Nationals Baseball: Everyone remain calm

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Everyone remain calm

When I first noticed the "Road Trip of Dooooooom" coming I noted that I wanted the Nats to be at least 13-9 when they started it. That's a 96 win pace - a pretty good place to be against the dregs of the league if you want to make the playoffs. After the burning down of Atlanta I amended it to 15-6 (there was a rain-out if you are wondering what happened to that other game). That's a 116 game pace against the worst. That's the sign of a dominant team if kept up for the season.

The Nats could still be at 15-6 with a win today.

There are a couple things going on at the same time that make things feel worse than they probably are. They are 5-5 in their last 10. They are losing at home going into the road trip. It's apparent that the offense has some issues. The Mets are streaking and now sit only a game behind. But 15-6 (or 14-7) after 21 games is still a great place to be.

Could the Nats be in trouble? Could they match up poorly against the better teams in the league? Sure. But we can't tell that today. We'll get a good feel of where the Nats sit in the MLB pecking order from this road trip. Could the Mets be better than them? Perhaps. But two back to back losses at home to the Phillies isn't a big clue. A week after the "RTOD" they'll play 6 games against the Mets in 9 days. We'll get a better feel about that then.

All we know right now is that the Nats are a much better team that the likes of the Braves (6-0), Twins (3-0), Marlins (3-2) and yes Phillies (2-3). Did you know two years ago when the Nats won 96 games they had a losing record vs the 73 win Phillies? Yep. Killed the Marlins. Killed the Mets. But the Phillies won 10 of the 19 H2H games against them. It happens. Doesn't mean the Phillies were better. and 2-3 doesn't mean the Phillies are better.

This is all we know and it's a good thing to know. 

Now, still you don't want to go into a road trip reeling. Win today. Ok?


notBobby said...

I will not be worrying until I see how the Nats play with Turner in the lineup. As long as Nats aren't 4 or more games behind the Meh-ts when Turner is called up then I am okay.

mjteggy05 said...

I always find it interesting watching Twitter reactions on a game-to-game basis. Major League teams, no matter how good or bad, go through streaks where they don't hit, or don't pitch, or commit errors. It just *happens* when you play 162 games. I don't care how old (Werth) or injury-prone (Zimm & Werth) or even green (Taylor) they are, this team is not going to have 4 players that just can't it done at all for the entire season. They might all stay *bad* but it won't be this bad.

Also, it's a 2-game losing streak, that is not a big deal. At. All.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BxJaycobb said...

Good post Harper. My concern is this, and it's not based on the last week. Since the beginning of the year, I've thought the Mets are just a substantially stronger offensive team up and down the lineup. Just consider: they are arguably more productive offensively at every position on the field except RF. seriously. Every position except one. That's extraordinary. I just don't see how an objective person doesn't look at their offensive personnel (and their start) and come away with the view that they are not only better offensively, but clearly better. There are no real holes in the lineup, and they have extra base pop (and usually homer pop) at every position. This would be fine if we had an advantage in the rotation. We certainty don't. It's possible that we are competitive with them in the rotation (if Max returns to being an ace--not 2015 Max but a top 10 pitcher let's say, then I think we are vaguely competitive with them in rotation), although if you had to give one team the edge, it would be the Mets, right? Bullpen... I think we may be a bit stronger honestly--they don't look rock solid, but it's close. lagares plawecki, tejada...these aren't terrible players. Sort of a wash. So I just don't see why anybody would think we can outplay them over the long haul. They're better offensively (fairly easily in my view), and the pitching is comparable (from the pro Nats, charitable view). Now, maybe Conforto, Cespedes, (definitely Walker) are playing above their capabilities. But others, like D'Arnaud and Harvey, are not, and we certainly have Murphy playing above his pay grade. But if I take off my Nats fan hat, I see a better team in New York. I think the Nats still look like a good to very good team. But the Mets I think are the second best team in baseball, in the 95-100 win range. A Wild Card seems more realistic to me.

Anonymous said...

@ Bx

I've gotta agree, but I wouldn't necessarily say they beat the Nats in every position up and down the lineup. There's a lot of comparable talent. My big issue with the Nats (which is why I feel the Mets are the better team) is consistency. They were what, 3rd in runs scored last year? But with YUGE variance, dropping 10 runs in 1 game and then putting up a goose egg in the next. We're seeing a lot of that again this year from the Nats, just flat out inconsistency, inability to hit with RISP, etc. The Mets on the otherhand, while league average in RS, at least consistently put up the same amount everyday. They don't often score 10 runs, but equally less often are they scoring 0, 1, or 2. When you've got a rotation like the Mets do, that will earn you a lot of wins.

