Nationals Baseball: It's everything

Thursday, May 29, 2014

It's everything

Quick one today -

The Nats have had the worst NL offense in May easily.  (OPS in May is .639.  Cincinnati is 2nd worst at .651).  One very simple reason is that they can't hit.  Their average is 3rd lowest in the NL (.231 tied with CIN, slightly above CHC at .226).  When you can't get hits - you can't get enough XBH and you can't get on base enough.

So if they get more hits everything would be ok, right? Well... there are two other problems. They don't get on base enough regardless of hits and they don't hit for power when they do hit.

May BB% : 7.3% 10th in the NL

May ISO* : .110 14th in the NL.

(*SLG-BA : taking the singles out of your slugging percentage to see how you really "slug")

Even if the Nats were to have had a league average batting average in May they wouldn't be hitting with enough power or taking enough walks to have a good offense.

This is where the injuries really hurt.  LaRoche (out a big chunk of May) had an walk rate of  14.2% (projected in the 11% range) and an ISO of .190 (proj : .175ish).  Bryce 8.8% (proj: 10.5%) and .133 (proj: .210). Zimm 8.1% (proj : 9.2%) and .273 (proj : .195).   

(I put the projections just because small sample size is skewing those actual numbers - Ryan Zimmerman doesn't have Ruthian power. )

As far as the back-ups go, McLouth might walk enough. Moore might hit for enough power. Frandsen might hit for average. But that's it. You lost 2 of your best hitters for average in Bryce and Zimm and maybe replaced it with 1 guy who can match that. You lost 3 of your best power hitters and maybe replaced it with 1 guy who can match that. You lost 3 of your most patient batters (and the Nats may only have 4 "patient batters") and maybe replaced it with 1 guy who can match that.

You brought in Greg Dobbs.

This isn't terribly odd when moving from starters to back-ups. They are back-ups for a reason.  The Nats had a lineup coming in with 4 good-great hitters (Werth, Desmond, Bryce, Zimm), 1 good hitter (LaRoche), 2 could be good hitters (Ramos, Rendon) and one defense first guy (Span).

In May the Nats :
Lost 2 good-great hitters for whole month
Saw the other 2 good-great hitters struggle to be good**
Lost the 1 good hitter for a big chunk of time
Saw neither could be good hitters even be average (ramos has been bad, Rendon worse)

Well at least the defense first guy is hitting about average!

**Oh you thought it was just Ian? What if I told you Ian had a better May than Werth? OPS .783 to .702.  Werth is hitting and getting on-base but only has 3 XBH - 2 doubles and a homer. Desmond isn't hitting but is getting on-base ok (same # of walks as Werth) and hitting for power - 2 doubles, a triple and 5 homers.

What's gone wrong in May offensively?  Everything. 


Carl said...

The lack of power has been glaring in the run of play. When there have been hits they've been all single, and when they are guys on base there's no big XBH to drive them all in. Every time the team goes to extra innings I think "Can't somebody hit a damn home run and end this thing?" and it just doesn't happen.

Chas R said...

Very true and the lack of production combined with the mostly mediocre starting pitching gets them buried early in games and struggle to come back. That's got to take a toll on a team, as well as being painful to watch.

I think there may be some progress as they have seemed to get better later in May:,ts&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0,ts&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0

Regardless, they really need Harper and Zim back and producing to be a good offense again.

WiredHK said...

Anyone know where we can find team RISP hitting info? As bad as the offense has been in May, it seems like RISP hitting has been not just bad, but borderline historically terrible for an MLB team.

This is never more glaring than when we get guys to third with less than two outs. Feels like we somehow get even worse at the plate during these moments....

Harper said...

Carl - it's a shame Moore is such a dud in every other single aspect of the game that they couldn't play him more.

Harper said...

Chaz R - Desmond was better 2nd half of the month, Ramos is finally getting bat back, LaRoche is back. It's coming together but it was SO far apart.

