Nationals Baseball: Pulling on the comment thread

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Pulling on the comment thread

Some stuff on things I saw in the comment thread on the Drew Storen/Ben Revere's

Ben Revere doesn't just single - he steals bases! 
True and we had a little back and forth in the comments about it. Some think we should try to incorporate his SB into his SLG. I prefer to just take his hitting as is and add a "speed" adjustment during discussions. Why? Doing the former ignores a big chunk of why SLG is important. It drives in runners from non-scoring position. My guess is that WAR (at least the offensive part) does a pretty good job of factoring in SBs.

for example here is Nick Markakis' 2015 line
.296 / .370 / .376
and Ben Revere
.306 / .342 / .377

Nick walked more and had a tiny bit more pop (might I add "Ha ha Braves"). So Nick should probably have more offensive value despite the small disadvantage in average. However, according to fangraphs Nick's offensive stat was 4.2. Revere's was 6.2.  Baseball Reference's difference isn't that big (2.5 to 2.7) but also shows an advantage for Revere. That difference is all about the speed.

Of course our question is more about Revere vs MAT. So what was MATs offensive contribution last year? Both Fangraphs and BRef had him in the negative values. So the short of it is Revere should be a nice line-up improvement over 2015 MAT. The questions that linger are does the defensive difference (Great vs surprisngly bleh) combined with the potential improvement of MAT (and probably very slight age-related drop for Revere) make MAT the better bet for 2016? Also there's the question of "disruptive baserunning" but I can't answer that.

MAT can't possibly match Revere offensively!
I said upping his average to ~.240 and taking some more walks should make them a wash offensively.  Let's see how right that may be.

If he were to hit let's say .243 -  his OBP would be up to let's say .295. If he takes a few more walks - 5 to 10 - let's say 8 more. His OBP is around .308. That's not that close to where Revere should be in the .330-.335 range.* But he doesn't have to match Revere's OBP because he slugs a lot better. So let's say he also hits a couple more doubles and homers. Fair, right? Hits 3 more 2B, another 3B, and 2 more homers... his SLG is around .395.  Revere should be around .365 in my guess. What's a .243 / .308 / .395 line worth? My best guess is that it put him around the 0 line for offensive contribution. So Revere, even though he's expected to be a little worse overall than he was in 2015, should be a step better.

Ok so looks like I was wrong. Very minor improvements across the board will not make it a wash. However any single major step up assuming very minor improvements elsewhere probably would. If MAT can hit .260, that probably does it. If he can take 20+ more walks, that probaby would do it. If he can hit 25 doubles and 20 homers, that definitely does it. And if he can make a step up across the board - forget about it - Revere is in the dust.

The gamble the Nats could be taking is against the chance that MAT won't just simply have a very slightly better "used to it now" season, but will actively improve.

How about the move to contact hitting. It did wonders for the Royals!
Yes the Royals led the league in contact (81.9%) and they were dead last in K% (15.9%) But they didn't exactly dominate offensively (6th in RS in AL) and there isn't much evidence that over a season this matters much. Who was 2nd best in both? The A's, a decidedly mediocre offensive team. Who was also up there? The Braves the worst team offensively in baseball. Who swung and missed the most? The Cubs and Astros. You might have seen them in the playoffs.

So if it doesn't translate into regular season success more than any other method, could contact hitting give you and advantage in the playoffs? Perhaps. It might. But the difference would be slight and just getting better hitters of any type is probably more impactful.

The Nats didn't "screw over" Drew Storen
This is about impressions, not facts. It's true other teams often add bullpen arms and displace guys who do perfectly well to strengthen the overall pen. It's also true that it doesn't seem like we hear about guys getting "screwed over" in those situations (though trust me - it is being said about Andrew Miller) For me I say it because I never bought into the Nats talk about "well this is how we can make our team better so we are doing it" To me it's always felt like "we don't trust you despite the fact that you probably earned some level of trust based on your performance". They could have dealt for a non-closers (Clippard, Soria, Jepsen and Lowe were all traded). They didn't. You might not feel this way. That's fine. Both are valid. But if I feel it, I can totally get Drew feeling it. Though again - he needs to work past that and he didn't.

What about Tyler Clippard? 
In theory it could happen. It seems like Tyler wants to go back to the Mets and the Mets want him but Sandy only wants to guarantee a year and Tyler is waiting him out to try to get two. If the Nats were to sweep in with a deal he likes for two then he probably goes. He does fit into the Nats pen nicely giving them that proven set-up arm. However, the Nats have already spent more than they ever have in FA for RP and Clippard isn't cheap.  I don't see it.