JE34 said...

My brain is not panicking, but my guts are...concerned.

BRYCE is 4 for 6 with 8 walks, with runners in scoring position. In a month. Figure there are some sac-flies in there... but I'm wondering what's a league average for at-bats for a #3 hitter with RISP.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dusty,

I absolutely love your personality, general outlook on life, and sunny optimism. I truly do.

Having said that, I am on my knees begging you, PLEADING with you to change your asinine batting order.

To continue to let Murphy languish in the five hole while the hopelessly overmatched Taylor continues to bat leadoff because of the team's record is the kind of insane (non) logic that causes so many in the stat-head community (some of whom are jerks that I can't stand) to continue to relentlessly mock you. All I'm asking for is that you maximize our chances of generating some offense and scoring some runs.

A fan

Robot said...

Not happy with the offense of the last few days, but trying to keep this in perspective. It's baseball; sometimes good teams go hitless. Sometimes good teams get shut out by last-place teams. Sometimes the reigning MVP goes 0 for 2. It happens in a 162 game season.

This was the first time the Nats lost a series, the first time they were shutout, and only the second losing streak of the season. The first losing streak was a whopping two-games long.

We'll learn a lot about the team in the next month. Road trip of DOOM, and some H2H against the Nymets.

Win today, damn it!

Robot said...

@Anon 9:05AM - Werth at leadoff got him out of his slump in 2012. I want to see that happen again.

Dr Trea (formerly #werthquake) said...

This offense is atrocious outside of Harper.

Might be a strong word, but certainly not the likes of a playoff squad. I feel like the need of Turner to be a sparkplug is dangerous, and very risky. Cy Hellickson carved us up last night, like that new turkey sandwich at subway.

mike k said...

I agree it's too early to panic, especially with their record being so good. The worry I have is, besides Harper and Murphy, and Ramos, no one is hitting. Now, I know that's not going to continue (Werth seems like he's warming up, Rendon is hitting into bad luck, and Zim always gets hot with the weather), and I know at any time during the year there will be people hitting and people not hitting, so it's not really fair to say "take away the guys who are hitting and you're only left with people who aren't hitting!" but it's still discouraging that only 3/8 hitters are actually contributing right now. It's hidden because the pitching has been so good, and Bryce and Murphy are both top 10 hitters right now, but eventually those things will come down to earth a little, and when that comes, if the other hitters don't hit there's gonna be a lot more shutouts in the Nats' future.

Then again, if Werth, Rendon, and Zim return to form, and Espinosa/Taylor sit for Turner/Revere, then the Nats have a great lineup. So there's worry, but also hope. Because of all these "moving parts", I'm not sure if we'll really get a good read on the team until the 81 game mark.

Re: Mets. I agree that the Mets are arguably better offensively at every position except RF. But as 8:23 anon said, there's a lot of comparable talent. It would not surprise me if the Nats end up better offensively at 1B, 3B, SS post-Taylor, and Lasik, I mean, Catcher. Even 2B. CF and LF are the only positions it won't happen barring injury.

Anonymous said...

Re Mets, I'm not going to go position-by-position, but it's true that the Mets have some offensive advantages over the Nats at particular positions (perhaps most of them). But these things are cumulative: It would not be unreasonable for Harper to be worth 7 WAR more than Granderson in 2016. Even if every other Mets position player is worth 1 WAR more than his Nats counterpart, the Harper advantage wipes that out.

Also, talking about offense and pitching only really obscures the Mets big weakness, which is defense. AssCab and Cespedes are playing out of position. Even if you like Wright better than Rendon on offense, I think Tony ends up being more valuable over the course of the year because of defense (and probably playing more games).

The two teams are very close in terms of talent and expected performance. Nothing that's happened in the first 20 games of the season has changed that. If all players are 100% healthy all season, the Mets are probably a bit better. I favor the Nats 1) because I think the Mets rotation has some real injury risks 2) BRYCE and 3) only degenerate fools like the Mets.

SM said...

Couple of things:

1. Do the Nats have a clubhouse Kangaroo Court? If so, they might consider fines for hitters making first-pitch outs. (The Nats had 7 last night, the Phils 2, and one of those a sac-bunt.) They might even double the fine for first-pitch outs with RISP.

Only fines for first-pitch outs on great defensive plays, or balls hammered right at someone could be appealed. (But no plea bargaining for sombrero fines, Mr. Zimmerman.)

Normally, first-pitch swinging is characteristic of teams on getaway day, or a frustrated lineup in an offensive funk. (It shouldn't surprise one way or another if the offense fizzles or breaks out on the forthcoming road trip.)

