Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Two things

Monday, April 08, 2013

Monday Quickie - Two things

1) The Nats are exactly where they should be.  We talked about it last Monday.  If they were going to lose a series in April (and the Nats ARE going to lose some series) then this was where it was most likely to happen. The Reds are basically as good as the Nats (we can quibble about that) and they were at home. They should win two. The Nats should lose. That's the way these things work. Would we have preferred two well played close losses? Sure, but those L's count the same as the ones the Nats did get.

Do we have to worry about the pen? Nah. Do we have to worry about Haren? Well... let's just keep a eye out on his next start.

I had the Nats pegged at 4-2 at this point. They are 4-2.  I had them going 4-2 in this little homestand. Let's see if they can do it. That'll keep them up with the Braves.

2) Speaking of Haren, after months of saying these stats don't matter* they finally do and dammit if we want to make something of it.  Except we can't.  Here are a couple months from last year

.300 / .330 / .490
.239 / .302 / .389

The former was the best month of the year for the "disappointing" Danny Espinosa. The latter was the worst month (well maybe June) for lineup leader Adam LaRoche. Anyone can have a good or bad stretch, even as long as an entire month.

Now, the first month of data to start a season IS more meaningful than picking a random month from last year, because that first month, when it's all we have, might be trying to tell us something.  But at the same time we don't know if it will until we see more data.

Until Memorial Day we are composing our concerns and hopes.

There is very little we can definitively say right now.  Even with a Dan Haren type start, one certainly isn't enough to make judgements. I would say 2 or 3 starts like that still leave room for "maybe it's just a fluke", and that's an extreme case. What about LaRoche hitting .200 with 3 homers in April? Or Bryce hitting .380 with 9? Flukes?

April and May is data collecting time. It's sending out 1000 surveys by mail and watching them trickle in. You want to take a look at the early data but maybe there is something about early responders that skews the data. Are they all shut-ins who have nothing better to do than answer mail quickly? It's possible. That's why you have to wait until you get more surveys back to say anything. That's why we have to wait until we see more games played before we can say anything.

So no craziness ok?

*Yes, there has been a minor correlation between ST power and regular season power found but you know what? You don't know who the hell it's actually going to turn out to work for.  It's great info for pulling together 5 guys in a fantasy squad, not so much for guessing how your team will do in the real world


nicoxen said...

Harper, we all agree that there cannot be any insights drawn from such limited data, but there are a few things that seem to be established trends over the course of a career by several players:

1) Ian Desmond will make errors, perhaps many.
2) Strasburg is less Strasburgian whenever he has runners on base.
3) Dan Haren and Rafael Soriano have had a precipitous drop in velocity over the last couple of seasons.
4) Bryce Harper refuses to hit the cutoff man.
5) Michael Morse will hit 25-30 homers this year, but he will do so for the Mariners.

I'm not worried about the Nats starting staff, or core guys like Harper, Zimmerman, & Desmond but you kinda get concerned but guys with high pricetags on the downhill slope of their career (Haren,Soriano, LaRoche). Whether or not the Nats made the right decision regarding those 3 free agents will be made clear by end of May.

Harper said...

1) Yep - looks like last years big positive fielding contribution won't be seen this year. Still he's rangy and if his bat is good you are ok since Zimm and Espy help out

2 & 4) Give 'em time.

3) Well that's just aging. Difference is Soriano was starting at a higher level. He can't dial it up but should still be effective. Haren on the other hand is skirting ineffective levels. Not there yet but close.

5) Sure. He'll also walk 35 times and play horrendous defense.

Erich said...

It was a weekend for entertaining baseball.

Desmond's fielding seems like it is going to "regress" to the error prone form of 2011.

Another topic this weekend brings up is the catching duo. Clearly, it's great to see both Suzuki and Ramos perform well with the bat. That being said, I don't think this will continue at this pace for either. But is there a point where one forces the other into less time? If so, when?

nicoxen said...

One thing I don't like is the shuffling of catchers for starting pitchers. Stras is the kind of they who loves routine. I'd rather seen him caught by Ramos each time if he prefers Ramos. Same goes for the rest of the staff. If Gio likes Suzuki, he should get Suzuki each time. The rapport of catcher and pitcher is crucial and needs to be established early. Let's not jerk around with it.

Kenny B. said...

The catchers' performance was great to see this weekend. As Erich said, no one thinks they'll keep pace all season, but I like either of these guys in the eight hole.

Strasburg has a stinker now and then. The good thing is that he almost always follows up a stinker with a gem.

Also, I think that tiny little league park in Cincinnati was making our pitchers nervous this early in the season. I know that's kind of intangible, but I noticed that they seemed afraid to toy with batters for fear of making a mistake. If you're not used to it, I imagine pitching in that band box before you've hit your stride is a nerve-wracking experience.

But we're done in Cincinnati, and that is a damn good baseball team they've got there.

Mythra said...

Dunno about anyone else, but I wouldn't want to be a Braves hitter on the 13th after that outing that Stras had in Cinci. He's gonna be ticked off and pitching with a week-long burr under his saddle. Gio and Stras both follow up stinkers with angry gems if last season is any indication.

Anonymous said...

It didn't seem so much a stinker for Strasburg, but rather a troubling trend on defense. Had the defense done its job behind him many of those batters - and runs - never get to the plate in a bad situation. With runners on base the defense isn't ideally aligned and the chance for the opposition to break it open is much greater. I'm hoping to see a quick decline in mental errors, but feel good about where the team is at this point in the season.

cass said...

The defense has been very odd so far. One minute, Espinosa and Desmond will be ranging far to make almost impossible plays, while the next they will be bobbling balls or throwing to the wrong side of home plate instead of making a double play. Frustrating due to the immense talent they have, I think. They should have done a lot better.

Sirc said...

I find it odd that both Harper and Werth have zero walks. For Werth this is really strange. He can't possible have gone 6 games without a walk too many times in his career.

In ST both Harper and Zimmerman weren't taking walks, and I believed that it was a preseason product, a decision to attempt to make contact with pitches out of the zone. Harper has brought it north with him. Ryan has 3 walks, Bryce has none.

And Denard Span already has more walks than Desmond and Morse had in all of 2012.

Donald said...

I'll go ahead and make the safe prediction that the Nats take the first two games in this series behind strong pitching from Gio and Znn. They lose the 3rd game with Haren, but he pitches better than the last time out.

In the Atlanta series, I think the Nats sweep. I know that isn't likely and the Braves are playing very well, but I love our pitching match-ups.

Zimmerman11 said...

I'm not exactly worried about a week's worth of slow starts from Des/Espy/others, but I would be a lot happier if they had gotten off to a statistically insignifcant hot start than a cold one :) This team's offense may well struggle to repeat 2012's production at the plate.

I like the catching platoon. It will hopefully keep both guys fresher through the season. I'm sure catcher stats deteriorate as the season wears on, hopefully this will keep both guys productive. If a clear leader emerges, then he can get the majority of the reps down the stretch and in the postseason. As for personal catchers, I guess that would be a good topic for Harper to research... is there a real or just perceived benefit to this? :)

Hoping to get to a game soon. I live closer to DC than to Montreal now, but neither are close. I sure do miss driving across the border to the Big O and catching the Spos on dollar hotdog and poutine night!

Section 222 said...

For the record, Span has 8 walks so far. That's alot of walks in 7 games for sure, but Desi had 30 and Morse 16 last year.

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