Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday Quickie

It's the offense. I think we are all in agreement that it's the offense, right? It isn't Strasburg's fault. Have we gotten past this yet? (for those of you doubting people are calling him mediocre, check out the Nats' head cheerleader, "He's having a decent but mediocre season."  If HE'S saying it other people are thinking at least the same, if not worse)

It's the offense. We're all sure about that now. Sure Haren has been very bad but check out most NL staffs and you'll find a guy near or above 5.00.  That alone can't explain why the Nats are where they are.

It's the offense.

It's honestly hard to explain. The Nats added Rendon to replace the injured Espinosa and he's been lining balls all over the place. He's not going to keep it up (.500 BABIP) but there's no reason he can't have a good "Joe Randa's best year"-esque rookie campaign on the way to something more special in the future.  Werth is back and after the opening Mets series has been basically doing what he needs to (.424 OBP last 8 games).  How can the Nats add two bats and still can't score? It's because there's been a big crash by other players.

LaRoche : .091 / .167 / .136 in the last week
Span : .083 / .185 / .125

Suzuki is still bad.  That last OF position is still bad. There you go.  It's a lineup with 4 holes right now, not counting the pitcher.

What can the Nats do about it? I'm guessing nothing. Not unless they want to deal for a C or an OF. I want to say this is just bad luck. That the pieces are finally there, but the Nats are just going through a bad stretch, but I think that may be a bit too kind. The Nats have two holes with C and OF. That seems to mean within the remaining 6 spots, they can't have 2 guys slumping at the same time. You see what happens. They can be down a bit, or maybe one guy can slump. But 2 guys slumping require 3-4 guys being hot to have any offense going. The Nats only have 2 guys hot at the plate right now.

They NEED Bryce back. They need his bat because he's that good, and they need that extra batter of leeway, so a couple guys can slump at the same time without bringing the whole offense to a grinding halt.  

Quick Notes
  • What happened last year? The OF had a rough go early on with Morse out and Bryce not there yet, and the team wasn't scoring. But in a month+ they were back and the team was ok. Werth would go down but the bench covered for him better than expected. That left the only hole at catcher after Ramos went down. When the Nats got Suzuki he filled that hole for 2 months with better than expected play. So there was precious little time when the Nats had more than one hole and arguably 2 months with no holes at all.
  • That being said with all that luck the offense was still only good, not great. The pieces aren't here for a great offense. And unless LaRoche and Werth can have a renaissance while Bryce and Rendon hit their max expectations there won't be one here. Sorry. This is a pitching and defense team
  • And Span thanks god for that. He has been very good in the field at times having to cover for 2 OFs that shouldn't be out there (you try to play CF with a statue in right and a second-baseman in left) but any hope that Span was really 2012 Span at the plate and not 2010-2011 Span is gone. The batting average could bounce up a bit but no patience and no power mean that his just above average 2012 is what his best years will look like. Despite how Boswell is trying to rewrite history, the geeks knew this. It was his "going by the gut" type of fan that expected more. 
  • It's all fine and well to compare Rendon's numbers to Espinosa's, but doing it without noting Espy was injured at the time is terribly annoying to those of us that understood his unique value over the past couple years. Does this happen with other players? Did I just block out people saying how much better Bernadina was than injured Werth last year? 

Remember the goal was simply a winning record on this road trip. Baby steps. They have to win the series vs the Phillies to do that. But do it and there are still moving in the right direction. Never let one bad series get you too down (unless it's a sweep against a direct rival)


cass said...

Obviously, Davey made a huge mistake in not letting the pitchers hit for themselves over the weekend. Couldn't have been any worse.

I'm hoping Bryce gets healthy and back to his old (young) self cause it'd be really something to see Rendon and him hit back-to-back. I know Rendon isn't this good, but he sure has been putting on a show.

Erich said...

I try to remain optimistic. Certainly, the offense will have holes. But adding Harper hitting reasonably well was the difference between 1-2 and a sweep. The offense doesn't need to be great. Just a little bit better.

Rendon has been a pleasant surprise. You're right that it isn't a fair comparison against an injured Espinosa. I still think Espinosa can come back, but needs the surgery. Perhaps a week or two in AAA will convince him of this. When he is back to his old self, we can find out where Rendon fits. My guess is that is next year in Florida. Lots can change by then.

