Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie : Random Notes and offseason blog plan

Monday, September 30, 2013

Monday Quickie : Random Notes and offseason blog plan

The season is over!

Let's face it, that kind of sucked. If the Nats' season was a meal the salad would have been just iceberg lettuce, the soup would have been lukewarm, the entree would have been chewy, and the beer would have been flat. The dessert though, that was pretty good. You can walk out of the restaurant feeling pretty good, or you can be pissed you spent $30 on a decent piece of cake.

Davey got his 300 wins over .500, which has got to be the most useless stat to hang a hat on. Congrats on that.

I said somewhere in a comments that the biggest numbers for the 2013 Nats were 78, 118, and 129 or the number of games Ramos, Bryce, and Werth played this year. The Nats did get bit by the injury bug this year, so did other teams sure but when you take a look at quality of the player down and length of time, few teams compare to the Nats. Does this mean that the Nats are due for a bounce back? Probably, but let's not think that everything went wrong for the Nats this year. Jayson Werth hit better than anyone could possibly expect in those 129 games. No offensive starter, when healthy, crashed well below what the numbers would expect. None of their arguably five most important pitchers (Gio, Stras, ZNN, Soriano, Clippard) got hurt. Where in 2012 almost everything went right, this was more of a mixed bag year. Mostly bad, but some good.

Over the next few weeks I'm going to look at the Nats plans position by position. Tomorrow I'll look at catcher, etc. etc. That'll pass the time ok. I'll also have a mailbag or two. If anyone has any offseason ideas, go ahead and shoot them into the comments.


About that "no offensive starter" line above, you may doubt that but look at the numbers. Bryce Harper took a step up from last year, with a very minor tick in SLG (.477 to .486 with 4 of those points being BA) and a big jump in OBP (.340 to .368) . Zimmerman finished with a OPS+ of 121, exactly what he had last year. Denard Span (.279 / .327 / .380) didn't hit as well as he did in 2012 (.283 / .342 / .395) but he hit better than he did 2011 (.264 / .328 / .359). Even Adam LaRoche ending up with a OPS+ of 102 wasn't surprising given that healthy three years ago he put up a 106.

You know how it felt like Zimm really poured it on late? First half stats - .270 / .351 / .453.  Second half stats - .280 / .337 / .478.  Honestly it's pretty close production wise.

Tyler Moore's nickname should be Copperfield because he is the master of illusion. In his first 6 games back (26 PA) he hit .480. .480! In the remaining 15 games he played in (39 PA) hit hit .250 / .308 / .417. This was against lefties & mediocre righties. Given his terrible defense, the argument for platooning is weak. The argument for starting is non-existent.

Dan Haren started 30 games this year. It's nice that he finished strong so he might get a job elsewhere but remember he didn't pitch well overall and he didn't eat innings.


Booyah Suckah! said...

Harper, couple of questions for you to cover, either in the comments or in a future post:

1. What are the chances that don't-fix-it-even-when-it's-broke Rizzo doesn't sign a fifth or even sixth SP this offseason? Personally, I think we need one to replace Haren, and one as a reliable back-up for Detwiler. But I can see Rizzo just wanted to wait it out with Det and whichever of Ohlendorf/Roark looks better in the spring.

2. What do the Nats do at catcher? I love Ramos, but he's an injury concern, and everyone else is LEAGUES below him both offensively and defensively. I personally would've kept Suzuki, at least he was very good behind the plate. Solano isn't the answer. Who's available on the FA market?

3. Handicapping the potential manager candidates? I don't think anyone on staff right now is the right choice, but I'll admit, my knowledge of them is limited. I'd still love to stick it to Angelos and have Ripken be the manager, but I feel like that would just be too good for it to actually happen.

4. On the injury question, it seemed to me that the problem was not just the injuries, but the fact that they seemed to become chronic, repeating, and/or worsening injuries due to the downright negligence of Davey, the training staff, and the players themselves. Ramos and his hammy, Bryce and the Saga of the Knee (and whatever else was wrong with him late in the season), Werth's hammies, etc. Thoughts on this?

Wally said...

I guess that my blog idea would be a real look at the starting pitching, especially the big 3. Are they were truly dominant, or just good?

2013 seems more good than dominant. I mean, no one above 4 WAR. Stras pitched 25 more innings in 2012 yet lost 1 WAR in value, Gio is down 2 WAR. I think that this evaluation is pretty critical because if this group adds 4 WAR next year, they'd help cover for a lot of the mediocre offense. But if they aren't, then the lineup must be upgraded.

Jeff Hayes said...

I'm most interested in your thoughts on how much the approach to hitting effected the team this year.

1. Rizzo made this comment recently: “I think offensive efficiency is the thing that kind of disappointed us most. It’s not doing the little things to create runs and manufacture runs. We were more reliant on the longball, I think, than we should’ve been and I think it’s shown. We’ve created more runs, we’ve stolen more bases, we’ve hit with runners in scoring position much better recently, and that’s really the roster that we constructed all along. We just waited too long to get it going.” That seems inconsistent with Davey's approach, which is power. I recall someone saying at the beginning of the year that 1-8, this team could hit for power. Now Rizzo is saying something a lot different. Wasn't he acknowledging the problem?