What happens to Tyler Moore?
He's got a paid contract. He's sitting on the bench unless he's traded. denDekker is the odd man out here.

Could this be a set-up for another trade? 
Sure it could be. I think the Nats would love to get a cost-controlled catcher or another cost-controlled starting pitcher. A cost controlled OF, while probably helpful in the playing field, is less a concern because they now have 4 paid OF through 2017.  Not that I think the Nats only think of cost control, but I do think it's a big deal for them as they like to work from a place of "can if we want to" rather than "have to", which is where they might be with Strasburg leaving, and where they definitely will be with Ramos coming to his FA year.

So in other words - I don't see a Cargo here. Maybe a Norris or a Matt Moore. But hey - I could be wrong. 

*MAT was 6th worst in qualifying batters in OBP. So he's got a lot of ground to make up. 10th worst was Desmond. Worst was Ramos. But Nats overall looked ok because Bryce was first and the difference between him and 7th best was the same as the difference between Ramos and 70th worst. Bryce is awesome.


Chaz R said...

Excellent explanation on the Drew situation. I completely agree.

How can they possibly keep TMo on the bench and send MdD down? Is it just the RH bat? Can't be 1B sub, we have CRob. As much as I personally like TMo, he has never been able to hit consistently off the bench.

G Cracka X said...

Weren't Clippard, Soria, and Lowe all going to be free agents at the end of the year? So they could have traded for an 8th inning guy, but it would have only been a rental. And I don't know how the prospects compare between what Minnesota gave up for Jepsen and what Washington gave up for Papelbon. Nats may have just wanted to get the best reliever who could be had at a reasonable prospect cost and for > 1 year

JW said...

If the cost was right on Matt Moore, I would love to see that happen. But I would imagine the Rays want too much.

Jay said...

Don't forget they couldn't trade for Kimbrel or Chapman because the Lerners wouldn't add payroll during the season.

Am I the only one that has thought this has been a very bleh offseason. I no longer feel confident that the Nats are the team to beat in the NL, NL east or even wildcard. It just feels like they are treading water this year. No big commitments. Some runs at big name guys, but sort of felt like they were disinterested in the whole process. Sort of like "what do you mean you don't want to come play for the Nationals???"

Even Chen (a lefty starter) would have been worth it to me. A year of Roark and Ross as integral rotation pieces and hoping Strasburg doesn't spend time on the DL and that Gio doesn't continue to regress. Sounds worrisome to me.

I agree that a trade seems unlikely. I think the Rockies are going to trade someone somewhere - just not DC. Any thoughts on trying to get Cespedes or even Upton on a short term deal. Cespedes in CF with Harper and Werth. Could be fun.

DezoPenguin said...

Frankly, I'm expecting the outfield for 2/3 of the year to be Revere-LF, MAT-CF, Bryce-RF. If Werth stays both healthy and good enough (presuming that there is some level of awful that even Veteran Lovin' Dusty will bench him...not that it worked in Cincy) to keep one of Revere or MAT on the bench, then I don't particularly care which one it is. (And like I've said before, if that happens then our OF will shockingly resemble last year's Blue Jays OF, given that Pillar is a staggeringly obvious comparable to Taylor, except Bryce is better than Bautista.)

...Actually, when you think about it, the difference between Bryce and Jose-freaking-Bautista is the same as between Bautista and, say, a full year of den Dekker. Bryce is insane.

Bjd1207 said...

That OBP stat at the bottom of the post needs to be more than just a footnote. That is absolutely crazy, thank you for pointing it out Harper. 3 of the 10 worst OBP's were regulars for the Nats last year? They combined for like 1600PA!!! That's fully 1/4 of our PA's in the bottom 7% of the league. This might be the single most enlightening stat I've seen since the end of the season...holy cow

ProphetNAT said...

@Bjd1207 - Yep, same here. Thank you for insight Harper. Whether those guys are spaced out in the lineup or back-to-back as often as Taylor, Desmond, and Ramos were - its no wonder we couldn't string together hits/runs when Bryce wasn't either up at the dish or standing on 3rd base. Who doesn't want more OBP guys?!

Jay said...

I feel sort of bad for Desmond. If San Diego doesn't sign him then he is pretty much stuck signing a 1 year deal and trying again next year. He is very close to being the cautionary tale regarding turning down extensions. He turned down 7 years $108 (was that it). Now he's looking at much less. Also, seems like no chance he can come back to DC. Murphy took his number and there is nowhere for him to play - not even 2b or LF. Always seemed to be a great guy. I'm still rooting for him.

