Zimmermann and Deep Counts

February 14, 2013

Baseball Prospectus had a great article yesterday in their series of mock arbitration hearings, focused on the Nats own Jordan Zimmermann. It’s a pay site, so I won’t get into the whole meat of the argument, but I personally think PECOTA and this article alone are worth the subscription to any Nats fan. Heck, I won’t even tell you who they voted to win the arbitration hearing. Partly because it is a pay site, and partly because I don’t care that much about things like that.

What I will share, is some of the great info they had about JZimm. There was some stuff you might already know. His July, where he earned NL pitcher of the month, went 4-0 with a 0.97 ERA. His 6th highest average fastball velocity in the league (among starters). Even his ability to swing the bat. His great season ERA and quality start total. But as I said, there’s a good change you knew all of this data.

What I found most interesting was the comparison to Matt Cain – not so much in that they are the exact same pitcher, just that at similar points in their careers, they were underappreciated, at least by the Cy Young voters. How many votes did Zimmermann get for the 2012 Cy Young award? None. That’s not a single vote, despite double digits Wins, a winning record, a sub-3.00 ERA, and the Nats making the playoffs. According to BP:

The only other pitcher to do the same in the last several seasons is Matt Cain, who’s a lot like Zimmermann in some other respects. Both are right-handers with similar heights and builds. Both throw the same assortment of five pitches at roughly similar rates (Zimmermann uses his changeup more often). Both throw hard with excellent control, but neither gets many strikeouts. Both Cain in 2009 and Zimmermann in 2012 had modest win totals and were overshadowed by other pitchers on their own staffs

Read the rest of this entry »


Prepping for Position Rankings

February 7, 2013

It’s February, which means pretty soon, it’s gonna be March. And every year I rank the players on the teams in the NL East position by position. I’ve done it for a few years already, but last year I picked a musical theme and used a song for each entry. I know not why I picked BritPop, but I enjoyed it. I’m doing it again, but I need help deciding which style of music to use this time. Here’s what I’m thinking, you can go vote and determine it

  1. 70s/80s Early pre-metal – Basically stuff that would be played on Ozzy’s Boneyard, leaving out some of later tunes. Lots of pre-glam metal era. Think everything that led up to, but not including, Metallica. Examples: Led Zeppelin, UFO, Iron Maiden, Nazareth, Motorhead, Diamond Head, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, early Queen
  2. Blues Rock – Not really talking about a time frame, but I mean really bluesy rock here, not just the awesome late 60s classic rock which had the influence. Examples: Savoy Brown, Ten Years After, Rory Gallagher, Govt Mule, Allman Brothers, Blackberry Smoke, Anders Osborne, Robin Trower, Cream… Led Zeppelin again
  3. Fusion-ish Rock – Ok, I was gonna write prog rock, but then all you might think about would be Yes or the Moody Blues, and I’m going for something a little different. Mostly hard rock not just based on standard blues progressions. Examples: Pink Floyd, Tool, Dream Theater, Dixie Dregs, King Crimson, Rush, Queensryche, Jeff Beck, Deep Purple, probably some Queen and Zeppelin here has well

Remember when you make your choice, you’re here to learn something. And don’t quibble about which band goes where. Only AC/DC sounds the same in every song and they could really fit in either of the first two categories.


5 Nationals on Keith Law’s Top 100 Prospects List

February 5, 2013

ESPN’s prospect guru Keith Law listed his Top 100 Minor League prospects today, and 5 Nats made the list. For a shallow farm system (ranked 21st by Law), the fact that there are so many high end guys is good, and a little surprising. So let’s see who he put here, and why:

#17 Anthony Rendon

This one isn’t too surprising, most places list Rendon as the team’s best prospect. The fact that he’s top 20 in the minors is nice, and he would be higher for certain if he wasn’t so damn fragile. But Law like his swing and his ability to hit for doubles, even if he doesn’t see him as a big HR guy. Rendon is 22, and hit .233/.363./.489 throughout the minors last year, finishing up in AA. He dominated the other leagues, but wasn’t great in AA, so he’ll start 2013 in Harrisburg.

