Nationals Baseball: What's unsustainable

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

What's unsustainable

The Nats are far enough into the season (20%) that we can start to look as stats as things that are more concrete. You can have unexpectedly good half-seasons or even years, but generally luck (bad and good) starts to stretch itself thin in weeks, maybe a couple of months. Is there anything going on with the Nats that simply HAS to change? (or has to be injury related)

BABIP - while an exception might inexplicably keep it up for a year (I'm looking at you '13 Chris Johnson) generally a BABIP over .360 is reserved for known line drive guys or speed demons. And even those guys don't tend to keep that up for very long.  There are two Nationals that are looking at a drop in BABIP and likely everything that comes with it - Yuney Escobar (.371) and Wilson Ramos (.368). If/when it does come it will hit these two pretty hard because they don't walk and haven't shown power this year (Wilson, what happened?).  Lobaton (.500!) and Taylor (.390, even given speed that's high) should also see this come down.

On the flip-side around .250 is as bad as an everyday player will get, though a slow slugger might find himself under that. Of course while the ceiling is pretty firm the floor is not. You can simply not be good enough for everyday play which is likely the case for Tyler Moore (.143) and Dan Uggla (.244).  Werth (.227! Insert Jackee jokes here! Although really your take-away from 227 should be Regina King who's been great in several things most notably arguably my favorite show on TV ever SouthLAnd) and Zimm (.252) are likely to see improvements... if they are healthy.

Going to the mound .250 to.325 is a decent range, though in this case the ceiling is the soft spot. Taking some history into account Strsasburg (.394) and Gio (.375) should see some better luck here. (Grace (.400), Barrett (.370)... that's your call).  On the other hand no starters are getting overly lucky - Fister's on the edge but I'm just looking for sure things here.  Thornton (.192) and Solis (.158) are the ones to watch so the recent decent pen stuff might be a bit of an oasis that the Nats are only temporarily stopped at.

HR//FB% - The pure home run guys can close in on 30% but generally 25% is a good estimate of the top you'll see in the majors. Nats don't really have a problem here as, well, they don't hit homers, but Bryce Harper's 32.7% is going to come down. Yeah sorry kids.Hhe's not hitting 50+ this year. He could still lead the league though.

Again the floors in baseball for hitters are squishier than the ceilings, and some guys in the majors just don't hit homers. Still percentages in the low single digits are rare and we can be informed by history, so Werth (3.6%), Ramos (4.8%), Desmond (8.0%) should all see a bump in power - assuming they are healthy.

For pitchers it's harder to pin this down but here's an odd stat. Barrett, Storen, Thornton, Grace, Solis and Treinen (yes Treinen) have yet to give up a home run. That's going to change. Strasburg (3.0%), ZNN (4.3%), Gio (5.0%) and Scherzer (5.3%) should all see some bump in that number too. But you can be pretty low - like in the 7-8% range so I'm not saying they'll blow up.

RISP - For batters only. This is more about deviation from your nomal stats. Expect Ramos (.407), Uggla (.353), & Escobar (.348) to drive in fewer. Espinosa (.059), Desmond (.115), and Werth (.208) to drive in more.

LOB% - This is just for the pitchers. Solis (100%) ain't this good, expect that luck to turn. Matt Grace (90%) is also too high and given everything else that makes me pretty worried about Grace being here very long. Thornton (44.4%) could stand to be luckier. ZNN (60.9%) should get better, as should Strasburg (65.3%) provided he's not hurt in someway.

