Nationals Baseball: Beat the Phillies

Monday, September 23, 2019

Beat the Phillies

Marlins beaten. It wasn't the most impressive series win but it was completed

The Cubs are in the midst of a meltdown with every move Joe Maddon making turning out to be the wrong one. This means the Nats are almost home free.The Nats have 8 games left and can effectively shut out the Cubs (or I guess the Mets, D-backs (hello again!), and Phillies) by just not totally sucking.


Cubs can catch the Nats with a 6-0 finish, Mets with a 7-0, Philly and Arizona would be out.

That's it.  3-5 means no one can pass you and it's miracle time even to catch you.  2-6 opens the door the tiniest of cracks. 1-7 ok now the door is open though it'd still take a strong finish from someone. 0-8 that's trouble. But of course 0-8 is trouble.

Given the chances that the Cubs or Mets go undefeated in the next four days is very slim beat the Phillies and you are in.  Beat the Phillies.

Philly is not technically out of the catch the Nats race but because of the "you win - we lose" aspect going on they have to win at least 4 games against the Nats. The second one would eliminate them and even going 4-1 the season would have to finish with a Phillies sweep and the Nats being swept just to match up. I suppose they could catch the Brewers instead but with 2 more games in hand they can only catch the Brewers with an 8-0 finish (and if the Brewers don't win again). More likely it will be the Nats that eliminate them if that interests you.

Now that we are at the end of the season, and playing them it's a good time to re-visit Bryce. How was his season? It was good! Maybe even technically worth what they are paying him! But not philisophically what the Phillies were hoping for.

Byrce leads the Phillies in OPS! Leads in homers. Leads in RBI. Leads in runs! His defense has been his normal "eh" maybe a little better this year*, certainly not his OMG worst in the majors numbers from last year ** But all this and he's only a 3-5 WAR player, well below his own heights of like 9 and the MVP levels closer to 7.   I've talked about this before but EVERY Phillie hitter regressed this year. And it's not some "bet too hard on 2018 fluke numbers" thing. They are worse that you'd epxect historically.  Realmuto? Worse. Hoskins? Worse. Segura? Worse. Mid season-boost Bruce? Worse. Given the players already here were no great shakes the effect was going from below average in hitting to average.  There's a good deal here to think this won't continue next year BUT this also says that next year they probably won't have that Top 3 offense some might have thought. Which is a problem because trying to fix the pen the Phillies let the rotation go and it disappointed. Nola took a step back from the fringes of the Cy Young race to just being solid. Eflin was a decent arm. The rest were clear back of the rotation arms forced to do more work. The bullpen wasn't relatively as bad as last year but it was only average and the combination gets you a .500ish  team.

There's potential for the Phillies next year but they'll have to get two starters at least.

Anyway back to Bryce. So he's the best Philly bat but in a season where Philly bats died.  He's having a very weird year at the plate where with no one on he's horrendous (.196  / .330 / .372) and a monster with men on (.332 / .429 / .664)  You could claim that it's about the pitchers being forced to pitch to him and I think that's sort of right (although he's killer with an open 1st base and men-on as well). Like he's trying to do to much while being pitched around.

There's a feeling he could do better .270+ with the same other profiles. Accept that he can't win it by himself and let him get pitched around and see that OBP back up around  .420+. That's enough to earn his money and be on the outskirts of MVP talk. But can he have another true MVP season? He'll have to prove it.

Are the Nats better with him or without him? If you believe it's Bryce OR Corbin then they are probably better without him. Corbin's been great and Eaton gives you something, unlike the Phillies OFs that Bryce pushed out who were all terrible.If it's Bryce vs Eaton, though, as it should be (THERE IS NO MONEY BUCKET SPEND SPEND SPEND) they'd be better with him.  Bryce is a good player. Every team could use him. But Soto did effectively replace him***

Anyway back to the series. Beat the Phillies. There's a little less drama here because even losing to the Phillies 2-3 is basically going to keep the Nats on track, but just beat em. 

*but never rely on single year defensive stats

**see above

*** Soto hits better but has worked hard and improved his fielding from abysmal to merely bad. You can't see a long-term future for him in the OF.


Treaples69 said...