#44 Brian Goodwin

Goodwin has been moving up prospect lists over the last few seasons, but to be a top 50 prospect… that’s impressive. Heck, he wasn’t even on Law’s list last year. Goodwin was highly regarded back in college but several factors caused him to slip out of the first round, and out of elite prospect status. Law says he has “plus-plus speed, quick bat, and surprising power” and using the Mike Cameron comparison (speed, defense, power… and strikeouts) that we’ve already seen for Goodwin. Goodwin is 22 and hit .280/.384/.469 in A+ and AA last year. Like Rendon, he wasn’t so spectacular in AA to force the Nats to promote him, so expect him in Harrisburg this spring as well. Road trip, anyone?

Read the rest of this entry »


Espinosa’s Shoulder – Prognosis Negative?

January 30, 2013

On Monday I wrote about Danny Espinosa and his torn rotator cuff, focusing on his numbers before and after the injury. There were a few distractions in the baseball world afterwards, but I mentioned I’d get around to discussing the health implications for the season, so here we go.

Obviously, the most logical thing from the fans point of view would be to get surgery, go through recovery, and be done with the issue forever. It sounds simple enough, and it might only cost 2 months (according to most reports I’ve seen) which means if he got it today, he might be back well before the end of May.

But surgery isn’t so simple, there are always risks of complications, and the possibility of making things worse. For whatever reason, the doctors and the team seem to be confident that rehab is enough for this injury, and he doesn’t have to have surgery at this point. I tried to find examples of position players with similar injuries, and whether they had to have surgery, whether they tried to play, etc, but I came up empty.

So I reached out to Stephania Bell, who is ESPN’s injury expert and a “certified orthopedic clinical specialist and strength and conditioning specialist” which means she knows a heck alot more about this than you or I. She was kind enough to respond, for which I am very thankful. Here is what I asked, and what she said:

Read the rest of this entry »


Gio and the PED Link

January 29, 2013

I am certainly not one to bluster about PEDs. I tend to not even write about it, because it rarely touches this team. If you look at my theoretical HoF voting, you’ll see that I included of Bonds, Clemens and even Pud Galvin. But the news about Gio Gonzalez using a Miami clinic linked to steroids and HGH is certainly disheartening. As I’ve stated before, I don’t care that much about the use of PEDs.

I think it is good that the league is getting rid of them (to whatever level you believe they are trying) because I don’t think any young player should feel the need to use in order to compete. But that’s about it. However, with all the rules, with all the publicity, and with all of the modern news outlets and sources of cash for people who want to reveal thing famous people do… to paraphrase the film classic Friday, you’ve got to be one stupid mf to take PEDs these days. You just can’t think you’re not going to get caught.

Getting caught costs your team, and it costs you. Imagine that MLB ends up suspending people on this list. 50 games. The Nats losing their #2 pitcher for 50 suddenly means maybe they’re not in such good shape for making the playoffs. That is my number one concern, by leaps and bounds. I don’t care much about Gio’s legacy, although I may hesitate to buy his jersey if he got suspended. But Gio should certainly be concerned with Gio’s legacy, and if he did indeed do something illegal, again, it has to be chalked up to stupidity.

It is hard to give players the benefit of the doubt, but it is certainly possible that Gio has done absolutely nothing wrong. The article states that he ordered “1.c.1 with Zinc/MIC/… and Aminorip. For Gio and charge $1,000.” What does that first part means, I have no idea. But if 1.c.1 is just a notes heading (like in an outline), he may well have done nothing illegal at all. As pointed out in Mr. Irrelevant, nothing listed there is on the list of banned substances.

Read the rest of this entry »


Espinosa’s Shoulder Injury, the Numbers

January 28, 2013

Danny Espinosa revealed that he played the end of last season with a torn rotator cuff, and that if he had known how bad he was hurt, he probably wouldn’t have played. A few questions come to mind, the most important one is probably why he is electing to not have surgery. He could, after all, have surgery today and probably be back by late May.

Espi on 2nd

We’ll tackle that one later. Another question that comes to mind centers around his performance. How much was he affected? Did he hurt the Nats chances, will he be all better this year, etc etc.

