Nationals Baseball: So how about that 3rd Wild Card spot?

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

So how about that 3rd Wild Card spot?

Well that was an inauspicious beginning to the WC hunt, wasn't it? Nats lose. Reds win. D-Backs win.

Another game, another wasted pitching effort. Here is what Strasburg and Gio have had to put up with this year. The Nats have scored 2 or fewer runs in ten of Gio's starts. That's about right considering they've done this over fifty times this year, but they've scored 0 or 1 run in eight of those ten.  Strasburg has been given 2 or fewer runs fifteen times this year.

Gio has had some games go in his favor and his run support is actually ok. Strasburg on the other hand has the 2nd worst run support in the majors and in 22 starts the Nats have scored more than 3 runs for him only four times. Ugh.

Some are focusing on the RISP slumps but those are going to happen. Here are some stats for you

Nats 2013 : .241 / .300 / .385
Nats 2013 RISP :  .237 / .320 / .368

It's really not that much different.  It's not that the Nats can't hit with RISP, it's that the Nats can't hit.

Think about it. If you're team is hitting .241 with a .385 slugging, getting two hits with RISP in eight tries and having one be an XBH is performing sightly above expectations.Let's not forget with that slash line, what exactly are the chances of you getting 8 runners in scoring position anyway?

We all think that this offense should be good enough. So what's the problem? Well, one problem is this offense isn't hitting together enough. Suzuki comes in for Ramos? Big drop. Tracy comes in for LaRoche? Big drop even though LaRoche hasn't hit well.  Lombardozzi comes in for anyone? Big drop. The Nats lineup is not strong enough to absorb hitters who are as bad as the Nats bench has been.

Since Ramos came back, when the Nats have had the expected line-up (Ramos, LaRoche, Rendon, Desmond, Zimmerman, Werth, Bryce, and either Span or Hairston depending) the Nats are averging 4.5 runs a game in14 outings. That's good. Take out the 14 run game and they still are averaging 3.8 runs a game which isn't good but it's in the general vicinity of all the other below average teams. When they have to sub anyone in, which has happened 15 times, that average drops to 3.06 runs a game. That's "put away the bats and hope to HBP your way to a win" terrible.

What should the Nats do?  Forget mixing things up and do exactly what you think you should. Start the base 7 every game. Start Ramos as much as you can, three out of every four games, four out of every five. Platoon Hairston and Span to take advantage of Hairston's lefty mashing. Keep doing this over and over. If you have to rest a good player and put in a bench guy, do it on a Suzuki day. Don't spread out the pain. It may not make the Nats a good offense, but it will keep them from being an awful one for the rest of the year.


Wally said...

Ok, so I agree with you, but more importantly, what do they do for next year? I think that they have to trade Span and add a bopper in LF.

I think you meant 'don't do it on a Suzuki day'?

cass said...

No, he does mean do it on a Suzuki day. They aren't going to score enough runs that day anyway, so get all your guys resting on the same day so they can all be together on the other days.

Utterly depressing baseball. At least it's looking like we'll get a half-decent draft pick. If we keep this up, maybe it'll even be protected!

Harper said...

Wally - no I mean do it on a Suzuki day. The offense is so fragile that one sub kills it. If that's the case might as well sub in everyone all at once. Lose that game and then get back to trying to win the next one.

Next year... we've discussed this - there isn't much. You can hope that you get a bounce back year from LaRoche and health from Bryce and Werth and better years from others OR you can try to replace Span and/or LaRoche. But the pickings are slim on the FA market to do that - Choo, Pence, Hart. Or you can break the bank and try on Cano.

Anonymous said...

He means they should do all the subs in one game so they only concede that one, not a few games.

Unknown said...

i also agree trade Span but I would also consider trading LaRoche moving Rendon to 3rd Zimmerman to 1st signing Cano amd try to get Stanton fomr the Marlins. What do you think about that. I also think we go after Ellsbury. As far as pitching we need at least one more starter so why not Jason Hammel or even and i think you can get a descent deal for AJ Burnett. i guess the only real problem with all of this is Rizzo just recieved a new contract which means the Lerners are good with what he is doing and he has been on the record saying he likes this squad.

Froggy said...

