Nationals Baseball: Boz is excited

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Boz is excited

And he should be! While his premise is flawed from the start (we can't see the Nats at their best because Eaton isn't coming back) He's right that everything is lining up just as you'd hope to end the year. With every positive Bryce update we hear, it becomes more possible that everyone that can be here, will be here. Whether they hit like they could (I'm looking at you Jailbird) is up in the air, but that's up in the air for any short series. The Nats will be the best Nats they could be since they broke out to a 16-6 record in April

He seems amazed that this has happened with all the "adversity", pointing to things like one starter going out for the year and one struggling as another log on the fire as opposed to something that happens to 30 out of 32 teams a year.  He does have something here but it's not with the pitching.

How could the Nats pitching be this good with a pen that bad, Ross injured, and Roark struggling? Well the pen was fixed with three acquisitions. The rotation was always top heavy and Max and Stras have both had another great and (relatively) healthy year. The struggles of Roark have been matched by the performance of Gio which is just the good and bad balancing out. All in all this all makes perfect sense. A great rotation was great. A bad pen was fixed. Nothing crazy happened here.

The line-up though. That does require something else. Assuming around 150+ games played MAT will miss 30+ games, Bryce 40+, Trea 60+, Werth 80+, Eaton 120+.  You could see that team holding on, but they didn't just hold on. They could lead the NL in scoring.  How? Well in this case almost everything came up Milhous.

  • Ryan Zimmerman was reborn - Super hot beginning of the year, followed by a reasonable best-case for the remainder. 
  • Anthony Rendon was reborn  - looked like a superstar in the making in 2014 but injuries clouded that since. Injury free this year and finally lived up to that promise
  • When healthy Bryce hit like BRYCE - Bryce has had an up and down career. It's just that the downs are "above average" and the ups are "OMG" This has been an up year.
  • MAT had a good year - I hesitate to say breakout because the guy is barely above average but he was well below average previously and was kind of on his last legs as a "maybe this year" guy
  • Adam Lind had a better year than expected - He hits righties well and has trouble with lefties but this year he mashed righties and didn't have as much issues with at least getting hits vs LHP in his rare ABs vs them. 
  • So did Brian Goodwin - hit better in majors in 2017 than he did in any minor league since the AFL in 2012, including AAA this year.
  • So did Howie Kendrick - sure he was hitting well in Philly but it was 40 games. He's putting up his best numbers since 2014. 
  • So did Wilmer Difo - forced into a starting role Difo hit .333 / .382 / .467 for 2 months.* Outisde a brief 19 game second stint in A+ ball in 2015 that's better than he's hit in any minor league stint ever.
  • Adam Eaton was as good as advertised - for a month but still that's like a sixth of the year.
That's a lot coming up right for the Nats that didn't have to. What came up wrong outside of injury?
  • Matt Wieters has been awful - Its the worst year of his career at the plate by far. You could have expected a below average year but this is beyond that.
  • Jose Lobaton has been unusable - To be fair this skirts expectations as he was unusable in 2014 and 2015 too but he's especially so this year. 
  • Chris Heisey came up empty? - He's usually good for a couple homers and doubles, but he had nothing this year.
That's about it. Werth?  Nah the guy was below average in 2015 and 2016. He's hitting around what can be expected for a 38 year old. I mean for half a month before the toe injury he was hitting .148 Turner? Really? I don't think you can really have strong expectations from a guy that played half a season last year. He's above average. That's not crazy by any means.

The Nats have had poor injury luck to be sure, but in terms of performance the Nats have had way more things go their way than not. That's how they got to be so good despite injuries. Does it continue beyond 2017? Who knows. But also - who cares right now? Just keep it going for this year because a team catching the breaks is a team that wins in the playoffs.

*how about when not in a starting role? You sure you want to know? Sure? OK it's like .188 / .230 / .240.  Told you you didn't want to know. That's why he's well below average overall.


JE34 said...

Moar Robles, and moar Simpsons:

BxJaycobb said...

Harper: what is the reasonable argument (aside from NOSTALGIA! FEEL GOOD CLUBHOUSE MORALE! BEARD!) for starting Werth over a Lind/Kendrick platoon. Especially Lind agaisnf RHP, whom Werth hasnt touched since 2013. I say go with that platoon to start with Robles as defensive replacement slash pinch runner.

Fries said...


The only argument is CLUBHOUSE MORALE. We already know Bryce looks up to him as a mentor, he's very well respected by the rest of the team, and Dusty is a players' manager. I think the only hope is that Werth recognizes he "can't get it in gear after his injury" and steps aside for the good of the team. Because if he wants to play, he will play.

Jay said...

I agree with Fries. There is an article by Bob Nightengale right now that essentially says Harper, Strasburg, and Zim wants to win this one for Werth. No way he doesn't play unless he fakes an injury.

BxJaycobb said...

Ugh, doesn't that annoy you though? This playoffs is so huge. We're trying to get over the hump and win a series---and we're making decisions based on the old guy needs to play? If the dodgers can sit Adrian Gonzalez we should be able to sit a much less talented/accomplished veteran.

BxJaycobb said...

Side note: we were discussing a while back player comps to Michael A. IMO the player who is most similar to him as a raw tools center fielder who strikes out too much.....Keon Broxton. Very similar players.

Anonymous said...

You guys are really astute. I said a month ago that Werth would start because of team chemistry and got ripped by half a dozen guys including the too cool for school guy. Good to see that you guys finally get it. Werth is going to surprise you to the upside.

blovy8 said...

The most important guy may be Taylor. Who is going to play center if not him? No one is really capable of it defensively without hitting like a pitcher, and by that I mean Stevenson. Will Goodwin even have had a dozen real at-bats anywhere by then? De Aza and Bautista are not center fielders, and there's no way you put Harper there now, even if he can run some. A pretty good case can be made for Robles on the postseason roster just for that reason. It wouldn't hurt to have a defense only guy with Werth AND Harper in the OF.

If something goes wrong anywhere else the dropoff is to Lind, Kendrick, Difo, and in a world that's fair - Severino - which isn't terrible.

blovy8 said...

Same goes for the pitching. Top four are very good right now, if you lose one it hurts a lot, but you probably don't worry about it so much in a five game series. If Doo is doo-doo, you have Madson and some guys now.

Ole PBN said...

@Anon 1:44 - I only ripped your logic because its a flawed solution to winning a series. If Werth is going to suck in October, but is good for team chemistry, then have him trade his bat for pom poms. It was never an argument of WILL HE START, it was always a debate over SHOULD HE START. You say he should for team chemistry, I say he shouldn't based on the data. He's hitting .122 since his return from injury for crying out loud. I'm all for team chemistry and firmly believe that it not only exists, but is critical to team cohesion/success. But at a certain point, you have to weigh how much value a player's presence in the lineup is if he is struggling. Werth is struggling. Mightily. Not only that, but you have a combo of Kendrick/Lind that is not only better than Werth at the moment, but better than a lot of other LF options that opposing teams have.

I'm not here to argue/debate what Dusty will end up doing. I'm giving a stance of what he should be doing. I don't think predicting the future is as fun as having a discussion of WHY a certain strategy should be implemented. We'll see how far "White Magic" (as you previously dubbed him) will take this team. I just prefer he works his Harry Potter wizardry from the bench. Let the better players play.

blovy8 said...

I know it's small sample stuff, but Kendrick has not hit Lester or Arrieta well at all, but he has hit .500 against Quintana. That's the kind of thing that would get Dusty to change the lineup, especially since he's a guy most Nationals have not faced.

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