Sec314 said...

Yes, LaRoche has great defensive skills. Yes, he's a LH hitter, yes, he's a quiet leader.

But he can't hit for average, OBP or OPS!

He's streakier than rain water on a windshield... As is Zim. Trouble is, they both seem to go cold at the same time.

Last year was a career year for ALR - it was not his norm and he is never going to hit those numbers again. Unless your team is loaded with other hitters, you can't play someone with such low offensive numbers at a power position, esp. in the NL.

DezoPenguin said...

Complaining about skipping past about four or five problems. His present slump aside, and admitting that 2012 was a career year, his generic production is something like 20-25 HRs and an OPS in the low .800 range. That's good for third-best on the team as it's presently constituted (after Bryce and maybe Zim, since he and Zim are pretty much mirrors of each other, Zim with a higher OBP so probably more productive). CF, C, and the third OF slot (especially since we're removing Bryce and replacing him with sub-replacement level play) are the problems in the lineup, that and the issue that basically there's no margin for error; if any two of Desmond, LaRoche, Zim, Rendon, and Werth slump simultaneously, 3 runs a game becomes an offensive explosion.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, LaRoche is definitely not the problem! Span is a good fielder but should not be anywhere the top of the order. Lombardozzi is a useful becnh guy, but should start rarely, and should never bat higher than 7th.

With Harper, Werth, LaRoche,Desmond and Zimmerman healthy and playing even close to their collective potential + if Rendon leads off and hits .290 with a lot of walks (as his minor league record suggests that he can), this team can score enough runs to win any game that Dan Haren doesn't start

BenDen said...

Can't disagree with Sec314 any more. People like to throw out "career year" for Adam's 2012 like it was out of left field. True, he did post better numbers than typical, but not by some insane margin.

Since '06 (and discounting his injury year) he's posted an average OPS+ of 119, with 2012 coming in at 129 (in fact NOT his career best). So I'll grant you that he was at the top of his game last year, but to say that he doesn't hit for OBP or SLG is just wrong.

We know he had a historically cold April, and came back strong in May. I'm still convinced he'll end up right around his career numbers at .265/.340/.490 with 25 HR's and 90 RBI's which is fine considering his gold glove for this defensive-minded team.

As expounded in this post (which I especially liked) the impact of just a couple of players out of this lineup has drastic effects. We don't have a Choo/Votto/Bruce core that can churn out OBP and XBH. We need the majority of our box score 1/3 with a walk, or 2/4 with a double. If a couple spots underperform you'll see a lot of ducks stranded on the pond (with yesterday's game just a bad joke)

bdrube said...

Going by Baseball Reference's WAR stat, last year was a HUGE career year for Laroche. He came in at 4.6, with his second highest ever being 2.0. Interestingly, his career defensive WAR is a -8.1 (0.0 last year), which really makes me scratch my head as to how he is considered such a great fielder.

blovy8 said...

LaRoche has missed a few plays this year, but you have to look at a lot of data with defense, like a three year period, for it to be accurate. The runs saved calculations are probably not as reliable as they should be to plug into a WAR formula, but it happens. He is generally VERY solid around the bag. He does the step up rather than stretch, but somehow he seems to position himself well enough that you don't really see stuff go by him on a bounce. Watching a few plays to Marrero last night made me worry, even though he caught them. Maybe it's just that lefties look better over there.

I think Span will be better, he's identified that his swing is messed up since he's fouled several balls off his foot, which according to him, he's NEVER done in years of playing. I suppose it's possible he can't correct that, but I think he's a positive offensive player, the bigger knock on him is that he will probably still get picked off of first a lot, I read that from Twins fans when there were the trade rumors from a few years back. I don't see a guy with career 105 ops being a negative when he has that sort of fielding range. Any expectations of more than 20 steals seem out of bounds though.

Zimmerman11 said...

Unfancy stats...

Nats are 8th best in runs allowed... and 27th in runs scored. Yup, it's the offense.

Last year Nats were 3rd in runs allowed, and 10th in runs scored. But it's a long way from 27th to 10th... like a run a game's worth of long way.

My article is a lot less interesting than Harper's though.