You make the case (yet again) why the Lerners MUST go out and find some power (Cano, Stanton, etc). We cannot continue in this way for next year. As we have seen by a recent political candidate, Hope is not a strategy. Hoping that LaRoche, Zimmerman, et al hits better next year would be malpractice IMO.

So, as an exercise, why not put Ramos at 1b on the days he isn't catching and sit LaRoche? I know the idea is to give him a day off, but 1b is just about as close to a day off as you can get, and we would have his production everyday for the rest of the year.

Erich said...

Great post on the average runs with the various lineups.

I think that does highlight the problems this team must address going forward. Don't trade Span. Let him become the 4th outfielder and probably chase Choo. Harper, Cano has to be resigned in New York. WIth A-Rod off the payroll next year and probably a missed postseason, I don't any other team has a chance at Cano. Either way, it's not the offseason yet. We can bicker over that then.

We held out hope on the division race. I'll remain patient on the wild card spot.

Wally said...

Harper said...

Wally - no I mean do it on a Suzuki day. The offense is so fragile that one sub kills it. If that's the case might as well sub in everyone all at once. Lose that game and then get back to trying to win the next one.

Ok, I misunderstood (sorry). But I don't think that I'd do it that way anyway; the pitching is good enough that they can start winning 2-1 instead of losing, so I'd go with the best line up that I had each night.

As for next year, I think that they have to do something beyond just a better bench, whether it is FA or trade. I wouldn't touch Cano's contract length, but maybe a Morales or even a Napoli. I dunno; Rizzo got the big extension, let's see what he can do. I think just assuming each of these guys are going to step it up by 10% or so is very dangerous

Cory said...

Statistical analysis makes a strong correlation between batting average and BABIP (minus HRs and Ks), and between BABIP and line-drive % (minus HR, park effects, and luck).

Looking at the league ranks, this makes sense as our batted-ball profile is very similar to the Cards, except we hit line drives 19.9% to their 22.6, with corresponding BABIPs of .282 to .319. We also walk a bit less and strike out more, further explaining the difference in AVG.

Last year, however, we had a BABIP of .308 with nearly the same batted ball profile as this year.

All this is to say that it seems like only a couple issues stand out. We're way off last year's home run rate (106 to 194). But I still tend to think that last year's BABIP was partly from above average luck, and this years. It's not an answer that suggests something can be done, especially as to the regulars, who all actually have pretty good batted-ball profiles (except for awful Danny).

Unknown said...

Anyone have any ideas as to who will be brought in to replace Davey or are they just going to promote within.

Unknown said...

I've thought I've hear Girardi's contract is up and Rizzo might make a run at him. I imagine the Yankees would maybe use him as a scapegoat for not making the playoffs and won't extend him.

I like the Span as a 4th outfielder idea. He'd be a great late game sub for running and defense. Just need someone who can make consistent contact. I imagine Rendon will progress "hopefully". Werth, Harper, and Zimm should be 100% healthy barring anything these last few months. I'm not sure about giving up on LaRoche quite yet, only because we'd have to fill in the hole at 2B moving Zimm over. Seeing what Pedroia just got, we'd have to put out huge for Cano and that doesn't seem to smart to have that many +100 mil contracts (2 of which are declining at a fast rate) and Espinosa is still hitting awful in the minors. Maybe his off-season surgery will help, but who knows.

Chas R said...

Good point, Harper. I have been one of those focusing on the RISP slump. A lot of these guys have been under the career averages all year. I would think at some point that has to turn around. I don't see Rizzo going after a big time FA in the off season. He's comfortable with the Lerner's support, and he's built this current team and likes it. I like Span in CF, he does so much out there to assist/support Harper and Werth. I would think his bat is going to come back at some point. Now ALR, as we have already discussed, Rizzo signed him to the 2 year deal for a reason, and I bet they are going to stay with him and see what happens.

Does anyone think Rizzo will actually go out and get a big time FA bat in the offseason?

Kenny B. said...

I would think they need to at least make a legitimate run at a big name FA, if for no other reason than to appease fans. I mean, from a marketing standpoint, how are you going to get anyone excited about the same group of guys who completely failed you last year? Bryce/Strasburg may still sell tickets, but everyone's seen them already.

