Nationals Baseball: Some quiet things

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Some quiet things

The Nats bullpen has for the most part overshadowed everything going on with this team, to the point I bet most of you don't know they could have the best record in baseball after tonight (helps that no one is running away). That doesn't matter much (Nats had a best and better record at this point last year) but it's a nice place to be nonetheless.

It would be hard to miss Bryce's great start, and most people see that Zimm is doing real well. Still some things may have slipped under the radar.  Note that all these are drafts of preliminary looks at early analyses.  They are meant as a "Hmmm let's keep looking at this over the next few weeks" and not as a "AHA! That is exactly what is happening!"

Anthony Rendon has been one of the worst hitting regulars in baseball. It's not so much the average, .226 is bad but at this point in the year far from irregular, but the peripherals.  Rendon has only 3 walks and is walking at half the rate he usually does. He had only 2 XBH (2 doubles) giving him an OPS of .532. He is not BABIP bit. That number is fine. He is just not hitting the ball well (LD% under 10% - which is pretty crazy bad). He's swinging way more than he usually does but it's not really an issue with recognizing pitches (swings outside the zone not a crazy number) I'm not sure what's up.

Batting at the bottom of the order is suiting Weiters. Hitting down there requires the ability to take a walk (because you'll get pitched around), but if necessary make contact (because you don't want to leave things up to the next guy).Weiters BB rate is almost double what it usually is.  His K rate is almost half.  His swing percentages are down and his contact percentages are up. His Fly ball percentages are down too. His pull rate is down and his opposite field hits are way up. But it's not like he's crushing the ball. he's actually hitting it much less hard this year than in previous ones. If I wanted to be optimistic Id say a guy that was always imagined to be a slugger is finally getting that he isn't one and adapting his game to his actual skill set. He is no longer trying to crush homers but just get good wood on the ball and maybe drive some doubles.

Adam Eaton stopped being a walking man. It was fun while it lasted but Eaton is Eaton, and what he is is a good average guy with moderate power and just enough patience not to drive you crazy.  That's fine.

Werth is doing really well. But before you get excited about that, it's pretty much a mirage. His K rate is super high. BABIP is super high (.370). He's not hitting the ball super hard or super well. HR/FB (20%) would be among the best of his career. He's crushed some mistakes and got some lucky IF hits and is the one hot batter most likely to cool off big time.

The Nats depth is non-existent. What you see is what you get. The Nats looked to Difo to fill the hole Turner left. He's not a major league hitter right now. .250 with NO power and NO patience. Sammy Solis and Enny Romero were hoped to be good middle inning guys. They've been bad. Solis might be hurt but Enny Romero is presumably exactly who Enny Romero is which is a guy that could be traded for nothing; way too hittable and way too wild. For someone like him you scour the stats to see if there is anything that tells you things are different and no, they are not. I'd drop him.

You could point to one or two places where Max is slightly behind last year but he's way ahead in one stat. 0 homers. When Max had problems last year they were usually connected to giving up a couple of bombs. Is it luck? Maybe - he's not really giving up fewer fly balls. But maybe not - he's giving up NOTHING hard (9.1% hard) If he can keep doing something like this it's another Cy Young type year from the guy.

25 comments:

BxJaycobb said...

Harper,
This is off topic, but just wanted to add a link for the point I made about the Cubs pitching staff being likely to significantly regress given their bizarrely horrible velocity drops across rotation (I don't buy it's intentional). http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/whats-going-on-with-the-cubs/

Josh Higham said...

Looking over yesterday's box score, I noticed something. A sign of how phenomenal Bryce's start has been (of course, last year was extremely similar and we saw how that ended). I present a single statistic from 4 people who are hitting quite well:

Bryce ISO - .442
Wieters SLG - .488
Eaton SLG - .481
Werth SLG - .489

Yes, you're reading that right. Bryce is getting extra bases at nearly the rate those 4 very respectable performers are getting ANY bases. If this year is anything like 2015, I'll be solidly in BxJaycobb's camp (see today's comment on yesterday's post) about just giving the man his record contract.

Harper said...

