Nationals Baseball: Standing today

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Standing today

14-7

Where are we on that path? Let's see 0-3, 2-1, 6-0, 1-3.... 9-7.  OK so the Nats have to sweep the Rays and Giants to stay on path.  That's a little bit of a tall order but this is the next step.  This 21 game swing basically had three parts; Play garbage teams, play the Braves, play fair teams. What we have now is mixed results. Great against the garbage, poor against the Braves. Against the fair teams is the deciding factor. There hasn't been much rhyme or reason to the Nats play so far. They helped start the Dbacks on their downswing when they were the best team in the NL and they swept the pesky Pirates out of the building. At the same time they couldn't win a game versus an injured Dodgers team in DC, and the rest of the middling NL West has owned them.

The Nats have been pretty much this team for a couple months. They've lost Kendrick and Zimmerman more recently but gained back Rendon and brought up Soto. It feels like, at least for now, this is who they have been and this is who they are. The question is - what is that? Is it a good team who is going to overtake the Braves eventually? Or a fair team who has to fight off the Phillies? Well here are two other fair teams coming into town. On home turf a good team should beat them. Maybe not a sweep but 4-1. A fair team will struggle to win these 5 games 3-2 if they are lucky, 2-3 if not.

Now of course you can't read a season by 5 games but we wouldn't be. We're adding one more set of data to what the season has led us to so far - this team, as-is, a couple starting and bench bats down, is maybe good. We're teetering between believing in them and not. And these type of borderline games help us decide. Beating up the Orioles or Marlins only tell us they aren't the worst team. If they lose those 2 in New York that only tells us they aren't maybe up there with the best. I think we already know these things. It's games like these, against the .500 teams that I'm most interested in.

ATL is on West Coast swing and PHI is taking on best part of Central. Again the schedule favored a big Nats move during this 21 game stretch. They've mostly made it but haven't finished it out. Finish it out or be finished? Nah too early for that. But finish it out.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

Looking through injury updates... any word on Robles? Haven't seen anything in almost 2 months. Glover? Began throwing at 75 feet on 4/12...

G Cracka X said...

I think we have the answer to who the Nats are by this point: they are good. Not great, but not fair, either. They are good. This is simply taking the winning percentage (.569) and realizing that over a full season that would be a 92-win pace.

Now there's no guarantee that they will keep up that pace for the rest of the season, and their schedule hasn't been the strongest, but a 92-win pace is a good team, and that's who the Nats are.

Harper said...

Robles is going to be a near full-year recovery so you shouldn't expect to really year anything until closer to the All-Star Game. Glover... at this point I'd just give up on him from the year. That was throwing at distance - we still haven't heard of him taking the mound.

GCX - agree but are they 92+ win good (good enough to win NL East) or 88+ win good (challenging for WC)?

W. Patterson said...

Harper - I think I read you as saying that you don't know what team will show up on any given day. Could be a Nats blowout, or the Nats shutout. And the opponent doesn't matter.

Said it before, but one just hopes for a good game, with a curly W, and with no great embarrassments.

G Cracka X said...

Fun fact: MAT now is 5th in fWAR among Nats position players. Hope he can keep up his hot streak.

cass said...

I'm a big fan of MAT's fielding. I think he gets scapegoated cause the people who should be hitting aren't.

I don't think 92 wins guarantees the division this year, especially once the Braves upgrade at 3rd base with Machado or someone else. I think both Atlanta and Washington might well win over 90 games and it could be a fight to the finish. We'll see though.

Anonymous said...

I don't think hitting .184 and a near 40% K-rate is a scapegoat. Sounds like he's earning every negative moniker assigned to him. Glad he's hitting over .200 though, apparently the bar for acceptable starter in the league is at a new low. Good for MAT in that regard.

Bjd1207 said...

@Anon - K rate is only 30%, and his BABIP is still about .40 points below his career average. So yea if this hot streak helps him normalize to anywhere like 85 wRC+ or above, then his defense keeps him on the field.

mike k said...

@BJD his soft contact % is way up and his LD % is way down though, so the drop in BABIP is probably real. Doesn't mean it won't raise, but it will have to be more than pure "regression to the mean" for that to happen. Not that I'm as low as him as many on the board, though. I think his offensive struggles are made worse by the injuries...if he was #8 (with Weiters) or even #7 (with Severino) with a solid 1-6, I'm fine with him starting if he hits his career average moving forward. Without Zim and Murphy, however, I kinda want to see if Eaton or Soto can play center when Eaton comes back.

In regards to the original post, I think if the Nats are within a few games of the Braves when Zim/Eaton/Murphy come back, and the Braves don't make a big move, the race won't be that close come September. Maybe the next five games can be instructive on who the Nats are with their current lineup, but not who they'll be with players back.

