Nationals Baseball: June 2022

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Josh Bell - All-Star... starter?

Well no 

That won't happen because starter is based on votes and I don't care how good Josh Bell is hitting he's not going to outvote the more popular players. He's simply not a name, having a mismatch of good and bad years previously for a bunch of teams that haven't registered as important. 

But SHOULD he be?  

Also no

Honestly I probably shouldn't have opened with that. 

Paul Goldschmidt should be (and will be) the starter. He leads NL first basemen* in average, OBP, and slugging.  His fielding... well that leaves a lot to be desired. He was never good, but could sometimes be ok, but is aging into old now. But no one votes an ASG starters by fielding. 

Even if they did, the second choice in the voting Pete Alonso, who leads NL first basemen** in RBI and homers wouldn't get that vote because he stinks at fielding and always has even as a relatively young guy.

(Who is good fielding - Christian Walker a .200 hitting slugger, and Matt Olson who leads the NL first basemen in doubles***  Freeman is generally the best combo)

Josh Bell though does deserve a spot. 3rd in average for NL first basemen, 2nd in OBP, 4th in SLG and he's been a perfectly decent first baseman with the glove since coming to the Nats. 

But right now Bell is getting outvoted by pretty much everyone. We're not just talking Goldschmidt and Alonso and of course perennial deserving guy Freddie Freeman, who's having another good year just isn't putting balls over the fence in LA. But Matt Olson - who's good but not having a better year than Bell. And Eric Hosmer who is fine. and Rowdy Tellez who is trash with the glove and only hits homers yet hasn't hit that many homers. And the ghost of Joey Votto. And CJ Cron who is hitting .226 / .287 / .380 away from Coors. And Jesus Aguilar, who is a bad game tonight from going under .300 in OBP and the Marlins are platooning. And Brandon Belt who has played half a season of bad baseball. 

Come on Nats voters! Show some heart and vote in the one guy on the team that's trying this year. I hear praise out there for the likes of Maikel Franco for not being complete garbage, for Lane Thomas for having a hot week, for Dee Strange-Gordon for being likable, for Kyle Finnegan for striking out some guys while being completely average. How about some love for Josh Bell? Because if you don't care, why should NL team pickers?

*Note - he leads NL firstbasemen in these stats because he leads the MAJORS in batting average and OBP (and is third in SLG) 

**Note - yes yes Alonso also leads the MAJORS in RBI and is tied for 3rd in HRs. 

*** Note - YES YES YES.  Sorry Josh Bell. A lot of good hitters here. 

Monday, June 27, 2022

Monday Quickie - Bad teams Good Play

I noted somewhere that this stretch - BAL, TEX, PIT, MIA - was probably the last best chance for the Nats to give their fans a long stretch of winning baseball*.  So far so good.  Starting with a win in the last game of the Phillies series they Nats are 4-2 and could have easily been 5-1**

The Nats pitching has looked good - Fedde, Espino, Gray and Terteault each not giving up more than 2 ER and going at least 5 1/3. But try not to make too much of it for they guys you know. Fedde and Espino didn't overpower their opponents, just had some luck on good days.  For the guys you don't know you can read in things and Gray's 1 walk, 9 K, 1 homer performance is the most exciting. This Texas team isn't good but they can hit the longball and play in a hot dry area... that should translate to HRs (the park is too new to say anything).  A prime chance for a bad Gray day and it didn't happen. 

Tetrault's start was more like Fedde and Espino but we have to figure out if he's a master at doing this or if he's just getting lucky against bad teams. Minor league results suggest the latter but the Nats have to get lucky developing a pitcher at some point

The offensive performances have been underwhelming but that's this team.  Bell is hitting, Cruz isn't doing too bad (but still not homering). Thomas is the hot one - someone has to be. If Soto was hitting it might be enough but Soto isn't hitting at least not like Soto so someone else has to step up.  No one is.  Ruiz is singling. everyone else is in a slump. 

This is Nats baseball 2022. Not very good but if one group is performing then able to beat bad teams. 


*There's a late August stretch of SEA, CIN, OAK coming off a couple Cubs series which might work, but there are Padres series sandwiched in.