I say they make a failed run at a big time FA, a lot like the Prince Fielder situation. Then at least management can say they tried, and everyone can collectively at least feel like Rizzo thinks something needs to be done.

A Fly Moses said...

Off-topic, but for those who watched last night: Has Gio's pickoff move always been this bad? I had remembered him being good at holding runners, and his numbers this year had been good (3 of 8 caught going into last night, best on the team), but good lord he was tipping it last night. Upton was taking off the second Gio dropped his chin (his chin stayed up when he threw over), and it gave Ramos no chance. Has this been going on forever and I (and apparently other teams) just hadn't noticed it, or have we actually managed to somehow get even worse at holding runners?

Anonymous said...

Note that Harper wrote "replace" Span. I LOVE the posts that suggest we should trade Span. For what?!? There are GMs out there witnessing Span's season and wondering what it will take to pry that treasure away from us?

Wally said...

Anon - I don't think anyone is suggesting that he would return an Alex Meyer again, (at least I am not), but if Scott Hairston can bring back a C prospect, Span can bing back something. Despite his offensive shortcomings, he is a plus defender in a high value position and on pace for a 2WAR season and under control for two more seasons. Someone will take a chance on that.

But more importantly, you clear space for a hitter.

Strasburger said...

You can't just "put" someone at first base. Not exactly like walking the dog Froggy.

I was at the game last night, it's hard to watch a team who if down one run when the opposing team's bullpen comes up, is screwed.

I'm going again tonight. Let's cross our fingers that that pitch hit them right in the heart.

Anonymous said...

Hey Gang-Zendo
I'll stop saying it soon but yet again, a spot on breakdown/break-out of the numbers from the "other" Harper!.... Nothing to do but read 'em and weep.
So a question, Harper (and i throw this out to everyone): for next year, who's the manager? (Sad but i AM looking to 2014 at this point.)
Will it be an insider? If so, whom?
Outside help? Again, any choices?(Too bad Donnie Baseball has assured himself of staying with the Dodgers. Will Cholly stay and give us a shot at Sandberg? Maybe Girardi goes?)
Also- how much change will we see on our current staff (as much as The Rizz allows?), especially if we have a new manager who's from outside the organization?
Meanwhile, Harp, i look forward to your answer (as well as that column on Werth!Especially before he goes cold!)
Go Nats

Anonymous said...

Hey Gang-Zendo again.
Ow-sorry, Chaz-missed your post. but mebbe i can help you spark some responses(??? is next manager). A real interesting (important?) question considering how under-performing this team is assumed to be.Lots of considerations (what exactly IS this team. Pitching and...? Plus how is the new manager going to relate to/interact with the current bunch.

Chas R said...

Strasburger- God bless you. We were planning to go a couple of times this week, but I just can't bear it. It's hard enough watching on TV. At least, I can turn the channel.

Zendo- wow, it would be great to get Sandberg.

Froggy said...


Really, you can't just 'put' anyone at 1b? Wow, I didn't know that! /sarc

But, something tells me if Mike Morse can play first, Ramos could probably do the same. At this point in our anemic season ANYway to keep Ramos in the lineup would be a plus. It's called shaking things up.

Really disappointed that Gio didn't drill someone last night. Defending your team mates is part of the game. So what he gets tossed, so what Davey gets tossed. We are 7 games out of the 2nd WC and 14 out of the east. I think that would have done more to shake things up.

Chaos56 said...

Michael Morse was a shortstop in college, a lot better training for playing 1b than catcher. I'm not sure Rizzo will do a whole lot this off season since they have very little to trade away at this point. I think the most likely thing is to build a better bench, hope Jordan isn't a fluke and see if Giolito is ready to contribute, maybe in the second half. As for the new manager, I'd be surprised if it isn't Randy Knorr. More of a hard case than Davey and they can stay within the organization, which upper management seems to believe is important. This is a team that believes, still, that they are built to challenge for pennants for years to come.

Unknown said...

Although Span has disappointed with the bat- I think a Hairston-Span CF platoon might not be too bad- assuming you can't find a good option on the market.
Maybe we could get Morse for a 1yr/2-3m contract next yr and platoon with LaRoche.
Hope Espi is fit nx yr- would be great reserve IF- can cover SS/2B with GG defense (and Rendon could slide to 3rd when Zim injured).

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