Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie -

Monday, June 19, 2023

Monday Quickie -

The Nats are about to play an oddly interesting series.  They are not the worst team in baseball. The A's and Royals are fighting it out for that and you might say given the competition the Royals have the advantage which is shocking but either way - both much worse than the Nats.  The Nats currently sit at third worst two games behind the Rockies and one behind their next opponent, the St. Louis Cardinals. 

While the Nats are mildly disappointing, no one expected anything from them, the Cardinals are MASSIVE disappointments expected to win the division after doing just that with 93 wins in 2022. What happened? Offensively there have been some steps down from no-doubt All-Star hitting from Goldschmidt and Arenado to merely very good, and some injuries to OFers turning a couple average bats into below average bats. But the big issue has been pitching wise where deep starting and bullpens are now shallow. Everyone in the rotation looks mediocre from the aged Wainwright, to the returning Flaherty, to the brought in Matz. And everyone in the pen is just average. They aren't getting many leads and if they do there's not a good chance they can hold them

Still that doesn't explain it all and the Cardinals have also been massively unlucky, a .500 team in a vacuum that's gone 8-16 in one-run games. They likely have a run in them but given the hole they've dug, it's not likely that run will get them back to a wild card spot. 

Anyway the Nats play them and if they lose the series they will be fairly cemented in that "3rd worst" spot for a while since they don't face another clearly bad team until after the All-Star break. After STL they play their lost game with the surprising D-backs, then get the Padres, now with their head-on straight, three straight .500 type teams in the Marines, Phillies, and Reds, and finally the powerful Rangers. 17 more games where the Nats to go... 6-11 maybe 7-10 at best. So the Nats lose to the Cardinals at home and it's 34-56 or so at the break? Someone else shut off the lights to Nats Park when they leave because the fans won't be there to do it. 

The early season excitement of watching the young players play is gone. Ruiz and Garcia seem to have settled into average-ish seasons which is what they did last year. Abrams is fighting to stay in the majors. None of the call-ups clicked. Meneses hasn't reproduced his magic. And while Thomas and Candelario are fighting to be the lone All-Star rep neither's solid season is bringing fans to the yard. Gray has developed into a steady reliable starter - a great feat and super important - but hasn't thrown an impressive game since April. Gore has the impressive stuff but isn't as steady. Beyond that a couple relief arms are pretty good but no one that can make you excited they get called in in the 9th. 

For the most part if you go to a Nats game you are hoping they get a couple rare XBHs following their singles, build up like a 5-3 lead through 5 and you start hoping that the one bad reliever does ok and you don't run into a bad day from one of the other three good, but not great ones. 

Right now, if I were not just a fan of baseball I'd be interested in going to a Gore game against a bad team that Ks a lot. A's, Mariners, Brewers, Rockies, Mariners. The good news is that the Nats play four of these guys at home between July 21st and August 15th (they already played the Mariners in Seattle for that matchup this year) and three in four series from the 21st through August 2nd.  One starter is likely to catch all three. Maybe it'll be Gore.


Cautiously Pessimistic said...

Yesterday hurt, I really hope it was just bad luck and not Gray returning to his old ways. His results have obviously been better than his advanced stats, but those homers were on some pretty bad mistake pitches. Hopefully just brain farts and he'll right the ship

John C. said...

The whole "no one will be coming to the games" schtick is getting tiresome. The Nats, coming off of a 107 loss season and with no significant additions to draw fans, are currently 19th in MLB in attendance (21,898/game). People are still coming to games, and will continue to do so even as the team is trying to dig out from the bottom of a rebuild. Despite the whining from out-of-towners DC is not a bad baseball town. Despite the rebuild they are drawing essentially the same number of fans as they did last season (actually slightly ahead of last year's pace).

You know what is a bad baseball town? Baltimore. They're a young, exciting team with some marquee-level talent and yet are two spaces behind the woeful Nats in p/g attendance. And that's with a larger capacity ballpark that is itself regarded as a draw.