** ok yes, they could have also been easily 3-3. But that's still .500

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Patrick Hasbeen, Patrick Corpse-bin, Patrick NoMore-bin, Patrick TheyScore-bin

Splatrick Corbin, Doormatrick Corbin, Fall Flattrick Corbin, BadQuick Corbin, PatSick Corbin, Matchstick Corbin. 

Come up with your own! 

We've definitely talked about the fact that Corbin has been bad.  We've speculated on the ideas why - in fact I harped on one (pun INtended) for a good part of the 2019 post-season - the starters arms were worked very hard.

Highest IP total going into 2019 : IP in 2019

Strasburg  220 in 2014 : 245.1

Corbin  208 in 2013 :  225.1

Max missed games mid season with injury AND is a hoss who threw seasons of 220, 228, 228, 220 four of the five seasons before 2019 so it doesn't count as much for him but it did seem to break Strasburg and Corbin. It is probably this simple. 

However, we haven't talked much about the nuts and bolts of why, like what's different in his pitching. 

Now part of it is his 2018 and 2019 might have been flukes. the numbers he put up there for K-rate were well higher than it was before and after. Was it better movement? Location? Sequence? Don't know, not going to bother going into it.  I think that Corbin was peak Corbin and would have been gone by now anyway.  What I'm interested in is why Corbin isn't pre-2018 Corbin.  Why isn't he putting up a 4.00 ERA and filling a role as decent veteran innings eater that a team like this dearly needs. What is different from "pre-peak" Corbin?

We can nitpick apart some things. His pitches might be a bit slower, he might be a bit wilder, and he might be prone to more flyballs. The first two mean more hard hit balls, the latter mean more of those hard hit balls are homers. But these are very minor changes from pre-peak Corbin. 

No, instead it comes down to a single pitch. His slider. None of his pitches were very effective before his peak except his slider. That's what made him good. His slider is no longer effective. 

Pre-peak he threw a slider for a ball 35% of the time, now it's 38%.  He'd get swings and misses 26% of the time, now it's 20%.

You can see from the awesome Brooks Baseball that his slider has almost no drop to it anymore. It's dead flat. There's also less horizontal movement but only in general. (This IS hard to read sorry - the middle of that Y-AXIS is 0 movement with above being movement up and below movement down.  The dots are grouped by year. It was dropping about 2 inches up through 2019 then has flattened out to about 1 inch the past couple of years and almost none this year)

Without that movement guys aren't swinging and missing at the slider nearly as much as they need to for Corbin to be any good. For him to miss the zone and not be hittable it has to start out of the zone. Guys see it's a ball right away. The ones in the zone aren't moving out, and guys are making contact with them. 

As Corbin has no other plus pitch, in fact you could argue that every other pitch is a minus, he now needs to PITCH his way through games to be effective. He needs to mix location and speeds and types of pitches to keep guys off balance. That's never been his game though. He's been a guy that threw some fastballs to keep hitters honest and set up that slider.  He's been a guy who if things got rough he could lean on that slider to get him out of the jam.  That's just not the case anymore. 

Part of it I'm sure is the failure of the fastball. It's floating up and in the zone making it a worse pitch and causing less confusion with the slider, but the differences there don't seem as stark. The plus slider has left Corbin and without it he's hardly a major league pitcher.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

We don't talk about Soto


 Juan Soto is hitting .215. (.154 in June!)

 I want you to understand how weird that is. 

Here are the total number of days Juan Soto ended the day hitting .215 or lower

2018 : 0 

2019 : 2 (March 28th and April 2nd)  

2020 : 0 

2021 : 2 (April 6th and 7th) 

This doesn't happen.  The latest he's hit this poorly in a season was the first PA of the 5th game of 2021. This next game will be his 70th. 

He's still hitting for power. His .220 isoSLG is under expectations but is in line with last year and would have him in the Top 30 or so in a normal year. 

He's still walking. His walk rate is still exceptional. He not only leads the majors in walks he leads by 10 walks or about 15% more than the next in line. He could probably not walk for a month and still be in the Top 10. 

