Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Soto Ascendant

Monday, August 17, 2020

Monday Quickie - Soto Ascendant

 Juan Soto isn't leading the league in anything right now, but that seems to be only because he hasn't played enough games thanks to what seems to be an aberrant positive test.  Otherwise the kid is hitting like you'd hope he would - a continuation of last years performance where power, patience, and batting eye all come together.*

I'm not going to scale his stats up because that'd be silly. But for a team that looks to be in the need of a new image going forward he is putting up superstar numbers and should be it. Why a new image? Well the team was a starting pitching team first, but perennially injured Stras is as expected injured this perennial, Max is finally, maybe, showing his age getting hit a bit, homered a lot, and more wild. And Corbin is a 1A type reliant on a slider to be dominant or merely good and at 30 is unlikely to change. Within a year or two this will be a Soto team first and foremost. The question is if there is enough of a lineup around him.  Turner and Robles have both hit better recently. Kieboom and newly brought up 2B Garcia have not yet (but plenty of time).  Are these guys keys that keep the Nats from needing to sign a big bat or just pieces that save them money to maybe sign the big bat they need? A bright spot this year at the plate seems to be some decent skills getting on base Kieboom walking, Turner legging things out, and Robles getting plunked. So offensively some guys Soto can knock home at least.

The Nats are currently benefitting from ONCE A GODDAMN GAIN being in potentially the worst division in baseball, the NL East unless you love the Marlins. The Nats are in range to finish first ahead of a good, but not great Braves team; a pitching plagued Phillies team, and a Mets team where the sum is lesser than the parts. Nothing about this will change unless the Braves youngsters come together.  Hell let's do a quick review

ATL - The Braves did build a great pen, Ozuna is doing what they want, and other vets more so but their fate is tied to their youth and right now nearly all are hurt or underperforming. Acuna is hurt. Albies is hurt. Riley is struggling terribly. Dansby appears to be what he is. Soroka is hurt. Toussaint is probably better than this. Wright may not be. So who is healthy and doing well? Max Fried might be the list. That's not going to keep the Braves up in the standings.

PHI - DYK Bryce leads the NL in OBP? Realmuto is one off the NL lead in homers? Gregorious is good. Segura is hitting like Segura should. McCuthen may be showing signs of life.  Seems like freed of Kapler guys are doing what they should. OK Kingery looks DOA as a prospect**, but everyone else is doing well and they are 3rd in R/G.The starters are all ok... Wheeler isn't an ace but he does what he's supposed to. Problem is Girardi hasn't been able to piece a back of the pen together yet and the front end guys keep giving up the big hit. If he can there's a team here to challenge but there's no guarantee the pieces are here.

NYM - deGrom and the other guys continues. Wacha hurt himself. Porcello is ok but with some bad luck. Matz is just bad. Stroman opted out. Add it together and a possibly really good rotation becomes garbage. The hitting is ok, Cano has new life is especially important and the relief pitching has come back a bunch from their 2019 nightmare but without the starting pitching it's not enough. The offense isn't team carrying.

*Defense - not so much. I keep telling you this. You keep ignoring me. I guess that's just how it's going to be for a couple years. 

** Hey hows that SS doing... Crawford.... meh on Seattle. Not great but an average bat is something. But can he keep it up.


Anonymous said...

I mean, Acuña and Albies aren't *dead*, nor is there any particular reason to think they won't be back soon. Braves' rotation is a shambles, but they've got three games on the Nationals with 37 left to play. This is a big series. If the Braves take 2 of 3, the Nationals should start looking towards division 2 or maybe a wild card.

Anonymous said...

Re Soto's defense:

Maybe. But you're asking an awful lot of 90 innings if you expect them create a meaningful datapoint here.

His 2020 definitive states look terrible right now, and maybe last year's improvement was a fluke and he's never going to be better than bad defensively.

But my money is on the improvement being real, and Soto being an average to above average LFer (so, admittedly, still not great on defense) for the next 5-10 years.

We will see.

Cautiously Pessimistic said...

Echoing second Anon, we have to factor in position here, and LF is where you stick your worst defender who can still run (1B being the place for those who can no longer run). While the eye test tells you he's not exactly graceful out there, he takes good routes, makes the routine plays, and occasionally makes a tough one. That's all you can hope for from your LF, and is why he was a Gold Glove finalist last year.

I don't love where the Nats sit right now, largely because the offense is Soto and nobody else. Until some other people start stepping up, I'm not convinced the Nats can finish things out at .500. This feels a lot like the 2018 Nats that were near the top of the league in runs scored and failed to make the playoffs, largely because they'd score 10 runs one game, then score 2 the next game

Nattydread said...

Amazing how similar this shortened year is to last year. As good as the team appears on paper, and as intelligently constructed as it is, the team still manages to find a new way to lose --- or injuries have a way of finding the team.

Starlin. Great pick-up (with Cabrera 2.0) to partially replace Rendon. Gone with injury.

Scherzer, Strasburg. Typical random injuries early on.

Bullpen. Supposedly a strength, some real exciting young guys with the vets. But not.

Oh, well. Whatever happens, it will be nice to watch the Soto and Garcia show from the DR. Even Kieboom and Robles are entertaining now.