Nationals Baseball: The Sounds of Silence

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Sounds of Silence

"Wasted a decent Dan Haren start"  Those are words I wasn't expecting to type.  But there you go, the Nats were shut down again, as they have been much of the past 10 games. They are 3-7 in that time frame and that matches the worst 10 game stretch they had all last year. (Don't worry 2-8 isn't around the corner they'd need to lose 4 more in a row to get there, because this stretch started with 3 straight losses)

In the past 7 days this is how the Nats are hitting.

Adam LaRoche .235 / .350 / .412
This will look good in comparison to what you see below.   This is also a more patient last year's Danny Espinosa.

Kurt Suzuki .133 / .222 / .467
Showing that he needs his platoon buddy.  He's 0 for his last 12. 

Ian Desmond .211 /.250 / .421
Again in comparison to below this is Brycian but it shows how Ian needs to hit for average to really be useful.  He has 2 walks in 76 PAs this year.  That's a less than 20 walk season pace.

Steve Lomardozzi .273 / .273 / .273
This is Lombo. He can hit singles.  He has 3 XBH this year, which is actually a show of power.  Including those 3 he has 4 XBH in his last 83 PAs going back to mid August last year.

Jayson Werth .167 / .286 / .222
His wrist is fine! Yet only 1 XBH (a double) since April 9th.

Danny Espinosa .182 /.182 /.273
After easily leading the team in K's last year with 189, Danny only has 8 this year (in contrast with say Desmond's 18 or Werth's 17).  But he also has only 2 walks this year. He's actually "hot" recently hitting .214 with a double and a homer in the last 5 games.

Chad Tracy .125 / .300 / .125 
Chad has 1 hit as a PH so far this year.  Of course he has 2 hits as a starter so it's not like that's an option either.

Denard Span .133 / .235 / .133
Remember when he was getting on base nearly half the time?  In the last 8 games he's hitting .219 with 2 walks for a .265 OBP.  He's not this bad but he wasn't that good either. Also he's in the same XBH funk Werth is in.  0 XBH since April 9th.

Roger Bernadina . 000 / .000 / .000
His last hit was on October 2nd, 2012.  He has 3 hits since Labor Day 2012.

This won't last.  All these guys are not this bad.  This is just the (bad) luck of the draw with all these cold streaks happening at the same time and the breaks in the games not going the Nats way.  Think of it as karmic retribution for last year when they started out cold with the bats but went 6-2 in one-run games and 2-0 in 2 run games.  How do you get to 14-4 when you can't hit?  You win games 2-1, 3-2, 2-1, 1-0, 3-2, 2-0, 3-2, and 3-1 that's how.

Are there deeper problems? Was Kurt Suzuki's play not sustainable? Were Werth's HRs a fluke and the power is still not there?  Did pitchers finally realize there's no reason to throw strikes to Desmond? Is Danny ever going to turn that corner? Is Span's lack of pop going to reach new lows in a tougher offensive league? Is the bench really mediocre as we thought going into last year? We'll just have to see. Just keep telling yourself that. You can't make decisions off 3 weeks of play. Or better said, you can't make smart decisions off 3 weeks of play. The Nats have to ride this out and see where they stand in a few more weeks before potentially dealing with any issues. 


Hoo said...

On base is a problem. Desi has 3 homers and before last night 4 RBIs..Now he has 5 RBIs with 3 of them being himself.

That's not too good and roughly on par with Justin Upton's HR/RBI ratio or lack thereof.

Anonymous said...

Now here we go dropping science, dropping it all over
Like bumping around the town, like when you're driving a Range Rover?

Mark Patterson said...

Looking on the bright side, Desmond is still posting an impressive ISO. It will be huge if he can retain the power surge he showed last year since I'm not expecting him to hit .290 again.

ocw5000 said...

LaRoche is actually hitting the ball well, just having really bad luck: 30.6% line drive rate and .211 BABIP

Espinosa's BABIP is even worse at .190, so that and his lower K rate seems like he's grounding out weakly rather than striking out. Baby steps!

Anonymous said...

All you Michael Morse haters, now you see how the lineup functions -- or rather dysfunctions -- without him. Denard who? Sorry, but I'm not buying into all that "quintessential leadoff man" crap. I'll take Beast-mode any day.

