Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie : Bryce Ascending

Monday, May 18, 2015

Monday Quickie : Bryce Ascending

There is a scary thought lurking behind the transformation of Bryce into BRYCE.  That's the gamble that the team was laboring under on Opening Day. If Bryce hadn't started fulfilling his full potential at this instant, a completely reasonable assumption given he hadn't yet and is 22 coming off injury, where would the Nats be?  Other performances have helped the Nats but were more predictable.  One of those starters was sure to be great right? Someone would hit (though if you told me it would be Espinosa/Escobar...) but Bryce becoming the most feared hitter in the NL? Better yes, but instantaneous reaching of peak potential, no, that wasn't on the radar. And without it the Nats would likely be around .500 wondering why they can't piece everything together.

But that's a scary alternate dimension thought because here in Dimension @09ia... I mean here in the only current reality that exists there definitely aren't other ones I travel through, Bryce is BRYCE and the Nats are right on the Mets heels.  If you don't read the comments someone asked what I thought was going to be the future of the division race and the way I see it has the Nats taking the lead soon, losing it again, then having a back and forth before finally pulling away around the 4th.  That might be optimistic for the Mets, but I like their schedule and they are due for some luck to turn... well back even at least. So there you go. Can you wait... 6 weeks?

The big question with Bryce is what happens when teams stop pitching to him.  Williams would almost certainly use Werth or Zimm or even Desmond to back him up and that right now is garbage, meh, and poor. Will they pick it up? Of course "when they start giving us free baserunners..." is a good way to start any problem question.

Strasburg looked ok yesterday so maybe he isn't hurt and as it was suggested maybe he's having some sort of post-injury recovery issues putting himself back in form?  We'll see. San Diego is basically home.

Rendon, like a SNL joke that people thought was really funny back in the mid 70s and they trot out every special for some reason, is still dead. (though back involved in "baseball activities" which for his health I hope means putting baseball cards into plastic sleeves.)

29 comments:

Anthony Rendon said...

Lobaton seemed to work well with Stras yesterday. We should stick with that combo.

Bryce Harper enough said.

When (or if) Rendon comes back hit him second and Harper third. It will guarantee him pitches to hit.

Harper I don't put the cards in sleeves. I autograph them and Fister is putting them in the sleeves.

G Cracka X said...

Good article, Harper. The one nuance I want to add is that Bryce's season has been needed in the season-saving sense because the starting pitching (aside from Miracle Max) has underperformed. If the rotation had been performing near 2014 levels, then the team thus far wouldn't need Bryce to be BRYCE, just Bryce

JE34 said...

I was happy to see Strasburg get all hella pissed with the glove slamming etc., upon the somewhat quick hook he got. I don't recall seeing Stras emote much at all. Maybe Scherzer is rubbing off on him.

Good gravy, watching Bryce has been fun. On the 7 game road trip, he reached base in 21 of 32 PAs! 9 walks, 1 (extremely iffy) strikeout. A bunt base hit too... but the hits have largely been laser beams. Over the years on this site, we have lamented that the Nats lineup has no one who scares any opposing pitcher. No more! FEAR THE KID! (kinda like that Twilight Zone episode with the kid who could read everyone's thoughts)

cass said...

Strasburg was probably auditioning for a trade or free agent signing.

But who really cares about any of the Nats other issues when we get to watch BRYCE every night? We'll worry about all that in October - for now, all I can do is watch in awe for however long this keeps up.

J. Henry Waugh said...

1. Last year at this point in the season we were 20-19 and 2.5 games out of first; this year we're 22-17 and half a game out.

2. Harper said, patronizingly, something like "sorry, kids, Bryce is not going to hit 50 home runs." Wanna bet? The kid is a wrecking ball right now and unless he gets injured, no one's gonna stop him.

3. On Thursday, with all the hand-wringing about the upcoming schedules, Harper said we "should" win against Philly and maybe Toronto. That's exactly two out of eight series. Well, we just won three out of four at San Diego, so I guess you missed hat one, Harper.

4. The Nats will sweep the Yankees in at least one series and at worst split in the other. You know Bryce will be amped for all those games. I'd call for 2-game sweep this week if it weren't for Cole and Gio starting.

5. The Nats are ahead of where they were last season, despite all the injuries. They are built to win and they will win more games than they did last year.

Anonymous said...

Not saying he's going to keep this up for a full season, but the peak bonds version of harper is pretty alright.

One question for Harper, are there publicly available cluster luck numbers? Looking at some of the numbers on the Nats offense they look pretty average as a team but they've somehow scored the 4th most runs in MLB.

WiredHK said...

All things sort of balance out - the pitching is not quite what we think it will be (or become), while the hitting (esp Danny and Yunel) has been very good -- but probably won't stay THIS good. Winning most series we play in is what we expected this team to do from the start - and this is what I expect them to keep doing as all the micro ups and downs ebb and flow and balance each other out....

But watching Bryce is serious can't-miss TV right now. Every AB is just really fun...

J Henry Waugh said...

@anon Nats have actually scored the 2nd most runs in MLB and first in the NL. Probably some luck as the Dodgers lead in most offensive stats, although the Nats are ahead in one or two and close in most others.

Jimmy said...

J. Henry Waugh-
Mike Rizzo is that you? Love what you've done with the team, the BP is a work in progress though.

Jimmy said...

@Anthony Rendon- I completely agree Lobaton is Stras's horse whisperer always seems to call his games the best.

