Nats Starting Pitchers and BABIP

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

How Many Wins to Win the NL East

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.

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The Nats Are Broken, Let’s Fix Them, Part II

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.

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Or The Nats Can Do Something Really Stupid

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.

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Denard Span’s Defense

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.
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Extra Life 2014 Marathon Livestream!

Extra Life is finally here! We’ll be streaming on Twitch all day, join us in the chat! Below is a list of all of the available games, let us know what you’d like to see us play!

You can donate to our efforts here, do it for the kids :). All donations will directly benefit Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC! If you need any further information on Extra Life go here.

Check out the reward raffles donors unlock as we hit milestones. ALL donors are eligible to win ALL items as long as the amount has been raise cumulatively!

Later in the day we will have a Google Hangout stream as well when we start playing Wii U games.


Games Available


  • Alien Isolation
  • Awesomenauts Assemble
  • Battlefield 4
  • Counterspy
  • Child of Light
  • Destiny
  • Diablo 3
  • Disney Infinity 2.0
  • Don’t Starve
  • Entwined
  • Fez
  • FIFA ’15
  • Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
  • Flower
  • inFamous: Second Sun
  • The Last of Us: Remastered
  • Madden ’15
  • Mercenary Kings
  • Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
  • Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
  • MLB14: The Show
  • NBA 2K15
  • NHL ’15
  • PixelJunk Shooter
  • Resogun
  • Road Not Taken
  • Rogue Legacy
  • Soundshapes
  • SportsFriends
  • Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark
  • Steam World Dig
  • Strider (2014)
  • The Swapper
  • Towerfall Ascension
  • Transistor
  • Trine 2
  • Valiant Hearts

Wii U

  • Donkey Kong (NES)
  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
  • Dr. Luigi
  • Earthbound (SNES)
  • Kirby’s Adventure (NES)
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
  • Mario Kart 8
  • Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
  • Pikmin 3
  • Super Mario 3D World
  • Super Maio World (SNES)
  • Super Metroid (SNES)

