Nationals Baseball: 2017 Dream Scenario - 100 Wins

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

2017 Dream Scenario - 100 Wins

Time for the annual exercise where we go over what it would take to get the Nats to 100 wins or out of the playoffs. We'll start with the good news first, the 100 win shot, which the Nats probably won't get to, but it'll be more about their opponents then their own talent. Note this is all rough and stuff with my afro-puffs so don't get on me about exactness.

First we need to set a baseline win total for the Nats. Is last year's 95 wins good enough? Maybe. Let's look at other "in a vacuum" records in order to take luck out of it.  97 Pythag. 100 2nd order wins, 98 3rd order.  I'm not saying the Nats were a 100 win team last year but the general trend is the luck worked against the Nats a game or two last year. I'm fine starting with 97 wins as the base.

Now we need to adjust for anything we see going into the year. Players brought in, players who have left, injuries and recoveries.

Max is hurt.  I don't think it's going out on a limb to say being forced to adjust the way he throws his fastball may have a negative effect on him.  How negative? I don't know so to be cautious I'll only cut out a win and a half for now (95.5 wins) That's not bad. That basically puts him back into Roark/Strasburg territory. I don't see any reason to change anyone else. Gio is tempting but he pitched better than his ERA suggested so while I think he'll continue to drift down, he'll probably just match last year's effectiveness.

The Nats are essentially replacing Belisle, and Lopez/Melancon with Blanton. Maybe a half-win less to be conservative? (95) They actually had a good bullpen last year and they'd still be above average with this take.

At catcher the Nats take a big loss as Ramos was a fringy MVP type for most of the year. Weiters is perfectly acceptable but the Nats lose like a game and a half here. (93.5). At first base, I can't bring myself to knock Ryan down anymore than he already was, but I have no reason to bring him up either. And unless I hear "platoon" I can't bring Lind in here.  He has to be talked about on the bench.  Murphy should regress a bit. Let's take a win off and go from MVP to All-Star (92.5).  We'll get to SS/CF in a second.  Rendon is healthy and put up a Rendon type season after a slow start. If we take that slow start to be recovery we can add a half-win here (93).  Werth though, aging as players have done forever, takes it right back (92.5).  Bryce? I'm trying to be conservative here but it's hard. I see a big bounce back. Maybe not a repeat of his historic season but he can at the very least pick back up a win and a half (94)

Ok onto SS/CF.  We're taking out Danny and his not-the-worst bat and very good glove and  MAT and Revere who did nothing to help the Nats. That's probably only a win total loss (93) The also lose the 3 wins Trea put up in CF. (90) But immeidately we put back a full season of Trea at SS.  I don't think he'll double his half-season but 5 wins, given his speed and likelihood to play 160ish? I'm ok with that. Then again might be high.. I'll stop at 4.5 then. (94.5) And then we add Eaton. Let's be conservative given the position change and say 3.5 wins.  (98).

As for the bench it's the same as last year.  I'm going to say Drew won't pull the same performance out that he did in 2016 but Lind can't be worse than Robinson so the whole thing equals out.

There is one more thing to consider. The competition the Nats face. The Mets seem healthy. The Braves are better. The Phillies are probably a smidge better too. That increased competition is going to cost the Nats some wins as they were an amazing 41-16 against these teams last year. If you want to be honest you could see the Nats being 31-26. But you gotta mitigate it because if they beat up on their own division they didn't do as well outside and it's not like outside was so great. 7-12 against the Brewers, Padres and Rockies? Let's say the Nats should lose about 4 more games to competition increases and leave it at that.

94 wins. 

Ok so a conservative me puts the Nats around 94.  How do we get to 100 from here? If Bryce goes historic again he almost does it by himself.  But let's say he's merely MVP worthy and toss another 2 wins there. That's not crazy at all. 96. We can probably throw a half-win more in if we expect more use of Lind than Robinson and him to be ok. 96.5. We can give Trea back that other half-win.  97. Make the pen no worse than last year 97.5.  I feel good about where we are with doing nothing crazy.

What's most likely now? I guess I'd say Murphy and Scherzer don't decline as much as I have - I'll add back a win and a half combined. 99. Almost there. Let's give Rendon another half-win 99.5 and say someone in the pitching staff Ross or Stras improves by half a win. There you go 100 wins!

Now as I always say - you see what it took to get there. Nearly across the board peak performance. Bryce and Murphy are MVP candidates and Rendon and Turner are only not fringy ones because Bryce and Murphy are solid choices taking their votes away. Max is Cy Young worthy and Roark and Stras are in the conversation. No injuries. No disappointments. If you get one of those last two then even with all that you need a surprise. You need a Bryce historic year, or Trea to be no-doubt MVP caliber or Strasburg to finally put up that amazing Cy Young year. But that's 100 wins. It's also easy to see how the Nats can weather some adversity and still be a division title contender. It didn't take anything crazy to get them to the 94-97 win range. A few nicks and bumps and a disappointment still puts them in the 91-94 area and that's good enough to be right there.

Tomorrow we see how we get from 94 wins to out of the playoffs. I'm telling you now, it's gonna take injuries in the end.


Fries said...

As long as Trea, Eaton, Bryce, Rendon, Murphy, and 3/5 starters are healthy, this team wins the division with near certainty. But that's a lot to ask for. Rendon's always one fluke diving stop or rounding of first base away from being replacement level, Murphy's got his butt, Trea's never played a full year at the MLB level, Bryce always seems to do something in May or June to mess him up, Stras is...Stras, Ross is....Ross, Scherzer's already hurt...

