Deleting the Adjectives: Notebook
While researching for today’s column I found a lot of statsor small nuggets of information I found interesting, but none that on their own could be a column. After much deliberation I decided to use that to my advantage by creating a sort of notebook column this week where I will share with you everything I found that were interesting or amusing. So here we go.
The Nationals rank 23rd in Major League Baseball in total wins above replacement using the superior Fangraphs version. Total wins above replacement is the sum of the team’s total position player WAR and total pitcher WAR. The Nats ranked ahead of the White Sox, Mariners, Twins, Brewers, Padres, Marlins and Astros. The Padres and Astros were the only teams to have a part of their team perform below replacement level as a whole. The Padres position players have amassed -1.7 WAR, while the Astros pitchers clocked in at -.6 WAR. The best team in baseball in terms of total WAR is the Detroit Tigers at 33.6 wins above replacement.
With the return of Wilson Ramos and Bryce Harper from injuries the Nationals finally have their full starting eight together, with an Anthony Rendon subbed in for a Danny Espinosa. With a full complement of hitters the Nationals now have six players entering last night’s game with a wOBA above .340, which is above average. Only Adam LaRoche at .336 and Denard Span at .300 did not make the cut. Don’t be surprised to see more and more consistent scoring from here on out.
The Nationals are in the bottom half of the league when it comes to batting average on balls in play at .285, coming in at 24th in Major League Baseball. That likely has something to do with their 19.4% line drive rate, which ranks 27th in all of baseball. The Nats aren’t having much luck with the long ball either, with a 10.3% home run to fly ball ratio, good for 20th in the Majors.
That isn’t for lack of line drive pitches, as the Nationals rank second in baseball in percentage of fastballs seen at 60.4% of all pitches seen. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers, at 61.5%, see more fastballs as a team.
The Nationals are one of the better teams at not swinging at pitches out of the zone, ranking 11th in the Majors by swinging at only 29.8% of the pitches they see out of the zone. That might be because the Nationals don’t like to swing the bat in general, as they also have one of the lowest swing rates at pitches inside the zone, 64.2% (7th in MLB), and overall, 45.6% (9th in MLB). The lack of swinging is not helping the team’s walk rate though, as they rank a middling 19th in baseball at 7.5%.
Perhaps the lack of swinging is why the Nationals see the second highest percentage of first pitch strikes in Major League Baseball at 62%. Only the Brewers see more with 63.9% of their first pitches being called strikes. That is a lot of plate appearances the Nationals are falling behind in right out of the gate.
Let’s get back to some nice notes. The Nationals are one of only three teams with two starters who have thrown more than 100 innings and have an ERA of below 3.00, as Jordan Zimmermann (2.57 ERA) and Stephen Strasburg (2.45 ERA) do. The other two teams are the Dodgers with Clayton Kershaw (1.89 ERA) and Hyun-Jin Ryu (2.82 ERA) and the Seattle Mariners with Felix Hernandez (2.69 ERA) and Hisashi Iwakuma (2.97). Of those teams, the Nationals are the only one to have another starter below a 4.00 ERA, with Gio Gonzalez and his 3.03 ERA.
Despite Dan Haren and his 2.00 HR/9, Nationals pitchers are fifth best in Major League Baseball in home run to fly ball ratio, with just 9.6% of their fly balls given up going over the fence. Reducing the number of home runs allowed is one way to keep run totals low.
Finally, 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote candidate Ian Desmond is now third in Major League Baseball in WAR at 3.2 wins above replacement, moving ahead of Jean Segura. If you would like to read more about how Desmond has become the player he is read my post from earlier this week.