Nationals Baseball: Stacking Up - Part 2

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Stacking Up - Part 2


Nats : BRYCE
As constructed now can you really rely on Clint Robinson, Yunel Escovar and Danny Espinosa to perform to the levels they have been? If not the current line-up, which is passable with only one true hole, collapses. Note that they've not only overachieved based on the bats in the lineup, they've scored more runs than expected based on those overachieving stats. There's double the room to fail. Yet, like a reverse Damocles' sword, Span, Rendon, Werth, Zimmerman all could come back and be impact bats. Despite the above questions, we have to put a lot of weight on where we stand today. One thing that is sure is that they have arguably the best hitter in the majors in Bryce and he's already proven he can carry the offense by himself when hot.

Mets: DUDA
The Mets offense is hideous. There's not a true star or even very good bat in the line-up right now. There are at least two holes, and Lagares is close to that as well. If D'Arnaud can ever stay healthy it might not be embarrassing but right now this line-up is undeniably a huge problem.

Cardinals :  HOLLIDAY
The Cardinals have no holes. Molina may finally be wearing down and Reynolds replacing Adams is a downgrade but both are simply below average. The Cardinals have no stars. Holliday is very good and bats like Peralta, Heyward, and maybe the kid Grichuk have the same potential but there is no singular player you worry about containing.

It's a line-up similar to the Nats with a star that can carry the team, a number of solid bats in the line-up, and maybe a hole or two. The difference is McCutchen, as good as he is, is not '15 Bryce at the plate, and the bench is not very good. So the Pirates match-up with the Nats now, but a few healthy returns and they won't anymore.

Cubs : RIZZO
I's not terrible but the lineup is a problem. Rizzo is an underrated star bat, but only Bryant of the kids (Soler and Russell being the others) are hitting right now. Castro has devolved much like Ian Desmond. With no help from the bench, and a mix of average bats elsewhere the Cubs are kind of stuck relying on hope that that at least one of these guys, if not all 3 come through.

The Dodgers offense is really good. Everyone but Rollins (who's a hole - what is it with these SSs this year?) is at least good with Grandal and Turner carrying the team. You may think that this is just as precarious a situation as the Nats Yuney/Danny/Clint thing, but people have been thinking Grandal could do something like this for years and Turner was this good last year too. There's more reason for faith here. Also, the bench is deep and Puig and Pederson have strong potential to perform better. I really like this offense

Giants : POSEY
The Giants offense is rock solid. They don't have a lot of punch, but much like the Royals of last year, they put the ball in play really well. Plus Hunter Pence is finally back and at least in the week he played he looked like his old self. That would reduce the below average bats in the lineup to simply CF Pagan. There's a little bit of overachieving in the IF but Duffy and Panik are both young enough that it could continue.  

My Ranking as of today (in series): 
Dodgers, Giants, Nats, Pirates, Cardinals, Cubs, Mets

To me, offensively the difference between the Dodgers and the Cardinals is equal to the difference between the Cardinals and the Cubs.

Overall Rankings : 
Cardinals, Pirates, Nats, Dodgers, Cubs, Giants, Mets

No one wants to hear this but really the Cardinals are a team with no weakness. The worst thing I can think of to say about them as a team is that they lack a dominant presence on the mound or at the plate, so if any of the teams in the playoffs get hot, they can take the Cardinals. They aren't unbeatable. Of course if the Cardinals get hot, or if no one does, they have to be the favorite.

I like the Pirates a lot, maybe even more than the Cardinals in a series. There's no real series weakness and that pen is a game changer. But they are very McCutchen reliant (offense spun its wheels early when Andrew did), and it's AJ Burnett and Francisco Liriano you are saying are very good. They have been but still it's hard to get 100% behind that.

The Nats are the wild card of the bunch. Good enough to be better than the Cardinals, injured enough to be down with the Mets. However it breaks though I've seen enough of Max and ZNN to feel really good about those two in the playoffs and BRYCE! means I'll never count the Nats offense completely out. Plus the Nats should walk to the division title if they get even a little healthier.