He just isn't getting base hits. Why? 

The easy answers would be - he's striking out a ton more, he's leaving a lot of fly balls on the track, or he's having terrible luck. 

Is he striking out a bunch more? No.  His K% is around the last two years and is fine. 

Is he leaving a lot of fly balls on the track? Maybe a little. His FB% is up so he's hitting more of them and his HR/FB rate is down so fewer are getting out. But those numbers are a little better than in 2018 when he hit .280.

Is he having terrible luck? A .210 BABIP first suggests yes. That's not only the lowest of his career but the lowest by 100 points. That's like worst in the league BABIP.  But BABIPs can also be earned.  Is he hitting fewer LDs? Is he hitting the ball softer? Are his barrels and EV down? 

YES fewer LDs - he's like down 50% from his former low. 

YES hitting the ball softer - he's up like 10% in soft hits and down 10% in hard hits. 

YES to fewer barrels and lower EV - Barrels are down a little. EV is down from league leading type to pedestrian 

From here you question - is he swinging differently? He SHOULDN'T be - the walk rate suggests no difference in what he can ID as a strike or not - but what else could it be? And he is swinging at more pitches outside the zone than last year (but similar to other years) and making a bunch of contact with them.  But again this is only slightly worst than 2020 when he hit .350.

Is he seeing different pitches? Type or zone? A bit - fewer fastballs, more changes. Zone - not really. Its low but it's been low before. 

So where do we sit? Well we can create a narrative that's this 

Soto, now the only big hitter in the line-up, the only great player on the team is being pitched around a bit more. Fewer FB strikes in the zone. He is trying to compensate with more swinging for the fences and more reaching for pitches that he might normally take. The combination of which are leaving him with weaker hit balls and easier fielded flyballs. Throw in a bit of bad luck and it adds up to your .215 average. 

But I don't know. That still feels very low. It still feels like there is something else missing. 

There are two more stats that could factor in- he's producing less from pitches inside the zone. While the contact is fine the results aren't there. I have no idea of the consistency of this stat so I can't really add it in. The other thing is that they've really upped the shifts on Soto. While capable of hitting opposite field it may be that the type of hits on way versus the other are different and they've capped some of that off. This would take more exploration. 

It's kind of an ideal season for this to happen for everyone involved, assuming he solves it. The team isn't going anywhere. The Nats don't need his value high for a mid-season trade since that's unlikely. He has time to figure this out. My suggestion - FIGURE IT OUT. JUAN SOTO is great fun. Juan Soto, he's just kinda fun.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Monday Quickie - Ace Gray and Good Garcia

The Nats played a bunch of games against the Phillies. Maybe like 12. They lost most. But they won yesterday and you are only as good as your last game, or something like that. 

One of the lost games was Josiah Gray third straight solid outing.  He's now thrown 17 innings in June (yes sadly that's three games, not 2 but in Davey's rare defense it was 309 pitches.) and given up 1 earned run struck out 19, walked 7 and given up only 1 homer. Are the dead balls back? I haven't heard that. 

Here's a quirk Gray's best games include most of his FEWEST strikeout ones. 4Ks in 6IP last game, 3Ks in 6IP in another, 5 in 5, 6 in 6, 3 in 5. It's not a clear correlation - he had 9 in 6 and 8 in 5.1 in other solid outings but there is a mild pattern here. However, I'll admit there is probably NOT anything here. While, it could be because he's focused on striking people out that he pitches poorly (getting the ball up and in the zone trying to blow it by someone) but it could just as easily be because he's pitching poorly that he's trying to strike people out (trying to get out of the innings, avoid men on base scoring). 

What I will say is that Gray can strike a bunch of people out but striking a bunch of people out is NOT the key to him doing well. It does not seem to be what makes Gray good. What is a key is avoiding homers. Just don't do that and look what you can do!

Luis Garcia continues to hit going 8-17 with 2 doubles in the Phillies series.  He is striking out a bit too much, he still only has one walk, and he's not going to have this luck with BABIP forever so there's a down turn coming but the kid can still hit. The longest he's gone without a hit is two games. The difference between a line-up with him in it and one with Escobar in it is night and day.  It's 2AM of a moonless night in a dense jungle canopy and high noon in a barren desert in the middle of summer. Damn you Rizzo for making the fans suffer through a couple months of that. 

