Nationals Baseball: What can I tell you?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What can I tell you?

Plenty of teams have started .500 or so in their first 20 games and made the playoffs, won the division, or even won the series. I don't even have to look it up that's how confident I am about the above.

At the same time the Nats need to now play 5 games better than the Braves over the next 142 games to take the NL East. That's a lot of games but that's a lot of ground against a team that you expected to be roughly 5 games better than. The Nats can't afford to go into May 7-8 games back and reasonably expect to catch the Braves.  It would still be possible, most certainly, but you'd have to stop expecting it.

Any encouraging signs from the fancy stats?

Offensively BABIP is always the one you look at first and the Nats are among the lowest in the league at .275.  It's not crazy low but it suggests improvement to come as the luck improves.  LaRoche and Chad Tracy should see the most improvement. (discouraging I can't avoid talking about what's in front of my eyes counter argument - the Nats line drive rate, which is the type of hit that varies most consistently with BABIP, is at 18%, that's low.  So part of this isn't luck but guys just not hitting the ball well)

HR/FB overall is pretty average, though Danny Espinosa (7.1%) and the bench (which has 0 homers) should see some overall improvement.  Desmond and Werth are also seeing some bad luck here during this recent slump. (No real counter - Ramos should hit less but he's barely played. I won't rule anything out for Bryce, even a 30% HR/FB ratio)

The offense has been very hit or miss. That doesn't sound encouraging but in general your offensive output should have a pretty normal distribution (as normal as you can get with only 162 data points) It will win games for the Nats but then help lose them.  Since losing that first game versus the Braves 4-6 look at the Nats run scoring distribution : 0 0 0 1 1 2 2 6 7 10.  Averages out a little below average but those are 3 games you expect to win and 7 you expect to lose. This should even out over the next few weeks and give the Nats some more 3-5 runs scored games.

Pitching wise the intermediate pen is having some bad luck with batted balls.  Duke, Storen, Stammen and Mattheus all have BABIPs over .300 recently and they seem out of line with what they should be.  There are alos a couple of too high HR/FBs here. (counter - you could say that Soriano and especially Clippard are getting lucky recently.)

At least part of Gio's problem also comes from some bad BABIP and HR/FB luck. He's not as bad as he's seemed the last few starts (counter - that walk rate though is out of control. It needs to come back down for him to be elite) 

Verdict? Both the hitting and pitching should get better, but not too much. Now that's over the season, so in comparison to the past 10-14 days the hitting should get much better. It's going to be enough to start winning more than they are losing.  Is it going to be enough to catch the Braves though? The potentially long chase begins in less than a week.


Josh A said...

Copy and pasted from CurlyWMLBlogs

Now, let’s put the opening of the season in some greater historical perspective. Here are the records of the last five World Series Champions through 20 games:

2012 San Francisco Giants: 10-10

2011 St. Louis Cardinals: 11-9

2010 San Francisco Giants: 12-8

2009 New York Yankees: 10-10

2008 Philadelphia Phillies: 10-10

Strasburger said...

I like us catching the Braves somewhere in between June 1-June 15

Harper said...

JA - that's fair but things have changed. The 2nd WC has made finishing in the WC spot a lot less desirable because one bad game can end it all. The win totals of these teams is more indicative

94, 90, 92, 103, 92.

Only the Yankees ended up with a number you feel real good about winning the NL East. They were at 9-10 and then went 15 and 7 in their next 22. (then puttered around before finishing the year 64-27)

The NEXT last team to win a WS with a 95+ win total and not start at least 13-7 was the Angels. They would start 7-14 before rolling off a 20-3 stretch.

So basically those are the comparisons for the Nats. Which means a long hot stretch better be right around the corner or else they better hope the WC is kind to them

S- have to look at the sched. To mid-May is a difficult stretch for the Nats. I say sometime right around the All-Star break is the best first chance.

blovy8 said...

The Braves played their way out of the playoffs in 2011 in September, the first 20 games aren't much more of an indicator than the 20 games right before the all-star break. I'd say the next 20 need to be good, but why shouldn't they be?
If they aren't playing better, there will certainly be changes.

The scary thing was Henry almost looking like a pitcher last night. I don't know whether that's a good or a bad omen. I mean, if he's going good then he must be stealing mojo from someone else on the team that needs it more right now.

Strasburger said...

AAAAANNNNNNDDDDD take out your brooms. That was hard to watch

Chas R said...

Fugly... what a huge disappointment from all the post season hype. I'm just deflated.

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Eric said...

I can't help but wonder if things are out of whack for the Braves in the opposite direction. The chase isn't one-dimensional, after all...

Any chance of you running this kind of analysis on them, as well?

Anonymous said...

Haven't seen an analysis of the Braves' pitching, but would assume they've gotten lucky there.

Offensively, the analysis I've seen indicates they've actually been unlucky so far. The HR/FB rate is high, but an unusually high percentage of those have been solo home runs even though there have been pretty good OBPs ahead of the home run hitters. At the time of that analysis, most of the other metrics were either at league average or quite a bit below what would be expected.

Unknown said...

Not to be rude, but do you know how ridiculous this is? What does it mean to play 162 games? 162 days ago was last November. That is how many games are left. If a team is 30 and 30, there are still 102 games remaining.

Zimmerman11 said...

Things just got serious. Harper breaks out the RED INK!