BX - something I wonder that was hinted at but not fully explored is a calibration error. if FX was off IN WRIGLEY that could be the issue. I'd buy that more than "everyone on the Cubs is suddenly slow". If I had time I'd look at all the starters who pitched in Wrigley so far and see how many had suspicious declines in velocity.

Josh Higham - When he is on he's the best hitter in baseball. The only question is how long can he keep it "on" given his propensity for nicks and dings.

Bjd1207 said...

Best record in the NL*

Bjd1207 said...

Oh "could have" my b...stupid O's wont lose

Chas R said...

Woo hoo... I still think this may be the best Nats team ever. Oh, and is Max not awesome? And... oh... BRYCE is back.

BxJaycobb said...

Harper: at least according to this graph in here, (1) other opposing starters who have pitched in Wrigley are not among velocity losers and (2) the initial alarming start for arrieta was in st Louis. So I don't think that's it: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/what-on-earth-happened-with-jake-arrieta/

Fries said...

I'm an eternal pessimist (thanks DC sports), but I see the Nats having to make two significant moves at some point during the year. First, they're going to have to add a bullpen arm. Either a reliable setup guy so that kelley/koda can be closer, or an actual closer like Robertson. I'd lean more towards grabbing a setup guy (Addison Reed type), but that's because I think saves are stupid.

Second, they're going to have to grab a LF. Werth is showing his age, both in peripheral stats and in health (hello nagging groin injury). I know he announced he's done for the year, but I'd love for the Nats to reach out to Angel Pagan. Dude's purely average, but you know what you're getting with him, he's hard-nosed like Werth, and his injury issues aren't the recurring type. The only reason he's not on a team right now is because he won't sign a minor league contract. Give him an incentive laden major league contract and stuff a bullpen arm down in AAA is my opinion. Perfect solution? No, but the Nats don't have the resources to make a trade.

BxJaycobb said...

Fries: agree on LF. If you watch a lot of baseball, and you consider how much of Werth's value has come from patience and walks, you can see the red flags. He's a guy who has gone to an all or nothing approach. His bat speed is gone so he has to commit to pitches early, which takes away his eye. And given Werth' horrendous defense, if you take away his eye, he becomes a terrible possibly below replacement level player. Don't be fooled by the superficial stats.

Sammy Kent said...

Bryce has owned Julio Teheran ever since the little dork was dumb enough to bean him five seasons ago. I was ticked off for about two seasons that nobody from the Nats staff gave Teheran so much as a brushback, much less a good pop in the backside. But maybe if somebody did Bryce's curse on him would end, so I guess it's OK that we let that little SOB of the hook. I hope Bryce makes him pay every time they face each other for the rest of their careers.

OTOH, even though I love games like last night, I hate games like last night. The Nats invariably follow up a blowout with a stinker. EVERY TIME. I guarantee you the Braves can put Mortimer Snerd on the mound tonight and he'll pitch a two-hit complete game shutout.

Dusty's Toothpick said...

Pay BRYCE Harper. He has proved enough at this point from a numbers & stats perspective and the "what he does for the franchise" perspective. He is like a super hero to DC metro area little leaguers and that is the fan base you want to preserve.

Harper Godek, glad you touched on Enny because he pops when you watch him (not necessarily in a good way) but that is what I was thinking. Send him down...who comes up though?

Anonymous said...

You can't send Romero down, he's out of options. Their only choice would be to DFA and see if he gets by the waiver wire. I think Rizzo is too stubborn to let him go for no value, so he's probably in the pen until trade deadline time at least unless he goes all Guthrie on the nats...

Donald said...

Not sure Wilmer Difo had much patience in the minors, but it sure looks like he's being punished by awful strike calls when he does lay off bad pitches. I'm wondering if that's leading him to expand his zone. In any case, Turner should be back soon and Difo will slide back to the bench.

Anonymous said...

Sammy, I wouldn't be surprised if we see a lot of bench guys starting tonight. "House money" game, a late night getaway game, and Dusty will want the regulars to feel rested and ready to go in NY this weekend.

So yeah, if we win tonight it will probably have to be 2-1 or 3-2 or something like that.

BxJaycobb said...