NatsVA said...

Anyone who refers to it as "Beast Mode" likely has no idea what they're talking about.

Harper said...

Hoo - Han Ram hit 33 homers in 2008 and drove in 67 people. Hit .300 too. Of course he was batting 1st.

Anon #1 - Next post "Brass Turkey".

MP - Yes, it does look like whatever he hits in 2013 he'll hit it hard. He's should be a borderline all-star for the next few years.

ocw5k - Is that in the past week? Regardless that is some bad luck for the season.

I don't think it's baby steps. I think they are trying to fix Espy this time telling him he needs to make contact (since they want everyone to swing all the time). Really he's a guy who should be allowed to be who he probably is. A less powerful Dan Uggla that fields much much much much better.

Anon #2 - Pretty sure the team rocked with Jesus Flores in the lineup too. Morse is a good power bat but he's not some sort of magic pill. Look at Seattle.

NatsVA - be prepared this is going to last as long as the Nats don't hit. .

Donald said...

Last night felt like I could see some green shoots coming up for better times. The fielding was crisper, the bullpen was much more solid, Haren had a decent start. Last year, Tracy's broken bat flair would have dropped in or Craig's double would have been caught and the Nats would have ended up the winner.

Those types of breaks will even out. Plus, we have Detwiler on the mound tonight, so we should be favored, right?

Chas R said...

I wonder how much of this cold streak is really just opposing teams being better prepared this year when facing the Nats. Last year they were the underdogs, this year they're the Big Dogs. Seems like most opposing pitchers have very good games against the Nats.

Zimmerman11 said...

I like the soulless automaton a lot better when the Nats are winning!

I can hear the sports reporters now, talking about how last year was the Nats best chance and starting in with the Strasburg shutdown all over again.

Gio is my biggest worry right now. He has a history of getting wild, and seeing Zim's errant throws from third probably aren't helping settle him down any. Thought the move to the NL and/or something else contributed to last year's improvement... but the postseason collapse and a steady diet of blowup innings this year make me happy we have ZNN and DET in case this is the real GNZO.

Unknown said...

Glad you changed that, because you certainly CAN form opinions based on 3 weeks of play. People do it all the time.

You just end up looking like a fool pretty often.


Eric said...

+1 to Donald @8:24 and Chaz @8:32.

Losses like the one last night, where the other team gets some actual breaks (not error-based breaks) and makes some really stellar plays (thanks for nothing, Jon Jay...AGAIN!), are losses that don't haunt me.

Lots of positive signs last night. Even on a night when our best bats are slumping, we only lose 3 - 2. Green shoots. I like it.

Kenny B. said...

Let me second (or third) the green shoots analogy. Although I'm not convinced it really was a "decent start from Dan Haren." It was a decent start by 2013 Haren standards, I guess, but it would have gotten really ugly if not for some pretty great work by Craig Stammen. I continue to cringe every time I see Haren's name on the bill.

The bullpen seems to be getting better, the errors slowing down, and hopefully the bats come back soon (maybe in a vengeance mode against Cincy). If we can get starters deeper into games, we'll be back on top in no time.

This halfhearted start is causing me some concern, but I'm starting to settle into the season, and hopefully the team is too. Long ways to go yet.

Booyah Suckah! said...

Thanks, Kenny B, for being the first to mention what a stud Stammen was last night. Bases loaded, no outs, and doesn't give up a single run? Boss. I've liked Stammen since we got him, and I became a true fan when he came tttthhhhiiiissss close to fanning the side on 9 pitches last year (ended up doing it in 10). I think he's our best (and lately most consistent) bullpen arm. Period.

Unknown said...

