Nationals Baseball: ELIMINATED and Juan-VP?

Thursday, September 16, 2021


 From the WC race. 

You can't follow the E# all the time. They don't factor in H2H. With the Padres and Cards both winning last night and playing a series on the weekend one of those two HAS to end up with 77+ wins. That eliminated the Nats who are now capped at 76 wins when they go on their wild, win every game for two weeks, finish to the season. 

The NL East is still alive, but any win by Atlanta OR the Phillies would do it (since the Phillies play Atlanta later the same - someone has to get to 77 wins applies).  

The Nats are a couple of losses from being 20-50 (currently 20-48) since the end of June.  I mean that's hideous.  A lot of you guys note it's the pitching far more than the surprising hitting that's been bolstered by Juan Soto again being JUAN SOTO. He is back from the "dead" and hitting like he did last year and that brings up the question - can he win the MVP? 

This gets of course into the question of "what is valuable" and how people see the award. Personally, I'm fine with people voting however they want because voting is, at its core, subjective. Don't ask people how they think then say "no you shouldn't think THAT".  So some people are going to see this as value toward getting a team to the playoffs. If that's the case Soto probably won't win because... well you know.  But he still might in that sense because the other two players up there in value (Bryce and Tatis) also might miss the playoffs.  If it's a question of which player gives his team the most he obviously is in it. 

 Right now we have as the best hitters (we'll leave pitchers out of this for the moment)

Soto .314 / .457 / .527  25HR 85RBI  171 OPS+

  • For - incredibly hot since the ASB, up there among of the best runs in past 20 years. Doing it despite having no help after the trade deadline and being walked all the time
  • Against - early season issues/injury depresses some of his numbers, early season weird good D numbers have been balanced with more recent bad ones leaving him at meh. Gives really nothing else (Bryce has more SB) team isn't just not winning they are losing at a historic pace.

Bryce  .309 / .424 / .614 32HR 73RBI  180 OPS+

  • For - best overall hitting numbers, also red hot since break, team is in division and WC race
  • Against - team has never gotten more than a few games over .500, most of his homers have been solo shots helping to keep his RBI numbers down which people like for MVP guys. Not anything to speak of in the field

Tatis .286 / .369  / .627  38HR 90RBI  173 OPS+ 

  • For - clear power leader especially considering missed time. Not a great SS but not a great SS is better than not a great corner OF like the other two, gives a speed dimension (25SB) other guys don't, team is in WC race
  • Against - Missed time kept him from putting up unignorable gaudy homer/RBI numbers, team actively collapsing late, has been great since break but not like Bryce or Juan have been, team has a worse record with him than without.

Not super clear. A hot finish by any of the three could separate them more and I think that coupled with a playoff appearance by the Phillies or Padres would seal the deal for either of those guys. 

What about the teams in the lead? 

Max Muncy, Will Smith, and Mookie Betts have all had about the same offensive impact for the Dodgers, but don't separate well from eachother. Betts is fastest but Dodgers don't run. Betts is a good fielder but Muncy is too and a valuable move around piece and catchers are usually given a bump. I can't see a coalescing here. 

The Giants best bat is Brandon Crawford and he's still a good SS though not like he was in his youth. Can't see him getting it though. The Giants narrative isn't about one guy pulling them through

Brewers aren't a particularly great hitting team - they are led by their pitching. Their best hitter this year has been Willy Adames and he's only played 88 games. (Yelich has been hurt and off)

Braves best hitter is Freeman but Duvall leads the league in RBI and everyone knows their best player is actually the out for the season Acuna. I mean maybe if Freddie just goes off the last two weeks, given his general presence in baseball he gets into the conversation, but it'd have to be a hell of a three week run. 

Any other great hitters? 

Bryan Reynolds - look if you are considering him you've already voted for Soto

Tyler O'Neill - Cards best hitter and they have surged to a playoff run. Still I think the lack of recognition, 61 RBI, along with the not hitting like the other guys, will keep him from any consideration

Jesse Winkler - He's been hurt too or else he might have HR/RBI numbers that catch some voters eyes. But he was hurt and he doesn't so he'd have to carry the Reds in to get a look.

Pitchers very rarely can get in the conversation. On that end Wheeler who became an ace for the Phillies this year and leads the league in IP and Ks is the most valuable pitcher in general but if the Phillies get in you have to think Bryce will be the focus. One of those that would need an incredible finish to get spoken about like a Hershiser scoreless streak. Scherzer is an interesting one. He missed some time so the innings aren't there but he's been more dominant than Wheeler and unhittable with the Dodgers putting up a 6-0 record and an 0.88 ERA.  I think there's an outside chance if he keeps doing what he's doing and the Dodgers take the West. I'd actually put him 4th most likely right now. Then we get a couple Milwuakee starters who would split votes and Buehler and Miley and Guasman. Buehler wouldn't win it over the other 4 Dodgers mentioned (this is why they are so good), Gausman isn't the story, Miley I think everyone knows is a fluke year and would be real hesitant about giving it much play. 

In the end it is those three. And if the season were to end today - with all three out of the playoffs, I'm not sure where the votes would end up. I would rank their chances right now as 

Tatis - Bryce - Juan 

Where in they really want to give it to Tatis, if not to a playoff guy.  After that I'd go 

(gap) Max (huge gap) Freeman (gap) O'Neill (gap) Wheeler

Three of these guys are only going to be considered if both the Phillies and Padres miss the playoffs. They also need strong finishes to bolster their cases.  Wheeler would need a strange sequence of events where the Phillies make it - he's incredible, Bryce slumps badly, but I'll put it in the "not impossible" camp.  Anyone else I see and just not having a chance. 


