Nationals Baseball: I don't want to sweep alone

Thursday, June 02, 2016

I don't want to sweep alone

The Nats might just be doing it. After starting 9-1 and looking like maybe the best team in baseball the Nats have hunted elusively for that next streak. They pulled out 5-1... only to follow that up with a 3 game losing streak. Which they promptly followed with four wins in a row to make it a 9-4 stretch ... only to follow it up with a 1-5 stretch. 4-1 was followed by 0-3.  3-0 by 3-5. Nothing is given but given that six of the next nine games are at Cincinnati, who after a 5-1 start have gone 13-34 and might just be the worst team in baseball (take that Twins and Braves!), and against these same Phillies in DC, it seems that now is the time.

It seems quite possible that the Nats are going to either put up a streak such that a possible small stumble like 0-4 or 1-5 won't take the shine off it. Something like 11-2. Or they'll go like 9-4 but with games at SD and MIL and home vs CIN and MIL through July 4th weekend, they'll be able to follow it up with a .500 set as opposed to one something like 4-9 to bring them right back to where they started.

This is good.


So apparently Danny vs Trea is a hot button topic for you people. I think I've been clear. I would bring up Trea, because I'm all in for 2016 and I think there is a better chance Trea would produce more than Danny than not. BUT I can see the Nats side because (1) they are winning, (2) there is a moderate chance Trea wouldn't be better, and (3) the Nats get something for keeping Trea down, be it $ or service time.

Number 2 there seems to be a sticking point because projections suggest that Trea is clearly better. Well let's talk about that for a second.

Projections are made in a way to decrease error across all players. They attempt to answer the question of how can we create a single system that gets the closest to projecting everyone's stats for the next season. That's a HUGE question and understandably projection systems are far from perfect. Even though they are generally good there is still a lot of error in there and often the difference between the best system and the simplest is actually pretty small. For a GM trying to put together a team over several years that may matter, as little things add up. For us picking apart a single player it really doesn't. The error bars. My god, man, the error bars!

But that's not to say projections aren't useful on a micro level. At this level they are less about being more accurate in their models than they are about being more accurate by removing bias. When you or I evaluate someone we bring our own experiences and prejudices to the table that can color an evaluation.We may like a certain type of player, or have feelings for his school, or the player he could replace. He may have played poorly or great when we've seen him. A projection system cuts all that out and gives us a straight answer influenced by nothing*. That's great! And it's not great! It's not great because our personal experiences and feelings have the potential to make projections better. That's right. Better. Because we don't know if we are making it better or not using a system makes a lot more sense. But it doesn't invalidate the potential of what we see and think as individuals.

Why do I possibly like my Trea projection better than Steamer or ZiPS? Because I'm not looking at a system created for 1000 players and trying to decrease error, I'm looking at one player. Why do I possibly like my projection of Trea better then Keith Law or John Sickels or whoever?** Because he's not 1 of 2000 players I'm putting in time trying to evaluate and grade, but just the one I'm looking at now. I could totally be wrong. I could totally be biased. I understand that. And you yourself should completely go with systems or experts over me, I would probably do that to you. But I'm here to give my opinions and this is my opinion.

We're guessing how a player will do. No one is wrong here. It wouldn't even be wrong if it were Trea Turner vs Stephen Drew or Lombardozzi or Jamey Carroll. "What do you think?" is the question. The answer is what you think.

While we're on the subject another thing about projections is that you really shouldn't use projections for one and then not use projections for the other. If you are going to compare Danny to Trea you have to do it using the same system. What does that actually play out to be? Well using what's available on Fangraphs and figuring 100 games for the starter...

Steamer : ~1.1 WAR for Danny, ~1.6 for Trea
ZiPS : ~1.3 for Danny, ~1.6 for Trea
(Depth Charts is just a combination of these two with Fangraphs playing time projections so it doesn't bring in anything new here)

These are rough because there are updates and RoS projection and non-updates for minor leaguers, etc. but both are pretty clear in how they project the rest of the season. Trea would likely be worth a half-win more than Danny. Now granted if we had access to the error information and distributions you'd see the chances Danny outperforms Trea in these projections is probably pretty high - 33%, 40% I bet  - but still this is the very general idea they present. Trea would be better. A little better.

But I'm not arguing that. I agree with it.

As a simple baseball offensive production question this isn't really complicated. Factor in defense and it gets a bit cloudy. Factor in intangibles and competing goals and then it really becomes an opinion piece and each of us have a different opinion but in the end only Rizzo's opinion matters.