Wired HK - Baseball Ref - team splits - I looked at it today Nats are bad (.210 / .313 / .323) but I think 2nd worst in NL? Maybe worst - not historical though. Bad with MO, worse with RISP, even worse with RISP and 2out (though a lot of teams are terrible in this situation so Nats look meh here)

Anonymous said...

.283 Baltimore Orioles

.280 Miami Marlins

.279 Colorado Rockies

.275 Chicago White Sox

.274 Texas Rangers

.268 Detroit Tigers

.255 Tampa Bay Rays

.252 New York Yankees

.251 Oakland Athletics

.251 Toronto Blue Jays

.251 Seattle Mariners

.249 Los Angeles Dodgers

.247 Boston Red Sox

.247 Philadelphia Phillies

.247 Milwaukee Brewers

.245 San Francisco Giants

.244 Arizona Diamondbacks

.243 Pittsburgh Pirates

.241 Los Angeles Angels

.241 Cleveland Indians

.240 Kansas City Royals

.240 New York Mets

.238 St. Louis Cardinals

.228 Atlanta Braves

.217 Houston Astros

.215 San Diego Padres

.213 Minnesota Twins

.210 Cincinnati Reds

.210 Washington Nationals

.203 Chicago Cubs

Anonymous said...

Got the info from yahoo stats

WiredHK said...

Thanks. Glancing at Baseball Reference, it looks like the Nats are the worst or close to it (percentage-wise) in the NL in two other situation-based areas:

1. Having a runner on 2B with 0 outs and advancing them (Nats are worst in NL, and it's by a lot). Interestingly, they've been in that position more times than most NL teams (6th most).

2. PAs while having a runner on 3B with less than two outs and scoring that runner (Nats are 2nd worst in the NL at this).

We not only can't hit, we can't even make productive outs to manufacture runs at all.

Donald said...

I don't know what's more frustrating -- getting almost no hits against mediocre pitching or getting lots of hits and stranding runners in the double digits. Luckily with the Nats this year, I get to compare the two quite frequently.

JWLumley said...

I don't know what the problem is, Rizzo said he was going to build a better bench. He included Tyler Moore in said bench. We all knew--well most of us anyway--that Tyler Moore is not a big league player and/or good at that level. For some reason, we believed Rizzo to varying degrees. We are all just as gullible as he is.

The Nats bench is awful, Desmond has regressed a bunch, Werth has also regressed a bunch. Their only hope is to get healthy, but at this point they're only waiting on Zimmerman until late July. That's two months where the offense is only going to add one bat. Zimmerman by himself is not going to make this lineup league average. They need to make a trade if they want to contend this year or call up someone like Souza and hope he's the type of guy who gets hot or it all clicks for once he's at the next level. If they do the traditional Rizzo plan of standing pat we'll be talking about next year a whole lot sooner this year.

Chas R said...

@JW I haven't looked at the numbers (maybe someone else has), but I suspect the bench is actually improved from last year. The problem is they are being asked to be everyday players for a long stretch. The reason they are bench players is going to show. We noted a few weeks ago that all we could ask to have the Nats tread water until they get healthy again. I would argue they have fallen a bit short of that, but not by much. They've fought and scuffled and been in most every game. Also, there are indications that the offense has started to improve in the latter part of May with Desi, Ramos, and LaRoche. We just need Zim and Harper back to get completely on track. Hopefully it won't be too late when that happens.

Kenny B. said...

And now the Rangers come into town. Shield your eyes, folks.

JWLumley said...

@Chaz - improved from last year doesn't make them good. The bench is performing at essentially replacement level. I'm not expecting anyone to throw up a .400 wOBA, but a .300 wOBA should be more than within reason (.330 is average big leaguer)and .320 or so should be the goal, especially when you consider that nearly all of them, except Espi and McLouth, are defensive liabilities. The Nats are a team filled with starters with long injury histories, there's no excuse for not being prepared to give 2 guys on your bench 350-400 PA's in a year. It's not a worst case scenario, it's a likely scenario. Now, to Rizzo's credit he did plan for it to an extent, he just bet on the wrong guys (Espinosa and McLouth). Still, what needs to be done is to add a real bat somewhere because even with Zimmerman, the Nats don't have a league average offense. Also, let's not forget that the bullpen has been absolutely dominant and while I still expect that to largely continue, some regression is to be expected.