Stray thought: I wonder with the greater amounts of fly balls compared to ground balls in recent years if IF defense is less important and OF defense more important than in yesteryear.

Jay said...

I guess I'm a slacker bc the Braves don't worry me too much. They remind me a lot of the Nats from years ago. Not the 2012 Nats, rather the 2005 Nats. They were in first place on July 5 by 4.5 half games at 51-32. They faded in the second half to finish 81-81. I don't think the Braves will fade that much, but when it is all said and done I don't think they win more than 87 games. Do you really think Markakis is going to hit .330+ or that Ozzie Albies is going to have 40+ home runs. I read on ESPN a while back that you could make the argument that every hitter for the Braves is likely to hit worse in the second half. Do you really think Foltynewicz has figured it out and is going to lead the staff to the playoffs? Sorry, but I don't.

Ole PBN said...

We've been over this 100 times. MAT is (or should be) playing only because of the injuries suffered to starters, back-ups, and back-up's back-ups. CF was his spot to lose and he's doing everything he can to make that become a reality. If you can't hit, you shouldn't be a starter on a contending team with a surplus of outfield talent (when healthy). Clock is ticking and his inevitable replacement is closer to healing by the day. I for one, can't wait. Now if [insert Taylor's replacement here] hits worse than him and offers absolutely no hope at the plate, then I'll eat my words. But just so we're being fair, that player should get like 4 years to prove himself. Right?

Josh Higham said...

@Jay,

Rian Watt on Fangraphs thinks Foltyabcdefg may have indeed figured it out. https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/mike-foltynewicz-is-separating-toward-his-strengths/

I don't think he's a peak Bumgarner type ace who can carry a decent team through the playoffs--that would be nuts--but I would not be surprised to see him put up true #1 type numbers all year.

Probably the offense is due for some correction, but they're also a team with the means to make real improvements at the deadline, as they have money and prospects. The Braves as constituted look like an 85ish win team (83 per Fangraphs, 87 per fivethirtyeight) but if they add some serious talent and have just a reasonable amount of luck in the second half they're a 90+ win team.

There's a decent chance the Nats can coast to the division title, but with two pretty good teams plus the .500ish Mets, coasting might be an even worse plan than it was in 2015 with BRYCE.

Anonymous said...

"I think if the Nats are within a few games of the Braves when Zim/Eaton/Murphy come back"

Washington Post has a video of Murphy in the minor leagues on his rehap stint. He looks awful. I have lost hope.

Does anybody who has seen that video think Murphy is going to back this season?

PotomacFan said...

I saw the video, and it doesn't look good. I do think he'll come back during the summer, even if he's not 100%. And then I think he'll get injured again.

BxJaycobb said...

Wait. 5th in fWAR among Nats position players....there are literally 3 Nats position players who have not spent time on the DL this year (Turner, Taylor, and Bryce). So you’re saying Taylor is behind those two and also behind Rendon and Adams? So he is beating out people who have played half as many games, a 19 year old who has been here a week, and Pedro Severino? This is....impressive? Is there a starting CF in the NL who has been less valuable this year?

BxJaycobb said...

He’s a plus fielder. He’s the worst hitting starter in baseball basically, and thus not playable on an actual contender. Everyone on the blog: How many different ways are there to say this. Fielding is not as important as hitting to overall player value/contribution to wins. It is roughly a 3 to 1 ratio. Awesome fielding is great (GREAT) when the person is anywhere remotely within the zip code of league-average at hitting (examples: Inciarte, Albert Almora Jr, Kiermaier, Pillar, etc). Taylor has been average at hitting for 2/3 of one season and absolutely hideous for like 3-4 seasons. He is not good enough to be a starter if you want to win the World Series. Period. Whether you put Soto, Robles, or Eaton in CF when they are healthy, they need to put somebody else in that lineup slot. There will be a non-marginal dip in defense, but it will be more than compensated for by a person who does not have a .270 OBP.

BxJaycobb said...

Amen. See above comment. The guys been given every chance in the world to establish himself as a passably mediocre hitter in the major leagues (more than every chance), and just isn’t a good enough hitter.

BxJaycobb said...

Interestingly there actually has not been much of an increase in fly balls compared to ground balls despite the “fly ball revolution.” What there has been has been an ongoing increase in Ks. Meaning defense has been less important than it ever has been.

BxJaycobb said...

