Nationals Baseball: Tuesday Quickie - Water finding it's level

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Tuesday Quickie - Water finding it's level

While this is sure to make the Nats win a few games in a row, the Nats were never a 70+ win team but an extended stretch of good play and good luck put that modest goal in easy reach. Now an extended one of bad play and bad luck (unlike most of the year which was just bad play) has almost wiped that clean away.  A modest finish of 5-6 could still do it though the competition left makes 4-7 more likely. Still that is 70 wins. 


We want to talk about the year but there's plenty of time to do that later so a place holder to complain about the White Sox getting all worked up over Dom Smith celebrating one of his few homers


John C. said...

Smith was probably just glad that he FINALLY got one. He had just missed two others, getting the barrel to the baseball but just under the sweet spot, resulting in two fly outs (one to medium deep RF, the other to the wall) with truly impressive hang times. The last time he didn't miss, and it must have felt great.

Mike Condray said...

To be fair, if they win 70 that’s not a *sigh* result. That’s a +15 win improvement in one season.

Is 70 wins a great year? No. Does a 70-win 2024 mean Nats should be a WC contender in 2024? Only if darned near everything goes right.

But a +15 game year on year is nothing to sneeze at. And it makes a .500 record for 2024 a tough (+10-12 wins) but not unreasonable goal. Next window starting open in 2025 remains plausible.

Coming up from a 55-107 face plant takes time/doesn’t happen in one year. Long way to go, but the 2023 Nats are moving in positive direction.

Harper said...

Well when you are terrible and your goal isn't to stay terrible (see early 2010's Astros) it's easier to get a big improvement than if you are coming from 65 wins AND the Nats are where they are because even with the recent run of bad luck overall they have been lucky this season in general (arguably extremely so)

BUT the season is a success in the sense that they are where they wanted to be in their rebuild. They aren't better, which is disappointing, but they aren't worse. And not being worse is far more important. Being better means your timeline speeds up. Being worse means maybe the whole thing is falling apart.

But we'll talk about this more in a couple weeks

kubla said...

Going by the pythag standings, they should have 62 wins right now and end up with 66 or 67. That is still a decent improvement without the extra wins from luck.

However — and I hope I end up wrong about this — there isn't too much get excited about for additional improvements. They were trash last year and now they are mediocre. Corbin probably is more his 2023 performance than his 2022, but that means he's a passable major leaguer and not the worst pitcher in baseball. Gray and Gore are mostly just fine. None of the other guys who have cycled through were impressive. A pitching prospect could turn out to be great, but I do not see any of them becoming a transcendent talent, and the Lerners are unlikely to make big free agent splashes ever again. That leaves a rotation where the best pitcher would be a 3 at best for a good team.

There is more to like for the future of the lineup. There are several potential stars in AA right now, Thomas was a nice surprise, Abrams seems to be worth keeping, and Ruiz leveled out to decent. The team will have to hit lights-out all the time to make up for shaky pitching.

Next year, they could be a 70+-win team without factoring in luck, which is technically an improvement. The only reason to be hopeful about the Nats' future is the continued depressed state of the commercial real estate market in the DC area makes it more likely the Lerners will sell the team to get some quick cash.

ocw5000 said...

Not trying to re-litigate the Is Davey Good? debate but watching the White Sox give what appears to be negative effort in an afternoon game on getaway day while the Nats take every available base is a testament to Davey getting the guys to play hard, which is worth approx 0.8 mWAR*

* formula for manager WAR not available for public consumption

Expos 1983 Blog said...

It'd be pretty amusing to see Meneses get to 100 RBIs while putting up a subpar Bill Buckner slash line

Hopeful Fan said...

I think the formula for mWAR is something like measure of team spirit/persistent effort + effective coaching/deployment of available talent + game-changing strategic in-game decisions.

Davey is probably 70-80th percentile in the first category, 40-50th percentile in the second, and (very generously) 10-20th percentile in the third.

When the team is hunting for relevancy, the first category matters a little more than the second and a lot more than the third. When the team is in the hunt for a title, this flips.

That's why Davey is okay for now but needs to be gone in 2025 and beyond.

Harper said...

kubla - I won't say 70 for next year until I see what they do in the off-season. Just returning all these guys wouldn't be enough - even if I like one or two minor leaguers to be good and graduate to full time major leaguers.

ocw5000 - maybe. Also maybe the White Sox are a team that can't even bother to try making normal effort look good. I think today was good but still leaves him at -12.3 hmWAR* in my book

Harper manager WAR - the most common alternative to mWAR.

Expos 1983 - it's sacrilege to mention but I think Zimm's first 100 RBI season came from having like 15% more ABs with RISP than anyone else in baseball somehow.

Anonymous said...

@Harper, Zimm's first 100 RBI season was 2006, that 15% more ABs with RISP probably had something to do with batting behind Soriano that year

PotomacFan said...

Let's compare Joey Meneses to Dominic Smith.
Meneses: 566 AB. .279/.326/.406. 102 OPS+. 84 RBI.
Smith: 497 AB. .258/.328/.362. 92 OPS+. 43 RBI.

Who would you rather have? Smith is a decent fielding first baseman, although rated below 0 on Baseball Reference. Meneses is a DH because he is a terrible fielder. Meneses is cheap ($723K, under team control through 2029). Smith is pretty cheap ($2 million for one year). Both bat in the middle of the order. Smith must be close to a record for futility in driving in runs. 43 RBI in a full season, batting in the middle of the order? That's really, really bad. I wish I could find the stats on RISP and LOB for these guys.

Expos 1983 Blog said...

Neither of these guys should be playing regularly at the left end of the defensive spectrum - DH, 1B, LF) - for a major league team

kubla said...


They're fine for another year when the Nats aren't competing. Meneses could get hot early and generate a couple more lottery tickets in a trade. Smith is probably washed, but unless they want to convert one of the OF prospects to 1B isn't really blocking anyone right now. Same with Meneses until they move all the AA guys up and need to give someone a break by letting him DH, which they've been doing in the minors.

Expos 1983 Blog said...

True enough - just hate to see all those at bats going to average-to-below-average hitters when it should be easy find Ken Phelpses to pencil in there

Harper said...

Anon - Looked it up and it was more like 5% more than 2nd, 10% more than 4th. He bounced around the lineup more than you think but I'm betting the more important time was when he was batting 5th behind Nick Johnson in Nick's one full healthy year where he had that .428 OBP. A fragile, fragile beast.

Potomac Fan - since I was looking at RISP for Zimm I can tell you this year with RISP
Joey : .365 / .393 / .500
Dom : .194 / .310 / .241

I mean... good job walking with RISP I guess.

Expos 1983 / kubla - I think Joey is a poor but usable choice for a team. Like "we're spending our money elsewhere so we're having a guy for nothing that doesn't hurt here". You can find a better bat but also it's probably not guaranteed and maybe you have some kids that you want to slot in later in the year if all goes well.

Dom... Dom's the only place he can be starting at first on one of the worst teams in the majors. He's an AAA player, injury fill-in

Nattydread said...

But Harper, Dom did exceed the HR prediction you set for him earlier on. He still wins "MLB's worst production from 1B" award in 2023. But let him celebrate. He's not getting a contract next year.