If Strasburg spends time on and off the DL this year he runs the risk of the same thing.

Donald said...

At this point, while I'd still like to see Papelbon traded and the Nats pick up Miller from the Yankees, my biggest concern is with depth at starting pitcher. Assuming the current 5 don't stay healthy all year, who's next in line? Cole? Solis? Jordan? I don't really have a lot of faith in any of those guys for more than a spot start or two. Who else is there? It wouldn't surprise me at all to see Rizzo try to pick up some insurance in that area.

Anonymous said...

@Donald: I think AJ Cole is about as good as you can reasonably hope for in a 6th starter. He was a top 100 prospect multiple times, including as recently as last year. His ERA in AAA last year was 3.15 (FIP, admittedly, was close to 4). Although he did not impress in his lone MLB start, I think those ~3 IP should be ignored even though they are vivid in most fans' memories.

Guys who are capable MLB starters don't sign up to be 6th starters or swingmen. So to get rotation depth, you either have to sign guys who are injured (and therefore may not provide the depth you're looking for), rely on guys in the minors, or bump someone from your rotation a la what we did to Roark last year.

AJ Cole is essentially free, and ought to be expected to pitch to a 4.00 ERA as a starter, which is great for the fifth guy in your rotation.

So if one guy gets hurt (as long as the one guy isn't Scherzer or Strasburg), I think Cole plugs in nicely. If a second guy gets hurt and is going to be on the DL for more than a month, I think we'll see Giolito.

sirc said...

Harper, is there any support to the notion that the additions of contact hitting Murphy and contact hitting Revere are moves made with the Mets' rotation and defense in mind. In other words, it worked for the Royals in the WS, so maybe Rizzo's going to see if it'll work 19 times in 2016.


blovy8 said...

Jay, I think Desmond is going to get paid, because he's a major league SS and would still be an upgrade for several teams. As bad a year as he just had, his 2nd half was pretty close to normal for him despite his scary K rate. He doesn't get hurt much. Think of how teams can flip players in trades and tell me a reasonable 3 or 4-year deal vs. the risk he's done shouldn't appeal to some non-contending clubs with protected picks, or as a good investment of 15M a year to a contending club if it comes to that. I bet the White Sox will get all the rumors until a mystery team comes along. This market is what agents are for.

Anonymous said...

@ Donald - there's always Cliff Lee? I haven't heard any buzz on him, perhaps too high of an asking price? I would imagine it to be low $$ / high reward with that guy...

John C. said...

FWIW, I don't think that Giolito opens the season any higher than 9th of the starting rotation candidates. The next man up after the projected MLB starting five would be A.J. Cole. After Cole I think that the Nationals would go to either Taylor Jordan or Austin Voth (don't sleep on Voth). Although there will be a couple of other guys in the AAA rotation (Paolo Espino, Taylor Hill, Scott McGregor), those guys are marginal enough that at that point I think the team does jump over them and go to Giolito or Reynaldo Lopez from AA.

Of course once ST and then the season start the order will almost certainly be shuffled by health and performance. But that's the way I see it at the beginning.

Bjd1207 said...

@John C - You think they'd go to Voth before Giolito or Lopez? I thought both of those guys were ahead of Voth development-wise

Ryan said...

@Bjd1207 Giolito and Lopez are the big name pitchers, but Voth pitched all year at AA. I don't know if Voth is that exciting, but he seems to be the guy they would try after AJ Cole. Taylor Hill and Taylor Jordan are the only starting pitchers who are young and could start the year in the majors without interrupting development. I think this shows more that the Nationals should work on their pitching depth since there are some question marks following Scherzer in the rotation when it comes to health.

John C. said...

To somewhat echo what Ryan said, I think that Voth opens training camp ahead of Giolito or Lopez. While not quite having the hype of the other two, Voth is 23 and a former 5th round pick who has moved pretty quickly through the system. He already has had 176 effective innings in AA (vs. 47 for Giolito and 0 for Lopez).

I would certainly say that Voth is ahead in development while Giolito and Lopez have higher ceilings. Voth has always been viewed as a finesse guy. Perhaps unfairly, given that Voth's K rate went up from A to A+ ball and has only slipped slightly (from 9.3 to 8.5 K/9) in AA. His 2.3 BB/9 in AA last year is exactly in line with his overall BB/9 across all levels.