In 2001 Voros McCracken released one of the seminal advanced baseball statistic research pieces when he detailed defensive independent pitching statistics, commonly referred to as DIPS Theory. The idea was that offensive results could be separated into two categories: true outcomes (strikeouts, walks and home runs) that a pitcher has a great deal of control over and untrue outcomes (balls in play) that a pitcher had no control over. Over the years this idea has pervaded advanced baseball analysis and can be seen in some of the most common pitching statistics such as FIP and it has been an oft repeated fact that pitchers have absolutely no control over a ball once it is put into play.
This notion is false and over the past 13 years many minds, including McCracken, have wrestled with how much credit or blame should be assigned to a pitcher for ball in play results. In 2010, Matt Swartz at Baseball Prospectus found that 12 percent of the average pitcher’s seasonal BABIP will be determined by the pitcher. Note that I said seasonal BABIP, Russell Carleton found that it took about 3,800 balls in play to determine a pitcher’s true hit-prevention talent. In other words, the larger sample size we have the more we know about the pitcher. Continue reading
In 2014 it would’ve taken 80 wins to win the NL East and since the close of the season the Braves have decided to go backwards, the Marlins are starting the season without Jose Fernandez, and while the Mets pitching will be very good all they’ve done so far is downgrade their outfield defense. The Mets and Marlins will be forces to contend with in the future but that future is more likely in 2016 or 2017 than 2015. The Braves were still the biggest threat to the Nationals and they’ve decided to take themselves out of the race.
Jason Heyward, who the Braves traded yesterday for Shelby Miller, was worth 5.1 fWAR in 2014. This was largely based on defense but his 110 wRC+ shouldn’t be ignored since he was only one of four Braves with over 100 PA to have a wRC+ over 100. Instead of riding out Heyward’s contract and taking the extra first round pick the Braves opted to bring in Shelby Miller, a pitcher that was worth 0.2 fWAR last season and 2.2 the year before. The big thing about Miller is he is controllable, but he isn’t the type of pitcher a team should be giving up a 5.0 WAR outfielder for, especially a team starved for offense.
After a few week break the Citizens are back to discuss the rest of the 2014 postseason, Silver Sluggers, Manager of the Year, Jordan Zimmermann trade rumors, Free Agent additions, and more.
Citizens of Natstown 11/14/2014
Last offseason I wrote one of my favorite posts using the brilliant wisdom of anonymous internet commenters to “fix” the Nationals in nine “brilliant” moves. Obviously this was tounge-in-cheek as the moves were insane and the results were terrible. Shockingly the Nationals ignored their ideas and went on to win 96 games, but still failed to win a playoff series. That sort of failure is unacceptable and I’m here to help.
One of the side effects of the Doug Fister trade is it unleashed a legion of Nats fans that were actually opposed to the trade. These people all seemed to exist on the MASN Nationals Facebook page and their comments were collected on the @MASNCommenter Twitter account. This offseason they’re back and they’re on a mission. A mission to trade Bryce Harper, but not for anything good. They want to trade the 22 year old with a career .816 OPS for a closer.
A closer sounds like something very important. A team can win a game for eight innings and then lose it in one because of a poor performance by a closer. That isn’t good and when it happens it leads to some of the most disheartening loses, but teams don’t always lose when a closer blows a save, and a save situation is dictated by a team being up by three runs in the ninth inning. Of the Nats 96 wins only 45 of them included a save. More than half the time when the Nats won it didn’t even require a save.
So it is now officially the offseason which is probably my least favorite time of the year. I’ve been very strong in my opinion that every trade proposal is stupid, especially the ones that are executed by MLB teams (thanks again for Doug Fister Detroit). Beyond the simple acknowledgement that the Nationals are currently missing a starter at second base or third base and will need some new players to replace the ones leaving there isn’t much more analysis one can do until an actual move is made. So until then I’m looking elsewhere for writing.
Which leads me to the actual point of this post, Denard Span’s defense. You’ll notice this post is generically titled, I don’t want to give away any spoilers as to the conclusion. As you probably know Span was just named a finalist for a Gold Glove award for the National League’s best center fielder. And one of the constant criticisms all season from Nats fans were about how criminally low Span’s defense was being rated by the defensive runs above average displayed on FanGraphs, checking in at -2.4 runs to end the season. With that in mind I read my friend Jason Wojciechowski’s piece on the similarly talented Coco Crisp for the A’s who also saw his defensive numbers take a dive this year. Inspired I took a deeper dive into Span’s numbers and present my findings thusly.
Hi everyone. Our 2014 Extra Life event is a mere 48 hours away and we’re already closing in on 10% of our goal. Matt, David, and myself will kick off Extra Life at 8am Saturday morning and at some point during the afternoon a wild Sean Hogan will appear. We’ll be playing games all day and are 100% open to any suggestions of what we should play next. (We’ll have a list of all the games we have to make choosing simple). We’ll also have a livestream through Twitch for most of the proceedings (Google Hangout OnAir for anything on the WiiU), as well as a chat so you can chime in throughout the day.
