10 Days Worth of Hitting

April 16, 2012

The Nats are sitting pretty at the top of the division after 10 games this season, at a very nice 7-3. And while you may think they’ve had some close games (and you’d be right) their run differential is the best in the division, and their Pythagorean W-L also puts them at 7-3. So they’re right where they should be. As far as stats go, in such a small sample it is still way too early to worry about specific numbers per se. Suffice it to say, we know Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond are hitting the cover off the ball. But there are a couple of other hitters that are doing things you might not have noticed, so let’s start with the good

Jayson Werth

A few games into the season, Werth looks very comfortable. He’s already got two doubles and a triple, which is good to see. In case you remembered him starting out strong last year as well, you are correct. But last year’s strong start only lasted 4 games before he had issues. A slight mid-May surge brought him back up to an .800 OPS, but an awful 2 month stint from the end of May through the beginning of July did him in. To add some perspective on how easily these numbers can change, he’s hitting .350/.447/.450 right now. If he goes 0 for 5 tonight, he’ll be hitting .311/.404/.400, a .093 OPS drop in one night. Then again, if he goes 2 for 5 with a HR, he’s hitting .356/.462/.511, a .076 rise. So let’s take all these numbers with a grain of salt…

Steve Lombardozzi

…except for when we talk about Steve Lombardozzi. Not because I think his .286/.500/.286 will hold up, I certainly don’t expect that OBP to finish even in  that vicinity. But, for a guy who has no power, a couple of singles early on in the year is a good sign, and a couple of walks from major league pitching shows that he hasn’t lost his patience. I think, though, his 10 PAs is a troubling number. I know Davey likes him and wants to use him, but if he’s getting the equivalent of a start per week, he needs to be sent back down to the minors. At 23 years old, daily ABs are the most important thing, and he’s clearly not getting them. Either Davey’s use of him needs to change, or they need to demote him.

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Don’t Count Innings for Strasburg

April 12, 2012

We all know Stephen Strasburg is the Nationals best pitcher. We also know that he will be shut down at some point this season, which is unfortunate for the team’s playoff chances. And while we don’t know what date it will happen, we do know that he’ll be finished for the year whatever start he reaches 160 innings pitched. Right? Well, not really.

According to this thoroughly interesting Baseball Prospectus article about the recent history (ups and downs) of the Washington Nationals, Mike Rizzo says that the 160 IP limit is bunk:

“Look, the media put (the 160-innings limit) out there, not me. It probably comes from what Jordan Zimmermann pitched last year.

“I don’t have a specific pitch count in my mind, a specific innings count in my mind. I am going to refer to my experience as a farm director, as a player development guy, and knowing his body. In conjunction with Davey Johnson and Steve McCatty, when we feel he’s had enough, we’re going to shut him down.

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The Nationals Review Podcast Episode 3

April 11, 2012

On the Nationals Review Episode 3 (click to download or get it on iTunes), this week Charlie and Colm talk :

  • Preseason playoff and awards predictions
  • Nats predictions
    • Best hitter? Best pitcher?
    • Surprises for the year
  • Detwiler as the 5th starter over Lannan
    • Detwiler vs Lannan
    • Lannan’s trade demand
  • Almost made it in the Washington Post
  • Nats and Local Streaming

Adam LaRoche Must Think It’s August

April 10, 2012

When the Nats signed Adam LaRoche in January of 2011, nobody knew what kind of hitter to expect. That’s because, despite 4 strong seasons from 2006-2009 where he hit .276/.349/.500 and managed HR totals of 32, 21, 25 and 25, his 2010 was much worse. Hitting only .261/.320/.468 in Arizona that year, it could have certainly been an indicator that his best days were behind him. As a slick fielding first baseman, having a slightly above average OPS with some power might get you years on a bench, but it isn’t starter material.

Then, of course, came the injury last year. And it was an injury after a terrible start – he hit .172/.288/.258 in 43 games, about a quarter of a season. Many Nationals fans had him written off, and why not? After two years without performing, it would have been a stretch to think he could just turn it on. A 2011 spring training without any power hinted that maybe one of his redeeming qualities – the thought that no matter how bad he hit, he could still probably manage 20+ HRs, was in danger, too.