*well outside any prejudices the people building the system might put in there. While real though they aren't going to be made for any specific player. 

** let's note that what we're really talking about here with me "going against" these systems is me literally saying something like "I think for 100 games in 2016 he'll be more like 85-90% of what they predict he'll be"  This isn't Atheism vs Christianity here, it's Lutheran Church of America vs Lutheran Church of Missouri Synod

34 comments:

Bjd1207 said...

As noted yesterday, best part of these past couple threads have been the titles.

Don't have much to add on top of my thoughts from yesterday, except that every time I'm ready to bury a player he ends up making me look foolish. Every. Time. I guess its why these guys are major leaguers

Bryceroni said...

Still rather bench werth than nino.

BxJaycobb said...

Harper: thanks so much for addressing the idea of projection systems. I think your view and response make a good amount of sense. I would just respond to one thing, which is that the idea that Keith Law is looking at 1000 players and you are looking at 1 here makes you prefer your view seems very peculiar indeed to me. The reasons are that (1) it's the very fact that Keith Law spends his days viewing all those other players and comparing their skills (and some similar in specific ways to TT's that he is equipped to try to extrapolate. Those 1000 other players is the basis for his opinion). (2) Unless I don't know something about you, the idea Law somehow doesn't have the time/focus to zero in on TT because of the other 1000 other players he has to scout is risible. He's been scouting Turner since he was in high school. These guys may have spent more time looking at Turner's hand eye coordination, bat speeds, wrists, range in the infield, and arm on a single day last year than we have in our lives. So I don't follow that one point you made. (Unless you mean they are sort of cabined by their need to stay consistent with prior opinions of Turner, I.e. What if they once said he would be a superstar before the draft? That I can totally get). But I totally am down with your "this is my opinion. We give opinions" statement. I just wanted to make clear that if our main concern is "avoiding Fan-Boy-itis" which is the most annoying thing about fans who overvalue their prospects CONSTANTLY (for example somebody on Twitter the other day said Victor Robles is UNTOUCHABLE! Lol), then the ultimate way to avoid being a biased FanBoy is to look at projections and scouts. They tend to not be FanBoys. But thank you for the response!

Vdub said...

I am all for bringing up Trea, but at this point, there is no need to rush it. I am sure Rizzo is of the same opinion. If Danny was in a total out of control tailspin, Trea would be called up within 1 week of his service time date passing. But at the moment, Danny is on a mini-hot streak (for Danny). 4 Homer's from the 8th hole in the last week from a + defender is not something Trea can replace. Sure if he hits 260 or higher he should be on base more, but his production from the 8th hole would be diminished batting in front of the pitcher & cold Revere.

From the start of the season up to about 2 weeks ago I was not so patiently waiting for Trea. Right now, we have to wait out the next 0-12ish run from Danny before we can deduce his hot streak has worn off. Then we can start beating the drum for Trea again, and louder than before. But for now, enjoy the homers and big arm at short while we have it.

Froggy said...

Harper, I agree to bring up Turner as well but not as a replacement (initially) for Danny. I'd be curious how he projects defensively against Murphy, bc 2b is where I would put him and run Murphy in LF, Werth in R and Harper in center. And bat Trea leadoff.

I mean, good God he has to do better than One if by day, and Zero by night Revere, and the Batless Horseman MAT!

Harper said...

BX - It wasn't a knock on the guys like Law. It was more suggesting that they are similar to systems as they are taking in a lot of information and trying to develop a way to present a total unbiased view of each player. So those physical characteristics you note, the development over time - they have all this institutional memory that turns it into shorthand. They suffer from a similar type of across the board comparison, though not as removed as a projection system. It's not saying this is good or bad (it's generally good I think) but that it's different. What I think is far more specific, although admittedly affected as it is by the players I've seen and tried to evaluate. It's not thousands a year.

Fries said...

I'm thinking Rizzo is probably looking at bringing up Turner soon, but he's going to move Drew/Espy/Werth/somebody before doing so. Pretty much everyone is in agreement that Turner at the very least will be equivalent to Danny, with obvious upside. But where do we put Turner on the roster? You don't bring him up if he doesn't start, and we've all touched on Danny's supposed "toxic" nature when he's not in the lineup. You aren't sending Heisey or Robinson or Taylor or Drew or Espy down because of either how they're playing, out of options, contract, etc. So Rizzo has to make a move. What that move is, I don't know. But that's what I'm thinking he's waiting for.

