Nationals Baseball: It's all in the batting average...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It's all in the batting average...

This recent slump could very well be a sign of things to come in 2010. Not that the Nats will be terrible offensively. But when they aren't getting base hits, the Nats won't be scoring runs. Outside of Zimmerman and a healthy Willingham, the Nats won't necessarily have patience or power in this line-up.

Let's ignore Nyjer for a second (as he should be in a discussion of patience and power). Here are the minor league stats for Ramos, Bernadina and Desmond. Note that an isoOBP of .070 and an isoSLG of .155 would be about average in the majors.

Ramos isoOBP: .047 isoSLG: .146
Bernadina isoOBP: .085 isoSLG: .120
Desmond isoOBP: .067 isoSLG: .129

Right away the lack of power should grab you. This is something that can develop as the body fills out, etc. However Bernadina is probably as developed as he can be and neither Ramos or Desmond project to be big sluggers. (For contrast Dunn has a .221 isoSLG in the minors, Zimmerman a .224, Willingham a .234) I do like what I've seen from Desmond this season (a .154 isoSLG) but I don't think he'll ever be a 30 homer guy, maybe not even a 20+ homer guy.

As for patience, Bernadina has some but Desmond does not and Ramos is a hacking machine. I kind of like patience developing for a hitter like Ramos (and Bernadina). When you hit for high average in the minors there's not much need to take pitches. But how much patience? I'm not sure.

In the end you see a little patience here, a little power there, but really it's a bunch of Singley Joes. That's not a terrible thing - Ramos could very well hit over .300. Bernadina in the .280s - but it's a tough way to score a lot of runs.

There is some hope for an all around player to develop though. Here is the numbers for Espinosa

Espinosa isoOBP: .095 isoSLG: .185

These are both good numbers and with a little bump in the power numbers - Danny might become a legitimate power threat.

This highlights what the Nats will lose from the lineup if Dunn is let go. His isoOBP in the majors is a fantastic .130, his isoSLG in majors is an even better .271. Even if Dunn isn't hitting, he still usually is getting on base and when he does connect he'll be hitting homers. He's still producing. A lot of the Nats lineup doesn't have those talents and when they go through batting slumps like they are now, they'll be providing next to nothing in terms of run scoring.


Hoo said...

Harper: Good stuff all around on why letting Dunn walk is unfortunate. Nats don't have anyone close to supplying his pop. I am happy about seeing Dez/Espinosa getting more full-time gigs but the Nats offense will reek with no Dunn unless Nats make their big move on a corner OF. Then any pop out of the Dutchman is a positive.

Harper said...

"reek" is going a bit too far. If they don't resign Dunn (and don't sign someone good in his place) it's likely going to remain the same. That's not good - but I think it's a bit above reeking. The Nats got awful offensive play from C, CF, and 2B this year where next year you'd hope they'd get something closer to average. Desmond might improve, WIllingham might be able to give you a whole season.

But losing Dunn (without something comparable being brought in) would end hopes of a decent year. You can't be 10-14 in runs scored and hope to be .500 (of you can with some luck and outstanding pitching but you don't want to rely on that)

Anonymous said...

Harper: Thanks for a useful discussion.

One question and one comment: do you know how minor-league isoOBP and isoSLG compare to major-league numbers for most players? I wouldn't be surprised if both increased in the majors, as bodies fill out and players develop patience, as you said.

I'm pretty familiar with many of the FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference advanced stats, but it would be useful to define them at the start of the article -- to bring us up to your level of knowledge.


Harper said...

I'm not 100% sure - from what I've heard - yes isoSLG can go up because power is generally the last thing to develop. isoOBP might be a catch-22 situation, if you are able to improve it you are able to stick around the majors, if not you don't but I'm not sure how it translates from one to another.

I do know that minor-league patience and contact (walks and Ks) are good indicators of future success. For example Dunn walked a ton, Zimm was a tough K.

Marc said...

Harper - interesting point. To me, this is why the defensive side of the equation is so important. If Ramos, Desmond and Bernadina are our "up the middle" future, I'm ok with below average power - C, SS, and CF aren't traditional "power" spots. I don't know if you looked at it, but I'll bet isoSLG and isoOBP is quite a bit less among those three positions than they are league-wide. If they're playing +UZR or better defense, then I'm not worried that they're a bit lower than league-wide average on isoSLG. Not sure if it's fair to expect them to morph into a middle-of-the-lineup power threat. If they do, then so much the better - if Bernadina becomes a poor man's healthy Beltran, and Desmond becomes a young Tejada then great, but I'd take a .750 BA-heavy OPS, and 12-15 HRs if I get plus CF and SS defense in the bargain.

More importantly, and you allude to it, but don't really touch on it here, this shouldn't be a comparison in a vacuum. Bernadina, Espinosa, Ramos and Desmond will be a significant increase from Pudge, Guz, Kennedy and Nyjer. That gang combined for an isoSLG of .073 this year thus far. That's isoSLG, not OBP - there are your Singley Joes. Bernadina and Desmond have provided 12 more HRs and 16 less doubles in 55% of the PAs that the waterbug crew had. If Ramos, Desmond, Espinosa and Bernadina can all be 10-15HR/20-25 2B guys, that's probably a major step up, positionally - IF the defense doesn't decline. Though I think you're right that it is somewhat BA dependent, I actually think the young four will be significantly less BA dependent than the old four - especially if, like Luke Skywalker, they can learn patience.

Still, not enough to offset the loss of Dunn, of course, but a step in the right direction. As I said last week - I don't know how anybody can look at this club's offensive production this year and say "Sure, we don't need Dunn."

Marc said...

One last thought on the upgrade from the old fossils and then I'll leave it alone - if Bernadina and Desmond had as many PAs as the Kennedy, Guzman, Pudge and Nyjer show this year, they'd have combined for 36 HRs and 78 2b's, projecting out from their current rates, as compared to 8 and 59 from the current group.

Harper said...

Well it's a little unfair to extrapolate Desmond to catcher - but point made. The thing fans should understand about this offense is carried three holes in the lineup - you can't overcome that unless the rest of your lineup is all good and mostly awesome (see Milwuakee). The Nats have 3 stars right now, and should be ok just by closing those holes with average play. If they lose a star though - that's that much more offense they need to find.

Hoo said...

Harper: Nats should be slightly better at 2nd and SS given due to Desmond's progression and the power at 2nd from anyone. RF is still a question mark and Nats will probably improve hitting at CF.

But losing Dunn's power would be huge. I'm not sure that even the addition of more time for Espinosa/Ramos will come close to Dunn's HR total. Nats are also hoping that W'ham at 32 can duplicate the first half of the season.

In short, reek might be a bit too strong. But if the Nats go cheap/defense only the offense could be worse next year even with some progression of the youngsters. Maybe they let Dunn walk to pick up solid corner OF so the giant hole is at 1st instead of RF and the rest is small step forward.

Marc said...

Totally agree - that's why I think the folks who are talking about Crawford (or Werth) are sort of over-thinking a little bit. I think if they just resign Dunn, let Willingham get healthy and go with an Espinosa-Bernadina-Zimm-Dunn-Will-Morse-Desmond-Ramos/Pudge starting 8, that'd be good enough to get to middling to slightly better-than-that. I'm ok if they want to upgrade Morse as an everyday RF, but really, I don't get how there's an argument that says they don't need Dunn.

Harper said...

Granted though I'm sure the management isn't thinking "we don't need Dunn" because they must know the Nats do but "do we need 2013 Dunn?" That's a different (and important) question.

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