Nationals Baseball: Last year third base discussion : revisited

Friday, October 23, 2015

Last year third base discussion : revisited

Third Base

Take : Rendon is really good. Rendon is a third baseman. Ryan Zimmerman can no longer play third base. Rendon will play third base.

That's about as long as I can drag out the reasoning. Rendon's 2014 was MVP vote worthy. There was nothing he didn't do well and he hadn't gotten injured in two seasons so we put that behind us. He would start. The decision was simple.

I had Frandsen as the back-up at that point. Really didn't matter too much. You aren't sitting Rendon, right?

2015 Reality : Rendon got injured in Spring Training. What the Nats training staff (now fired) first claimed was a "day to day" injury lasted two and a half months. Ok ok. To be fair that initial knee injury (MCL sprain) only lasted a month and a half, so day to day was only ridiculously wrong, I guess. He would strain his oblique in returning which would cost him another month. By the time Rendon was healthy, Yunel Escobar had ensconced himself at third and the Nats, wanting to keep Yuney hitting and not push him to another position he'd have to learn mid-season, decided to keep him there and moved Rendon to 2nd. Rendon played 2nd in 2013 and 2014 so he was fine at it.

Rendon hit ok for that first month he was back. No power but decent patience and average ( .290 / . 375 / .362) so it wasn't a problem waiting the return of his pop out. Problem is he would get injured again. This time straining his quadriceps* and sitting out for another month. Rendon came back again, playing second again, and would have an down and up rest of the season.

23 games : .200 / .274 /.271
24 games : .364 / .442 / .525
15 games : .155 / .239 / .224

The way I look at that is that he got his swing back after a while but being out of shape/practice he just got tired at the end of the year.  Werth would follow a very similar pattern. Another possible interpretation is after they started hitting, pitchers, who will try to get you out the easiest way possible to start, adjusted and Rendon couldn't keep up. I don't really believe that as a possibility for Rendon as much as I do for the aging Werth but felt I should put it out there.

At third actually Yunel never stopped hitting. He'd have a poor July, but not an awful one, and then he'd follow that up with his best month ever in August. He'd have his most power in August. His best OBP in September. His highest average in June. Simply put he hit pretty much all year long. If it was a fluke (and it might be) it was a season long fluke, not one powered by a month or two of incredibly hot hitting.

Why do I say it might be a fluke? Because that BABIP was so much higher than other years. .347 in 2015 when he had been more of a .285 type.  On the pro-Yuney side he did hit more GBs than he had in the past couple of years, that should help the BABIP, and he did hit more LD then ever, which also helps the BABIP. Basically, he stopped hitting flyballs. The lowest percentage since his rookie year when he had his highest BABIP of .364. So maybe he's found his groove?  I don't know. Still seems high to me for someone who is slowing down and hasn't exactly improved his contact percentages.

Meanwhile though Yunel gives you nothing else. I noted before that his fielding woes of 2014 turned out to be a trend not an anomaly. He can't move in the field anymore. He is slow on the basepaths. He's doesn't hit for power or walk much (though he's not the worst at either). All in all if he can't hit for average he's not a good player and even hitting .315 he's more "ok" than "good".

I guess what I'm saying is that you look at his average in 2015 and think "Oh, this guy really helped the Nats out" but every layer you peel off beyond that shows him hurting the Nats in this little way or that little way. When you get to the core you now realize he helped the Nats, but not a lot and there's big potential for him to be a negative next year

Out of the box : It was mostly reaching for something but I suggested moving Rendon to 1B to avoid injuries (with Zimm becoming a super sub). Completely by accident that would have totally worked for the Nats. Rendon wouldn't have been diving for a ball in ST meaning he wouldn't have gotten hurt. Zimm couldn't have worked around his foot issues while playing OF forcing him to take time off much earlier than he did. All in all the Nats would have been better off, possibly much better off in this out of the box idea. And if that led them to trading for Donaldson, woo boy. All these out of the box ideas are just throwing stuff at a wall usually they end up being impossible or wouldn't have worked, but throw enough out there and a couple are bound to look good.

*Apologies if I got Rendon's injuries and timeline a little wrong before. It's hard to keep up with! Insert sad emoticon. 


Chaz R said...

There clearly needed to be a better back-up plan for 3B. Rendon finally had one season in which he wasn't challenged by injuries and we were lulled into a false sense of security.

Harper said...

The reality is Espinosa (or Escobar) need to be the back-up plan, which means getting a 2B/SS/3B you like to be better. Though, I suppose if Escobar gets traded for honest help somewhere else (likely pen) you can live with no good back-up here and hope that Turner makes his way back-up. It's too much to expect them to get two starting worthy players. Maybe a Clint Robinson esque old AAA bat. Ed Lucas?

Yinyang said...

Can Zobrist still play a decent enough 3b to be considered a viable back-up? I know this is probably singing to the choir, but it sure seems like signing him could solve so many IF/OF needs over the next couple of years. Plus, it would have the added benefit of freeing up the Nats to sell high on Escobar.

John C. said...

I'm leery of signing Zobrist, because I think it's going to take at least a three year deal, and for him that would be for his age 35, 36 and 37 seasons (he turns 35 in May). Yikes. His WAR slipped markedly this year to 1.9 bWAR, 2.1 fWAR. If the AAV starts to move up due to competition for his services, that could turn out very badly.

Donald said...

I don't think it's a stretch at all for Turner to make it back up. He doesn't have a lot to prove in the minors. Maybe cutting down on errors a bit. But his time in the majors last year went fine. How he'll actually do in the majors if he's playing every day is open to more speculation.

Froggy said...

Please, NOT Dusty Baker.

Unless Votto and or Frazier are coming with him.