I'm betting your next post will be the more likely scenario, Harper. But I'm also a pessimist having grown up with Washington sports...

Harper said...

I think you have to say if at least 2 of 3 of Roark, Scherzer, Stras are healthy in that 3 (in other words Ross Gio + may not be enough)

I don't think next post will happen because I have to set the bar low enough to be sure they miss the playoffs. I think the pessimist would see a Nats team have a couple big injuries win like 91-92 but be beaten out of the playoffs by the Mets, Cards and Giants all winning like 93.

Zimmerman11 said...

I like Fries' post.

Turner, Eaton, Harper, Murphy, Rendon... that has the potential to be the best 1-5 in baseball... with Werth, Wieters and Zimmerman 6-8 just needing to contribute SOMETHING to the mix for the Nats' offense to be pretty special.

If we can keep the arms from falling off, we should be pretty psyched about this season!

Anonymous said...


Harper said...

Z11 - I'd argue that this is the most optimistic to be for a team since 2013 and it's probably the closest to a complete Nats team we've seen. 2015 might be in the mix - pre Spring Training - but by the start of the season we were already rightfully worried about injuries sapping the offense.

Harper said...

Anon - video or fake news

mike k said...

That was some pretty dismal analysis. No injuries, everyone having career year performances (middle school me expectation performances). Won't happen. Not that the Nats can't get to 100 wins. It will just have to come some other way (injuries or mis-analysis of opponents, mis-analysis of the nats), or by luck.

Like others here I also see the Nats winning the division. I'll just say this about the Mets - and this is outside of any actual analysis of the Mets as a team - they are substantially the same as they were 2 years ago, and had injuries last year. It's silly to count them out. The same thing happened to the Nats last year - they were subtantially the same as 2014 (with the addition of Scherzer!), and following a year of statistically poor performances and injuries (and bad mamagement). Everyone outside of DC doubted them because of their 2015, ignoring the reasons why they failed in 2015. I'm afraid the same might happen with the Mets.

Harper said...

Dismal? A 94 win "base" is dismal? Getting to 100 isn't easy. You don't even get a team a year average doing that in baseball. It's like 3 teams every 4 years.

I think the Nats are a little better than 2015 but I think the Mets are too. If the two teams match injuries and luck the Nats will beat the Mets but that's all I can say.

PotomacFan said...

Is today optimism day? I think 94 wins is a pretty rosy prediction. If Scherzer is hurt, that could cost the Nats 4 - 5 game, probably more if you take into account the substantially increased burden on the bullpen. Strasburg was 13 - 0 last year and he is not going to repeat that, even if he stays healthy, which is highly unlikely. And I love Tanner Roark, but it's hard to see him winning 15 games again. And the Mets are better, and the Braves are better. Florida is worse.

Now, I am optimistic that Eaton is a big upgrade in CF, and a whole year of Trea is good. Bryce will be better, hopefully much better. Murphy cannot repeat what he did last year. RZim will be better -- or he will sit. Defense up the middle will be hurt by loss of Espinosa. Wieters is a downgrade from Ramos.

And the bullpen is not nearly as deep. That's going to cost games.

So, I am at 90 - 92 wins.

mike k said...

I have high expectations Harper. I grew up a Yankee fan. I've been indoctrinated in, as a NY sports reporter likes to put it: the Steinbrennerization of sports.

But you're right. 94 wins is good. I was just hoping there was an easier path to 100, but objectively, there isn't, outside of the scenarios I laid forth.

And I live super close to Citi Field now, so I'll be able to go to more Nats games than in the past!

Josh Higham said...

PotomacFan, that's a whole lot of certainty that last year's success is unrepeatable and that more bad things have to happen in 2017.

Jay said...

I think the Mets are a lot like the Nats. A lot of possible success boils down to injuries. People also forget the Mets were mediocre 2 years ago and traded for Cespedes, Kelley Johnson, and Juan Uribe and took off. If Cespedes is MVP-worthy and the rotation stays healthy then the Mets are probably the team to beat IMO. That is a lot of if's though. Harvey had thoracic outlet surgery - a big surgery with less reliable outcomes. They ground Matz and DeGrom into the ground last year. The Mets are pretty much the opposite end of the spectrum from the Nats in how they handle their pitchers. Matz and Syndergaard had multiple MRI's last year and kept on pitching.

I think the Nats offense will be much improved. We'll see if the rotation and bullpen can repeat last year.

Flapjack said...

For what it's worth, I'm bullish. This might be the best lineup we've fielded, top to bottom. Injuries are the wild card, of course, which then brings into play the quality of the farm system. But injuries also allow young guys to step forward, creating positive surprises, as with Joe Ross in 2015. Fedde looks good. And who knows, maybe MAT (finally) or Difo. What I am not concerned about is our failure to overpay for a big name relief arm. Unlike 2015, the bullpen talent is deeper, and it's quite possible we'll develop our own star.

PhthePhillies said...

I am worried about the back end of the rotation, specifically Joe Ross. He hasn't pitched continuously for more than half a season in the big leagues and, even if he stays healthy, I fear a major regression may be coming. I'd be a little less concerned if AJ Cole weren't option #6 right now. To me, this problem is the likeliest to rear its head and cause havoc this season.
(Please do not think that I am arguing against the Adam Eaton trade. I am pretty happy with that move and do not think Giolito or Lopez are a whole lot better than Cole. At least at the present time.)

Josh Higham said...

Max threw his fastball with a normal 2-finger grip and reports he felt no pain. This is (tentative) great news!

NotBobby said...

Josh - that is amazing news!
Ph - agree, unless Ross gets a third pitch i think he will not end up being a #3 SP


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