Nationals Baseball: YOUR Super Young Washington Nationals

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

YOUR Super Young Washington Nationals

 In an article for the Post (pointed out by the mysterious not jailed for storming the Capitol Twitter feed saddadbadhad) noting how Trea Turner's trade signified a shift in priorities for the Nationals, Davey Martinez had this quote

“When we traded all those guys, we made an organizational decision that we were going to get super young and we were going to transition to something different,”

This is a lie. 

The Nats are not super young. The Nats are not young. The average MLB offensive player is 28.7 years old. The Nats are 29.7 years old. The average MLB pitcher is 29 years old.*  The Nats are 28.8 years old. 

In 2021 those numbers were 28.4 (28.7 Nats),  28.7 (30.1)

2020 : 28 (28.6), 28.3 (30.8)

2019 : 27.9 (28.8), 28.4 (30.8) 

The Nats have gotten younger pitching wise. They were the oldest team in the league for a couple years, but their commitment to very young players is not there. They've gotten OLDER in terms of hitting. 

You could claim part of this is outliers (2019 Juan Soto! 2022 Nelson Cruz!) but outliers can only do so much. Let's look at the team right now. Who is young? Well what is young? Let's say about two years plus under average is "young" and five years plus under is super young. This way "young" is basically someone that won't cross into over average until three seasons from now and about three seasons from now is as far ahead that any baseball plan should be counted on. From there we can make old 2+ and super old 5+.  Setting the average numbers at 29 for each - you're welcome offensive players - that makes "average" age 28-30


Super Young (23-24) : Adon, Soto, Ruiz, Gray, Mason Thompson (hurt), Francisco Perez (doing not bad in AAA), Lucius Fox (same). NOTABLY ABSENT : Luis Garcia

Young (25-27) : Robles, Adams, Thomas, Hunter Harvey (hurt), Rogers, Arano, Patrick Murphy (meh in AAA)

Average (28-30) : Fedde, Sam Clay (perfect - but lucky in AAA), Andres Machado (bad in AAA), Sanchez, Rainey, Franco, Bell, Voth, Edwards Jr, Finnegan

Old (31-33) : Ramirez, Corbin, Hernandez

Super Old (34+) : Strange-Gordon, Yadi, Doolittle (hurt), Espino, Escobar, Cishek, Cruz

This seems sort of ok. The numbers break down as 7, 7, 10, 3, 7. That's more young than old. Injury returns would add a little. Ross 29 falls into average, Strasburg 33 into old, but that would still be 7, 7, 11, 4, 7.  Of course there is an immediate problem here. 7 "super old" players are a lot. Now, it's understandable in the "sign and flip sense".  That is why Doolittle, Cishek, and Cruz are here.  But the others are just players on this team and they are not players for the future. 

This would still be ok if they were players for now. Fans deserve a decent team. Young players need mentors. If you are 34+ but cheap and contributing, even a rebuilding team can afford a few spots like that. But that's only Yadi and Espino. Strange-Gordon and Escobar are super old and bad. They are not here for the now. They are not here for the future. Why are they here?

Here is where I'll say they can get younger and better immediately by calling up Luis Garcia.  Why they don't proves whatever the team is - it's not about getting "super young".

I'll also note while this is broken down into groups the distribution in those groups isn't even. There is only one 25 year old in the "Young" group (Robles) and four 27 year olds. There are no 28 year olds in the "Average" group. There are no 31 year olds in the "Old" group. This team is older than the groupings make it seem. 

Worse is what it look like in AAA. Yes there is Garcia, but the guys getting ABs in MI are 24, 26, 28, 28, and 31. The OF guys are 26, 26, 27, 27, 28, and 30. First base? 28, 30.  AAA Starters? 23 (Cavalli), 26, 26, 27, 27, 28, and 32. RP? 26, 26, 28, 28, 29, 29, 29 , 37**  That's an old AAA Roster.  They are 5th oldest in both hitting and pitching for AAA.

Lest you think that is all. They are oldest BY FAR in offensive age for AA (25.7 next oldest team being 25.2 and one after that 24.9) and are 5th-8th oldest in pitching.  They are also 2nd or 3rd oldest in offense and 4th-6th oldest in pitching in High A. They are about average in age for Low A. Hooray?***

Let me summarize. Not only are the Nats not anywhere close to being "super young" in the major leagues, they are not super young at any point in their minor league system. They are one of the older organizations top to bottom in baseball.  It will be hard for them to get super young at any point soon. The young talent is not there. 