G Cracka X said...

Bryce has the most fWAR (at the time I’m writing this) for what it’s worth.

How about TT? He’s 3rd in fWAR, bat not as good as Tatis, but more SB, way better fielding (per FG metrics at least), and plays for a definite playoff team.

I still say Padres and Nats should have done a Soto and Turner for Tatis deal. Would have been win-win (especially for Padres since TT would not have ended up in LA for 1.5 years)

Cautiously Pessimistic said...

If I had a vote, I'd probably be giving it to Bryce myself based on my assessment of the stats. That being said, I think it's probably a two horse race between Tatis and Bryce. I just don't see anyone giving it to Soto unless he somehow improves upon his otherworldly pace given the Nats record over this stretch. It's hard to say he's been "most valuable" when the team can't win (even if that's fully on the pitching).

And Trea also seems likely to get votes so I would not be surprised if Soto finished fourth or fifth behind him and Muncy or something. That's just how voters are.

Ryan said...

imagine a team with Soto, Bryce and Trea!

dc rl said...

Did you forget about Trea, or deliberately not mention him?

billyhacker said...

I think it will be more about who can sustain the recent pace than who can find the next gear. If Soto's on base approaches 0.475 and his BA is gaudy like 0.340, stat heads will give him a look even without hrs. Just eyeballing it, but Juan keeping up the last few weeks for three more weeks would do it. Bryce without RBI looks like peacocking. Did you know his WPA stinks? Win probability added. Or that Juan Soto leads in REW? Run expectancy wins (a counting stat!). Seems like watching Juan stats daily is my last Nats passion left this year.

Nattydread said...

Its amazing how many players associated with the Nats are in the running for MVP. Nats fans have been spoiled by talent. Harper, Scherzer, Soto and Turner... The problem with the team over the past five years has been keeping so many big ticket names on the roster --- and filling out the rest with supporting cast members.

This years sell-off shows what happens when the focus is on big names and the wagers don't pay off. Unfortunately, big FA bets on SS and Corbin tanked and horse trading emptied the minor league coffers.

It'll be interesting to see what happens to the Dodgers --- and whether they pony up for Max in 2022.

Harper said...

Trea Turner? I guess his combined stats overall put him there but it don't see where he would be so over any of those other LA guys to definitely get the votes over them, nor has he been great for LA - good to very good yes, but not great. Compare that to Max in LA and it's no contest. So you are giving him an MVP vote for what? Being the 2nd best player on a team that was out of the playoffs and then being traded to a playoff team and playing good for them? What am I missing here? Just an overall value on a season thing? That can't be enough.

SM said...

"Peacocking." Love that, @billyhacker.

Anonymous said...

Eh, I think Trea gets some first place votes if the Padres and the Phillies miss the postseason. By FG WAR, he'd be the best playoff bound non-pitcher in the NL. BR isn't as kind, and I agree the narrative around him is pretty weak, but he seems like he has at least as much of a chance as Max.

Max might not even be the favorite for the Cy Young. He's got a good chance there, but it definitely won't be a huge blowout. And I think if you're going to win MVP as a pitcher, you need to be far and away the clearly best pitcher. Verlander in 2011 and Kershaw in 2014 were both unanimous CY winners and still kind-of-barely won their MVPs.

Max is too close to Wheeler and Burnes for any of them to win MVP this year.

Ole PBN said...

Without telling anyone what to think (smirk), Max deserves the Cy Young.

MVP is a little tough to settle on. While I want Soto to win it, and as much as it pains me to admit it, Bryce is having a heck of a year at the plate. Tatis Jr. shouldn’t get the MVP, it’s a two person race IMO. A lot of what “valuable” means to me is being on the field. Tatis missed time (not his fault), but if we’re not going to hold that against him act like it isn’t a detriment to his value, then we shouldn’t celebrate Cal’s amazing record. Sorry, he needs to be on the field to provide value to his team and the argument of “but when he is on the field…” doesn’t hold up IMO.

Both Soto and Bryce have their strengths: Soto with the BA/OBP/BB, Bryce with the BA/HR/OPS But there’s a stat that isn’t quantified, nor mentioned, in any analysis I’ve seen. When I think of Most Valuable Player, I think of who does the things that kills your team the least (striking out, going 0-4, not getting on base, bad defense). So here’s some stats that might seem cherry picked, but make a solid case for Soto I think:

Strikeouts: Soto (83), Bryce (115)
dWAR: Soto (-0.1), Bryce (-1.3)
Productive Outs: Soto (34%), Bryce (27%)
BA RISP: Soto (.406), Bryce (.321)
Strikeouts w/ RISP: Soto (10), Bryce (22)

Lastly, there’s a stat that I haven’t seen quantified. I decided to dig a little because I get the impression that Soto always fills up the box score, so I wanted to see how Bryce compared. I counted up the number of games that each player when a true 0-fer. No hits, walks, RBI’s. Nothing (basically didn’t help the team that day at the plate, in fact, you could say they hurt their team on that particular day):

Soto (14 games), Bryce (20 games)

Context? How about some other good players: Trea Turner (23), Tatis (24), Muncy (26). Random guys? Freeman (28), Bell (29), Robles (39 thru August). Historical? Thru September 18th: Bonds in 2001 (15), Bryce in 2015 (14), Trout in 2016 (16).

I think that speak volumes. Soto for MVP.

G Cracka X said...

Per Win Probability Added, it should be Tatis for MVP and Max for NL Cy Young