--The Nats finished 12th in how frequently they swung at pitches outside the strike zone. Not bad, given it is better than the Braves, Dodgers, and Cards, but could it have been better?

--The Nats were 3rd in the league in swinging at 1st pitch strikes. What does this mean? Is it always a positive?

--What about swinging at 3-0 pitches? Recall the article in the Post in late August which said the Nats were leading the league in this stat.

On another topic, what about BABIP. The Nats finished 21st in the league (.292), which is much better than where they were two months ago. But that is still pretty low, isn't it? Last year, they finished 5th in the league, (.308)

blovy8 said...

Hey, when you go to a ballgame, be prepared to pay 30 bucks for a crappy meal, Harper.

There's not much point in obsessing over a backup catcher, there are maybe 5 guys who are worth spending a million on to do that. It's not like McCann or Napoli are coming here. I would bet that it'll either be in-house or a 600K type of guy next year. Maybe take a guy like Stephen Vogt off the A's hands since Jaso will be back. Left-handed and can throw.

If Ramos goes down again, we'll see another trade, but unless the new manager is a real maverick, only one of these guys is getting regular playing time.

blovy8 said...

I should say bats left-handed.

nicoxen said...


I don't understand why Bryce's age 20 year is so important. First of all, there are so few 19,20 year olds that make it to the bigs, so comparing Bryce's performance to guys who played 40 yrs ago is moot because the sample size of these players is very small. Wouldn't it make more sense to compare him against 2nd year players? And if so, how does he compare?

All comments/criticism about Harper's performance are clouded by his injury. But here's what we do know. Bryce Harper can hit a fastball. Bryce Harper is an average fielder with a plus arm. Bryce Harper has a better than average OBP. Bryce Harper struggles mightily against lefties and offspeed pitching.

If Bryce can learn to hit lefties and offspeed better, he could become an elite player, but until then he is and will be just and above average player.

Booyah Suckah! said...

Blovy8, agreed. But it would be nice to not have an already injury-prone Ramos be forced to play 20-something games in a row the whole season because otherwise the bottom of the order becomes a complete hole. Not saying we need to get a McCann type, but I feel strongly that the right option isn't currently on the roster or ready to be called up from the minors. Frankly, I think we missed on out the Buck trade from the Mets.

Speaking of catcher, if Ramos goes down with another injury or has a major regression next year, what are the chances the Nats look to move Harper back to his natural position behind the plate? After all, the whole rationale behind moving him was to increase his durability, which he isn't doing crashing into walls in the outfield. You keep the benefit of his plus arm. Hopefully it'll never be an issue, but I'm not convinced Ramos is long-term healthy yet.

Sec. 312 said...

Here are my current thoughts by position for 2014...

Starters: Znn, Gio, Stras. Do we need two free agents? Will Det or Roark work as a 4th and or 5th starter?

C: Can we live with Solano or do we need to get a free agent?

1B: LaRoche is a hole in the lineup. Is there anyone who can platoon with him?

2B: Rendon

3B: Zimmerman (Arm seems ok. If that changes, then Zim to 1B, Rendon to 3B and we need a 2B)

SS: Desmond
LF: Harper
CF: Span
RF: Werth

Bullpen: Can someone step in if Soriano continues to under-perform? Would the front office allow that to happen?

Bench: Clean house.

Coaches: They need a manager, obviously. Trent Jewet was pretty reckless at 3rd.

Other: What can the Nats do to improve strength and conditioning to reduce the injuries?

Anagramsci said...


Bill James did a lot of fascinating things in his BASEBALL ABSTRACTS - and, of these, one the most interesting things that he proved (using Similarity scores, etc) is that (at least with non-pitchers), age is the single most important factor in determining future performance.A second year player who hits like Bryce at 20 is absolutely different from a second year player who puts up those numbers at 25 (or even 23)... The evidence is there. Barring injury or psychological meltdowns, Harper is headed for superstardom.

nicoxen said...


I agree that age comparisons are valid, but how many age 19-20 yr old players are there to compare? Who are his peers? Is it a valid sample size? I certainly agree that comparing 24 yrs old to one another, or 28 yr olds makes sense.

The truth is that he hit mediocre pitchers and fastballs really well, but was clueless, absolutley clueless against offspeed and lefties. Once that word got out, like it did 2012, he began to receive a steady diet of offspeed pitching. We can blame his lack production on his knee or his youth, but I'm seeing the same trends that plagued from late June thru August of 2012 again in 2013.

And no, "bulking up" will not help this.

It seems to me that everyone is raving about Harper, and there's predetermined conclusion that he's going to be a superstar, and yet he still may be. But all this adulation does not help Harper. If we muzzle every voice that calls him out (Davey, Randy Knorr) how is Harper going to grow?

Anonymous said...

Harper, the one thing you have to admit is we got no breaks against good teams and their top pitching. The Cards swept us this year and in six games they never scored over 4 runs, the Dodgers won 5 of 6 and they only scored more than 3 runs once. But if you check who we faced it was Kershaw twice, Greinke twice, Wainwright twice, Shelby Miller twice, Wacha, Nolasco, and Kelly. The Braves played the Dodgers 7 times and only faces Greinke once, Kershaw none. Even teams like the Dbacks we faced Corbin and Miley twice. Its not an excuse but in terms of luck and matchups, we didnt have much of it.

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