2. I'm puzzled--actually, I'm not; it's embedded in Dusty's managerial DNA--by Dusty's stiff-necked insistence on running out a batting lineup (when Revere returns) with the symmetry of an Escher print. You know: L-R-L-R-L-R etc. Yes, MAT bats right, but Baker hasn't deviated from the pattern further down the order.

The most egregious flaw--for now, anyway--is separating Bryce and Murphy in the order, rather than batting them back-to-back.

Presumably, it's to avoid a platoon advantage by the opposing team's left-handed pitching. Yet how many southpaws have the Nats faced--or will face--this season? Or more to the point, Bryce and Murphy are pounding southpaws so far.

If your lineup has only two hitters currently hitting with authority, wouldn't it make sense to bat them back-to-back?

The Matt Williams, Paint-By-Numbers references still pop up on this site; it's understandable, I suppose, but irrelevant. What might be pertinent, however, is to acknowledge Dusty's own PBN predilections. Call it loyalty, experience, tenacity, belief or even will. But Dusty can paint inside the lines as well as anyone.

Chas R said...

I'm sorry, but it's way too early to say the Mets are better than the Nats. Let's allow them to play the games first. Fangraphs still has the two teams neck and neck. Which team is better can best be assessed when they play each other...and luck.

Anonymous said...

The Nets offense is better than ours at 2 positions, at best. Their lineup has no holes?? Surely you jest. Lucas Duda? Garbage. Conforto? 239 to say we don't really know ,uch about hijm do we? David Wright? Injured garbage. Granderson, old as dirt Ks, and a lot of em. Cespedes? Defines streakiness.....he'll get bad at some point, like real bad. Like Met fans booing him bad. D-Arnaud...when healthy, I'll give you that one. Neil Walker? Playinjg so far above his head its comical. I'll enjoy seeing 25 homers for the year as his final stat line and laugh when I think about your post in October. What we're seeing now is called baseball. Sometime teams have some injuries and miss key guys, and then another guy sits out for another reason here and there. Sometimes a couple other guys go through slumps at tha same time wthis is happening, making things look oretty rough in the short term. We have the second best offense in the NL, and will prove to be a close second to Chicago once its all said and done.

Old Man River said...

I personally care about how we stack up to teams that make it to the Championship Series (where we haven't been yet). Looking back over the past 15 years, teams that make it that far typically have the following: Top 10 team ERA, hitters that don't strike out, Top 10 in team batting average, Top 10 in OBP. Surprisingly, these teams have league average HR totals, league average fielding %, and a league average number of strikeouts (on the pitching side).

If you look at the Nats and how we stack up against the ALCS/NLCS teams, at least since 2012: We have better team ERA, high number of strikeouts (on the pitching side), and guys who hit HR's. The things we excel at are not what apparently builds championship teams as evident over the past 15 years. Comparatively speaking, we have hitters that punch-out far too often, low team batting average, low OBP, and average defense.

I've said this repeatedly since the Nats were relevant. Our management needs to invest in guys that don't strikeout, get on-base, and pitching. We have enough power hitting, and the pitching is there. Just get on base and for the love of God - don't strikeout!

Ric said...

@Anonymous (11:37): "We have the second best offense in the NL, and will prove to be a close second to Chicago once its all said and done."

I'm a YUGE fan. I have the full season ticket package, and have had it since year 1. And even I don't think we have the second best offense in the NL. Pittsburgh? St. Louis? San Francisco? (I don't count Colorado whenever I look at stats.)

Even if you just look at the numbers; Nats are 8-11th in the NL, depending on what offensive metric you are measuring. Your assertion is just... silly.

@anonymous (8:23): "My big issue with the Nats (which is why I feel the Mets are the better team) is consistency. They were what, 3rd in runs scored last year? But with YUGE variance, dropping 10 runs in 1 game and then putting up a goose egg in the next. We're seeing a lot of that again this year from the Nats... "


Ric said...

@OldManRiver: "I've said this repeatedly since the Nats were relevant. Our management needs to invest in guys that don't strikeout, get on-base, and pitching."

Then you should be happy. The Nats signing Murphy and Revere this offseason really addressed your first two points, and management invested in a bullpen this offseason also. (Although I think pitching has never been a problem. First in NL so far this season, 6th last year, 1st in 2014, 6th in 2013, 1st in 2012, 6th in 2011)

Rob said...

Just swept by the god awful Phillies at home, with the last two being shutouts. I know it's only April, but I can't help but panic a little. Someone talk me off the ledge lol