Garcia really should move up in the lineup.  Soto/Bell/Cruz are going to be some combo of 2/3/4 so 1st of 5th seem most reasonable. However Davey seems determined to keep Cesar up in the lineup with the possible moving in of Lane Thomas - both of who have exceedingly low OBP*. Garcia doesn't. Putting him up there would make sense.  The "post good three" position has been occupied by mostly Ruiz and Yadi. Yadi made sense at the time but as he's faded he's been pulled. Ruiz... eh. I mean I do like him but he's not that good yet to demand this spot not does he have the power you'd traditionally see in a 5/6 batter.  Putting Garcia here instead would also make sense.Short of it - more ABs for Garcia please. 


The Nats could go on a little streak here in what is their easiest stretch of baseball this season. Orioles, then Texas, then home for the Pirates and Marlins. Twelve games.  Can you guys give the fans .500? 7-5? Just one run of decent baseball that fans can enjoy? They were able to go 6-4 real early in the year facing a not right Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Arizona, so it's possible.  Make it happen guys, because I don't see where the next run would be without a bit of luck or surprise.

*for the extremely rare double Davey defense - so does EVERYONE on the Nats not named Soto, Bell or Cruz.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Strasburg is dead. Long live Strasburg

The Nats 2nd window success could easily be summed up in three contracts; the signing of Max, the extenion of Strasburg, and the signing of ZNN by the Tigers. You have to get your big time long term contracts right and the Nats nailed all of these. Max's contract is probably the second best of all time behind Randy Johnson's 4-year, 4 Cy Young, WS winning deal. Strasburg was looking at free agency after 2016 and the Nats signed him to a 7 year extension through 2023 with an opt out after 2019.  From 2017-2019 Stras would start 83 games (which is good for him) to a 3.15 ERA and have his best three year stretch culminating in a dominant playoff performance on the way to the 2019 title.  Zimmermann would get hurt in 2016 and never be the same, struggling through five injury plagued seasons. 

The Nats made three moves and went three for three emphatically. 

The Nats pitching staff now was based on three more moves; the signing of Patrick Corbin, the re-signing of Strasburg after he did opt out, and the letting now franchise icon Max walk. Corbin paid immediate dividends with a great 2019 and needed playoff performance. But since then he's possibly been the worst starter in baseball.  Strasburg has started all of 8 games since signing the extension. Max, was MAX for the Mets, but currently is out with an injury. Things seem to be progressing well (he is currently stated to be back on the 6 week side of a 6-8 week time frame) but the jury will be out until at least a couple contract years are through.

The Nats made three moves and, on a long term health of the team scale, have gone zero for two with one incomplete.

These misses mean a the third window just doesn't exist. The Nats can't be good, pretty much no team can be good, without top of the line starting pitching. The Nats don't have that and can't afford* to get it. This being the case... well it really brings to mind what Soto means going forward.  There is no path to being good soon (re: 2023 and 2024) without Strasburg or Corbin outside of miracles** That being the case does it change the math on keeping Soto.  If you aren't really building but spinning wheels to see if you will build in 2024, if you are afraid of him walking in 2025 and gutting what your plans are... 

Again Soto's future is going to depend on who buys the team, but ideally you'd want a clear path for a competitive team in 2025 so Soto is not just a draw but a big part of a team good enough to bring in a money with winning.


Strasburg is hurt.  You can read about it here.  The good news is that it's not his shoulder or arm.  The bad news is that it hurts and he doesn't want to pitch while it hurts. I mean more so, pitching I assume hurts to some known level. While stuck in a meaningless season Strasburg will try to heal up first and you can't blame him. But the question then becomes, if every season is meaningless, why pitch again?


*Of course they CAN afford to, but we're talking in the MLB world of what teams generally will and won't do.  They WON'T pay for it. They'll say they can't and point to revenues and payrolls and fans and media will mostly buy it because that's what every ownership group says

 ** Cole Henry is a star! Cade Cavalli is a solid 2! Gray clicks and is also a 2! Garcia is a star! Ruiz clicks and is a star!*** De La Rosa is a fast rising ROY!