Xbox One

  • Forza 5
  • Forza Horizon 2
  • Super Time Force
  • Trials: Fusion


  • 10,000,000
  • Alan Wake
  • Alan Wake’s American Nightmare
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent
  • And Yet It Moves
  • Antichamber
  • Aquaria
  • Arma 2
  • Arma 2: British Armed Forces
  • Arma 2: Operation Arrowhead
  • Arma 2: Private Military Company
  • Arma 3
  • Assassain’s Creed II
  • Assassain’s Creed Brotherhood
  • Assassain’s Creed III
  • Atom Zombie Smasher
  • Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition
  • Baldur’s Gate 2: Enhanced Edition
  • The Banner Saga
  • Bastion
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum
  • Batman: Arkham City
  • Batman: Arkham Origins
  • Battlefield: Bad Company 2
  • Battlefield 3
  • Binary Domain
  • Bioshock
  • Bioshock 2
  • Bioshock Infinite
  • Bit.trip Runner
  • Bit.trip Runner 2
  • Borderlands 2
  • Braid
  • Broken Age
  • Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
  • Brutal Legend
  • Bulletstorm
  • The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
  • Burnout Paradise
  • Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
  • Capsized
  • Cart Life
  • Castle Crashers
  • The Cave
  • Cave Story+
  • Cloudberry Kingdom
  • Cogs
  • Command and Conquer 3: Uprising
  • Company of Heroes
  • Company of Heroes 2
  • Counter-Strike
  • Counter-Strike: Condition Zero
  • Counter-Strike: Condition Zero Deleted Scenes
  • Counter-Strike: Source
  • Crusader Kings
  • Crysis
  • Crysis 2
  • Crysis 3
  • Dark Souls
  • Dark Souls II
  • The Darkness 2
  • Darksiders
  • Darksiders 2
  • Day of Defeat
  • Dead Island
  • Dead Rising 2
  • Dead Space
  • Dead Space 3
  • Deadlight
  • Deadly Sin 2
  • Dear Esther
  • Deathmatch Classic
  • Dishonored
  • Divinity: Original Sin
  • DmC: Devil May Cry
  • Dota 2
  • Dragon Age: Origins
  • Driver: San Francisco
  • Ducktales: Remastered
  • Dust: An Elysian Tale
  • Eets Munchies
  • The Elder Scrolls: Arena
  • The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • Endless Space
  • Euro Truck Simulator 2
  • F.E.A.R.
  • F.E.A.R. 2
  • F.E.A.R. 3
  • Fallout
  • Fallout 2
  • Fallout 3
  • Fallout Tactics
  • Fallout: New Vegas
  • Far Cry 3
  • Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
  • Final Fantasy VII
  • Final Fantasy VIII
  • Frozen Synapse
  • FTL: Faster Than Light
  • Galactic Civilizations II
  • Game Dev Tycoon
  • Gone Home
  • Grand Theft Auto
  • Grand Theft Auto 2
  • Grand Theft Auto III
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
  • Grand Theft Auto IV
  • Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City
  • Gratuitous Space Battles
  • Gunpoint
  • Half-Life
  • Half-Life: Blue Shift
  • Half-Life: Opposing Force
  • Half-Life 2
  • Half-Life 2: Lost Coast
  • Half-Life 2: Episode One
  • Hammerfight
  • Hammerwatch
  • Hearthstone
  • Hitman: Codename 47
  • Hitman 2: Silent Assassain
  • Hitman: Blood Money
  • Hitman: Absolution
  • Hitman: Sniper Challenge
  • The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing
  • Jamestown
  • Just Cause
  • Just Cause 2
  • Kentuvky Route Zero
  • Kerbal Space Program
  • Kinetic Void
  • The King of Fighters XIII
  • Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
  • L.A. Noire
  • Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
  • Left 4 Dead
  • Left 4 Dead 2
  • Legend of Grimrock
  • Little Inferno
  • Loadout
  • Lone Survivor
  • The Lord of the Rings: War in the North
  • Machinarium
  • Mafia II
  • Magicka
  • Mark of the Ninja
  • Max Payne
  • Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne
  • Max Payne 3
  • Medal of Honor (2012)
  • Metal Gear Rising
  • Metro 2033
  • Metro: Last Light
  • Miasmata
  • Mirror’s Edge
  • Monaco
  • Mortal Kombat Kollection
  • Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2013)
  • NightSky
  • No Time to Explain
  • Osmos
  • Outlast
  • Papers, Please
  • Papo y Yo
  • Payday 2
  • Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3
  • Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4
  • PixelJunk Eden
  • Poker Night at the Inventory
  • Portal
  • Portal 2
  • Prison Achitect
  • Proteus
  • Psychonauts
  • Puzzle Agent
  • Puzzle Agent 2
  • Rayman Origins
  • Red Faction: Armageddon
  • Red Faction: Guerrilla
  • Resident Evil 5
  • Resident Evil 6
  • Risen
  • Risen 2: Dark Waters
  • Risk of Rain
  • The Saboteur
  • Saints Row 2
  • Saints Row: The Third
  • Saints Row IV
  • Shadowrun Online
  • Shadowrun Returns
  • Shank
  • Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol
  • Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol: Pacific Ckies
  • Sid Meier’s Civilization III
  • Sid Meier’s Civilization IV
  • Sid Meier’s Civilization V
  • Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth
  • Sid Meier’s Railroads
  • SimCity (2013)
  • The Sims 3
  • Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion
  • Sleeping Dogs
  • Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army
  • South Park: The Stick of Truth
  • Spec Ops: The Line
  • Spelunky
  • Splinter Cell: Blacklist
  • The Stanley Parable
  • Starcraft II
  • Star Wars: Battlefront II
  • Star Wars: Dark Forces
  • Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II
  • Star Wars Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith
  • Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
  • Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
  • Star Wars Republic Commando
  • Star Wars Starfighter
  • Star Wars The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes
  • Star Wars: Empire at War
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
  • State of Decay
  • Stealth Bastard Deluxe
  • Steel Storm: Burning Retribution
  • Strike Suit Infinity
  • Strike Suit Zero
  • Super Meat Boy
  • Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
  • Surgeon Simulator
  • System Shock 2
  • Team Fortress 2
  • Terraria
  • Thief (2014)
  • Thomas Was Alone
  • To the Moon
  • Tomb Raider (2013)
  • Torchlight
  • Torchlight II
  • Trine
  • Tropico 4
  • Two Worlds II
  • Unity of Command
  • Universe Sandbox
  • Unreal Gold
  • Unreal II: The Awakening
  • Unreal Tournament
  • Unreal Tournament 2004
  • Unreal Tournament 3
  • The Walking Dead: Season 1
  • The Walking Dead: Season 2
  • Wasteland
  • Wasteland 2
  • The Witcher
  • The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
  • The Wolf Among Us
  • World of Warcraft
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown
  • Ys I
  • Ys II

2014 Citizens of Natstown Extra Life Rewards

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

Should the Nationals 2014 Season be Viewed as a Failure

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.

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Citizens of Natstown 2014 End of Season Podcast

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 Podcast - Citizens of Natstown - A Washington Nationals Blog

Citizens of Natstown 2014 Wrap-Up

Off-season Targets: Jung-Ho Kang

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.

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The Playoffs Stink

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

Let’s Talk About the Nats Window

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.

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Extra Life 2014: It’s for the Kids! And We Need Your Help!

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:

To donate:

Citizens of Natstown Podcast - Citizens of Natstown - A Washington Nationals Blog

Citizens of Natstown Extra Life Promo