Nationals Baseball: Let's look at this team!

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Let's look at this team!

We are one tenth of the way through the season! 90% to go. That's a lot more to go than what has been played but it can't hurt now to take a look, can it? Oh wait - not all these guys have played that much. Yeah that's a problem. But still what else are you going to do? NOT look? Ok ok, I'll leave relievers and guys with like less that 30 PAs out unless I see something crazy.

Doing Great 

Max - after that first start being bombed all over the stadium here are his stats : 0.47 ERA 0.684 WHIP 1.9 BB/9, 11.4 K/9 3G 19 IP 9H 4BB 24Ks opponents hitting .141 /.203 /.188. He's still one of the best pitchers in baseball.

Josh Harrison - .387 / .472 / 548.  He's hit.  He's hit for decent power. He's walked a little. A big thing is that he's only struck out one time. Once! He's actually never struck out 100 times in a season (though to be fair he's also never played a full season) so this is kind of his thing but this is the best version of that.

Doing Good 

Brad Hand - He's been in 6 games and hasn't given up a run. He's not been dominant though (which is why he's not in great) - only striking out 5 in the 6 innings, well under his usual. But you have to comment on the newly signed closer being perfect

Zimm - .302 / .324  / .515 - not walking at all but doing everything else. Should he be playing more? Maybe. But maybe he's doing so well because he isn't playing more?

Trea - .302 / .343 / .540 - Also not walking but when you have 7 XBH and 4 homers that's perfectly ok. 

Soto - .300 / .410 / .460 - even with a possibly injury influenced slump still has good numbers. That's Soto. 

Doing Bad

Schwarber - .200 / .238 / .350 - a big walk-off homer hides the fact that that's his only homer and one of his few hits so far this year.  14Ks too. 

Stevenson  - .219 / .278 / .344. The expected by me - not doing anything well type of performance. Not a secret weapon.  But looks good in the field to me so you keep around

Robles - .204 / .350 /.245. uh oh. And this is after he started well.  .190 / .292 /.238 after the first series. For those hoping for a step back toward average this is not a good sign

Rainey  - 7 appearances, 3 times giving up multiple runs. 6 times putting on a baserunner. He has not pitched well. Last time out though flashed skill of old with a striking out of the side.  

Doing Terrible

Corbin - 10.95 ERA. One terrible start.  One so bad it's goes into the "worst Nats starts ever" bin. One decent one can't save him from terrible right now but its only 3 starts so he can easily be bumped up to bad next one out.  

Josh Bell - .161 / .250 / .323.  If you want to say something nice that's not a lot of Ks. But the numbers show - hitting it softer, not getting around, hitting it on the ground. Looks slow and old for 28.

Hernan Perez - only 14 at bats but only 1 measly single and 8 Ks.

How about some former Nats?

Bryce - slow start but now having a Player of the Week run .647 / .727 / 1.118 (no typos!) over last 5 games to bring it all up to .357 / 493 / .625.  Been a while since he's had a month this good 

Rendon - was doing fine but then hurt his groin and has been out as long as he was playing

Doo - missing bats like crazy (11K in 6.2 IP) and doing the job in Cincy

MAT - we were all gaga over MATs fast start. He's still above average but has hit .217 / .308 / .217 since the first two games. Might be getting back to a more normal inbetween state recently. 

Eaton - doing well .262 / .366 / .459

Difo - Has started 2 games - in one he went 3-4 with 2 doubles. You might have seen that. He also had homer in another appearance. You might have seen that. Outside that one games though he's 3-19. You might have seen that coming. 

Roark - bad first start and the Blue Jays have moved him to the pen where he's done ok. 


Robot said...


Seriously, though, with the pitching disasters, the COVID, the general lack of offense, and the Soto injury, I completely missed what a bright spot Harrison has been.

I'm happy to see some of the former Nats doing well.

Michael K Taylor is back to doing his thing, I guess. He has essentially two outcomes during any plate appearance - dinger or strikeout.

Anonymous said...

Harper, what about the others? How would you classify Castro and the catchers and maybe we should look at the pen overall against expectations versus specific relievers so we can get a sense of the full squad.

elchupinazo said...

It sure feels like they bet on one of either Bell or Schwarber lucking into being the best versions of themselves, and so far neither are. Bell at least seems like he's getting more wood on the ball in the last few games so maybe his timing is coming back. His swing is ugly though and I get the sense that he relies entirely on being a Very Large Dude for all of his power. 28 isn't even old for baseball but when you rely on physicality it only takes one thing being a little off to sap you of power.