Anonymous said...

Re clustering: check out Fangraphs BaseRuns standings: http://www.fangraphs.com/depthcharts.aspx?position=BaseRuns

BaseRuns tries to de-cluster hits and figure out a team's record based on expected runs scored and expected runs against. The Nats' BaseRuns record is equivalent to their actual record, which suggests neutral clustering luck. Of course, this corrects for clustering on both the pitching and hitting sides of ledger. My guess is that the Nats' bats have had good clustering luck whereas the Nats' arms have had bad clustering luck by a fairly equal amount.

Jimmy said...

@Rendon- lower era but overall has better stats with Ramos.http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=strasst01&year=2014&t=p#catch

A Fly Moses said...

How much less can they actually pitch to Bryce? His zone % is 40.5%; that would be the lowest over a full season by any qualified hitter since 2012 (Hamilton); before that, you have to go back to 2009 to find anyone lower than 40.4%. (Three hitters are below 40.5% so far this year, but Hosmer and Gattis both chase out of the zone much more often, so only Rizzo (38%) seems comparable so far.) Which is to say, deciding to stop pitching to Bryce going forward, in any meaningful way, would be relatively unprecedented.

Anthony Rendon said...

@Jimmy This season Ramos has appeared to call terrible games for Stras. While yesterday it seemed like Stras only gave up runs when he made the mistake. I liked Ramos last year with Stras but not this season.

Anonymous said...

I guess all Bryce haters don't come here any more. Some thought he was a spoiled kid and would never mature. Others thought he doesn't play the game right. Blah blah blah. Well he is a different kid. A kid our generation never saw coming.

Fries said...

I'm jumping on the Danny bandwagon. His plate discipline numbers are looking incredible this season compared to his career averages and those tend to converge a lot faster than other stats. He's just seeing the ball well. Swinging about the same rate but making contact at a much higher one and generally on pitches in the zone. Everyone's looking for him to decline and I'm not so sure he will

Harper said...

JHW - #2 - YES! I WANNA BET! Set the terms!

Chaos said...

I was in Phoenix this past week and got to see the Bryce tossed/Taylor like a boss game. Lot's of fun having Dbacks fans ask "so how's Harper doing this year" and then watching their eyes bug out when the stats got put up on the board.

.........and I'm front row at 3rd base, no way Bryce swung. Bush call.

Chaos

Anonymous said...

How about if Bryce hits over 50, harper has to write a gushy, emotional think piece.

Kenny B. said...

One can only assume that the J. in "J. Henry Waugh" stands for jinx. That comment is going to destroy this team.

Seriously though, Bryce Harper... I mean... Wow. It feels like he just went through an montage with an 80s power song that taught him to look forward and to move past the demons that plague his past and whenever he gets a hit he glances at his secret mentor who smiles knowingly in the stands and Oh my God I'm writing the Hollywood movie already.

Others have noted: Scherzer is as good as advertised, maybe better. Scherzer + BRYCE Mega Evolution is as close to you can get to a guaranteed win in MLB. The only pitcher who had a really *bad* game in the last round was Fister, and he's hurt. So the pitching is getting there. The relief is still shaky, but Storen seems pretty locked in these days, so that's nice.

Question: Is Espinosa for real? He's been toying with us for so many years now, I just can't convince myself it's real. Has he finally healed from whatever injury we have all assumed he suffered?

All-Star selections: Bryce is a lock, so who, if anyone else are we thinking? I'm thinking Scherzer gets a nod. Then probably no one, but maybe Span? Escobar?

Anonymous said...

Kenny B - I think we have to concede that it has to be at the earliest a 90s power song... we are old

Anonymous said...

I might give Ramos an All-Star nod...

Kenny B. said...

Okay, I'll take early-90s as long as Smash Mouth is absolutely NOT involved in any way whatsoever (they're more late-90s anyway, but if I ever hear that song "All Star" again, I think I'll punch someone). I still feel like Journey is the appropriate selection. And the mentor who finally convinces him to ignore the fame and fortune and get back to wholesome, simple, pure baseball is his father. The shiny shoes from the last ASG will be the symbol of the trappings of his fame, and he must learn to put away the shiny shoes and stay true to his humble roots. The training sequences will take place in the deserts of Nevada. The title of this blog post will be the title of the film.

You guys, I'm 2/3 of the way to finishing the screenplay.

Ramos in the ASG... Interesting, considering we were wondering early on if he would ever hit. I'm sure the NL team will be mostly Cardinals players, as it always seems to be, but the Nats definitely deserve more than one this year.

Anonymous said...

How weird would it be if storen led the nl in saves at the ASB and was an all star?

J. Henry Waugh said...

It was more a figure of speech, Harper. It might be difficult arranging terms. Although anon's suggestion of a gushy, emotional think piece (including thanking all your brilliant commentors) would be fine with me if you lose. As for me? Maybe I could type "Yankees Rule" 50 times if Bryce doesn't hit 50?

Eric said...

"The title of this blog post will be the title of the film."

Please be sure to include the whole title.

Anonymous said...

For the love of God, please do not ever mention the title of Smash Mouth songs again.

Though comforting to know I am not the only one that turns violent in their presence.

Bjd1207 said...

I'm going tonight to see Bryce crush your boys Harper

Harper said...

but "All-Star" you see baseball league have All-Star games and that's as far as my little mind can think about these things!