Nationals Baseball: I got nothing, like the Nats offense

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I got nothing, like the Nats offense

What can I say?  It's not like the Nats are going to beat the Tigers. If I had remembered to do so I would have predicted a Tiger 2-game sweep. They are the better team at home. (followed by winning 2 out of 3 over the Brewers). But you WANT them to beat the Tigers away because that would kind of prove that the Nats aren't an also-ran but a contender and thus these games still are frustrating.

Last night's talk was mostly of Strasburg's one bad pitch, which really wasn't one bad pitch, he had to load the bases somehow, but it was something to take the onus away from the terrible hitting which was once again terrible.

In July the Nats have basically had their core team playing. Bryce came back on the 1st. Ramos only July 4th. How is this team doing in July? At first it doesn't look bad.  They are 6th in R/G in the NL.  6th in OPS. Not great but a lot like last year overall. If the pitching was elite (which it's not) then the Nats could make a move. But the ranking hides a truth.

3rd 4.85 R/G
5th 4.16 R/G

6th 4.04 R/G

8th 3.93 R/G
13th 3.52 R/G

The Nats are closer to 8th place than to 5th. They are closer to 13th than 3rd. This isn't a noticeably above average offense which you might think seeing the 6th place ranking. They have everyone back. All cylinders are firing and they are... average.

An average-ish team in one aspect can still be carried by an elite group in the other aspect (see : Giants, SF 2010) but the Nats don't have elite pitching this year.

Also the Nats offensive numbers are skewed by the team's strange distribution of runs.  We've talked about this before but the Nats either don't score or score a bunch.

Only the Marlins have scored 2 runs or fewer more times than the Nats (53 to 49, Padres are next at 44). On the other hand, the Nats have scored 5 or more runs 42 times, good enough for 6th in the NL. Here's where it gets weird. The Nats have scored 3 or 4 runs in only 16 games. The next closest team is Colorado with 22 games. They've only scored 4 runs 4 times. (That would set a "record" if you must know) For those of you that like graphs, here is the Nats run distribution:

It's just a quirk of the system sure, but it misleads.  It means the Nats are playing more games where the outcomes are pretty well set. Score two runs or less and you lose over 70% of the time (in the 2013 NL). Score 5 runs or more and you win over 70% of the time. The Nats W-L record when factoring in their run distribution drops another game, to 49 wins. The same weird distribution holds true in July. 14 games with 2 or fewer runs scored.  2 games with 3 or 4 runs scored. 4 games with 5 and 6 games with 7 or more. It's just... odd.  The end result is that the Nats offense isn't even is as average as it seems, not even with everyone back.

Maybe there is a next gear for the Nats offense, but even popping it right now it's probably too late. We'll see. Nine out by Braves series... Here's hoping.


Erich said...

I wouldn't call that nothing.

Looking at the graph, maybe a better measurement of the Nats offense would be the use of medians in those rankings. It's been a bizarre offense. Is this a case of that Nationals beating bad pitching by a lot and getting decimated by anything near average or above? I don't peruse the statistics as much as others here, but is there not a way to factor offensive production based on opponents pitching ability?

Strasburger said...


I just want to let you know, that a loooong time ago, when you were defending the Soriano trade, I stated it would break apart this team, and I was right*

*like 5 percent right.

Harper said...

Erich - I don't think anyone takes it as far as individual pitching match-up. BPs Adjusted Standings 3rd order does adjust for opponents overall P & D.

Nats don't far well there either.

Stras - Did you? I looked back (because I was checking on how much I was defending the deal - which was mildly) and saw you saying you didn't like it because you were worried about losing Sotren but I didn't see any clubhouse cancer type quotes. Of course maybe I missed it there are a lot of comments out there.


Clip&Store said...

Worst part is i have no clue how to fix it in the offseason. What would/could we do and we could realistically happen? Outfielders aren't going anywhere...think we can get anything for Span and would Rizzo do it?

Chris Houser said...

Look at the pitchers we are facing, when it is a good pitcher we can't score and when it is an average pitcher we are able to put up some runs at this pace we may get swept for the next week. What bites the most I think is the fact that it is just now Aug. and everyone has pretty much called it a year. There appears to be no plans to make a move today I guess I can only hope something changes in the off season. Mike Rizzo help our team needs you. LOL

Harper said...

C&S - (1) Hope Bryce and Rendon both take steps up (2) Keep Werth, Zimm, and Ramos in bubble wrap (3) Pray for rain.