*** I actually like this one  

Monday, June 13, 2022

Monday - Just breezy

I never took a look around at players so hell - let's do that quickly. 

In the AL Judge is continuing his "Bet on Himself MVP" season with 24 homers already - 6 more than the 2nd closest player in either league.

Judge isn't a Triple Crown threat (Arreaz is leading the AL in hitting at like .360) but you know who has the best shot? Arguably Bryce. 4th in BA (11 pts behind leader), 3rd in homers (3 behind leader), 4th in RBI (12 behind leader... this is the toughest one).  Goldschmidt also has a shot but at 12 HRs I think that's going to be harder than Bryce challenging.  Alonso is the HR/RBI leader.  

Bryce though isn't up near WAR leaders because he's not playing D and he missed enough time he's down at the bottom of qualifying PAs.

Devers is having a breakout year. 

Trout is Trout except they don't let him steal anymore.  

Yes Soto is getting walked a ton. 50 - 13 more than 2nd place. And that' with him trying a bit NOT to take walks. 

Someone named Ty France - never a big time prospect - playing first base for the Mariners is doing very well, in small part by getting plunked a ton. 14 times - next closest in either league is 8. 

You keep hearing the offenses are in trouble.  Does that mean some starters are having incredible years?  Yes it does! Starters with ERAs under 2.00 include Musgrove, Alcantara, Manoah, McClanahan, Verlander, and NESTOR!  

 Does that mean a lot of pitcher wins finally? Not really Verlander has 8 and a handful of guys have 7. This is like a 18-22 win pace.

Former Nats... not much. Rendon still hasn't returned even close to his top form.  If you missed it MAT has suddenly started walking all the time.  Given his + defense the minute he could do anything really well that makes him a very valuable player. The Dodgers got to what makes Daniel Hudson good and he's been REALLY good this year. Trevor Gott might have found himself in Milwaukee. Brief 2021 moments of "Is this guy actually good?" didn't save Brian Goodwin, Pedro Severino, or Wilmer Difo, no major league at bats for any of them. A lot of former names you know might have seen their last time in 2021.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Stras and Garcia

 The Nats have a path to being good sooner rather than later. They need Soto to stay. They need Ruiz and Gray to work out. They need someone SP wise to develop real soon into a 1-2 (Henry might be a better bet than Cavalli at the moment though that .117 BABIP isn't sustainable unless he's throwing bowling balls out there) They need a young player to develop real soon into a star or close to it (House? de la Rosa)? and they need Strasburg to be health and close to STRASBURG and Garcia to be good.*

Strasburg pitched last night. He had a couple A ball rehab starts and looked dominant. Wild but dominant. Which isn't good because he should be but sometimes you have to take "not bad" as the victory it is.  In his first start in the majors you wanted to see him pitch, not get hurt, and not be terrible. Mission accomplished. For the most part he looked like a guy returning from rehab probably would. Rocky start, settled in, got tired quicker than usual and got hit harder.  I take this and run away and see what happens NEXT start as a big deal as well.  He faced major league hitters (well sort of) and he had to try on every at bat. How does he do coming back 5 days after that? I don't need him to be any better than he was last night. I just need him to not be worse. Well, his fastball was slow (you want to see it closer to the mid 90s, it was around 90) so I guess I need that to pick up as well.

Stras' injury is similar to ones that end careers or at the very least make guys soft tossers. While I think he's enough of a pitcher to make that transition it's better if he doesn't. He didn't alter how he pitched from a pitch type distribution level so that's good. It was Strasburg trying to be STRASBURG. But it's a lost season, take it easy, ramp up slow, and give us classic Stras sometime after the All-Star Break so 2023 doesn't seem as grim. 