Schwarber is interesting because while I didn't follow him much, I thought of him as a Joey Gallo type, a husky dude exclusively swinging for the right field fence. Now it seems like he's trying (or at least willing) to be a more opportunistic hitter? Not sure how that's panning out for him, maybe if Bell gets it going in front of him a little more he'll feel comfortable swinging freely?

Anonymous said...

Especially given the tiny sample sizes, I think the "expected" lines based on statcast exit velocity and launch angles can provide some really helpful additional context. Of course, you wouldn't trust only the expected stats and throw out the real results, but it's all something to keep an eye on. And since fangraphs now makes them readily accessible, here they are for hitters with 30 PAs:

Harrison: .447 wOBA vs .404 xOBA
Soto: .372 vs .495
Zim: .362 vs .331
Trea: .381 vs .379
Schwarber: .246 vs .246
Stevenson: .274 vs .347
Robles: .289 vs .324
Bell: .255 vs .315
Castro: .279 vs .270
Gomes: .325 vs .396

We have Soto's relative underperformance already explained by extreme bad luck and not even needing the shoulder injury as an excuse. We have Harrison getting lucky, but also playing really really well (the .404 would translate to a wRC in the 140s vs the 179 he has now). We have Trea earning his good results and Schwarber and Castro earning their bad ones.

Zim is getting lucky and is likely actually just a bit better than the average bat. Robles is getting unlucky, so maybe that step back towards average is happening after all. Bell has deserved slightly below average results and not his absolutely horrible ones. Gomes is getting extremely unlucky (though not as much as Soto) and should be rocking a 140 wRC+ and not 102.

Stevenson is getting as unlucky as Gomes and is barreling the ball well enough to have earned a wRC+ up around 120, instead of the 69 he has now. I'm still optimistic he becomes at least an excellent 4th outfielder.

For pitchers, almost no one has more than 10 IP pitched but here are the ones that do plus the two relievers you called out, Harper.

Max: 1.80 ERA vs 2.99 xERA
Hand: 0.00 vs 3.35
Rainey: 8.53 vs 9.78
Corbin: 10.95 vs 7.04
Fedde: 5.56 vs 4.85
Ross: 5.87 vs 4.65
Stras: 6.30 vs 6.91

No real surprises. Max and Hand getting are getting lucky, but you knew that just from ERAs of 1.8 and 0.0. All of our bad results are earned. The one thing that is a little bit encouraging is that Fedde and Ross are pitching just badly and not so terribly that they should be DFAd immediately.

So, we'll see how this all develops. Given the covid disruption and all the injuries 7-9 and a game and a half back doesn't feel that bad to me. This definitely isn't a great team, but we don't have to get THAT lucky to have another year of meaningful baseball.

Harper said...

Robot - I'll still take MAT having a 95-105 OPS+ year with KC in the end. But maybe I've turned into a Dusty type in my belief in him

Anon @ 8:26 - you can check out the Anon comment at 9:17 but mostly I'd say anyone not mentioned is basically doing within expectations so far and the expectations aren't extremely high or low. If you want my feelings specifically
Castro - ok I might be worried about his homer power but he should hold at 2B.
Catchers - pretty good. I feel like Gomes is settling into a nice tiny bit above average hitter. I think he benefits mentally from being a clear 1. Avila will do whatever - can't expect much.
Pen - probably a little worse than expected so far but have gotten away with it. Very wild, K's aren't impressive on most, BABIP is low. I worry once it gets a little warmer. I think they could implode.

Elchup - Bell is hitting it a bit better but I don't know. Maybe I'm too influenced by the initial start that I really didn't like. I will say I assume the Nats keep playing them and they both end up with better stats than this, but the hope of MUCH better... early on that's looking like a reach.

Anon @ 9:17 - i wasn't really playing out the "what happens next" game but you got it down pretty well. part of the reason I lean toward eyeballs and quick looks is using these fancy numbers down to three decimals seems more authoritative than it is at this point - which is kind of "do the BBs and Ks jive with someone hitting like this". But still can get info here.

I remember looking at all Soto's numbers the other day to see if anything came apparent as an injury issue and nothing did. (Stras on the other hand... ) So really I think he should be having his usual MVP type year and should click right into it when he gets back. Bell should have better stats - something around 100 OPS+ - but I think that would be a disappointment overall from a 1B. I also don't look at that discrepancy and think he has to get there. I'm more inclined to see it meet in the middle. For Stevenson - we're just going to have this argument until it's settled. I think he's a usable 4th OF bc of his D (esp on this team), I just don't see anything better than that.

Pitching wise I'm more worried about Fedde than Ross. I think Ross will hang on around that 4/5 spot type, I'm not sure Fedde can.

G Cracka X said...

Per FanGraphs, Harrison has already generated $3.5 million in value.

Not bad for a guy on a 1 year, $1 million contract!

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