But he’s shot right out of the gate in these first 4 games. It’s way to early to talk about AVG/OBP/SLG for this year, but his 2 HRs have him one shy of what he did in close to two months last season. He’s hitting the ball hard – both were screaming line drives down the foul line – and he’s been the Nats best hitter in the very short season. After three strikeouts on Opening Day, he’s had a 4 for 5 day and a 2 for 3 day with a walk. So far, so good.

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Trying to Stream Nats Games Locally

April 5, 2012

As I sit in my office knowing I won’t be able to watch the Nats game despite having an MLB.tv subscription, thanks to being, you know, in the area of the home team (like most people), I wonder if there’s something that can be done about it. Well, the Baseball Prospectus guys are having an Opening Day (or at I call it, Strassover) Round Table right now and I posed the question to them about what can be done. They took it up, so here’s what was said:

Comment From Charlie
Do you guys think MLB.tv will ever be blackout free? I, like most people, would love to watch my home teams games online at work, on on my iPad, or anywhere else. It’s not about NOT paying for cable or anything, it’s about viewing options! I assume this isn’t MLB’s call, but they’d probably have many many more subscriptions if people could watch the home team…

Colin Wyers: Ever? Probably. I wouldn’t want to bet on the timeline or what other changes would take place between now and then.

Larry Granillo: Charlie, as I saw someone say on Twitter yesterday, with the amounts of money networks are paying for rights now, I doubt it… at least not any time soon.

Jason Collette: The existing TV contracts teams have in place really make it unlikely to change any time soon. I don’t think offering a double secret premium version of it at an inflated price would fix the issue

Colin Wyers: What’s already starting to happen is partnerships with cable companies. Where if you have the channel on your cable, you can watch without blackouts. It’s very limited now, though.

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2012 Season Predictions

April 4, 2012

It’s that time again… time for the predictions of playoffs and awards. I’ve put predictions from me and Colm, both members of the Nats Review podcast team. If you don’t know who Colm is, you really need to listen to the podcast. At least listen to the one that we’ll put out there next week, where we’ll discuss these predictions and our reasoning behind them, as well as other topics that arise in the first weekend of the season.

The Other Guys

April 3, 2012

The Nats just finalized their roster this week, and there were few questions remaining. We knew at this point that Mark DeRosa, for example, was going to make the team, and he’ll probably even start with all the early season injuries. But a few guys made this team that we didn’t even notice before spring training. And you may not notice them that much this season, other than an occasional start or pinch hit appearance.

Brett Carroll

Brett Carroll hasn’t hit much in the major leagues. Almost all of his plate appearances have been with Florida, and he’s only hit .203/.281/.322 in his career. His best season, and the one in which he played the most, was 2009. He had 158 PAs and hit .234/.306/.383, which isn’t particularly good for any position, let alone a guy who really only plays corner outfield. He is a righty, and in his career, he’s shown much more power against lefties, although his AVG and OBP have been pretty much the same. In that extended appearance in 2009m he hit with significantly more power against LHPs, and better OBP against RHPs.

Last year, at 28 years old, Carroll spent basically the entire year in AAA, where he hit .275/.345/.447. Nice numbers, if he wasn’t a 28 year old. The Nats can expect decent power off the bench against lefties, but probably not much more than that. Still, that isn’t the worst thing to do with a bench spot.

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Nats Fans Are All Over, But the Virginians are Closer

April 2, 2012

The Washington Post had a nice article on Sunday by Marc Fisher about the rise of the Nats, in both relevence and attendance levels. I was actually interviewed for the article, although my contributions were apparently left on the cutting room floor. Judging by the actual blogger quotes put in there, my mistake was not being hyperbolic enough (I am almost always guilty of this) and, perhaps, still being an active blogger. But I’m not here to complain, in fact, I was honored to just be contacted by a real journalist doing a real article. And I know how these things work, I certainly don’t take it as a personal affront.

During the interview though, Marc and I had a conversation about the attendance sources for the team, and he touched on it in the article when he wrote:

Nationals officials say fans coming to games are about 60 percent from Virginia, 25 percent from Maryland and 15 percent from the District. That means city residents are slightly overrepresented, Marylanders lag well behind, and Virginians make a strongly disproportionate contribution to city coffers.

I thought I’d pass along the gist of what I said. As a resident of the socialist utopia that is the state of Maryland, I feel that this needs some explaining. To me, it isn’t the lack of fans in MD or the higher number in VA that is driving this. It is plain and simple geography. Think about where VA fans are coming from compared to MD fans.

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