The Nats over the Dodgers was a tough call for me but in the end Kershaw's injury issues/playoff issues give me enough pause. LA was already going to have an iffy #3 and a shallow pen. If I can't feel like I can be sure about him then the team takes a hit despite the offense. They are in kind of the same boat as the Nats. The pieces could fall into place to make them incredibly formidable. But right now I'd like the Nats just a touch more, though that could easily change in 2 weeks.

Now we get to the flawed teams. The Cubs are all about potential. Lester could revert to form. Those hitters could get it. There's worry that these things could happen if you face them in a series. But I can't deny that right now it isn't there. Not the pitching, not the hitting. On the cusp but not there.

The Giants, I just don't like their starting pitching. Sure Bumgarner was great last year. But that doesn't guarantee future success. Lester was awesome... until he wasn't with the A's. Morris had the greatest World Series, then was garbage in the series the next year. 2014 gives you pause about facing him but I'm not quaking if it comes to pass. Vogelsong, Lincecum, Peavy are all working on multiple blah years. Hudson is 39. So it all comes down to Heston who was never a great prospect. I just don't see them keeping an offense down and the offense isn't dominant enough to count on them beating a pitcher on his game.

The Mets don't have a flaw they have a death wish. That offense is easily dominated and unless it gets hot the pitching will have to be perfect. Either is possible (the offense is hot or the pitching is perfect) but those are big things that would have to go right for the Mets to take a series.


Donald said...

At this point, it looks like the top seed in the playoffs will come from the central division as either St. Louis or Pittsburgh. I don't see any reason why that would change, as both teams are very strong. I guess the Dodgers could end up on top, but I don't think the Nats will, which is probably a very good thing. With any luck, St. Louis and Pittsburgh end up playing each other in the first round, which would have the Nats playing Los Angeles. This weekend's series will be pretty interesting in that regard as it could be a very close approximation of the first round of the playoffs, with both teams having their rotations lined up just the way they want.

If I'm St. Louis, I would sure hate to lose the division. It seems like a team built to win series rather than a single game.

Who do you think ends up making the playoffs anyway? I figure the Nats, Cards, Pirates and Dodgers are pretty good bets, which just leaves one more team. Cubs are currently holding that spot. I have a hard time seeing the Mets sneaking in there given all of their flaws.

Harper said...

Donald - RIGHT NOW... hold on looking at scheds... I'd say Mets actually. Hooray NL East! Giants have a brutal August. Just killer. But I expect trades to happen so today is only today

G Cracka X said...

Harper, I'm still concerned about the Mets. It doesn't seem that if the Nats get a little healthier, then they'll walk to the division title. Mets seem like they're a bat away from being a season-long challenger for the title. Not to say that they'll actually get it, but it doesn't seem like they're going away anytime soon. The pitching has been quite good for them, and maybe they find a bat or two to help the offense

Froggy said...

I'm trying to picture a 'reverse sword of Damocles'...regardless, I do hope you are right and Rendon, Werth, and Span come back and perform average or above.

More importantly, I pray we don't play the Cardinals in the post season. And the only way to avoid that is by NOT being a wild card.

Chaz R said...

The key phrases is "as constructed now" and the reverse sword of Damocles thing. There's no telling how any of them will perform when they return, but it seems likely the Nats offense will almost certainly be better.

BooyahSuckah! said...

Harper, on a sort-of related note, I have a request for a future post. Any chance you can do an historical statistical breakdown on the effect of clinching the division early versus clinching late? I know it's very hard to actually quantify a team-wide hot streak, but it does seem like the idea of teams clinching early and then losing momentum passes the eye test. I'd love to know whether it passes the soulless automaton test.

Harper said...

BS - sure. Wait there's this

Wait I read that and it's actually reaching conclusions that are... iffy. Worth another looksee.

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