Finally, some of this has to do with lineup construction. When you put 2 of your worst hitters in the 1 & 2 spots (I'm sorry, but Rendon has been bad) it exacerbates things and costs runs.

bdrube said...

Yet we have a 25-year-old outfield prospect sitting at AAA currently slashing .354/.455/.588 with a 1.013 OPS. Does anyone know if there is something wrong with Souza's game that they'd rather have the likes of Dobbs and Moore on the active roster?

Chas R said...

@JW I can't argue with lineup construction. MW reminds of Davey the way he dogmatically insists on having Span leadoff.

I just don't think the problem is the bench. It's really the amount of injuries and resulting missed time for key players. Per Boz's most recent column: "Their opening day starting lineup has been together for seven innings all season; those regulars have missed 32 percent of games, about three times the norm for winning teams this season."

I can't help be feel this is a very good team. I would just like to see that team finally compete.

JWLumley said...

@bdrube I've heard there's been some maturity issues with Souza in the past, but John Sickels listed him as a sleeper prospect who could blossom into an All-Star caliber player. Makes zero sense to me either. He hit the ball hard the few PA's he got when called up.

JWLumley said...

@Chaz Any other team, I might agree, but a team that started the season with Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, Wison Ramos, Adam LaRoche and even to a lesser extent Bryce Harper in their starting lineup should do so with the knowledge that if each of them made one trip to the 15 day DL a piece they should consider themselves lucky. To me, it's just not the same as a regular team going through these injuries. I mean it's not like they had 8 Cal Ripkens to start the year.

Kenny B. said...

We should stop being surprised by these cold streaks, I suppose. Even in 2012 the team would go through stretches where they only scored a couple runs a game. The difference then was more dominant pitching. For whatever reason, this team catches some kind of hitting flu at various points in the season where everyone goes cold at the same time.

While I don't think pitching is necessarily a liability for this team, it would be nice to have a post checking in on the pitching performance vs. legitimate expectations.

JE34 said...

Maybe it's the sting of that horrendous finish last night... but has the Nats offense ever been really good? It's especially bad with all the injuries now, but have they ever produced at a top 10 level, even when healthy?

"It's everything" is right. The starting pitching has kept them competitive in the past, and now the starters are struggling... ZNN has had 4 bad starts in a row, Gio is down, Strasburg is allergic to the 1st inning... Thank the Lord for the pen.

Anonymous said...

@JE34 - Didn't they have the best offense in the NL last season from the beginning of August onward? Obviously arbitrary endpoints but hey, you asked.

Anonymous said...

@JE34 - Didn't they have the best offense in the NL last season from the beginning of August onward? Obviously arbitrary endpoints but hey, you asked.

jesterboo said...

Looks like the Braves and Marlins will be battling it out for 1st place this weekend.

Zimmerman11 said...

I'm starting to worry about Matt Williams ...

“We have every stat known to man available to us that says that Anthony is a really good on-base guy; so is Jayson,” Williams said.

“Could I put Anthony in the leadoff spot? Yeah. Could I put Jayson in the leadoff spot? I could. But I also look at the whole season and say, ‘He does some things for us in the leadoff spot that are intangibles that those other guys simply don’t do. Is that good or bad? I don’t know.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Rendon do the exact same thing last year as he did this year. Come out hot, pitchers started pitching him away and he turned into to just another Nationals out making machine?

Jimmy said...

anon: No he had one abysmal month in July:.187/.237/.319 and followed that up with a pretty good August:.272/.364/.420 and September:.286/.352/.413. Source BR.

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