1. What is the value of keeping up a person with no options of that person can't pitch in the major leagues? How about letting AJ Cole see if he can seize the long man role? Does anybody doubt Trevor Gott would be a better reliever than Enny? We traded yunel for gott after all and haven't used him yet.
2. I would definitely rest Murphy today and let the new kid play 2B. He's looked a bit gassed recently and had a weird spring training. We need him mashing for the Mets. Also Lobaton to rest Wieters maybe.

Bjd1207 said...

Seriously, where the heck is Gott. I figured he would have gotten at least a cup of coffee with us by now

Harper said...

Everyone Gott is terrible in AAA right now. 6.1 IP, 10 H, 2 BB, 4K, and wasn't good last year in AAA

Ole PBN said...

The fact that these guys need "rest" is ridiculous. Why would be willing to lose a game to the Braves? The "house money, already-won-the-series" routine is tired. At the end of the 2013 and 2015 season, when we lost a playoff spot by a few games, everyone points to the head-to-head matchups. How about the games we GAVE AWAY to far inferior competition because we had to rest guys. If these players are playing 140 games a season, they should be paid like it.

Perfect example, this happened last week: Nats were off on Thursday, won on a Murphy walk-off on Friday. Rested Eaton/Wieters/Werth on Saturday. We lost 4-2. Won on Sunday. Nats off on Monday. What is that?! And when we don't rest one guy, no, we rest half our regulars as if to say "here, have it Phils." Just giving away games... Sad!

Anonymous said...

"If these players are playing 140 games a season, they should be paid like it." Good point. In fact that Werth fella left in the 3rd inning last night. He owes the Nats 2/3rd of that game salary back. Better still, MLB should install time clocks in all big league parks. Yeah, show 'em what honest work is like.

Man, some guys can stack it just that high.

BxJaycobb said...

Well if Gott is terrible (we really couldn't even get a marginally useful reliever for Escobar?), then bring up Cole. Sorry I just can't accept that we have nobody in the system who can eat up middle innings as effectively as Romero, who has no idea where the ball is going and doesn't even get swings and misses because he has no off speed pitch. I'm sure dusty sees a hard throwing large lefty and is convinced he has found Chapman again. Never mind he's a known crappy commodity.
Re resting murphy, totally fine with it. He looks like he could use a blow. Had a weird ST where he didn't really get his legs under him at WBC. And that's all we're resting! Werth is injured. Chill out. If we can't win Stras vs Dickey resting a regular we stink.

BxJaycobb said...

Tonight's a good example of why the error stat is so so stupid. It won't show up in the box score, but Nats D has cost Stras both runs so far tonight. Rendon (who has neither hit nor defended well, weirdly, this year) needs to make that early dribbler off Garcia's bat...didn't need to try to barehand it for a slow runner. Then in 4th inning, a just not ready to be in big leagues muff by Green at 2nd, leading to a sac fly run. And those two have also added 10+ pitches to his pitch count. And before anybody says "stras is a wimp and can't pick up his defense!" scherzer got hurt by D in start number 2 and lost game as a result.
ALSO. I don't mind playing wieters tonight. What I WILL mind is if Dusty played him tonight and ends up resting him against the Mets.

BxJaycobb said...

Well I clearly spoke too soon about the defense. Before rendon and MAT killed it.

BxJaycobb said...

Since Wieters was mentioned and we've discussed his clearly apparent crappy framing skills where he jabs his glove and carries pitches out of the strike zone, I though I would just post this here. It's fascinating: apparently a big part of framing ISNT learnable, and depends on catcher height (it's really hard for tall catchers to make pitches at the bottom of the strike zone look high because they have a harder time lowering their body)....so super tall folks like wieters and Salvador Perez have a way tougher time. Interesting read. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/matt-wieters-and-the-curse-of-the-tall-catcher/

Sammy Kent said...

As I suspected, a HUGE downturn in the offense the night after a blowout, but four hits were enough this time. I take a four hit win over a twenty hit loss every time.

Josh Higham said...

Sammy, some of that has to be attributed to Dickey being on his game. A knuckleballer who's throwing really well is absurdly difficult to hit. We should also attribute some of the reduced offense to replacing Murphy and Werth/Heisey with Green and MAT. I'm not saying you're wrong about poor offense after offensive explosions, but it's not as simple as "we had good offense yesterday and we're trying to make Sammy Kent go bald, better not hit today."