Nationals Baseball: Season half-done or half-to-go?

Friday, June 30, 2023

Season half-done or half-to-go?

 Depends on how much you are enjoying this glass of tepid metallic water that is the Nats 2023. They currently stand at 32-48 meaning that after tonight they will either be on pace for a 64-98 season or a 66-96 one. This was slightly above my predictions which pegged them as a 62-64 win team.  Basically they are doing as one would expect them to. That's honestly a slight win for Davey who as I'll continually shout, has consistently lead the team to fewer wins than most people had projected for them. 

How are my other predictions doing at this "almost half-way but the actual half-way is on the weekend so it's not like I'll blog then anyway" point? 

Baserunning would be better because it has to be 

The were worst in the Fangraphs BSR stat last year and that felt right. They weren't super slow or anything but they didn't run often and they made a lot of mistakes. This still seems to hold though maybe not as bad? 

What does the stat say this year? Slightly below average. If you look at 2022 they didn't steal, got caught too often, made too many outs on the basepaths especially at home, and didn't take enough extra bases. This year they are slightly better at not getting caught stealing, don't make as many outs at home (though make more at 2nd and 3rd), and are a little better taking extra bases. It's an improvement. I'll note that the best baserunner might have been Alex Call, who was very aggressive on the basepaths but didn't get caught too often, so we might see some fall back but we won't see them hit last. 

Fielding should be better

Really isn't better, surprisingly. I think this is vagaries of the half-season doing weird things with Robles and Thomas but it is true Abrams is unsettled and Ruiz is likely a below average catcher. I think it should look better by the end of the year. 

Starting Pitching can't be worse 

It isn't. Specifically I said Corbin couldn't be worse and is more of a 5.00 ERA guy DING DING, Williams is ok DING DING and Gore is better than Fedde DING DING. Also said 5th spot should be a nightmare. Ding ding? It's been bad overall but nightmare is a bit much.  I didn't know what Gray would do and honestly still don't know what he's doing. The stats suggest a middling 4 the ERA a solid 2/3. Either way this group isn't going to break any ignominious records

Hitting would be an issue 

Basically had the pieces right here as well. They'd miss Soto of course but Meneses wouldn't be as good and Smith would be a noticeable drop from Bell. The only big improvement chance I saw was with Candelario replacing Franco and that is what happened. The one surprise was Thomas upping his game.  But even with that and the fact no one has surprisingly tanked the offense is still a little worse.

So getting the record about right shouldn't be a surprise giving I kind of nailed how the team would be.

How about specifics? 

Win leader Gore with 9. Definitely possible and he probably should be the leader but completely up in the air. Corbin and Gray have 5. Gore and Williams have 4.

Meneses OPS+ : 122  Going to take some doing. He's at 97 now. But he's a 2nd half guy, right? The complete lack of power (still 2 homers) is doing him in

Breakout Player Harvey : Another one that's possible. If you haven't looked he does basically lead the pen in ERA and has the best stats* but it's hardly breakout numbers.  If you had to pick someone Thomas is the closest. A whole half is long enough for someone else to emerge but right now Gore, Gray, and Adams sit with potential as well. I think in that order. 

Bust : whoever ends up 5th starter but if I have to pick someone else Dom Smith.   Nailed this one I think.  Kuhl won the 5th spot and now is out of baseball. Hard to do worse than that. But after that obvious choice Smith IS probably the closest to a bust so far. He's fringy though. Stay like this and you'd probably say not a bust, just in the realm of expected bad. Plus, a good 2nd half could make him about average. And Dickerson, who gets a pass now bc of injury, Ruiz, Abrams, Williams, all have potential to 'bust' right past him.

Nats All-Star(s) : Meneses  Miss.  It'll be Thomas and/or Candelario. Harvey's been fine but you gotta figure there are an easy dozen middle/back-end relievers they could pick instead.

*Technically this is Weems but give Weems another 20 IP and let's see where he is.


Positively Half St. said...

Given the likelihood that Candelario, Thomas and Harvey are all traded, it's hard to see the team do better in the second half. However, because they were so terrible this month, they might hold the line and at least come close to 70 wins. I really don't think they are as bad as they were the first 3 weeks of June.

Ryan said...

I would be surprised if all 3 were traded

Cautiously Pessimistic said...

I would argue Candelario has to be traded...but I don't know who to? All the contenders have pretty solid 3B options outside maybe the Twins and the Brewers. Thomas I'd be really surprised if he was traded but I'd be happy to see it. Harvey, though, I can't see being shipped off. Thomas and Harvey have the most value with their team control, but Thomas is selling high while Harvey still has hasn't hit is ceiling in my opinion. You'd need pretty solid returns for either of these guys, and I don't know what those may look like.

But if anyone can pull off a solid trade, it's Rizzo, so we'll have to see what happens

PotomacFan said...

I think Gray or Gore will make the All-Star team, not Thomas (who deserves it). Managers have more flexibility filling out the bullpen for the ASG than adding outfielders.

The Ghost of Ole Cole Henry (JDBrew) said...

I don’t understand why they don’t try and play Adams at 1b. Is he really THAT bad in the field? They have other catchers in the minors that are close to being able to come up and play back up C. Why can’t they get the chance and Adams get the chance to play everyday for a bit.

Anonymous said...

I think they keep Adams at catcher because he calls a better game than Ruiz.

billyhacker said...

I think you are being charitable toward the defense. Even as uninformative as Defensive stats are halfway through the season, the Nats are the worst defensive team in baseball if you take the average of the major defensive stats. They can't dig themselves out of that no matter what they do in the second half.

I called for 68 wins here before the season started but now I think they will fall short because of the players they trade...

billyhacker said...

Correction: 67 wins. And it came from fangraphs. Oh well.

Donald said...

Have you looked at the upcoming draft yet? It's obviously dependent on who Pittsburgh picks, but I hope Skenes is available. Hopefully, the Nats don't need an OF as much as top of the line pitching.

Steven Grossman said...

The "really not good and not making much progress" narrative seemed to fit reality during the May/June period during which the Nats couldn't win--either not enough offense or a bullpen that couldn't hold a lead. Now, after the conclusion of a successful 6-3 (won all three series) road trip, does the narrative still fit?