I guess I am not as sports smart as most of you guys so I have to keep things simple. When I compare 2012 Nationals with 2013 Nationals, after the same number of games played, I am not really that concerned, yet. In 2012 Nats scored only 69 runs. This year, so far, 74 runs. The Braves this time last year had already scored 101 runs, yet were still in second place, where they stayed. The difference as I see, is runs allowed. 2012 Nats only allowed 50 runs. This year, 89. We have allowed 39 more runs than last year at the same time. We can blame the pitchers, but the only run the pitcher allows is a HR. The Nats defense was razor sharp last year. Not so much this year. So what I gather from this analysis is, it is the defense that is losing the games, not our offense.
However, we should also look at who we played last year. Cubs, Reds, Mets, Astros, Marlins, and Padres. The Mets were the only team winning over .500, at that time, and that was not by much. This year, Marlins, Reds, Braves, Mets, and Cardinals. Four of these teams are over .500. So from this, we see that the Nats have started out against stronger teams than the same time last year. Last year, they started out with great momentum, and rode that train all the way to the playoffs. I think it is as much a mind game as anything else. They came into this season with huge expectations.
Like I said, I am not very sports smart, but I love the game, and have grown to love the Nationals. Not just last year, but for a few years. So last year was great. I think they still have a shot at doing it again this year. And if not, well, I will be there anyway.

Strasburger said...

Definitely not our best bullpen arm. He played great last night though. Our best (now) bullpen arm is certainly Drew Storen, who also tossed a great inning last night, which was nice to see.

blovy8 said...

Desmond's AB's made no sense, he was facing a guy who pretty much just threw hard fastballs over the plate. That is his dream pitcher. Instead, he watched them go by - it was like he'd lost a bet and HAD to do it.

The 3-2-3 DP was nifty. Also, the Cards seemed to respect the OF arms a lot. Or maybe they're just slow.

Donald said...

@Blovy8 -- I wondered about Desi watching those pitches go by too. All I could figure was that he was using reverse psychology, thinking that because he's just a fastball hitter, the pitcher was sure to try to trick him with an offspeed pitch. So he was camping on the offspeed he never got.

Anonymous said...

this blog is dumb. why are reader comments more sabermetrics inclined than the writing in the actual blog. CapAve owns this blog, just like the Braves will own the Gnats this year, and for years to come

Booyah Suckah! said...

Strasburger, I like Storen a lot, but you have to admit he's been the definition of inconsistent lately. If everyone were reaching their potential, I think he'd be better, but right now I'd put the ball in Stammen's hand before anyone else. Everyone else is having mental issues.

And can we talk about how surprisingly not bad H-Rod has been since the Slam he gave up to the Reds? My usual reaction when I see him come in is "Well, I guess Davey's given up on trying to win this game". But he's actually been okay. FP was saying last night that H-Rod had actively tried to think less and take less time between pitches, and it seems to be working.

Harper said...

Donald - lots of things come up with green shoots. Weeds, Poison Ivy...

Chaz R - There's a little bit of that (mainly off the whole "best team in the league" pre-season notes) but every team wants to win every game so I don't think it's a big driver.

Z11 - I imagine you like everything better when the Nats are winning. Yes the Strasburg shutdown will come back and Yes I think Gio is the most worrying. Haren could be done but Haren was going to be a name-only #4. Gio was supposed to be a dual #1.

3bDad - So you're saying we shouldn't Gio for Carlos Villanueva?

Eric - small victories at this point, right?

KB - Haren didn't look good in that last inning but let's chalk that up to injury and getting his strength back. I'm far more worried if he gets battered around early. The team will get it going...eventually.

BS - You'd have a hard time arguing against Stammen this year. But if he does end up the best I'm not sure that's saying good things about the pen.

JW - No, you see the pitching (and D) was INCREDIBLE to start last year. Like crazy good. Like 4 guys challenging Bob Gibson's ERA record good. The pitching and D were winning games. The offense was just there. Now the offense is hit and miss and miss and the pitching and D are no good.

But like you say it's not an easy part of the sched and if they can get to June a few games over .500 they may be able to bust out in the summer in a big way.

Strasburg - I'd agree but sometimes the best arm doesn't get the best result. Hell you may argue H-Rod is the best arm.

b8 / Donald - Maybe I shamed Desmond into trying to walk? The Cards are slow but everyone should respect the arms the Nats have

Anon - I don't usually bust out any sabremetrics unless they are necessary to illustrate the point I'm getting at. There's also a time issue that keeps the writing a bit lighter that I would probably like it.

I like CapsAve though I'd say really he's more of a PitchFX fan than anything. Braves could own the Nats this year. We'll see. As for years to come... no telling. But both are set up to be really good.

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