Anonymous said...

To change the subject, I'll note that your prediction that Blake Rutherford would soon be promoted to Triple A Rochester has come true. (Your Yankee genetic code must be pirouetting around the double helix.)

Which brings me to a way-of-the-baseball-world truism too frequently overlooked.

Rochester now has three former first-round picks on its roster: Derek Hill, Rutherford, and Rutherford's fellow 2016 pick, Carter Kieboom. It's a sobering reminder--baseball is littered with them--that first-round picks guarantee nothing.

Anonymous said...

Sure, Baltimore's attendance ought to be higher with their "young, exciting" team. (The Orioles were young and exciting last year, too.) Still, their attendance is up this year, and will probably increase more rapidly if they remain in contention. I think the fans are waiting to be convinced that this time the the team is for real, and that pennypinching Angelos won't shit in their spikes.

If you want the worst baseball city, look to Miami. A solid Wild Card contender in a beautiful stadium, drawing fewer fans than the Montreal Expos even after the writing was on the wall.

DezoPenguin said...

I mean, can there be a worse baseball city than Tampa? 27th in attendance this year with a team that's both the literal best team in baseball and which somehow the front office and player development/coaching staff takes their limited budget and every single year puts a team on the field that's expected to be a playoff contender and can be expected to be in the discussion for a possible World Series title. (I mean, under Friedman, the Dodgers are just Tampa West with fans and a budget.) Yeah, the stadium location is a legitimate problem, but they could have moved that team to Vegas any time in the last decade and nobody would have noticed they'd left.

Anonymous said...

On the attendance topic, Never in the last 10 years has Baltimore had a better attendance than Washington, you have to go back to 2009 to find a season that Baltimore had better attendance than Washington and even then it was not by much (830 more people per game). Both teams have been good and bad over that time frame and Washington continues to out perform Baltimore in attendance, but the fluctuation in attendance doesn't completely track with team performance. I too am getting tired of the whole "no one will be coming to the games, D.C. isn't a baseball town" thing. Maybe Washingtonians have more disposable income than Baltimoreans, but that would counter the whole "D.C. isn't a baseball town" narrative that certain despicable owners promulgate.

Harper said...

CP - makes up for some good luck earlier in the year with HR/FB rate I think. Taking it as we see it - in March I'd have signed up for a 3.90 ERA from Gray at this point.

John C / Anon @11- I bet they finish about 23rd / 24th which is still ok given the circumstances. I've never said they are a bad baseball town. They are just reacting as you should to a bad baseball team. The Os will pass the Nats maybe by the ASB.

Dezo - Yeah worst baseball town currently

Anon - and you can imagine if you aren't a first round pick! When it comes to the first round It's kind of like there are 1-7 picks and then there are everyone else.

Mike Condray said...

"I bet they finish about 23rd / 24th which is still ok given the circumstances. I've never said they are a bad baseball town. They are just reacting as you should to a bad baseball team. The Os will pass the Nats maybe by the ASB."

NOT happening. The O's have three home games left before the ASB. The Nats have seven.

As of today (29 June), Nats have a 1,287 fans per game lead on the Orioles. Both teams are halfway through their home schedule as of 29 June (Nats 40, O's 41).

That puts the Nats up a total (1,287 fans/game * 40 games) of 51,480. Or put another way, to draw even Baltimore must out-draw DC by 1,287 fans/game for the NEXT 40-41 home games.

Even when originally posted (19 June, 10 days ago) it was mathematically clear the O's had almost no shot to catch the Nats in average attendence before the ASB. While it's conceivable the O's being in a pennant race for real will allow them to make up that ground and end up past the Nats by the end of the year (mid-Sept?), to make that happen between 19 June and the ASB required O's sellouts/Nats dropping to A's-level attendence.

If one is measuring by attendance adjusted by team quality (one team will be in the playoffs, the other will be working to avoid another 100-loss season), there's no contest. DC *is* a much better baseball town than Baltimore.