Soto is adequate in left. Per statcast he is actually better than average. He makes some great plays but has no arm. But the kid has improved in every facet of the game so im not gonna doubt that he cant keep getting better.

billyhacker said...

Sounds a little like Harper has given up on home field advantage. Seems like Brewers are accomplishing their wins on the back of weaker opponents, but the Nats just lost to Marlins. While brewers technically took 4 of 7 from the Nats, it could have gone either way and brewers still had Yelich then. So, coin toss odds? Odds makers seem to favor Nats, but is Scherzer really back?

Anonymous said...

I think a positive way to look at it would be the Brewers have been playing nobody, so hopefully seeing Stras or Max would be quite the change of pace for them.

Also, I hope the Nats (once they get in) go Stras to start and bring in Max from there.

Anonymous said...

Fivethirtyeight wrote in the winter about how some underlying stats are worrisome for Harper. Since 2017, his ability to hit the fastball has started to decline. His contact percentage has been gradually declining since 2017, his whiff rate is up and strikeout percentage is up.

Seems to have trouble catching up to fastballs. Zimm in his thirties can pull 102, Harper has trouble with 92. Offspeed, especially sliders gives him trouble. It's like he started to decline in his midtwenties. I hope he turns it around.

BxJaycobb said...

@Harper. That’s not accurate regarding Soto being bad in outfield. Every version of def metrics has him either barely below average, average, or barely above average for a corner outfielder (outs above average for example has him in the black. The reason his Def value has negative effect on his WAR is because he’s a corner outfielder. That position (LF especially) has a negative value baseline. He’s meh. Not sure why he can’t stay in the outfield.

@Anon. Please god I hope you’re not saying Ryan Zimmerman has a quicker bat than Bryce Harper. I’m begging you. He does not have trouble with 92. Good heavens.

Anonymous said...

@BxJaycobb You are right, the Zimm thing was a bad example, and Harper's bat speed is still there. Didn't mean to suggest that. I just thought of Zimm since I was impressed at him pulling 102 over the weekend. Forgive me!

Point I'm making is he is swinging through lots of fastballs, even middle of the plate. And the numbers point to concerning trends. He has the fifth lowest contact rate in baseball!,a

Anyway, this article explains it much better me:

BxJaycobb said...

@Anon. True, Harper has some concerning contact trends. Not sure why. It seems somewhat unlikely a 26 year old is losing bat speed. Maybe he is selling out more for power than he used to. Maybe injuries have worn him down. Maybe its as simple as pitchers throwing harder now than they had for his first few years. Who knows. But frankly his numbers this year aren’t that far off his career numbers. 🤷‍♂️

SuburbanSteve said...

Does Harper still wear contact lenses...remember the first season he was in the minors and they seemed to think he was having trouble seeing the ball, and I remember them getting him contact lenses. You can lose eye sight and have that affect hand/eye coord in your 20s, 30s, heck my 13year-old has that problem now (which is correctable via lenses, but it may not prevent further eyesight deterioration...) Does anyone else remember that?

Josh Higham said...

@SuburbanSteve, not only does Bryce still wear contact lenses, he is sponsored by Acuvue to promote their transitions lenses. That dweeb has brown eyes during day games!

SuburbanSteve said...

@Josh_Higham LOL

Anonymous said...

@BxJaycobb True, I think he is being more aggressive. Citizens Bank Park is probably a factor. In the offseason, everyone was saying San Francisco is the worst park for him, being a lefty and how he would rake in philly. But they ignored how bad his numbers were at CBP in 2017 and 2018. He batted .198 and .212 and had like a 50% strikeout rate. Meanwhile, his first multihomer game was in San Francisco. So yeah, he tries to do too much in Philly, with its"extreme hitters park" reputation, which I think is overblown.

Selling out for power was true first half last year. But even second half last year, when the derby "fixed his swing" , his contact rate jumped, and he hit .300 post- ASB, he still swung through lots of fastballs. But he should hit for average. He is really a line drive hitter with power, not a power hitter. Philly expects him to be a power hitter, which doesn't work for him. And his contact rate at this point last season was still higher than it is now. And his fastball issue seems to be worse. So yeah, I don't get it either.