Garcia has been in the majors a week now and started slow, had a good run, and slowed down again. All in all though he's hitting .300 with 3 XBH (half as many as Escobar had in 4x the plate appearances). He hasn't walked - and don't expect him to. He was 88 walks in 1660 minor league plate appearances. But he isn't striking out too much.  He shouldn't do that either 260Ks in the same PAs shows a big contact hitter. But you never know getting to the majors if I guy has reached his limit. 7Ks in his first 32 PAs - that's low 20% K rate which is high for him but I bet it's lower at the end of the year.  

If you are great at the plate you do three things - hit for power, walk a ton, don't K too much. This is Juan Soto. If you can do any two though, assuming the third isn't absolutely dreadful, you can be good. Garcia, can hit for some power and can not K too much at 22. That bodes well going forward. 

Side note - the Nats don't strike out. Only the Indians strike out fewer times per game. I think that makes the team a little bit more watchable than a typical garbage team. At least at the plate.

*Yes this is a lot but it takes a lot! That's why teams aren't good all the time unless they are constantly spending money. Except the Rays who have figured out how to churn talent consistently - but who wants to root for guys who'll never spend more than 5 years on the team?

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

What about the league?

Yes another perusal post because they didn't play! And they aren't interesting right now! Look Stras will be back on Friday and Garcia will get enough ABs that we can look at how he's doing and probably something else will happen.  There's stuff coming. Join me on the Dondrei Hubbard bandwagon while it's still nice and empty for a nice story. 

But there's reasons for all these. We peruse early because there isn't anything much to talk about. We peruse around Memorial Day because that's when we have enough data and games to really start saying things. We peruse around the ASB because the trade deadline and the pennant stretch comes after that. We peruse around Labor Day because the season is about to end and we can mostly put a cap on it. So peruse we will. Peruse we must.

AL East - the Yankees haven't slowed down (on a current 6-0, 10-2 stretch) with the best offense and by far the best pitching in the AL. Every SP move is best case and Judge is still MVP. But the Blue Jays, Rays, and Red Sox are all above average in both hitting and pitching with Toronto and Tampa being the 6th and 9th best teams in baseball by record. A slow start for Boston has them at 13 but they've been on a roll to get over .500.  Even the Orioles... well they aren't a sneaky .500 team or anything but they aren't the worst. 

Story into ASB - where will Boston's surge put itself in regards to Toronto and Tampa?

AL Central - Minnesota has held it's position while unlucky Cleveland and lucky Chicago battle (12-3 in their last 15 games decided by 2 runs or fewer) for second. Detroit has found a .500 ish rhythm but likely too late to surprise challenge for a playoff spot like some had though.  KC is playing out the string. 

Story into ASB - the White Sox were built for now. Are they going to be able to get into position and will they do anything once there?

AL West - Dusty quietly keeps winning. The Astros are the 4th best team in baseball and has a 27-9 stretch that somehow no one talked about. After looking like they might be good the Angels are collapsing, losers of 12 straight while the Rangers and Mariners trade off who might be ok at the moment (currently the Mariners). The A's just can't compete after the latest gutting.

Story into ASB - can the Angels hang on to relevance? Everyone wants to see Ohtani and Trout in the playoffs. 

NL East - The Mets are still dominant. The Braves might finally be waking up after spending the season as the definition of middling. They are on a 5-0 run after going from Opening Day until last week without winning or losing three in a row. The Phillies fired Girardi to wake up the team in lieu of getting that ace pitcher and closer they've needed since 2018 and well they have won 4 in a row (and Bryce is putting together another MVP effort - while hurt). The Marlins pitching has not been good enough to counter what was going to be a weak offense. 

Story into ASB - Do either the Braves or Phillies secure 2nd?

NL Central - While the Brewers sprinted out ahead, the Cardinals have two steps forward, one step back ed their way to the same spot. Both are solid but the Cardinals look a bit more complete. The Pirates have been the lucky team so sit in third but the Cubs (basically a .500 team) and the Reds (.500 since April) are better so expect it to even out and Pittsburgh to find it's way to the bottom with a long losing streak at some point. 

Story into ASB - Brewers Cardinals battle like it's 1982. Who gets what to put them over the other.