He said he was hurt in early September, and got a cortisone shot on Sept 17, but that didn’t really help. The injury seems to have been made public on Sept 17, it had hurt for “the past week” and he only played 3 games in that week, due to leaving for his grandmother’s funeral after Sept 11. So using Sept 11 as a cutoff point, we can see what he did

Pre-injury: .255/.321/.416, K/PA:.276
Post-injury (reg. season): .183/.258/.283, K/PA: .364
Playoffs: .059/.176/.059, K/PA: .368

The playoffs looked even worse, but that’s not surprising as the injury had more time to hurt, the pitching was tougher, and the sample size was small enough that anything can happen. The K/PA didn’t change much, but, again, sample sizes. Now combining the last few PAs of the season, adding the playoffs stats to the post-injury regular season, it looks like this:

Pre-injury: .255/.321/.416, K/PA: .276
Post-injury: .156/.241/.234, K/PA: .365

One more exercise – if you’ve read this blog at all you know I love to get rid of April with Espinosa’s numbers. Not because April doesn’t count, but just because he was so bad in April, that whether he was hurt, mentally lost, heartbroken, or his contacts were in the wrong eyes there was something different about him. Well, let’s not just eliminate it, let’s line it up with the other pieces of his season:

April 5 – May 3: .182/.277/.239, K/PA: .313
May 3 – Sept 11: .269/.330/.451, K/PA: .271
Sept 11 – Oct 12: .156/.241/.234, K/PA: .365

Alright, so I didn’t expect some sort of statistical revelation from this, just interesting to look at that. It’s hard to imagine he had this injury in April, but he looked like a completely different hitter for 490 PAs from early May to mid Sept than he did before or after. And other than a few more singles in April, he was basically an identical hitter in April and September, which is interesting.

As for the injury we KNOW about in September, that one clearly affected him. He hit is OPS high water mark on Sept 5 (.746) and stayed around there all week, including his last day before leaving, Sept 11 when he went 1 for 4 with a double (.737). While I’m not sure when he actually got hurt, it was possible in those last 3 games before the time off, he was, as he did go just 1 for 10 with that double. Of course, that is only 3 games, and while we’re dealing with small sample sizes here, lets not go down to that ridiculous level.

It was pretty much a downhill skid from there, and if he hadn’t gotten hurt, it was likely he’d finish the season on the same path he had been going since May 3. His .781 OPS in that period wouldn’t have been reached, because we can’t take the season out to infinity. But getting above .750 looked like it was in the cards, and if he had an OPS above .753, that would have been good for third best among all NL 2Bs. Remember, that’s including his April skid.

The point of all of this? Well, it shows that the numbers certainly reflect multiple Espinosas, and the one from May 3 – Sept 11 last year is the one we want for 2013. The timing of the shoulder injury certainly lines up perfectly with the injury, and the reports from the time. So maybe we can dismiss the horrible NLDS and late Sept performance to a player who was really too hurt to hit. And for whatever reason, that exact same player showed up in April as well.

It further convinces me that whatever was happening in April was more than just a typical slump, although we may never know what was happening. It also makes me believe that if something was indeed up in April, then a healthy Espinosa is a very good second baseman, perhaps one of the best in the NL, and can be a huge asset to this team.

The question remains though, is he healthy now? And will he be healthy a month or two from now? Or should he be sent to get his surgery right away so he’s healthy for the majority of the season? I’ll get to that next time…


Mike Morse’s Great Story

January 16, 2013

I don’t blame the Nats for trading somebody, and with the way contracts and defense worked out, Mike Morse made the most sense. I would have done the same thing if I was Rizzo, but he will definitely be missed. He is an exciting player to watch, and he has one of the best stories I can remember from any National.

In a little bit of a cheapy here, I just want to reprint what I wrote last week when LaRoche was signed and it was clear Morse might be on the way out. Here’s his story, from a scouting and performance perspective:

Because of this contract, it seemingly relegates Morse to the bench. It likely means that management will trade him, which makes sense in terms of building the best team. It is unfortunate to feel the need to trade such a good player who is a fan favorite, and count me as one of those fans who enjoys watching his enthusiastic play. His emergence as a true power hitter was more surprising than you may recall.

In one of the more lopsided trades this team has made (in hindsight), they gave up Ryan Langerhans to get Morse. Langerhans looked like the better player at the time – although he hadn’t had much success hitting, he was at least a lefty, had shown some power in the minors, and was a good fielder. Morse, on the other hand, hadn’t yet shown power in the majors, or the minors for that matter. He was also a converted infielder who couldn’t seem to field anywhere that well. Here is what Baseball Prospectus said about him before the 2008 season:

As utilitymen go, Michael Morse is a tweener-he doesn’t have the defensive skill to back up the middle infield positions or the power to hold down even the short-side of a platoon at one of the corners. What that leaves, particularly on a team that already has Willie Bloomquist, is not much

Read the rest of this entry »


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.