To help make this even more of a win/win for those who donate we’ll be raffling off Nats swag and bobbleheads as we reach milestones in our quest to raise $1,000 or more for Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC. All you have to do be eligible is donate! After that you’ll be eligible for every raffle until you win!
Note: If you wish to be eligible for the raffle, please do not place your donation as anonymous.
Click here for more information about Extra Life. Continue reading
After losing in the first round of the playoffs the Los Angeles Dodgers went out and hired Andrew Friedman to be their team president and are still searching for a GM. This is the reaction of a team that views not winning in the post-season to be a failure. The Nationals made no such move and shouldn’t. There are some that have said Matt Williams should be done after this season and if Mike Rizzo can’t take the Nationals deep into the post-season in 2015 then perhaps he should be gone as well. A 96 win season should never be viewed as a failure.
The playoffs are a funky thing. The Los Angeles Angels got swept by the Royals in the first round of the playoffs and the Royals are currently on an eight game post-season winning streak. The Royals are a good team, but even bad teams can get hot. The Washington Nationals suffered sweeps at the hands of the under .500 Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins this season. Any team can sweep another team in a short series. A cold good team meets a hot bad team and there is a recipe for a sweep. It is less likely in the playoffs as teams get to line up their pitching staffs but it still happens where a lesser team wins in dominating fashion because baseball is not a game made for small sample sizes.
With the 2014 season in the rear view mirror the Citizens and good friend of the show Ryan Sullivan from NatsGM sit down for our annual roundtable to recap the 2014 season, talk about the Nats’ performance in the NLDS, decision points for players on expiring contracts as well as those a year out from free agency, somehow get on the topic of malls, and much more. As always, check out our Extra Life campaign; benefitting Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC.
Click here for more information about Extra Life
Click here to donate to our Extra Life campaign
Citizens of Natstown 2014 Wrap-Up
James O’Hara contributed to this report.
With so many players in the last year of their deals and Mike Rizzo being a GM that likes to think more about the year after next than simply next year this could be an interesting off-season for the Nationals. With the potential for it to go in so many directions and for it to be quite unpredictable I am going to highlight a few of the players the Nats could go after starting with an international free agent who is going to be posted this November. Jung-Ho Kang is a shortstop by trade and has won the KBO equivalent of the gold glove but there are questions about both his bat and his glove, and how they translate to the major leagues.
Those questions exist about every international free agent or hot prospect for that matter. Until a player does it at the major league level there are going to be questions. There were questions about Yu Darvish, Masahiro Tanaka, Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig, and Jose Abreu as well and so far they have all had success in the major leagues, but that doesn’t mean the questions are unfounded. Jung-Ho Kang could be a flop, and there isn’t as much track record for KBO hitters as there is for Cuban hitters or Japanese pitchers. Teams should be wary, but they should also recognize this as a way to get talent that doesn’t cost prospects with a larger upside reward than regular free agency.
I was originally going to write this right after Game 4, but I determined I was just too angry to give a fair assessment. The day after was a bit better, but I still wasn’t ready to do a deep dive into what went wrong. So here we are, having slept on it, pondered it, slept some more and pondered some more. Simply stated the playoffs stink. They’re an awful jumble of emotions and anxiety that no one should be put through willingly and yet we’re overjoyed when the occasion occurs. Make no mistake though, the Nationals did not lose this series because they are cursed, or because they aren’t a fundamentally sound team or didn’t “want” it enough. All of that is a bunch of hooey sold by snake charmers who don’t have two brain cells to rub together and come up with an actual piece of real analysis. Continue reading
The window of opportunity is one of sports writer’s favorite clichés. It is a metaphor that many sports fans buy into because teams do go from being bad to being good and then back to bad, but this isn’t always the case. The Cardinals and Giants are playing yet again in the NLCS, and the last time one of those two teams wasn’t in the NLCS was 2009 when the Phillies and Dodgers matched up in that series. The strange thing about the Cardinals three straight NLCS appearances is that they’ve all come after Albert Pujols left via free agency. That was supposed to be when their window closed or start to close, but by filling the gaps with smart free agent signings, trades, and prospects the Cardinals have remained good.
This is why it is silly when people talk about the Nationals window closing. Even if the Nationals were banned from making free agent signings, trades, or drafting new players they could put a decent team on the field after Desmond, Zimmermann, Clippard, Fister, Span, Strasburg, Ramos, and Storen have all left via free agency after the 2015 and 2016 seasons. This is why 2017 is the year most people pick for when the Nationals window will be closed, but even if the Nats fail to re-sign any of the above players and are banned from making player acquisitions they still have the ability to put a competitive team on the field in 2017.
Hey Everyone, just a quick audio promo for our Extra Life 2014 event that will be on October 25, 2014. We’re looking to raise $1,000 that will benefit Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
For more information: www.citizensofnatstown.com/extra-life
To donate: http://www.extra-life.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=94173
Citizens of Natstown Extra Life Promo