Nationals Baseball: Nats win, offense still sputters

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Nats win, offense still sputters

The Nats don't have Anthony Rendon anymore. They don't have Juan Soto anymore as DC health officials clear him for playing. They don't have Ryan Zimmerman.  In effect they have an offense a lot like the beginning of last May.  If you don't remember a mix of injuries and a day off for Howie led to this lineup being trotted out byt the eventual world champs for a day:

Robles Difo Eaton Suzuki Dozier Stevenson Kieboom Noll

Things aren't that bad but they are pretty down. It's arguably to the point where any decent pitcher has a shot at shutting this team down. But whatcha gonna do? The Nats decided to let Rendon go, center the offense around the younger, better hitter in Soto and focus on keeping the SP as good as it can be.  Other teams have won with that kind of plan (see one of those Giants WS teams) so it's not terrible. It just relies on pitcher health which is totally up in the air in a normal year. This isn't even that. 

But still - championship in pocket.  Weirdo season.  Just roll with it. 

As far as the rest of the NL East is going, the Marlins are possibly dead, the Phillies are frozen, the Mets and Braves are .500.  Again just roll with it. Remember what I said. Wait did I say it here? Anyway if I didn't, .500 is basically going to get you in the playoffs this year with the new structure.  That's the low hanging fruit the Nats need to go after.  No pushing players, no crazy deals.  Just try to get to .500 with what you have and see if you can recapture that post-season magic.

We'll get to some real analysis when there are more games in pocket.  Maybe next Monday.


blovy8 said...

Nobody is going to catch the .667 Marlins. They’re a playoff team right now.

Josh Higham said...

I haven't been watching at all, but (small sample disclaimers) does Robles look good at the plate? He was good in his 2018 callup and a little shy of mediocre all last year, but I'd really like to keep believing he can be at least a pretty good bat for most of his 20s.

Cautiously Pessimistic said...

Robles is on a path towards being a slightly better MAT. Great defense, better baserunning, and slightly better bat, but I'm not seeing the plate discipline needed to be the above average hitter we all hoped for. He could learn it, the talent is there, but we've also said the same thing about MAT and he looks more lost at the plate than ever.

Anonymous said...

Just to build on that, took a look at some stats from last season. We should be remember the value that Robles still adds, he is a top 10 CF, it's just that most of that value is on the basepaths and in the field. But if he can learn some plate discipline, he'd be that much greater. He swings way too much, both in and out of the zone. And while he's pretty good at making contact, his contact is weak. 25% of his contact is "soft", and only 25% is "hard". By comparison, the other great CFs (not counting the god-like Trout) have weak rates well below 20% and hard rates well over 30%.

All this points to the fact that Robles needs to work on pitch recognition. He needs to take a page out of Soto's book and learn to choose his pitches. Once he can do that, he's shown he has the speed and pop to be a fantastic hitter. But pitch recognition doesn't come easy, and there's no guarantee he'll ever get there.

Harper said...

Josh - Let's get two series under our belts first. He looks like Robles has before at the plate. As CP says there's more talent there but same discipline issues.

John O'Connor said...

Robles is kind of like Byron Buxton in that his defense is so good that if he is a league-average hitter he is a valuable piece of your team. If Robles can develop into a .290/.340 guy, that's a CF you'd trot out there for a decade and be happy.

Anonymous said...

Robles has lots of room for improvement, but he and MAT do not belong in the same sentence. Robles, in his first full season in MLB at age 22-23, had a 91 WRC+. This is, of course, below league average. But for a player with good speed who plays a premium defensive position, 91 WRC+ is probably good enough to stop looking for someone else. And if you're Billy Hamilton, 91 WRC+ is probably good enough to be an all star.

MAT has exactly one season - 2017, in 118 games - where he's hit better than 91 WRC+, and that was just 104, barely above league average (and supported by a BABIP above 160). It was his fourth season in MLB (third full season) and he was 26. All his other seasons he had a WRC+ of 69, 71, 71, and 73.

Robles isn't "slightly" better than MAT - he's MUCH MUCH better. Already. At 23. I think we're hoping Robles is a 120 WRC+ guy. His numbers in the minors combined with his age suggests that is possible. But that guy hasn't really shown up in the majors yet. He may, with time, but he hasn't yet and he may never.

Still, get out of here with comparing him to MAT, who is simply not a major league caliber hitter. Robles is already better than him by a lot, not by a little. And there's reason to think Robles will get better.

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