Really though there are only three ways to surely make the offense better (1) Sign Cano - move Rendon to 3rd/1st or Zimm to 1st or (2) sign Shin-Soo Choo convert to 1B. (3) Sign a Choo, Pence or Hart and shift Bryce back to CF

That's it. With the first two you are betting on Span over LaRoche which is a bad bet (I think LaRoche as an aging decent hitter has a couple slightly above average years left - where Span is just a bad hitter heading past peak) Unfortunately the CF market is weak. Ellsbury should be better than Span but is a fragile enigma. So you can only surely improve the offense by signing a good hitter and shifting Byrce over which would kill the D.

Houser - every team struggles with good pitchers. I'd say the Nats problems extend past good pitchers and they just have days when they can't hit.

Anonymous said...

Okay, 10-1?!? Stick a fork in 'em, they're done.


Chaz R said...

So true, Harper... the Nat offense is a mystery, and equally mysterious is the potential fix. Is it just that they are having a bad year? You would think statistically it would all even out. They couldn't score with RISP again last night, and the same thing today. Plus Gio had a meltdown today. They are getting massacred by the Tigers. I can't even stand to watch it.

Jamie Davis said...

Move LaRoche down to 6th or 7th and let Ramos bat out of the 4th spot.

Chris Houser said...

Harper: yeah get it but we can't hit against any of the good pitchers it's not just a few of them. We wasted a great season last year with the whole inning limit now we are paying the price. When ego get in the way the only thing you get is a 52-56 NATS team. Mostly sucks watching this team get blown out day after day.

Strasburger said...

We're getting worked. And yeah I saw my comments too. I may have beat around the bush with my analysis.

Miles Treacy said...

I think Davey was quoted before the game as saying "it looks more like a bust" when asked about his preseason "World Series or Bust" slogan.

I'm curious to see if we do in fact go after a Cano or Choo. Cano would be great, but seeing what Pedroia just got you know Cano will get more especially with Jay-Z representing him. What would you do with LaRoche in that case, assuming Zimm shifts to first and Rendon to 3rd? Or do you just send Rendon back down potentially? I'd say you go for it. The Lerner's are loaded and imagine how many bombs Cano would hit over that RF fence.

Chris Houser said...

So were about 36 min away any chance Rizzo makes any type of move or are we calling it a season.

Erich said...

Well, since this game isn't worth watching...

On the whole "Can the Nats only score against bad pitching?" thought, I put together something to measure the opponent's pitching in a given game. Essentially, it's just FIP weighted for the IP in that game. Used current FIP because that's easier. So this it what things look like since the break (sorry, didn't go back further...)

Game Date Opp Runs Scored OppFIP
19-Jul LAD 2 3.16
20-Jul LAD 1 3.41
21-Jul LAD 2 2.99
22-Jul PIT 5 3.85
23-Jul PIT 1 3.44
24-Jul PIT 2 2.58
25-Jul PIT 9 3.27
26-Jul NYM 0 1.54
26-Jul NYM 2 1.93
27-Jul NYM 4 4.21
28-Jul NYM 14 3.32
30-Jul DET 1 2.52

There seems to be a light trend (Harper, how do I post my graph?), but with a huge variance.

Erich said...

I guess what I'm trying to say in that mess of numbers is that the Nationals don't seem to have a glaring problem against better pitching.

Chris Houser said...

Erich: Thanks for the stats. so what is the problem. We are now 10.5 games probably 11 after tonight at this pace we could end up 20 games back. how do we go from NL East champs to this if our team is what we say it is.

NatsFan up against the wall said...

Let's see: Lombardozzi, Tracey, Bernadina, Moore, Hairston, Span, Suzuki all seem to be totally good candidates for trade negotiations

NatsFan up against the wall said...

And as far as trade negotiations are concerned let's throw in Haren and Storen.

Anonymous said...

There are many things that we can look at for the off season (like did we really need a classic leadoff hitter and was moving Harper to left really worse because he has more chance of running into walls), but this season is officially RIP. Lets hope for a winning season, because that is the best case at this point. You could fire Davey, but I think the team would just give up at that point so I think it would just make things worse.

Froggy said...

I'm calling it Harper. We're done.

Time for the fire sale...what big bat can we get for Zimmermann?

Zimmerman11 said...


Kenny B. said...

I should never have gotten expectations up. I should know better by now. On a related note: I now predict a 7-win season for the Redskins.

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