Nationals Baseball: Hey they proved my point

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Hey they proved my point

1 run - almost certain loss
16 runs - has to be considered a certain win
0 runs - certain loss

Expectation 1-2.

3 game average = 17/3 = 5.67 R/G! Probably 2 wins (given average pitching), maybe 3!

Expectation 3-0!

Reality? 1-2.

See! Distribution matters! Now over the course of a season it's supposed to even out but occasionally it doesn't. Now you might say "Hey Harper - if the runs they score shouldn't match up with the wins they get - why is the Pythag Expectation (33-33) so close to the reality (34-32)?" Well glad you asked. The answer is that the Nats are hanging with expectations in large part because of luck in 1 and 2 run games.

We've talked about this before but 1 run games are basically toss-ups. Good relief doesn't matter.  Year after year teams tend to win about 50% of these games, with minor variation based on talent. In other words good teams tend to win more close games, they ARE good, but less often than they win games with larger margins of victory. Good teams correlate much better with blowout wins, not close ones.

Anyway I'm digressing. The Nats have the best record when it comes to their record in 1 or 2 run games (I like to expand it out to 2 games which are less of a coin flip but still not strongly correlated) at 17-11.  In games decided by 3 or more they are a sad 17-21. The true team talent is a combination of both, but give more weight to those 3+ games.
That luck is balancing out the run scoring issues. If they were say a more reasonable 13-15 (based on their 3+ standings) They'd be 30-36 and fighting off the Marlins.

Am I saying the Nats have been lucky at least with what has happened on the field? Yep. They've had Bryce develop into the best offensive player in the NL. They've had Max be the best starter in the NL. They've gotten more breaks than any team in close games. And the end result is a team 1.5 games out of first. That shows you the underlying issues with the team up to this point. Injuries leading to some terrible offensive performances, leading to very deep reliance on a standardly deep bench (for a team that should have expected more than a standard number of injuries), bad starting pitching performances from three of the five rotation guys for whatever reason, bad late inning performances of the pen, mediocre at best defense, no help from baserunning.

"Up to this point" is key because perhaps Rendon and Strasburg and Fister returning to form after injury and Roark heading back to the pen fixes a good deal those underlying issues. But man, that's a list isn't it? That's Tyler Moore esque in things the team isn't good at.

The reason to be optimistic about the team hasn't changed. The team is better than the rest of the NL East. But we're more than a third of the season through the year. We're getting to the point we can stop believing these are things the team can overcome with a fast finish. June 27th was the date last year's team started playing better (they were a middling 41-38 before that) and that team was helped out by a scorching August and September (They finished 33-13  which is a 116 win pace) and a complete Braves collapse (at one point the Nats would go 7-7 and pick up 4.5 games).  This team isn't going to get the former and well.. ok.. I can see the Mets doing the latter.  Hooray terrible division!


Anonymous said...

Great post Harper. I'm curious on your thoughts about Trae Tuner? To me, he seems a lot like Michael Taylor at the plate, with a little less power. What do you think his chances are of making the big leagues this season? Any chance they bench Desmond for him?

Bjd1207 said...

@Anon - Curious what makes you draw the comparison to Michael Taylor? Definitely less power like you're saying but batting average is about 80 points higher and the K/BB ratios are lightyears away.

Taylor had well over 100 K's in each of his years in the minors. Turner hasn't had any more than 67

Gr8day4Bsbll said...

This whole season has felt like we're waiting for the "real" Nats to show up, because that's exactly what it HAS been. That said, I question whether or not having His Gnomeness in the lineup would really make that much of a difference given his performance pre-injury. Rendon seems to be on his way back, but he also seems to have lost his power hitting (at least so far...I know, timing first, power second...). And Desi is Desi this year, rather than being the Silver Slugger of the last three years, and we all just have to deal with it... So that said, yes, I agree with you Harper that we should thank our lucky stars for (a) the luck that the Nats are experiencing in 1- and 2-run games, and (b) the fact that the NL East stinks on ice. So perhaps the Nats get hot when everyone gets back and healthy later this summer, or maybe they just hang close enough to the Mets all season and luck into the divisional or wild card playoff berths. But that was never the goal -- this was the year they were going beyond round 1, remember? This was the year that all of the prior moves were built for, remember? So to me, just hanging with the Mets and winning a divisional crown without advancing at least to the NLCS if not the WS will be incredibly disappointing, no matter how lucky they are during the regular season...

Anthony Rendon said...

I don't see us benching Desi. Trading him yes, I can see that. But last nights lineup was weak and played like a weak lineup.
Escobar, a great season but usually a below average hitter.
Rendon, not hitting to his capabilities yet.
BRYCE, awesome but no protection.
Robinson, career backup.
Espi, good season but not a great hitter.
Desi, ugh.
Lobaton, backup for a reason.
Taylor, well he got on base twice but not a good hitter either.
We shouldn't score many runs with that lineup and we didn't. We should have hit better but it doesn't surprise me at all.

SM said...

And if--for argument's sake--they don't win the division? (A Wild Card is hardly a gimme.)

Then what?

SM said...

. . . besides The Apocalypse, that is.

G Cracka X said...

'DC, I don't know why I go to extremes.
Too high or too low, there ain't no in between
And if I hit or I miss
Its all or nothing, I guess.
DC, I don't know why I go to extremes.'
- Nats Offense

P.S. Are we convinced this team is better than the Mets?

Anonymous said...

@ G Cracka X - I'm not convinced we're better than the Mets. We have a better player in Bryce. But projections, "on paper," is nothing more than fantasy/fun predictions. Say if the Mets had Bryce, they would be running away with this division and leaving us in the dust. Harper and Scherzer (and Storen, when he pitches) is the only reason we are relevant right now. Mets seem much more balanced but are missing a star on offense.

I love having Harper, but I would much prefer a balanced team. Not a good thing when the only point to watching Nats games is the 1 minute that Harper is at the plate 3-4 times a game, or every 5th game when Scherzer is on the hill.

JE34 said...

Funny how things change over time. I remember saying in bygone days here that the Nats lineup was good but didn't scare anybody. Now we finally have the scary factor, without the good part.

Anonymous said...

If the Nationals are healthy they're far, far better than the Mets, and it's crazy to think orherwise.

The health issues account for at least 75% of the struugles. This team hasn't come close to fielding it's full optimum lineup in a state of good health once yet this season, and may not be able to until August. That's a big problem, and one that probably would be catastrophic if we were in any orher division.

Froggy said...

Remember when we were having the Souza or Taylor debate earlier in the year? I guess the sample size is in and Souza settled that question once and for all last night, eh.

Another stupid debate is whether we are 'better' than the Mets...obviously we aren't (at least not for the first 62 games of the season we aren't. Wasn't it Aristotle who said something like: 'potential unrealized is just that'.

G Cracka X said...

@Froggy Fair enough. Perhaps a better question could be, 'At this point in the season, knowing all we know about both teams, do the Mets or the Nats have a better shot at winning the NL East'? I guess that's what I really care about, more than if one team is 'better' or not

Anonymous said...


yeah Souza vs Taylor is no contest, but you've also got to consider what the trade brought in. I still think the Nats won that trade