They are lying. And they are bad at it. Just like they are right now at baseball.


*Be a pitcher kids! If you are good they are less confident you can be replaced.

 ** Clippard - one of those sign and flip guys and looking a lot better recently after some minor hiccups getting back into league shape

 *** Though the age distribution is much tighter when you get down to the As, so it's not as notable.


kubla said...

Somehow a coach won't say "rebuild" even if the front office will because a feont office can seem savvy but coaches need to win. "Getting super young" is the euphemism Davey feels he can live with. "Not going to win in the near future" is what both people mean.

If the old players do get traded for very young prospects, the Nats could end up with below average age. The problem is very few of those guys seemed like they could even reliably return a lottery ticket, more like the team bought a bunch of scratch-offs where the best possible outcome is another scratcher for free (and most of the time you won't even get that). I very much hope that they don't sink into perpetual rebuild mode, but remain optimistic that the next owners will be win-now or at least have a better rebuilding plan.

Nattydread said...

There is much more going on in the back offices of the Nats than meets the eye. After a decade of investment to get a World Series ring, the owners may be finding that the baseball business is a tad less profitable than expected. Building malls, perhaps, was something they were good at. But not running a baseball team.

Rizzo was given the budget to build a winner and he did. Squeezing the last drop out of the shell of a team in 2019 to get in that last playoff window.

Holding the stinking carcass, and riding dismal economic winds and COVID, the Lerners have lost their appetite. They can't make money and its no longer fun.

Since he's stuck with millstone contracts of SS and Corbin, Rizzo can't maneuver. The owners want out. Rizzo is dumpster diving. If he used to be good at it, he's lost his touch. He and DM seem to have agreed on a formula: scrape the bottom for aging latin american washouts. "Clubhouse leaders" they say, but they're really just holdovers until we luck into some good draft picks again. Or until new ownership brings in new cash for fresh blood.

Chas R said...

Sadly, it has always felt this rebuild is going to take longer 2-3 years. A Soto trade seems more likely than not.

Cautiously Pessimistic said...

@Chas, The question in my mind is who the hell would be willing to trade enough for Soto? We're talking a future HoF (barring injuries or steroid scandal or whatever) on the cheap for 2.5 years. Expected WAR over that timeframe of ~15 maybe? What team has a prospect haul that would come close to enough to cover a Soto type player? We're talking at least two "guaranteed" ML impact prospects plus some other lotto tickets. Prospects are too valuable these days, I just don't see it happening for at least another year or so.

Harper said...

CP - Remember the old maxim - something is worth what people are willing to pay for it. Soto is worth the prospects he can bring back. If that's not a balanced WAR equation then that's just how it is. Think of it like this Let's say Soto is traded mid-season and he does give someone 15WAR. But that team will pay... let's just say 60 million. So it's a 4 million per war deal. What would a prospect have to do to get that? Hard to say on the backend of control but on the front end pre-arb it might be .25 WAR? Like nothing. That's where your imbalance comes from... now it's not exactly 1:1 here (going from 0-1 WAR is easier than 4-5 so that 5th WAR costs more) but you see what I'm saying. Of course if you need Soto that up your price. It's all a balancing act but the actual $ cost for production potential factors way more into it now than it did years ago when it was just about "will this guy be as good"

All that said I think Soto alone can fetch a Max/Trea deal or a 1:1 for a ready high prospect. Looking at them at teams that might need them. Moreno (TOR) and Alvarez (NYM) are C, not really needed. Volpe (NYY) struggling a lot. Abrams (SD) maybe? Luciano (SF)? Mayer (BOS)? The easiest swap would be for a ready NY OF for a contending team who is doing great this year... the closest to that is Robert Hassell III for SD.

Steven Grossman said...

All speculation here and elsewhere about a Soto trade is FUN. IMO it would be a unique trade and not look like anything that has come before. Its going to take a young star already in the ML but with a lower ceiling than Soto plus 2 top 100 prospects. No set of prospects alone can make a deal work exactly because of the reason Harper gives--their value is always going to be speculative.