Is Strasburg Really the Best Pitcher in the League?

March 15, 2012

According to PECOTA, Baseball Prospectus’ prediction system, Stephen Strasburg will have the lowest ERA of any starting pitcher in the league. He isn’t the most valuable starter because they only have him starting 23 games, not the 31-33 that a full season would bring. So because of limited playing time, he ranks behind Verlander, Halladay, Sabathia, Lincecum and Lee with WARP, but with ERA, he’s the leader.

Here are the predictions for starting pitchers in the league

As you can see, Saint Stephen leads the pack of pretty impressive guys. And if you’re wondering how he stacks up against AL pitchers, he’s a half a run ahead of his closest competition. What does this all mean? Is he really the unequivocally best pitcher in baseball right now?

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The Nats and the Best Rotations

March 13, 2012

Jay Jaffe over at Baseball Prospectus wrote an article about the top pitching staffs in the NL, but it was focused on the Nats. No, he wasn’t saying Washington had the top staff, although he did say a few very nice things about visiting the city last week and meeting the fans who finally have legitimate hope. Instead, he was noting how the Nats, in the course of a season or two, have moved into the discussion of top rotations.

First he writes that the Nats added more WARP (its just BP’s version of WAR) with starting pitching than any NL team other than the Reds, Pirates, Rockies and Marlins to improve their staff with the addition of Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson. But those Pittsburgh additions include Bedard and Burnett – I have a tough time thinking both of those will end up being good signings, although these projections do include time off due to injury. Regardless, the added WARP for the Nats is 2.5, but Jaffe believes you should “take the over” on what Jackson will contribute, basically guessing that PECOTA underestimates him. And since they are almost tied with the Rockies and the Marlins, if you do give Jackson a little more credit, they are either tied for third best or there all by themselves.

The next thing Jaffe talks about is something fans often wonder – who has the best top two, three, four, five and even six starters. I won’t get into the entire set of numbers, you can look here although it is behind a pay wall (sorry, but you should give BP money anyway), but I will tell you where the Nats stack up

  • For top two, Strasburg and Zimmermann are about as good as you might think. The Nats two pitcher WARP of 6.9 ranks them 2nd only behind the Phillies (9.3) and Giants (8). It would be even closer if Strasburg was going to pitch more than 160 innings. Read the rest of this entry »

Baseball Prospectus in DC

March 8, 2012

The guys from Baseball Prospectus made their annual pilgrimage to Politics and Prose in DC last night, and I went to hear them talk. It is always a fun session because they basically talk about what they do for 10 minutes, then answer questions for an hour. As you can imagine many of the question focused on the Nats, so I’ll go over some takeaways. In the picture on the right, you see Steve Goldman at the podium and Jay Jaffe, his mustache and his beer (a Dale’s Pale Ale – great choice!) off to the right

  • What about the abundance of starting pitchers the Nats have? The consensus was that the old adage is true, you really can’t have enough pitching. Jaffe said over a 3 year time frame 50% of pitchers spend at least some time on the DL. They aren’t concerned that this will be an issue for the team, and said getting Edwin Jackson for the year was a “good move.”
  • The front office seems so smart, yet they want to put Desmond as a leadoff? While he may not be as bad as people assume, it isn’t great to have a sub-.300 OBP guy in your leadoff spot. There was some speculation that this isn’t being done as a solution, rather as a purposeful move to try to teach Desi to be more selective. Also, don’t be surprised of Espinosa, who may better fit in the role, takes over. Goldman said that batting order in general is overrated, and managers are behind the statistical curve on this – it’s not about what guys fit best, it really is a distribution of ABs. So Desmond not “fitting” that spot may not matter, but giving the most ABs to him over the course of the season does. Read the rest of this entry »

The Case for Rick Ankiel Making the Nationals

March 6, 2012

I have never been a big fan of Rick Ankiel as the starting CF on the Nats. I don’t know, maybe it’s the .675 OPS over the last three seasons. No, it’s probably the .297 OBP in that timeframe. But right now, they don’t have a real handle on who’s playing out there. I firmly believe that Bryce Harper isn’t going to start the year in the majors, so the whole, let Werth-play-CF might end up happening, but not in April or early May.

Roger Bernadina is, like Ankiel, a lefty who has spent time at the position, so maybe there isn’t a point in having both guys on the squad. But, while Bernadina is a questionable defensive CF, the case was made last year that Ankiel’s got the best arm of any center fielder in the league, and numbers indicate he’s good at catching the ball, too. But if Ankiel can’t hit, what’s the point in having him around? Simply as a defensive replacement? Actually, it turns out he can hit, well, sort of…

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The Nationals Review Podcast Episode 1

March 4, 2012

Nationals Review Episode 1

Charlie and Josh get on the mic to talk all things Nationals for the first ever Nats Review podcast.  Download the podcast by clicking the link above – and it will soon be in the iTunes store.  Here is what they talked about:

  • Introductions
    • Charlie / Nationals Review / podcast every other week
    • Josh / talk about T4 show / Nats fan
    • What are you drinking?
  • Opinions on Offseason acquisitions
    • Gio Gonzalez
    • Edwin Jackson
    • Anyone else that’s a big deal? DeRosa?
  • Opinions on Offseason NON-acquisitions Read the rest of this entry »