone else and has a 65/35 lean. There isn't a list out there of team's "scout/stat nerds percent influence". I'm not denying that some teams did jump into the stat pool with both feet, but the general feeling (which is the best that anyone can do) is fully half the league's teams are still hesitant to put a lot of faith in statistics. Every team is trying to find the proper balance, the Nats may be among the half that continue to favor scouts more heavily.
Why would you risk a 19-year-old in your lineup every day?Mythology : Everyone thought Rizzo was crazy to bring up Bryce Harper and play him everyday.
Narrative : Everyone thought it was a gamble, even Rizzo (he admitted it wasn't optimal developmentally), but most people thought given the Nats situation (injured offense but on top of a NL East with a bad looking Phillies team) that it was a low-risk gamble worth taking.
Why don’t you want Adam Dunn, at any price,Mythology : The Nats were so ready to move forward they would part with an All-Star slugging player without a second thought.
Narrative : The Nats did want to move forward and understood that signing Dunn to a 4-year deal when he was already best suited for DH was a bad move. Still it was reported by most reputable sources that they offered him a 3 year 30+ million dollar deal. They understood he had value, not just 4-year value for a NL team.
or Prince Fielder for a market price?Mythology : The Nats would take a bargain on Prince, hoping he'd see what the Nats were building and come here anyway, but market price is for fools.
Narrative : This one is dependent on what you think market price was. If you think it was what he signed for then Boz's point is fair. If you think, like I do, it is what most teams were willing to pay, then Boz is probably off. The Nats were supposedly in it until the end meaning they probably put out 5-7 years and a ton of money at Prince, but ended up balking at extending the contract further. The Dodgers, Blue Jays, Rangers all seemed to follow the same thought process. The Tigers more or less, went above market to ensure that he would sign with them, much like the Nats did for Werth.