Nationals Baseball: Dream Scenario in review

Monday, February 09, 2015

Dream Scenario in review

So before we get to this year I like to go over what I said last year, see what I wrote and then what actually happened.  I offered the usual two extreme scenarios - for last year it was the nightmare of finishing .500 and the dream of 100 wins - and noted how the season could transpire to get the Nats to that point. Obviously neither happened, these aren't predictions, but the Nats finished a lot closer to 100 wins so that's the one we'll look at.

To get to a high win total, I was right about Fister helping, LaRoche bouncing back with the bat, Strasbrug getting a bit better, the pen pitching better, and the bench improving merely to average. That right there is was like 8 wins or something starting at 86.5 so 94.5 or so. We're just poking around here. 

But the rest of the way was powered by Ramos' playing time going way up (wrong), and Bryce taking the next step (he actually got worse and played less). That knocked the Nats down to 90 or so.  They didn't get to 100 so it's not like I have to find 9+ wins, but where'd the actual six or so more wins come from?

Almost all the production from here was from Rendon and Roark. I figured Rendon would improve but not to fringe MVP level. I figured the 5th starter would be a competent replacement and give the Nats a little bit more. Roark came in and had a very strong season. Right there we're real close to making it back up to where the Nats actually fell. From there it's just tweaks. The things that skewed a little better like ZNN and Span, beat out the things that skewed a little worse like Desmond. Frank Viola! Here the Nats were at 96 or so.

This year the nightmare scenario is easier. Even though the Nats missed the playoffs in 2013, getting them to .500 was damn near impossible. Everything went wrong to get them to miss the playoffs, I didn't have much more to give, especially since I can't (and won't) put injuries into these scenarios. This year they are back to just "missing the playoffs" which can happen at 88 wins or so. I think the Nats are real good, but I also think I can get them to 88 wins.

The dream scenario... that's a tough one to set. If I go for 100 wins like I did last year, that'll be a piece of cake. Bryce gets better, Scherzer is here - BAM done. Something like that. But is 4 more wins enough? Then again, I tried to to 110 wins before with the post 2012 team and I stalled out about a win and a half away.  Getting that many more wins is tough. I think I'll give myself a little leeway and go for 108 wins. That's basically the modern record for wins by an NL team (Mets '86, Reds '75).  The only teams to beat that were the Pirates (110) in 1909 and the official record holding Cubs of 1906 with 116. (well tied but in 8 fewer games so suck it Mariners! I was at this game and I laguhed and laughed and laughed)


Mark twain said...

Not bad last season Harper you got close to the dream scenario. Our dream scenario for this season is going to be incredibly high, but as the giants proved it's not how many you win in the season but the postseason that counts.

The padres could be good this season I don't think nats good but they have the pieces to make some noise.

Harper said...

When you are dealing with what would be outlier seasons, there are going to be only so many ways to get from here to there. So I should be sort of right. Especially on abnormally good seasons (abnormally bad ones usually mean injury but to who? How bad an injury?)

Lets just hope we're reviewing the dream scenario after next season.

Chinatown Express said...

I grew up as a Mariners fan. In October of 2001 I cried and cried and cried.

I feel like it's easier to write the dream scenario than the nightmare scenario. Except for the middle infield, we have basically competent replacements at every position, including SP. So the outlying events that have to occur to put us in real nightmare territory are much less likely (or at least more contingent on multiple independent events occurring at once) than the outlying events that would put us in the dream scenario. Nightmare scenario is, what, Rendon and Desmond injuries plus bad bullpen?

The Padres won't be better than the Nats, but they will steal some wins from the Dodgers. If you assume the Dodgers are our biggest competition for HFA, we should all be rooting for the Pads.

Harper said...

CXP - Sorry for your loss. At that point there was a lot of Yankees hate around and a lot of "this team is even better than the Yankees in 98" both of which turned me maniacally against the Mariners. (the '95 playoffs and Randy Johnson's personal relief strikezone didn't help either)

Since I can't use injuries (for the most part) nightmare relies on regressions and declines. It's probably going to be something where EVERYONE drops a little because there aren't a lot of places for big drops that wouldn't be a complete surprise.

The Padres will be interesting if nothing else. Too bad I bet heavy on them in fantasy last year. Probably single-handedly took me out of the money.

Anonymous said...

The 2001 Mariners *were* better than the 1998 Yankees. By two games.

The playoffs are a crap shoot. That 2001 Mariners team was one of the best of all time, and should be remembered as such.

Anonymous said...

Nightmare situation: Souza wins the mvp with a monster 30/30 season.

John C. said...

I'm with Harper on the 1998 Yankees being better than the 2001 Mariners. The 1998 Yankees were the pinnacle of a team that won four WS titles in five seasons, and six AL pennants in eight seasons. With three levels of playoffs, it's going to be years, if ever, before we see a team like that again.

Context matters. The 2001 Mariners were a fluky team whose results were wildly out of line with their true talent level. The 1998 Yankees were simply the highest point of an established level of excellence.

Harper said...

John C / Anon - all record years are based on some level of fluke. I'd say if you want to be super strict and say "only consider that year" the '01 Mariners have as good an argument as any team, no luck-based high total here.

Spread it out and they suffer just a bit because unlike teams like the Yankees, (or Mets/Reds I mentioned) it seems like their "true talent" was around 92 wins as opposed to say 97. So they needed just a bit more to go right than those other teams. But you know if they had the same amount go right and "only" ended up with 111 wins - we'd still be talking about them.

blovy8 said...

Looking at that Mariners club reminds me of how good Mike Cameron was, and how I'm hoping that's who Michael Taylor can be some day.

Bjd1207 said...

Pitching seems to be rather nightmare-proof (knocks on wood).