The reason I think the Braves are for real is their run differential. It’s better than anybody in the NL except the Cubs (who are over +90 and a juggernaut that simply has lost some 1 run games due to bad luck essentially and will emerge as the best team in NL). The problem is even if Markakis and Albies slow down (the latter already has a bit) many of their players are for real, and Inciarte can and will hit better. Acuna will be back soon. they have reinforcements ready to be called up from minors like 3B Austin Riley, who will provide a boost for Camargo, and a stable of young arms to be called up in second half, plus plenty of depth in minors to make a trade for a josh Donaldson type or a starter like Chris archer, etc. Sean Newcomb is for real. Folty is for real—maybe not THIS good, but he’s very good. Mike Soroka has barely pitched and he is a highly touted prospect. I think the hope for Nats fans is their young pitching gets tired by length of season, which is entirely possible. But the Braves won’t go away. I think Phillies are far more likely to go away, because I’m not sure how they’re going to score enough runs.

BxJaycobb said...

I’ve seen it. Looks awful physically. I think he will be back. That’s an injury that takes a long time to heal from, and even when you think you’re able to play, you have setbacks. Pedroia is having exact same difficulties. But it does continue to improve. I imagine in a few weeks/maybe AS break he looks much better. But don’t look for him any time super soon. What I’m looking forward to is Eaton’s return to LF and Soto in CF and Taylor on the bench/defensive replacement.

W. Patterson said...

All this talk of MAT, but as I watched tonights game, Turner, Harper, and Rendon looked like bush leaguers. WTF?

BxJaycobb said...

Don’t know what’s up with Harper and a Rendon and Turner recently. Harper in particular seems to have completely and totally lost his approach at the plate.

Jay said...

I would agree on Turner, Harper, and Rendon. They are 8/57 since the Braves series (.140) since the Braves series and 5/49 (.102) since Friday. I am surprised they won last night, because those three guys were 0/12. Hopefully, getting Eaton back this weekend will help.

Bjd1207 said...

Right guys you don't have to rehash our entire MAT conversations, I've been here for all of it. But during the last 2 weeks AS we've been bashing him he's been the best hitter on the team. Yes, you read that correctly. The best HITTER on the team in the last 2 weeks.

So I'm all for evaluating him with the cold light of realism, but you need to be ready to adjust your sentiments as reality changes. He's still posting his sky-high K-rates and I have no illusions that he'll ever be an above-average hitter. But at least RIGHT NOW? We should all stop calling for his head.

Mark said...

MAT last 15 games (Bryce and Anthony have lower BA over these 15 games)

AB HITS HR RBI BB SB AVG OBP SLG

53 14 2 7 5 4 .264 .328 .547

He is at 1.1 WAR so far in 2018

steven hamilton said...

I don't want to just pile on, because I agree with the basic sentiment re: MAT...I think once Eaton returns, what Davey does will be telling. My hope is, this metrics manager does what he wants and needs to do for the good of the club. I think he will, he's not Dusty...

Ole PBN said...

While MAT is laughably awful, it would be worse. Anyone see Chris Davis' line? That might break some sort of record. Poor poor Orioles [rofl]

Chris said...

I think Bryce has officially turned into bryce now. If he gets any worse we'll have to call him lil b or something like that.

Josh Higham said...

I agree that MAT has been a bad hitter. And that he's hot right now. And that his fielding is very good, but fielding is not as important has hitting for winning games. All these points that keep getting rehashed.

How about these things:

MAT is the 18th best CF by fWAR, in a virtual tie with Kepler and Inciarte for 16th (0.8 fWAR), and 17th best CF by bWAR (with 1.1).

The Nationals are 13th in CF wins above average (0.3) per BR, with MAT accounting for 219 PA (0.4 WAA) and other players accounting for 23 PA combined (-0.1 WAA).

He is not a special player, and if he can be improved on in center by Eaton or Soto, I'm for it, but I don't think we have proof that he's costing the Nats wins in anything but a speculative way. He's not a "literally anyone would be better" player this year, even with his abysmal 72 wRC+

G Cracka X said...

Good Fangraphs article on Bryce's approach:

https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/bryce-harpers-shifting-approach/

cass said...

"He is not a special player"

No one here has ever argued that he's a special player overall, I don't think. Merely that he's not terrible or sinking the Nats. He's an average player so far this season. Average players post about 2 WAR a season and so far he's already at 1 WAR. The Nats CFs are 13th and Taylor is down a bit below that? There are 30 teams. That sounds roughly average.

Average players do not sink teams. He is above replacement level due to his stellar fielding and hitting just enough. Do we need a highlight real of his great players to show how many runs he's saved? In addition to the nights where his bat has provided the winning runs.

No, he's not a star, but this level of vitriol from some here seems more appropriate for a player who was below replacement level being sent out there every day. That's not MAT. For his career before last year, he was basically replacement level. Last year he was above average. This year he's average or maybe a little below.

