Is it premature to call the NL East for the Nats? Yes. Am I doing it? Yes. Well more accurately I'm saying right now that if the Nats and Mets rosters don't significantly change the Nats will win the division. The Nats have expanded their lead to 2.5 games. While they keep playing well and catching breaks (two more one-run wins over the weekend), the Mets don't have the offensive players to keep up with the Nats (it's almost like they had to make one additional off-season move after getting Cuddyer. Strange that no one ever thought of or mentioned that).
Is it silly to say in May "if the rosters don't significantly change"? Yes, one more time. But it highlights the talent gap that is apparent now. We saw that gap to start the season (which is why we all had the Nats winning the East by 8-10 games or so) but at the beginning of the season there are the lingering "what will happen really when we get going?" questions. We've gotten going now. There isn't likely to be a surprise flop or breakout anymore. We see Strasbrug, Gio, platoon Danny, Bryce breakout and we can account for all that. We see Plawecki, not Wright, Familia and we can account for that. Unless we see a huge trade or injury I don't see the Nats losing their grip on first.
So while the Nats potentially skate to their title and playoff run let's go over some things I've heard over the weekend that I want to voice an opinion on :
Strasburg is hurt. That's what I said. That's what I believe. Here are your options. 1) Strasburg was always bad! 2) Strasburg is a head case! 3) Strasburg is injured. #1 is the intelligent design of arguments. Nothing backs it up. #2 is fun but this would be the first time I ever saw a guy being not right in the head proven by a lack of bite in the curve and a fastball missing by a few inches. #3 isn't backed up by anything either if you believe the Nats doctors but why would you do that? Where is Rendon now? Didn't they say Danny didn't need surgery - only rest? I suppose that is true but I think you'd usually bite on the surgery if the "rest period" turns out to be almost 3 years. And beyond that who am I supposed to believe? Bloggers looking at video and data points and making (slightly) educated guesses? Uhhhh, no. That's not statistics, that's witchcraft. He's pitching worse than he ever has by far. I'm sticking with injury.
Please don't declare a trade or contract a winner/loser before it is complete. Even the Fister deal, which was apparently a very good starter for three AAAA pieces, I wouldn't call right now. The Werth deal, still two seasons from completion, is still up in the air. You have to see how the whole thing, WHOLE thing, plays out and then make a judgment. Does that mean maybe waiting a decade? Yeah, yeah it does.
Don't use D stats for anything but "it looks like" talk. This is for both good and bad views. I don't know how we all got to this point. It was pretty clear a year or so ago that defensive stats were questionable to the point it was recommended you kind of use a rolling 3 year average to get a better feel for the abilities of a player. Then it was pointed out that that made WAR very flawed as a single season measure and so the response was "I guess it's ok to use defensive stats for a season, then". It feels like when push came to shove the people pushing these stats were more interested in protecting the stat then standing by the work. I guess they feel that eventually with all the data someone will come up soon with a good way of measuring annual defense and therefore if they hole up, protect the stat, and ride out the storm, that they'll emerge on the other side with the same level of influence? I don't know. I'm digressing.
It'll be nice to look at the team over the next 4 months and see the good performances shine. But understand that for probably I'd say 75%-80% of the fanbase what really matters is how they perform in October. Harsh but true. I've said it before but if they win 105 games and Storen saves 55 and then they lose in the NLDS and Storen blows a game, that's not ok! They failed! It doesn't mean they are a bad team or that they are bad players, but it does mean that they started the season with a goal and they did not achieve that. And that matters! A lot! Especially this season because next season (no ZNN, no Desmond, no Thornton, no Fister?, no Span?) begins the 2-season exodus that will reshape the team. It may not be as sure a winner when we wake up on Opening Day 2017. The time is now, not to have a really good season, but to win in the playoffs.