NL West - Dodgers are the Yankees though they tend to go on long streaks and little slumps instead of spreading out losses. Best offense and pitching in National League. The Padres have used their arms to secure 2nd (remember Tatis hasn't played all year), while after looking like they might repeat 2021's magic the Giants have scuffled and fallen to third behind some less than magical pitching and luck. The D-backs and Rockies are both bad and can be ignored

Story into ASB - Probably will the Giants stay relevant in the West.  They probably will for the Wild Card but they may not push if that's where they fall.

Monday, June 06, 2022

Monday Quickie - the 70 win talent can't be denied

 The Nats have been playing better baseball / facing worse teams in the more recent weeks and have gone 7-5 over a stretch to pull themselves up to 21-35. 

We've passed the 1/3 marker for the season (game 54) during this time and we're going to poke around again because why not? 

Keibert Ruiz - Doing... ok.  He'll get hot for stretches and get us excited and then cool down and we'll think about something else. Because he has not developed power (1 homer this year back on May 5th) and his lack of walks is a tradeoff for his lack of strikeouts it's all about if those batted balls avoid gloves. Work in progress

Josh Bell - A torrid April followed by a pretty bad May, hot again in June.  All in all a good season but the big question is whether he'll be hot going into the trade deadline. Haven't heard any talk the new owners want Bell, even if I think they should keep him.

Cesar Hernandez - doing Cesar Hernandez things in general. Keep it up. Get traded for a Low A... something. 

Alcides Escobar - got hurt and got tossed out finally. Was terrible across the board outside of a couple really good relay throws. 

Luis Garcia - up after passing whatever team control limit deadline they needed him to pass. Hitting so far in the week he's been here. 

Maikel Franco - see Cesar Hernandez

Yadi Hernandez - been on an extended two week slump but was doing well enough before to weather that. Don't make it a habit though because his fielding won't keep him in 

Victor Robles - Solid D but can't seem to get it back on track striking out a ton still. 

Juan Soto - Soto is one of those guys that can make an All-Star season feel like a disappointment.  His average is WAY low (under .230). Part of that is bad luck (that BABIP of .225 is too low) part of it is bad hitting (fewer hard hit ball more soft ones). Maybe trying too hard (FB rate up, LD rate down)? I would think he's expanding his zone to try to hit more walk less but the numbers don't back that up at least in comparison to his entire career. It's more contact when he is swinging outside the zone. I don't know what you do other than tell him to walk even more?

Nelson Cruz - a much better May and a great start to June. Thank God. But he needs to start putting more balls over the fence if the Nats are going to get anything interesting for him in July. 

Lane Thomas - a 3 homer day took him from bad to passable. I'm guessing that's a fluke

Riley Adams - a perfectly fine back-up C, but Tres Barrera could be that too. But there's nowhere to play him. 

Dee Strange-Gordon - paternity leave right? A guy on the bench but if he's likable there no harm done here

Lucius Fox - here for DSG. Not a major league player

Patrick Corbin - slowly getting into form from "unusable" to "ok this guy can eat innings" which is the small victory you have to take right now

Josiah Gray - hit hardest by the re-entry of the lively ball the guy has been arguably better than we've thought, harder to hit and with slightly more Ks. But he has to fix something - either walk a bunch fewer guys or give up fewer homers.

Joan Adon - doesn't look ready but they are going to keep running him out there. 

Erick Fedde - see Hernandez and Franco but remove the "get traded for something" part

Aaron Sanchez - so bad that he's gone even from this group

Tanner Rainey - had a lucky start with ERA that he hasn't kept up.  He'll have to pitch better soon or it'll start to show. Numbers in general aren't bad though and he's vaguely where he should be

Paolo Espino - don't walk anyone, don't give up homers and it's ok if you can't strike anyone out. At least for a inning or two. 

Victor Arano - a LOT of work early. Pitching like he's tired

Steve Cishek - Actually had a good May but you wouldn't know it because April was so bad.  He should be fine. Should.

Kyle Finnegan - A guy in the pen, the type you need to fill it out. His arm has gotten livelier which makes him ok

Erasmo Ramirez - recent pounding not withstanding a guy that can take on multiple innings and do ok. This team needs that.