Robot said...

Danny has been decent at the plate in the past few games, and the team has been winning. Given that Danny is generally a K machine, I understand the urge to push Trea up as soon as possible. But how long would it take for him to adjust? It's a big jump from AAA to the big leagues, and what we saw of him last year leaves me unimpressed. I'd probably stick with what's working until it stops working, but I get the arguments on both sides.

Alternatively, can Trea play left field? Can Danny? Would either be worse than Werth out there?

Robot said...

Also pertinent: Can Trea grow a beard like Danny's? The beardsmanship of this team has definitely been on the decline since LaRoche left. Do we really want to lose our #2 contributor?

Kevin Rusch said...

I think if Turner were called up, the corresponding move would have to be releasing Drew. He's not hitting that well, and while he's an okay fielder, he's not Espi.

I was intrigued by the idea of moving Harper to CF, Werth to RF, then Murphy to LF, with Turner at 2B. That's a whole lot of offense out there, but the defense would take a hit. I think Revere will pick it up since he's got an unreasonably low BABIP; just getting him on base is good enough.

That said, it's past time to send MAT to AAA and replace him with den Dekker. I don't know if Taylor can figure things out with more playing time, but he's striking out over 30% of his PAs, that's just way too much. He looks totally lost out there.

Froggy said...

Hasn't one of the minor knocks against bringing Turner up as a replacement been his arm? Not that it's bad but just not on par with Espinosa or Desmond's (was), and not an OF arm for sure.

G Cracka X said...
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G Cracka X said...
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G Cracka X said...

Nice Christianity reference there. For the record, it is Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA). And believe it or not, there is more difference between ELCA and LCMS, than ELCA and some other mainline Protestant denominations like say, the Episcopal Church of America.

However, that may be just the contrast you are going for in your ZiPS/Steamer vs. Harper projection system for TT.

Alex Freeman said...

This is a golden opportunity for the Nats to seperate from the Mets. I'm happy that their lead over them has balooned to 3 games but I'm hoping for three straight series wins to push that lead up to 4 or 5 games. The bigger the cushion the better. Anyway, as long as Espinosa keeps hitting homers and making over the shoulder catches like yesterday we can't take him out. Can Turner play center field I wonder...

Anyone else wonder what Taylor was doing when he got doubled off in the 7th? Looked like he was more interested in dancing/shuffling back to first instead of running back and sliding. Looked goofy.

Zimmerman11 said...

If they call up Turner, they'd bat him 8th and leave Revere at leadoff so as to not "put too much pressure on the kid".

Because let's keep giving extra at-bats to the guy hitting .197!

Zimmerman11 said...

Sorry... .167! And the longer they wait to make a change, then the replacement would have to be THAT much better to make a difference.

Donald said...

Why not think bigger than just the marginal upgrade of Turner over Espinosa? It seems like the Nats have bigger holes to fill at the moment. Who says no to these deals:

Trea Turner for Dellin Betances
Trea Turner for Andrew Miller
Giolito+Turner+Robles+Revere for Mike Trout

Ryan DC said...

If we're gonna open roster space, I would rather Taylor be sent down. (You can't release Stephen Drew after that inside-the-park home run--we need that veteran hustleship and leadergrit!) As I predicted before the season (not that it was a stretch), Taylor has been completely whifftastic in limited at bats and has now become prone to mental mistakes like when he was thrown out after Ramos reached on an error the other night. His body language suggested someone who is completely dejected. Send him down to AAA to cut down on the Ks and build his confidence back up.

I know I sound crazy, but I'm STILL not ready to write Werth off. I know that the usefulness of batted-ball stats is still being figured out, but Werth's are pretty good, and his exit velocities compare favorably with Murphy's, for example. Werth's main problem is that he's been chasing out of the zone, which is leading to fewer walks and more whiffs. But his bat speed doesn't seem to be a problem at all, which would be the bigger worry for an older player. If his batting eye improves just a little bit, which would not be surprising given that it's always been his best strength as a hitter, he'll be at least a league average hitter. Incidentally, that's what the projections suggest as well.

Bjd1207 said...

@Donald - I (Nats) say no to the first 2 absolutely. Regardless of our current discussion, you really want to run Danny out there at SS for the next 4-5 years? Because that's what Trea is to us, a top prospect at arguably the scarcest position on the field. You really want to trade that for years 32-34 of a reliever? Betances probably closer to doable, but I still say no to any reliever for an every day SS 1-for-1.

