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Reading Material

Pitcher's duels -- and 1-0 games in particular -- always give the losing team something to lament. The margin of defeat is so scarce, and oftentimes, the number of opportunities to win/tie are so few -- so you remember the times where you failed to come through. For the Nats last night, that best opportunity came in the seventh. Already that inning, the Nats had gotten more hits against Jason Marquis (three) than they had in the previous six innings (two). So, up to the plate comes Ronnie Belliard, a second baseman who'd waited about oh, 78 games into the season before his first spasm of adequacy.

The bases were loaded, one out.

First two pitches, Belliard fouled off.

Then, with the count 1-2, he grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.

"Belliard missed his pitch," Manny Acta said, referring to one of the fouls. "He missed that fastball up, fouled it off and grounded into a double play. You don't get that many pitches to hit at the big league level."

The moment -- wasted opportunity, a squandered rally -- was vintage Nats, or at least vintage Belliard, and it got me thinking: Does Washington ground into an abnormal number of double plays?

Well, yes.

* The Nats have now grounded into 71 this season, third-most in the NL. (The Mets have 75. The Astros have 74. Florida, best in the NL, has 47.)

* Ryan Zimmerman has grounded into 14, tied for most in the NL. (Still, he's not in bad company. Andre Ethier has hit into 14, too. Switching to the AL, Evan Longoria has 14.)

* Austin Kearns (11 DPs), stunningly, is just three back of the NL lead, though I assume he won't get the chance to make a forward charge in the race. Among qualifying players, Kearns is tied for 4th in the NL in grounded-into-DP percentage; 22.9 percent of his ABs in GDP situations result into double plays.

* Belliard, if you're wondering, has an almost identical percentage (22.7), but he doesn't yet have enough ABs to qualify.

Now, a little morning reading material.

Here's the gamer from the last night.

Troy Renck from the Denver Post has the opposing perspective.

Shairon Martis and Elijah Dukes both make instant impressions with Class AAA Syracuse.

Get to know your new center fielder, Tony Plush.

By Chico Harlan  |  July 7, 2009; 10:10 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Rockies 1, Nats 0
Next: Boswell: Time For Roster Overhaul


"Even Longoria has 14."

How odd.

Posted by: section417 | July 7, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

"How many times has Ronnie Bellard come up with the bases loaded this year?"

Belly is oh-for-seven with the bases loaded this year, with no walks and no sac flies. He's GIDP twice and struck out twice in those 7 AB's.

Adam Dunn, OTOH, is 3-for-7 (one grand slam) with 3 walks with the bases loaded. He's struck out only once and has no sac flies. He has knocked in 10 with the bases juiced (best on the Nats).

2nd best with scoring runners with the bases loaded? Tied between Zimmerman and Kearns with 7 each.

What's really sad is that the Nats have 107 plate appearances with the bases loaded so far this season and only have 3 sac flies! As a team they are hitting .218/.336/.299 with the bases loaded. That is pretty craptacular!

Posted by: erocks33 | July 7, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Methinks I've found my twitter handle.

Follow me @ SpasmOfAdequacy.

Posted by: Scooter_ | July 7, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

No TV for the wednesday game for the hometown Rockies, wow. We thought we had it bad with MASN. Maybe not so much. Of course, if Ross D has another bad outing, maybe even that would be a good thing.

Posted by: cokedispatch | July 7, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Belliard needs to be out of here, they are never in the next three weeks going to build his value to anything that can bring us back anything in a trade. I read this and died from laughter.

Posted by: natsfan13 | July 7, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

OK, how about the other side of the coin?

Which teams have MADE the most double plays. Is it my imagination or are the Nats in the top 10 in double plays converted. Id be willing to bet that Lannan is one of the top 5 double play pitchers.

Any one?

Posted by: nattydread1 | July 7, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

1a, re: twitter. So you don't follow the people who tweet that they're crossing the street. If you don't follow them (i.e., click the button "follow"), their dumb tweets don't come to you.

I'm pretty much only following Nats related stuff and I plan to tweet only Nats related stuff. Same as here.

Posted by: NatsNut | July 7, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

According to b-r, the Nats have turned 70 DPs, 22nd in the majors. Average is 76.

Posted by: Scooter_ | July 7, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

After your recommendation, NN, I went to look at twitter a bit last night. Unfortunately, it seems that the most interesting things (like seeing what happens if you click on "#Nats") require you to actually register. That's an awful lot of commitment.

