Occasionally we like to peruse the fancy stats and try to pick up on things that are unsustainable. The truth is though, there is enough variation in these stats, their relationship to each other, and the number of events in a single baseball season is small enough, that a lot of what we say is little better than coin-flipping.
Span has a .299 BABIP but usually has a .315? So he should get better... unless he's just getting older. But his LD% is up a little which is better... But his GB% is up a lot, which could be worse, and LD% is the flukiest of those... His HR/FB% is down too, so should that bounce back or is it aging as well... but like from 3.5% to 1%... He's slightly more selective O-Swing rate down, a better eye maybe... but he's making more contact on these pitches and less on pitches in the zone... Conclusion? We shouldn't be making conclusions here.
I like to look at these fancy stats to try to explain things that have happened, but as a predictor of things to happen it gets dicier. I prefer, especially with less than half the games left to only focus on those things that seem truly out of whack. Here's what I think have a good shot to be true for the rest of the season
Adam LaRoche continues to see his numbers fall. LaRoche started out so hot that this is kind of an inevitable, but what I don't like is that .315 BABIP. It's not far enough off his career numbers (.306) to be even glanced at, but his numbers the last two years are .298 and .277. That jives with what I would expect from an aging, occasionally injured, slow player. It also matches what I've seen - he's not getting faster. His range numbers, kind of an independent way to judge speed/quickness, are getting worse. Really I can't see any reason for the high BABIP other than "getting lucky". I'd expect numbers more based off a base .240 average going forward. He won't be bad, but he'll be decidedly shruggable.
Ryan Zimmerman will hit homers at a better rate. Ryan's 7.4% HR rate is way out of line with his past numbers, almost half his average. It may be a legit drop in power (flyball distance is down) or a bat speed issues (spray charts show a lack of deep balls pulled) but I'm going to chalk it up to injury recovery. Ryan in the past has shown a tendency to recover slow and be a totally different hitter when feeling good as opposed to a little off (remember those cortisone shots). I don't think he'll go on a tear but he could end up with 15 or so, a decent ending considering he has 4 now.
Rafeal Soriano will have a rougher end to the season, so will Fister. Rafeal Soriano is floating with a .207 BABIP well below his average of around .252, his LOB% is the highest of his career, his HR/FB% a ridiculously low 2.2%. Soriano has had a past year where he produced a lot of poor contact fly balls so I could forgive a single out of line number, but all three? He doesn't have to collapse or anything, just not an ERA under 2.00, let alone 1.00. Fister's BABIP is also below normal - part of that is the switch to the Nats from the Tigers, but the Nats D is actually seasonally trending in the wrong direction. Most of the staff are seeing BABIP rises, Fister's .263 stands out as unusual in comparison. His ERA should rise.
Strasburg and Zimmermann should see their ERA dip. First I want to note that while the Nats defense did improve over the course of the year, that's really only because it was oddly bad at the beginning. Guys like Span, who has shown himself consistently to be a good defender, and Rendon, who everyone likes as a defender, had oddly poor stats. Such is the way when looking over a few months at stats that need combined years to find consistency. Are the Nats suddenly great in the field*? I doubt it. I see the Nats as an average defensive team at best. Which means that I don't like a sudden drop in the BABIP the team is putting out for the pitcher. That's bad news for guys over achieving but for ZNN and Stras, who are putting up higher BABIP than normal they should see a drop which should show up in their ERA. It doesn't have to be huge, just lower.
Those are the bets I'd make for the last 70 games
LaRoche's BA drops
Zimm HR rate goes up
Soriano's ERA jumps
Fister's ERA climbs a bit, Strasburg and ZNN's drop a bit.
All in all a mixed bag, so no big push in either direction that would boost or serve as a detriment to the belief we all have that this is a good Nats team that should win most of these games coming up.
*Did you know a significant part of DRS that Kilgore cites is something called rGFP? Which
is a "good fielding play" as observed from someone watching film. That
potentially has its own issues but it's an interesting way to try to
encapsulate things that don't show in your typical or even fancy stats.
The thing is the majority of these good plays came from Frandsen, Moore
and Lobaton (7 of 12). Not that they didn't happen - these guys could be
"smart" if not they are not good. Doesn't matter. They aren't playing