Nationals Baseball: This is the story of Dr. BRYCE and Mr. Bryce

Friday, June 09, 2017

This is the story of Dr. BRYCE and Mr. Bryce

Well, if Ross keeps doing that every third game, you keep throwing him out there.

When can I worry about Bryce without seeming like a worry wart?

Now maybe?I'm gonna stream of consciousness this so early apologies if it doesn't flow well. Bryce has had a bad three weeks hitting .155 / .242 / .310 before last night. And while he went 3-4 last night it was far from an impressive break out. Before now I checked for an obvious injury that might have happened but Bryce's only problem was a groin issue in early May and he came back to hit .429 with 4 homers over the next week. So that makes me think an injury - or at least an obvious one that happened this year - is unlikely.

I also checked and it's not exactly like last year because last year he began to slump even before April was over.

The simple answer is "everyone has slumps, just wait it out" but if you want Bryce to be BRYCE that may not be true.  Let's check out his worst stretch in 2015 then. In 16 games - which is what we are also looking at in 2017 - hmmm he hit .216 / .406 / .353 at one point... That's not quite as bad but it's not a crazy far away if you are just looking at AVG and SLG. 

And here's the thing about that bad 16 games.  It was April into May. Remember BRYCE of 2015 has hitting .245 / .405  / .457 on May 5th.  So a slow start isn't crazy in fact you could argue that he's a had a slow period each of the last three seasons in the first couple months. In 2015 it pretty much started the year before he broke out in May. In 2016 it started at the end of April after a hot start and never really went away. In 2017 it started mid May. So part of me really wants to say wait another week at least.

But there are worrying signs though. K-rate has spiked and his isoSLG has dipped and this isn't BABIP driven.  Take a look at his soft hit percentages by month

April 9.7%
May 19.4%
June 30%

His GB rate is jumped way up... It's all bothersome, I'll admit. Of course June is just a week so one game versus Kershaw can skew it but still. Let's look at 2015 monthlies... K-rate happened.  isoSLG issue happened. (not in same month) The 19.4% - higher than any month in 2015.

Here's my real worry. What was wrong with Bryce last year? We don't know. We assume he was hurt (and I think that's fair) and he never got better as the year went along. When he started hitting to start this year, we assumed he was 100% healthy again but what if he isn't. What if he was just healthy then with a chronic issue waiting until a certain bad swing, tough fall, or just wear and tear brought it back to life? I'd feel better if we knew exactly what the issue was last year so we could rule this out but we don't so it's completely rational to be in a place where you are thinking it might be happening again.

But I'll stay with cautious optimism that it's just a slump. This upcoming homestand makes a nice line in the sand place. Neither Texas nor Atlanta have good pitching in general. You are facing both of them at home. If he doesn't have a decent homestand then I'll join you in worry. What's decent? Well you'd like him to hit like .275+ with power but sometimes you don't get the luck, so I'll be looking at that and at how he's hitting the ball.  A bunch of weak grounders and I'm worried regardless if a few trickle through. A bunch of line drives and I feel better even if they are right at people. 

The Nats don't need Bryce to win the division, so there's that, but he's a guy that seems to step up in bright lights so having him healthy for the playoffs would be nice, even if its just for an immeasurable psychological boost for me personally.


epat said...

How do you account for Turner's SB in offensive metrics? He swiped 3 last night which makes 21 for the season. A few weeks ago the post on Turner focused on lack of power, no walks, is he going to turn out to be a glorified Lombo, etc. Well if he is stealing every third time he gets on base that should improve his offensive value, not to mention pressure the pitcher which benefits all the guys batting behind him.

Dusty's Toothpick said...

I think he is going to be fine. I think not getting pitched around this early in the year will actually help him long term. We all remember how he went in the tank after the Cubs series when Joe Maddon walked him the whole time. He might just be human and will return to BRYCE soon. Murphy kinnnndddd of dipped in May and he is back to his "fwah" ways. Give it time, we need BRYCE!!


WiredHK said...

Just watching him free from stats since he returned from suspension, it appears (to me) that he has been getting himself out chasing bad pitches. That's something he absolutely wasn't doing early in the season. He looks fooled more. A case in point was his wild flail at Jimenez's breaking ball on 3-2 last night in the 6th. Just doesn't feel like a pitch that fools BRYCE, but definitely fools bryce.

I don't know, there's no statistical evidence in this post, so take it FWIW. To me, BRYCE is predicated on not being over-anxious, not stepping "in the hole" vs LHPs and not ever getting fooled by pitchers who don't intend to put anything close to him later in a count (see point #1). When he's executing on those three things, he is a monster.

BxJaycobb said...

Harper: I think Bryce was hurt last year too. But why are we assuming he was? Isn't it possible that the guy has a complicated/weird swing and is a crazy streaky hitter who goes into prolonged slumps?

BxJaycobb said...

But the reality is, I'm concerned. Is it possible Bryce Harper had a season at age 22 that he won't even approach at ages 23-25? You certainly wouldn't think so. But the reality is last year was INCREDIBLY strange. Like...much stranger than folks in the DC sports media world acknowledge. The largest drop off in WAR value for an MVP who didn't miss major time to injury in history. And I don't think we can be blamed when the same person goes into an almost month long tailspin at almost the same time in the season the next year. But I'm hoping for the best because---apart from how BRYCE helps the Nats win---it would be a bummer if he has another year like last year.

Sammy Kent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sammy Kent said...

Eerily reminiscent of last season. Bryce started off gangbusters, then tapered off just before the big road trip to Chicago. Then something happened that sent the baseball world buzzing and got in Bryce's psyche--all the intentional walks. And whether it was all psychological or part mechanical or part physical he never recovered. This year he started gangbusters, then began cooling off just before the west coast road trip. Then he got beaned and suspended for charging the mound, and for whatever reason, psychological, physical, mechanical, or some part of all three, he hasn't recovered. I certainly hope that doesn't also follow last season's chronology.

On another note Trea Turner in one game went from making me forget about Danny Espinosa to reminding me of Ian Desmond.

Kubla said...

IIRC, Harper did a post last year looking at bryce's fielding/throwing that suggested there was some sort of injury responsible for the decline. Except for Drew Storen, I'm not a fan of "head case" explanations in general, so confirmation bias makes me want to agree.

It would be interesting to see if there are any issues in the field that could suggest that he is facing a similar situation to last year. I'd also enjoy learning if the mix of pitches he is seeing has changed since early 2017. It could be a case of pitchers earlier in the year mistakenly pitching like he's bryce when he's really Bryce, which resulted in him looking like BRYCE.

Zim batting .400 behind him at the beginning and then cooling off a little could also have something to do with changes in how Bryce is getting pitched to as well.

BxJaycobb said...

@kubla/@harper: actually I was just going to say that the defense/arm suggests that the shoulder/health issue from last year isn't hurting him this year. Last year he had to play shallow because he couldn't throw the ball hard (his velocity on throws dropped like 10 mph on "max effort throws") and this year the arms been a rocket. (See his throw today and the one he threw 99 mph earlier in year).

Robot said...

Man, this Blake Treinen guy really sucks.

Froggy said...

Terrible bullpen aside, the truth of the matter is as goes Werth, so goes the Nationals.

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