Carl Edwards Jr - My first thought was he looks to be getting by on luck but a deeper dive shows he IS an extreme GB pitcher so far this year and he is getting very little hard contact. So... hmmm

Thursday, June 02, 2022

Revisiting Trade Returns

As said at the time (early late April) we said we'd come back and look at the trade returns in June.  It's June! Yes time it goes so fast (when you're having fun... which I assume the Nats opponents are). Each one of these guys has gotten about 6 more weeks of playing so you can actually say something about them. This time we'll add in the age

Aldo Ramirez (Schwarber) - 21 -  SP - Still hurt! It doesn't look good.*

Riley Adams (Hand) - 26 - C - In the majors as a back-up C for some reason where he barely plays and hasn't been good, but I mean let him hit everyday somewhere.  Yes I did just copy the exact same text from last time. 

Richard Guasch (Gomes/Harrison) - 24 - SP - Last time I said they should try him as a reliever bc starting wasn't working for him.  Last time out they did!  Tune in next time. 

Drew Millas (Gomes/Harrison) - 24 - C - started playing as soon as I wrote the last article and didn't do that well but they moved him to AA anyway as he is 24.  And he's struggling as you'd expect someone who didn't do well in A+ ball would. 

Seth Shuman (Gomes/Harrison) - 24 - SP - He might just replace Guasch. After a middling start has had three straight good outings. Still there isn't anything that excites you, not a K guy he limits homers, but how about pushing a guy that gets results?

Gerardo Carillo (Scherzer/Turner) - 23 - was bad and might have hurt his shoulder? Uh oh. 

Donovan Casey (Scherzer/Turner) - 26 - OF - K-See (47 in 132 PA as of last night) strikes out too much! Power is there still in AAA but man he'd whiff like at 50% in the majors

Josiah Gray / Keibert Ruiz (Scherzer/Turner) - Jo Jo See-Ya has been more down than up recently as the summer weather brings back his Achilles heel of the long ball.  Ruiz slowly worked his average back up. Still no power but most catchers stink so he's already pretty good for the position 

Lane Thomas (Lester) - 26 - OF - had a brief run of decent hitting but very brief.  Not good. 

Mason Thompson (Hudson) - 24 - RP - After saying it wasn't a big deal has been put on the 60 Day IL. 

Jordy Barley (Hudson) - 22 - SS - So bad. So so bad. 

Doesn't look like the Nats got anything immediately surprisingly good, but again these are long plays.  See you kids at the ASB!

*Translation - God Willing I'll be back better than ever. 

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Voth is gone or Visigoth

 Austin Voth was DFA's yesterday.  Jesse from the Post has a nice article on why a guy with a 5.70 lifetime ERA, with 4 bad outings in the majors in 5 years, who's been middling to bad in the MINORS since 2016, is still around. The argument is unconvincing and belies a general problem with sports evaluation. If you look the part or have the raw skills that seem elite, scouts and teams will convince themselves they can turn you into something great. If you are simply good at the sports, eh not that interested. Voth had good fancy stats so the team thought only if he learned to pitch we could make something of him! Thing is knowing how to pitch is also a skill. 

Look development has to include some lottery tickets, some guys who's talent is so remarkable you can't deny the potential. A lock down reliever, an ace, a 40/40 guy. Voth? Maybe he could be an effective reliever. For THAT you force a guy up the ladder and have him throw 200 major league innings despite not showing the ability to get enough guys out in AAA? No wonder this team can't develop pitching. 

Anyway someone else obsessed with spin rate will see the numbers and try to fix him and he won't be any good and he'll be 31/32 and out of baseball. But good for the guy for getting there and trying. 

Will Juan Soto be traded? Rizzo today said flat out no.  Don't believe him. 

Look Juan Soto could very well retire a National. But with the team up for sale that decision will likely be on the new ownership. For now they can't deal Soto because the next guy might want him. The new owners might want to try a quick turnaround or they might see Soto as the type that can be part of the next great team even if it's 5+ years down the road or they might just want a marketable player. In any case you CAN'T deal him until you know how the potential buyers feel. 

So will Juan Soto be traded? Not right now. That's the best you can say.