No one here has suggested we keep playing him everyday if we have better options. Just that he isn't killing the team. I am flummoxed about why MAT has become so divisive. He was a hero in the postseason last year when everyone else was flailing at the plate and he has provided stellar center field defense for a long while now. He's no all-star and has his limitations but so what? If we get three healthy outfielders who are better he can be a nice fourth outfielder and still get lots of time to use his glove in center.

There have been far worse players who didn't get this amount of heat. I don't get it.

Ole PBN said...

Cass, for me, its that I can see the talent. The glove, the speed, the power potential, the fact that he's young. I saw all of this 5 years ago. The reason why he is on a lot of people's crap lists is he has not developed. His K-rate has not changed, his power diminished, and his patience at the plate not improved either. Some players, due to circumstances within an organization, never get the opportunity or the faith of management to succeed. MAT has. I don't think anyone ever thought he was going to be STAR, but certainly not a problem at the plate. He is in his prime right now, with many PA's under his belt and the development is just not there. This, for me, is where the frustration lies. So I would rather not invest any more (not talking about money, but playing time) in a player who has already shown who he is. On to the next one. MAT reminds me of Tyler Moore to an extent, as far as promise and no cigar.

MAT gets this amount of heat because after all this time, attention, and faith people just expected more.

mike k said...

@BX I just realized last night that the "replies" show up on mobile. I thought all this time you were just typing replies as you read responses and putting them at the end. Makes so much more sense now...

Re: MAT - IIRC he has played super well in the past when his job was on the line. Like now. We've seen enough in the past 4 years that we know who he is, and this recent surge shouldn't change anything. Regardless of what we all think about whether he should keep his job moving forward, the organization having Eaton play CF in the minors is telling...

@ Josh 16th/17th in WAR but out of how many with qualified ABs?

Josh Higham said...

@ cass totally agree. If we had Ender Inciarte I don't think people would be calling for his head, even though he's providing the same win-producing output by fWAR, and roughly 2/3 as much by bWAR.

MAT is a good starting CF to have on a good but injury depleted team, and an above average 4th OF on a good and healthy team. Yes he should be benched if Soto or Eaton can match or exceed his performance once Soto is back, but I have no idea where the certainty that either of them would be better comes from, as they would both likely provide negative defensive value in CF and we don't know what a full offensive MLB season from either of them looks like.

Josh Higham said...

@mike k 16-18 out of 26 qualified. Not a chest wound. And the positional rankings from BR are important too. Solidly average/ weakly good CF production even though the other guys playing CF for the Nats hurt the team's overall WAA.

steven hamilton said...

I think some of the vitriol for MAT is just that we - as fans (very informed metrically-speaking) - are disappointed. He is so stellar defensively (so much so that he has taken runs away from other teams in the last month several times), but it seems his approach at the plate hasn't matured and the swings he takes are frustrating (thus all the non-love for him). He's been at it for a few years, and with only minor and temporary improvements at the plate over that time. So, like Josh, I don't hate MAT, and I think he's a very, very good 4th OF, but given what we've seen from Robles and/or Soto, we all - as fans - have high hopes for CFers with good plate approaches and we also want a damn ring!! (although most of us will take getting out of the divisional series.)

Harper said...

1) Be very careful using any one year WAR stats given the unreliability of defensive statistics.

2) Even with a little doubt on the WAR numbers - I think MAT makes an excellent "guy you carry for his D" type of player because he is excellent in the field and he has enough of one skill (in this case power) that you just have to pay attention to him. The Nats can afford to carry MAT if at least 1-6 is solid, preferably 1-7. But they chose to punt C this year so they've given themselves no leeway. It's become a clear offense vs defense choice as opposed to "offense will be good enough anyway"

DezoPenguin said...

For those scoring at home, it's worth noting that MAT is no longer the worst-hitting regular in the lineup. With his hot streak bringing his wRC+ up to 72, Severino is down to 60 (Kieboom is at -32). Tampa Bay just learned the wisdom of intentionally walking guys with a 60 wRC+ when Roark just singled in two runs. (Taylor continues to laugh at us, with two hits in two AB.)


By fWAR, as noted, MAT's fifth-highest among the hitters; to illustrate Harper's point about the irregularity of defensive stats, by bWAR MAT is actually *second* on the team, behind only Turner. Bryce, you're not getting a $500M contract if your walk year puts you behind the guy half the fans think is so awful he should be benched. Pick it up already!

W. Patterson said...

Damn, MAT. What's this 3-4 things today? You're supposed to suck, ya know.

Yeah, I know that one game does not a star make. Had to say it, just the same. Just like Rendon going 3-4 doesn't mean he's out of his slump.

JE34 said...

@GCX - thanks for that link to the article on Bryce... which was nice confirmation on the shifty problem. Dude is not seeing the ball the way he has in the past.

Mark said...

Now batting over .300 last 15 games.