Posted by: Scooter_ | July 7, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

You write: >

Chico, Chico, Chico -- you are such a gifted writer, and such a good egg, that it pains me to tell you that


Sure, I know that it's suddenly slipped into colloquial use *everywhere.* But the word you seek is "often"



You see, it already has "times" built right into it. You don't write "frequentlytimes," do you?

Um, I forgot why I stopped in at NJ.

Oh, yeah -- great gamer!

Posted by: mistermuleboy | July 7, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

It's okay, Scooter, you can do it. you don't even need to use your real name.

Posted by: NatsNut | July 7, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Chico's folly, excised from the last post by the internet demons:

The margin of defeat is so scarce, and oftentimes, the number of opportunities to win/tie are so few

Rallykiller Kearns to Tampa Bay for Longoria? Straight up?

Posted by: mistermuleboy | July 7, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I am enjoying watching the person who just got a television last year and won't get cable laud an internet SMS feed.


Posted by: Section506 | July 7, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

The article about Martis gives a hook for a question that's been on my mind. I'm sure one of the experts here can answer it: There's been much talk of our young starters having a 150 or 175 innings pitched limit for the year, after which they will be "shut down." I assume that Martis's innings pitched at Syracuse will count toward that limit. And that would mean that Balester and Mock are accumulating innings toward their limits as well. In order to have any pitchers left in September, should some of the Syracuse starters be moved to the bullpen at some point to conserve their arms? Also, is Lannan going to have a limit this year? Does JD Martin have a limit since he's older? What's our likely rotation in the dog days of September?

Finally, an unrelated question -- I figure that Zimmerman's large number of DPs is due in part to having two good hitters batting in front of him. If NJ gets on base nearly half the time, Zim has a good chance of his groundouts becoming DPs. Seems to me there's a difference between hitting into a DP when there's one guy on first, and hitting into one when there are multiple base runners, including runners in scoring position. Any way to quantify how Zim and the other league leaders fare on that question?

Posted by: Section222 | July 7, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Scooter!

Posted by: nattydread1 | July 7, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

The Nats high number of hitting into DPs tells me one of two things....Manny isn't a big believer of putting runners in motion to avoid such happenstances or the Nata are one of the slowest teams in baseball.

Posted by: leetee1955 | July 7, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

222, just a hunch here. All the young dudes (to quote Mott The Hoople) in the rotation would be on a pretty tight innings limit, except for Olsen and Lannan. Olsen shouldn't have a limit because of time on the DL, and Lannan would probably be allowed to get to 200 innings if he can. The magic number for guys under 25 seems to be 200, from what I've read and seen.

Martis and Balester are probably on tight limits as well, but I would suspsect Mock and Martin can pitch as much as they want, because I don't think they consider those guys prospects.

Just my guess.

Posted by: baltova1 | July 7, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

LOL. Touche' 506. And I don't even have the TV yet.

I do spend more time on the internet than most people do on TV, so there's that.

Posted by: NatsNut | July 7, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Can't believe they're trying to trade Belliard. I think, as Manny said, they are just trying to get his hitting going. 2nd base is easily the weakest position on this team. Whether you like it or not, Belliard is our only true 2nd baseman. His defense is still competent because his positioning is good. The other fellow is a utility player that Bowden,, decided would be a cheap solution because he had some modest slap-hitting success. He often appears not to understand the mechanics of the position and lately has not been hitting well.
I sure don't see any in the pipeline so I hope 2nd base is an trade/FA priority or that the kid they drafted from Cal Berkeley (Kobernus?) develops quickly.
It would help if Belliard could get his hitting back to its 2008 level but that doesn't seem likely.

Posted by: longhorn64 | July 7, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

> 222, just a hunch here. All the young dudes (to quote Mott The Hoople) in the . . .

I would have wagered my "Freedom Rock" CDs that one would see a Uriah Heep reference way before a mention of Mott The Hoople.

Posted by: Ted_Striker | July 7, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

I pull my hair out with each new GIDP, but I try to remind myself that there are some pretty great hitters on this list:

At the halfway mark, Zimmy is on pace for finishing in the group tied for 25th most all-time. But longtime locals can probably live with that. Cal was notorious for the ole' GIDP.

Posted by: bryc3 | July 7, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Nats should trade for Halladay... in case you haven't heard, Roy Halladay could be on the trading block... At least once a week you may not need the bullpen to lose another game.

Seriously, though, the guy is only 32 & has an offseason workout regimen that is second to none... he easily could pitch for another 10 years... the Nats have the prospects, just don't trade Jordan Zimmermann or Strasburg...

Posted by: tony325 | July 7, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

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