The nightmare scenario is season-ending injuries to either Bryce, Rendon, or Desmond. Rendon and Desmond for their combination of offense/defense, would be a big loss on both sides of the ball that can't be replaced with equal value. Harper because as scared as I was last year at our lack of lefty power, I'm absolutely terrified this year. I can't believe Rizzo built an entire team with one lefty power bat. If he goes down, our lineup is Span and Righties, top to bottom. In a division with Jose Fernandez, Mat Latos, Matt Harvey, Zach Wheeler, Julio Teheran, and a number of other up-and-coming righties, this keeps me up at night (yes even on Feb 9, man I need ST to start)

John C. said...

Oh, I agree that 2001 Mariners team was a juggernaut. Your comment, Harper, is dead on as to where I was going in terms of differing base levels.

The other thing that elevates the 1998 Yankees, though, is their context as a team with an almost unfathomable postseason record. Stipulated that it's hard to quantify "clutch" and that any postseason series is pretty close to a coin toss. That said, simply because we can't quantify a "clutch" factor doesn't mean that there's no such thing as clutch (even Bill James has come around on this point). The 1996-2000 Yankees won 12 of 13 postseason series. Even if you expand their run to 2003 the Yankees won 16 of 20 postseason series. At some point one has to conceded that their just might have been something else going on rather than random noise.

blovy8 said...

Maybe the psychological advantage of having Rivera in the ninth wasn't all BS too.

blovy8 said...

And further, in the eighth a lot of the time.

Harper said...

John C - Waaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in the day I had a post where I said something like "people hate the Yankees not only because they were good because they were lucky" because it's true. Up to that point (which was a lot closer to the end of their great run. The Yankees had far more winning playoff series than you'd expect. Even if you skewed it toward the Yankees, they still outperformed. They were better than 2/3rds in the WS only era, around 2/3rd in the CS era, and had that run you talk about to start the DS era. Remeber we're talking about the greatest teams ever to start and they win games against all teams at a 2/3 rate roughly. The Yankees were winning series versus other great teams at that clip. It's crazy.

(Of course the more recent history is a lot more neutral to the Yanks)

Chinatown Express said...

Harp - The '01 Yanks were great. Better than the '01 DBacks for sure. I don't begrudge you the win. I just regret that the 01 Mariners were the only truly, historically great team I've ever rooted for and they got nowhere.

@Anon1 - That's a sunk cost. (I need to set up a keyboard shortcut for "That's a sunk cost." I regret all the time I've spent typing that sentence out manually. But that's a sunk cost.)

Harper said...

The '01 Dbacks were the classic built for the playoffs team. Johnson and Schilling were at their peak and just threw the whole Yankees team off balance. They scored 8 runs in 7 games versus starting pitching against guys they should have owned. Honestly I wasn't heartbroken at the end because the D-backs should have won in 5.

(I will say I thought at the time that Torre pulling the infield in with Rivera on the mound was stupid. Rivera didn't tend to give up the hard hit ground balls necessary to make that defense effective. Even McCarver saw it. Sure enough flare that might have been caught otherwise)

The 2003 World Series hurt me more because that was a stupid Marlins team that no one wants to win ever. Yanks should have taken Game 4 in extras and squashed them. ugh. ugh. ugh

John C. said...

Ah, the 2001 WS. After Soriano hit the HR off of Schilling to put the Yankees in front in Game Seven I commented to a (fellow Yankee fan) friend at that if the Yankees actually won it would be the biggest smoke & mirrors job in the WS since the 1960 Pirates. Go back and look at the Yankee "hitting" in that series (.183). Not only did they only score 14 runs for the series, the Yankees had a total of three runs scored before the 6th inning - in seven games! The Diamondbacks scored 29 runs over those same innings. From the 6th inning on the Yankees outscored the Diamondbacks 11-8.

So even though the ending was a pathetic fluke (I've seen it suggested that the dirt strip from the mound to the plate was the cause of Rivera's error), even as a Yankee fan at the time I had no kick with the result.

Chinatown Express said...

Why are we rehashing a 14 year old WS? If Game 7 were a human being, it would own an SAT prep book by now. It would have attended its first school dance. It would know how to use SnapChat, which would put it ahead of me.

Oh, it's mid-February? Ok. Carry on.

JWLumley said...

@Anon - Souza having a monster year isn't a nightmare. I wish the kid the best, as I've mentioned more than once had a chance to spend 15 minutes with him and was really impressed. Rizzo made a good deal based on need, but I think Souza is going to be a perennial All-Star. The only, and I mean only, reason you didn't hear more about Souza as a prospect was because of his attitude and growing up issues. As a former punk-kid myself, some of us take longer to grow up and I think Souza was one of those guys.

JWLumley said...

@blovy8 - Cameron really is the best case scenario for Taylor. Great defense, good hitting with power and a ton of K's. In watching Taylor hit, I hope you're right, but I just don't see it. I think he's a 4A toolsy player who may have a short run as a 4th outfielder, but maybe Goodwin, Milledge, Morgan et. al. have just made me jaded to the toolsy CF that strikes out too much in the minors.

John C. said...

JWL - if it's any consolation, Keith Law likes Michael Taylor. He has seen Taylor play several times at several levels, and specifically praised Taylor's ability to make adjustments rapidly, and said that while he expected that Taylor's K rate would be high initially it would come down as he made those adjustments.

I am interested why you see Taylor as a 4A player - have you seen him play, or is that entirely based on hearsay and a handful of MLB at bats? I've not seen Taylor play, and have my concerns about the strikeout rate. But every time I hear an interview with someone who has seen him play, even from neutral observers like Law, they really like his game. No prospect is guaranteed, of course.

The Law interview is in a podcast on the NatsGM site, btw. I recommend it to all as a good listen.