Last one I listen to just because it's Mike Trout. Anything the Angels would entertain for him would be worth it IMO. But if you include Revere in there does that mean we're still sending Werth out every day?

Harper said...

Donald -
Rizzo though he pauses for a few seconds, but just a few seconds
Rizzo without pause
Angels after they take this offer to the Red Sox and turn Trout into Betts, Moncada, Kopech and 3-4 other 100-200 types.

Josh Higham said...

@Ryan DC - Harper said recently that Werth's issues are probably beyond just making an adjustment, but he has hit in 8 of his last 10 games with only 6 strikeouts, and FP was yesterday pointing out a recent adjustment where he's keeping his hands closer to his shoulders to give him a bit more reaction time, which should help him get fooled a little bit less on pitches out of the zone. He's clearly not a .280 with walks and pop guy anymore, but this tweak might be enough to get him to .250 with pop, which I think justifies keeping him in the lineup.

Donald said...

@Harper -- I'm a little surprised you say no to Betances, as you are an 'all-in' guy. Turner probably doesn't help the Nats in an appreciable way this year. But assuming the Nats make the play-offs, how different do you feel with a 1 run lead going into the 9th inning with Bryant, Rizzo and Zobrist coming to the plate and Pabelbon vs Betances is jogging in from center field? For what it's worth, I wouldn't make the trade either, but I do keep Cashman on the line to see what we can come up with (Robles for Betance?). I don't think Pabelbon is going to be the difference between the Nats making or missing the play-offs, but once they get there, he feels like their biggest weakness.

@Bjd1207 -- I don't think trading TT means 4-5 years of Danny. I think it means maybe a year or two of someone like Asdrubal Cabrera before you make the next trade to get a longer-term solution (or re-sign Desmond?). And there's no guarantee that the next 4-5 years of TT will pan out. He could be Jurickson Profar in 2012.

Bjd1207 said...

@Donald - If you're looking at the all in move for this year, there's bound to be at least one reliever of Betances caliber available that's got much less left on his contract, and thus would take much less in the way of prospects.

BxJaycobb said...

The move for somebody with less on contrast is Chapman, who is a rental. I don't think Chapman would require TT or Giolito. For Robles they would 100% do it. For Lopez + Fedde they would do it. But I'm not sure I would. From what I hear, Lopez is very possibly your closer of the future for YEARS and could be a very solid back end with him and Rivero. But really is a serious possibility this fall. I personally would rather (if I'm going all in) get some more offense to replace Werth, like CarGo or maybe Braun.

ALSO: worth keeping an eye on as we look forward to this stretch of possible dominance and separation coming up: apparently Ryan Z is literally ABOUT to go on paternity leave. No Bueno. He's really starting to hit. But I guess Clint can hold it down for 3-4 days.

BxJaycobb said...

I should add: Fedde plus Lopez MIGHT not get chapman anyway. But possible.

Donald said...

I have a very hard time seeing the Nats bring in a replacement for Werth as long as he's healthy. His contract makes him pretty much unmovable and he's owed $21m this year and next. That's a whole lot of the owner's money to cut or sit on the bench. Not sure the Lerner's would add any additional salary for a big bat as long as they were still paying Werth. If Revere is still batting .150 in a month, maybe you could talk the Lerner's into sitting him and getting CarGo? He's owed $17m this year and $20m next year, so I'm not sure how much you'd have to give up in trade if you were willing to take that on. He's an injury risk too, though.

Bjd1207 said...

Putting on the Rose Colored glasses for just a sec because Donald got me all hot and bothered. TT works out splendidly, and we pull the trigger on that CarGo trade...get a load of this lineup:

Turner
Murphy
Zimm
Bryce
Rendon
CarGo
Ramos
Werth
Pitcher

Fries said...

Don't look now...

https://mobile.twitter.com/NoahFrankWTOP/status/738445804973752320

mike k said...

Whhaaaaaaaaattttttt omg!!! I'm so excited.

mike k said...

Poor Espinosa just hit like 50 HR in the last 10 games too

BxJaycobb said...

If they are bringing him up just for the weekend while ryan Z is on paternity leave, that's the worst of all worlds and so foolish. When you bring him up, bring him up for good.

David said...

Rumor is that he'll play 2nd with Murphy shifting over to 1b. Wonder where Baker will bat him in the line-up?

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