Archive for the ‘Nationals’ Category

Hey…are you smelling utter failure right now? ‘Cause I am.

July 3, 2009

Oh, never mind, it must just be these guys!!
I don’t really want to analyze what’s going wrong, because I had a really long day at work today, and I’m not really up for depressing myself. Their defense is terrible. Their hitters not named Dunn, Johnson, Zimmerman and Guzman are terrible. Their pitching is…well, it’s really not fair to grade their pitching when they’ve got that defense to contend with.

Just for fun, through 76 games:

Team Year W L Pct. RDiff
Nationals 2009 22 54 .289 -104
Tigers 2003 18 58 .237 -156
Mets 1962 21 55 .276 -146

So, I guess the good news is that they’re way, way up on those other two in run differential, which makes their expected(/Pythagorean) record seven games better than their actual record. But when the good news is that you’re playing like a .382 team (which would still make them the worst team in baseball)…well. And of course the bad news is that their real record is one game ahead of the 1962 Mets.

I was going to go on and talk about the Milledge-for-Morgan trade and everything, but that’s been talked to death and I don’t really have anything to add except that I pretty much think the opposite of this.

The Nationals are really, really terrible. And they might actually keep getting worse; the Phillies and Mets figure to play better than they are now, and the Nats might have some pieces to sell off. And we might be hearing a lot more about the ’03 Tigers and ’62 Mets as this loooooooooong summer in the Capitol wears on.

There Goes the Only Reason to Pay Attention to the Nationals

May 14, 2009

A few words [on/tangentially related to/somehow inspired by] Ryan Zimmerman’s just-ended 30-game hitting streak:

  • Not naming names (or linking links) here, but I can’t stand it when my fellow sabermetrically-inclined folk say that they’re bored by, or otherwise downplay, events like hitting streaks and no-hitters. Look, they’re really just oddities, not statistically meaningful. I get all that, and I bet most non-statheads would too, on most levels. But if you can’t get at least a little excited about or intrigued by this sort of thing, you’re giving credence to the tired old refrain that we’re all just misplaced accountants who don’t really like to “watch the games.” To each her own and all that, but if you can’t bring yourself to appreciate the human interest angles of little stories like this, totally fine, but please do the rest of us a favor and shut the hell up about it. It’s not like there aren’t other things to talk about.
  • On the opposite end of the spectrum, David Pinto has been all over the streak these last few days, with pithy little tidbits like this and this (along with a bunch of other, more news-y updates). My favorite part is this, explaining why the league-wide “hit average” going up eight points has led to a hugely increased frequency of long hit streaks:

    So the probability of a player getting a hit in a four at bat game prior to 1996 was 0.646. In the later period, that’s up to 0.66. That doesn’t seem like much, but remember, we’re talking about long streaks here, so we’re multiplying. The chance of a player hitting in the next 29 games goes from .00000314 to .00000584, nearly double. Now, figure that over all possible players playing at least 29 batting games, and you can see how batting streaks would have increased.

  • I’d really like to be good with numbers.
  • There have been 199 hitting streaks of at least 20 games since 1980, by my count, which is probably six or seven times as many as I would’ve guessed. Zim’s is just the fifteenth in that span, however, to last as long as 30 games. Of those fifteen, Zim’s is the eighth to have ended at exactly 30 games. Kind of weird, right?
  • I just remembered that I was at one of those streak-snapping 31st games, Sandy Alomar’s at the Metrodome in July of 1997. That’s one of the least enjoyable notable games to be present for, since of course you’re really there hoping he does get a hit (even when he’s on the other team…especially when your own team sucks).
  • Of the fifteen thirty-plus-gamers, only three — Hal Morris, Vladimir Guerrero, and George Brett — had career batting averages of over .300 through the year of their streak, though four more of them were over .290. Zimmerman’s career average sits at .288 (though, interestingly, he’s never had a full season end that high). Anyway, they’re all over the map. Eric Davis had the lowest career average at the time of his streak, at .269.
  • A more common thread connecting the 30-game-streak club is that they’re all free swingers; you don’t get a hit a day by walking a whole lot. None of the fifteen had ever walked 80 times in a year as of the season in which he had his streak (Vlad, Brett, and Luis Gonzalez did it in seasons coming after their streaks…but all with the aid of more than 20 intentional passes), and for most of them, even 70 walks was a pipe dream. Benito Santiago, for instance, hit .300 with a .324 on-base percentage (16 walks) in his “streak year” of 1987. Rollins, Guerrero, Morris, Alomar Jr., and Nomar have very little to talk about with the likes of Jack Cust and Adam Dunn at hitters’ cocktail parties.
  • The best performance during a 30-game streak, predictably, was by the great George Brett; in the middle of his .390 season of 1980, Brett hit .467/.504/.746 (1.250 OPS) while hitting in 30 straight games from July 18 to August 18. Paul Molitor deserves a mention, too: he’s had the longest streak in this time frame, a 39-gamer in 1987, and posted a 1.178 OPS throughout.
  • The “worst” performance during a 30-game streak, also predictably, was turned in by Jerome Walton. He won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1989, his only decent year with the bat, and hit in 30 straight from July 21 to August 20, putting up an .801 OPS that wasn’t all that much better than his year-long .721 line. Dishonorable mention goes to Willy Taveras, he of the 74 career OPS+, who hit in 30 straight games while still managing only an .830 OPS (though that was a good sight better than his putrid year-long .672).
  • In one of his posts on the subject, Pinto wondered whether this year’s Nationals were the worst team ever to have a hitter with a streak this long, and the answer, since 1980, is…well, probably. Vlad’s 1999 Expos lost 94 games; at 11-21 entering today, the Nationals would have to play .438 ball the rest of the way (57-73) to lose only 94 games. Not a terribly lofty goal, but I don’t see it happening, do you? [Edit: Benito’s ’87 Pads lost 97. So the Nats will have some fairly stiff competition for that title, actually, but I still have faith in them.]
  • The stat report I set up to look at all these streaks, if you’re interested, is here.

Fun with Small Sample Sizes

April 22, 2009
  1. The Yankees sit at 8-6, but are on pace to score 810 runs and allow 972. This would make their expected (Pythagorean) record about 66-96.
  2. Then again, if Chien-Ming Wang were allowed to make 30 starts at his current pace, he’d give up 230 runs (in just 60 innings). This would be a record since 1901, narrowly edging out Snake Wiltse’s 1902 effort (in 300 innings). The record since 1950 is Phil Niekro’s 166 in 1977 (in 330 innings).
  3. Miguel Cabrera (through Monday, prorated): .489/.538/.787, 635 AB, 149 R, 310 H, 54 HR, 162 RBI
  4. Carlos Quentin: 87 HR, 162 RBI, 150 R…12 2B, 0 3B
  5. Brian Giles is hitting .151/.211/.189 (through Monday) and is on pace for twelve runs scored, zero homers…and 87 RBI. That’s how you know RBI is an awesome and totally not at all context-dependent stat.
  6. Washington Nationals (through Monday): 27-135 (.167), 770 RS, 1040 RA, Pythagorean W/L: 57-105.
  7. Raul Ibanez: .383/.442/.830, 176 R, 68 HR, 149 RBI, 14SB/0CS, about four defensive runs saved. Which totally makes sense considering the following hilarious evidence (from Lookout Landing): 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. So, yeah…it’s a long season.