Is there a take-away here. Not particularly. We see a mix of bad luck and good luck which is what you expect to see. If you twist my arm I'd expect both the pitching and offense to go down a half-step but it could easily be the other way. Escobar and Ramos will cool down but the potential is there for Werth, Zimm, and Desmond to start hitting better at more timely times. The only thing that makes me say "half step down" is the fact Werth and Zimm might really be hurt as opposed to just catching bad luck.  The starting pitching is mostly tweaks and might even get better. Again - this is a GREAT rotation. Oddly given how spotty it has been I see the relief pitching with the biggest bust potential. Although that's probably a function of the way this pen is made up. Since there are so few defined roles, guys who stink get moved down and or out quickly and hot hands are ridden out. I'd just worry a bit about the hands being used now taking a bit of a dip. (I really expected Treinen to be a bit unlucky - nope - just has stunk) So I'd bet overall that while the starting pitching will slightly improve we're going to get more bumps in the bullpen road.


SM said...

"... or has to be injury related."

"... if they are healthy."

"... assuming they are healthy."

"... provided he's not hurt in some way."

"...might really be hurt."

Hmmmm . . .

Anonymous said...

I feel like everything is there for Treinen to be a valuable RP. The guy throws 98 with a ton of movement. Aside from the obvious (the walks) I don't know what is keeping this guy from blossoming. Is it mental? Side note - I did watch him very closely last night has saw that he misses his spots quite frequently. Being a lefty side-arm pitcher myself in college and having a ton of movement is problematic at times. The catcher has to set up on the outer edge of the plate just to account for 3-4 inches of movement, often resulting in pitches right down the middle. And we can imagine how that went... :)

Harper said...

Squishy analysis I know but that's the issue though. On offense the Nats have guys hot and guys cold. That's perfectly normal. The assumption is hot guys get cool, cool guys get hot. The problem is the latter isn't guaranteed like the former. If you are hitting .400 ... you aren't doing that for a season. If you are hitting .200, you might. Especially if you are injured. Right now most of the Nats known healthy guys are hitting well. When they cool will Werth be able to be one of the guys that keeps it up. Zimm looks like he will (he's hot now too).

Strasburg's injury... we have to see but the pitching is equipped to handle that and doesn't necessarily need him to be STRASBURG. Werth/Zimm/Rendon, they are needed.

SM said...


G Cracka X said...

So far, the Nats are looking pretty good in the 'Things to watch early in the season' list that was the subject of a post at the beginning of the season.

'Ramos may not hit, Yuney may not hit'. They'll cool off for sure, but so far they are both doing great at the plate.

'Yuney may not field'. He may not be Rendon at 3rd base, but he's certainly not been an issue there

'Can Barrett or Treinen step up?' Barrett, so far, I would say yes. Treinen has not performed well so far, we'll see if he turns it around.

Kenny B. said...

The real question for me is Bryce Harper. He finally showed he can carry this team in the down times, but was that another of his flashes, or has he really turned a corner? Popular narrative says the latter, but we all know popular narrative is a poor metric.

We can't really know the real answer yet, but if he truly is turning into the superstar he is forecasted to be, and the pitching remains at or near forecasts, hot streaks from everyone else are more like cushion than bare minimum necessity.

Bjd1207 said...

So quick to write off 50 HR's for Harper. Is it just because that's such a lofty goal? What do we (your loyal readers) get if he hits 50? A la MW's Babe Ruth impression.

What about 40? I'd almost take the over on that bet...depends on the payouts

blovy8 said...

Chris Johnson is a pretty bad example, because he's had a BABIP of .345 or better for all the last four years without any appreciable speed. He hits a lot of line drives though, but big deal, so does Rendon, right?

Bjd1207 said...

This is what leads me to believe Bryce's HR/FB rate is actual progression, rather than expecting it to come back in line with his career norms:

Probably won't stay at 30%, and similarly if you look at years past in batted ball distance, no one gets above 320ft, while right now there's about 10 players above that threshhold for 2015. But I'm seeing his batted ball distance up significantly over years past, and he's got a bigger sample size in those than most of the other hitters that high on the leaderboard.

We'll see how it shakes out, but like I said I'm close to taking the over on Bryce hitting 40

Robot said...

OMGWTF Strasburg?!?

Also, I hate these west coast games. This is too damn late for baseball, much less losing baseball

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