Nationals Baseball: 2012 led to 2013. Does 2014 lead to 2015? Of course! That's how time works!

Monday, February 23, 2015

2012 led to 2013. Does 2014 lead to 2015? Of course! That's how time works!

Listen. We can sit here before the season starts and compare the 2015 team to the 2013 team. Certainly the 2012 and 2014 teams were similar so why shouldn't we be worried that 2015 would match the disappointment of 2013? Or maybe we shouldn't be worried because... well because whatever. It doesn't matter. It's pre-season baseball filler time where we get to talk about nonsense like this. Could the 2015 Nats be the 2013 Nats redux? Sure! Could they be the best team ever? Sure! Whatever floats your conversational boats.

What we can't argue about though is the reason 2013 ended in failure. Sure, you can say it was because they were "complacent" or whatever nonsense you want and you know what? No one can prove you wrong. There's no there there. Good for you and your unassailable argument from the top of Mt. Nonsense.

I'll point out that a mere two years later and its likely not a single bench player for that team will be on a major league roster. (Suzuki will but he was not a bench guy as much as a Ramos injury replacement. Espinosa likely will but he wasn't a bench player - he was a starter usurped by Rendon - who was also not a bench player)  I don't know if it was historically bad but it was the worst bench in the majors that year and cost the Nats several games. The Nats also had a bunch of injuries and saw Dan Haren, a one-year FA pick-up looking for a deal after 2013 not a 2012 Nats with a reason to be complacent, pitch poorly. This is my argument, but sure, you can say fairies might have caused them to lose in 2013, too. You're wrong but you can say it.

Why do some default to the "they just didn't care enough" for the reason the Nats didn't win in 2013 (or "cared too much" - depending on which psychobabble you like more)? Because it gives the Nats a stronger measure of control over success. 2013 was derailed by the unexpected. Injury and unpredicted poor play led to heavy use of a bench that was overly reliant on what turned out to be 2012 career performances. Outside of Rizzo fiddling while the season burned (a glaring mark on an otherwise stellar tenure) there wasn't much the Nats could do. Be healthier? Play more amazing like last year? We don't like it that a team, even this one in 2015, can be derailed by the unexpected. So poof! Let's pretend they weren't! Instead they were derailed by their on hubris or nerves or something that we can imagine that THIS time they'll be able to control better. Matt Williams will show them how. Or maybe it will be their experience from last time. Or the fact, as Boz notes, a lot of them are looking to prove something.  For some, it's a lot nicer feeling than relying on the cosmic uncertainty of "Hope nothing goes crazy".

The Nats should win. They should win a lot of games in fact. But they could lose. It could happen. The chances aren't good but they exist. And just like in 2013, if they do lose, it won't be because of focus or drive or whatever (it would probably be because of injury) even if people say that's what it is.


Chaz R said...

"The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself" (!)

I think it was Davey's proclamation of "World Series or bust" that doomed that team. They were jinxed before the season even started! -NOT!

That was a painful season though... I think we are all still traumatized by it :-)

Chinatown Express said...

What are you talking about, Harper? 2013 was cancelled due to a combination of strikes, bad weather, and sun spots. Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.

Zimmerman11 said...

What happened in 2013? I don't remember.... :)

JWLumley said...

Harper, I don't know why you're anti-virus, but I think the fairy theory has merit. In the end we all know they lost because of the baseball curse of the shutdown and the goat of Walter Johnson.

JWLumley said...

Stupid autocorrect virus should say fairy.

John C. said...

My God, how quickly we became spoiled. After 2012 2013 is tied with 1969 for the best record by a DC MLB team since WWII. It was the best season (again, after 2012) not impacted by a world war since the mid 1930's.

No, 2012 didn't live up to my hopes/expectations. But the team wasn't terrible, it just wasn't great. I'm a DC native AND a baseball fan, enough of the latter to know that in baseball stuff happens.

Harper said...

Chaz R - Matt Williams presser this year "We'll be lucky to break .500" walks off.

CXP - Red Sox don't win. Heat don't win. Ravens don't win. A little tough for Blakchawks fans but they got their one in 2010. I'll take this line of thinking. 2013 is officially erased like the 13th floor of an apt building.

Z11 - what happened in when?

JWL - I'm pro-fairy. That's why I can't imagine them costing the Nats anything. They are so cute and helpful!

JohnC - I'm doing my best to teach them how to be proper fans. This is what rooting for the Yankees is like. Isn't that the model for all fandom?

Section 222 said...

Ok, I won't fall back on silly things like "World Series or Bust" or complacency, but the Rizzo fiddled while the season burned theory has at least something to it. Remember, the Nats were just four games behind the Reds for the last playoff spot. We got that close because of a very hot September after the season was lost, but the fact remains that some changes early on might have meant a better result in the end.

We were 8-18 in Haren's starts. And we had 18 games started by the likes of Ohlendorf, Karns, Taylor Jordan and Zach Duke. We were 25-33 in games started by Haren, Detwiler, and the rest of the also rans. Yet Rizzo made no serious effort to improve our starting pitching even when it was clear well before the All Star break that we were in serious trouble.

Nor did he demote Espinosa before his lousy play while concealing an injury in late May contributed to a disastrous west coast road trip that put us behind the eight ball in the NL East. Nor did he replace the estimable (execrable?) Chad Tracy and his putrid .431 OPS after the first three months of the season. The bench was a disaster.

All of this sitting on hands was born of overconfidence that things would work out in the end because of the success of 2012. In 2014, thankfully, Rizzo was quicker to pull the trigger on mid season course corrections (Thornton, Cabrera).

Harper said...

Sec222- I thought overconfidence too but I now think there's at least a touch of "we're not messing with anything I care about. this will work out" and it almost did. but it didn't

I'd have to think this year the future isn't as clear as it was after 2013 and he'd have to pull some triggers if things were getting worrisome. I think.

Anonymous said...

And let's not forget: the Braves were very good in 2013, especially against the Nats.