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Ivan Rodriguez's regression to the mean in full swing

Morning roundup


The Nationals have enough offensive culprits over the past few days that it is not fair to single one of them out. That said, Ivan Rodríguez, who regularly bats sixth, has contributed his fair share to the difficulty scoring runs.

In his past 25 games, Rodriguez is batting .202 with a .462 OPS. On Monday, he went 1 for 4 and grounded into two double plays, bringing his total to 18, one shy of the National League lead. Months ago, Rodríguez was leading the league in hitting and had become one of baseball's best stories. His season, like his team's, has taken an obvious downturn.

Rodríguez's regression to the mean owes largely to an evening out of his luck. Rodríguez is now hitting .328 on balls put in play, which has dropped dramatically considered he was hitting .340, period, on June 16.

It's not all luck - Rodríguez is striking out much more now than he was at the start of the season. From opening day until June 13, he struck out once every 8.2 at-bats. Since, Rodríguez has struck out once every 5.5 at-bats.

The regression is alarming mainly because of recent history. In the three seasons before Rodríguez joined the Nationals, he hit .269 with a .297 on-base percentage and a .401 slugging percentage. Rodríguez was a vital piece of the Nationals' offense and early success. If he becomes what he was in recent seasons, that's a significant blow for the offense.

Manager Jim Riggleman has not seen a change in Rodríguez and believes he will revert back to the production he showed early in the year. He sees Rodríguez still hitting the ball on the barrel, just right at defenders. "He's going to find his pace here," Riggleman said.

Riggleman even turned his double plays into a positive. "When you're hitting into double plays," he said, "you're hitting the ball hard."


Norfolk 4, Syracuse 0: Boomer Whiting went 2 for 4. Jeff Mandel allowed three earned runs in 7 2/3 innings on six hits and two walks.

Harrisburg 6, New Britain 3: Danny Espinosa went 5 for 5 with two home runs. On the season, he is batting .261 with a .791 OPS. Tom Millone allowed three earned runs in 6 1/3 innings on six hits and one walk.

Potomac 13, Salem 0: Tyler Moore went 4 for 5 with two doubles and a home run. Mike Burgess went 2 for 4 with a double and a walk. Moore is 15 for his last 33. Adrian Alaniz allowed zero earned runs in six innings on three hits and a walk, striking out four.


Nyjer Morgan might be coming around, Mark Zuckerman writes.

Ben Goessling explains why a four-year contract for Adam Dunn is problematic.

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 20, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
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Next: Scott Olsen's next rehab start


Zuckerman lost me in para 1 when he refers to Morgan not being likely to salvage the season to his career norms. Morgan has never played ONE full season in the bigs, he has no career norms. We may be witnessing his norms right now; last year's half season of brilliance may very well be the outlier.

Posted by: dfh21 | July 20, 2010 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Only Riggleman sees positives when hitting into double plays. I guess when a pitcher allows a HR it is good because he threw the ball hard too and an error is good because the player actually made it to the ball.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | July 20, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Adam, I can appreciate that the team's poor play can be a bit of a downer for you in covering the Nats and that the same story gets old after a while. But that shouldn't lead to your writing becoming unreadable.

Today's gamer was horribly written and difficult to follow. The first 4 paragraphs were almost impossible to read, as they were filled with dense cliches and unsupportable conclusions: the Reds had a "hammerlock on the outcome" in the second inning? Seriously? The "final result" of the game "had already become clear"

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | July 20, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Adam, I can appreciate that the team's poor play can be a bit of a downer for you in covering the Nats and that the same story gets old after a while. But that shouldn't lead to your writing becoming unreadable.

Today's gamer was horribly written and difficult to follow. The first 4 paragraphs were almost impossible to read, as they were filled with dense cliches and unsupportable conclusions: the Reds had a "hammerlock on the outcome" in the second inning? Seriously? The "final result" of the game "had already become clear"

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | July 20, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Sorry about the double post, everyone.

To finish my thought--Adam, when you write that the final result had become clear in the third inning of a 4-2 game, in my view you undermine your own credibility as a writer. The Nats are playing horrible baseball. So tell is about that, in clear writing. And get rid of the cliches and ridiculous assertions.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | July 20, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

"Losing is a disease, as contagious as polio."

Posted by: mo_dc | July 20, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

"Losing is a disease, as contagious as syphilis."

Posted by: mo_dc | July 20, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Look at it the other way, CiL: We had to cover the Arizona Fall League ourselves last year after the first week. Now we only have to edit the paper ourselves as we read it. Riggleman would say this is an improvement.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 20, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

"Losing is a disease, as contagious as bubonic plague."

Posted by: mo_dc | July 20, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

The thing is, Riggleman could see Rodriguez change into a wolf at the full moon and he'd *say* he didn't see any changes. It's not his style to "show up" a veteran.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 20, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Agreed, 2010 is Morgan's 1st full year as an everyday player! So what is he talking about, with 2010 being the worst season of his career... and what is he talking about him playing better? Since July 1st, he has hit .255 with a .300 OBP... wow, he's on fire...

And hitting into double plays is a good thing? How about saying "We can't keep hitting into double plays in key situations, it is killing us"... not "wow, he really hit that ball hard into a double play, way to go, buddy! Great job"... He doesn't have to call Pudge out specifically to make the point, but he should be saying something to the effect that "we can't keep beating ourselves, we need to do a better job situational hitting, etc"

And If Riggleman really thinks Pudge is going to revert to his production level of April, he really is delusional... look at his splits, in April his OPS was .973... every month since then he has not even cracked an OPS of .600 and it has gotten lower every month... not to mention the data from his offensive decline the last several years...

Morgan should NOT be hitting leadoff after all this time with a .312 OBP for the year... Pudge should NOT be hitting 6th with a .684 OPS for the year... Harris should never start (and I would have considered DFA'ing him instead of sending Maxwell down, at least Maxwell can play defense in RF well and is 6 years younger then Harris, so theoretically has some sort of better upside)... and Kennedy should start as little as possible...

I really think Riggs has become delusional with what guys ability level are... at this point, he needs to realize the Nats are not a playoff team and playing underperforming veterans with no upside or future potential for the team is a complete and utter waste of time...

Try this lineup for a few weeks, see what happens:

Guzman 2B
Bernadina CF
Zimmerman 3B
Dunn 1B
Willingham LF
Morse RF
Desmond SS
Pudge C

Play Morgan like 2 times a week, see if he can create a spark off the bench... make Morgan the new Willie Harris off the bench! And Justin Maxwell the new Michael Morse off the bench! And let Willie Harris follow in Brian Bruney's footsteps...

Sorry for the rant, the losing is getting to me... but the stubborness and lack of foresight by the manager is making it even worse... STOP PLAYING WASHED UP OLD DUDES, SEE IF SOME OF THESE YOUNGER GUYS CAN PLAY! IF THEY CAN'T, WE HAVE LOST NOTHING...

Posted by: Ghost7 | July 20, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Bobcat Goldthwait used to do a bit about his mom saying that getting thrown in the deep end of the pool was "teaching them to swim." "Right," he said. "And shooting at you is teaching you to dodge bullets."

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 20, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

@Ghost7: IAWTP

Posted by: Meridian1 | July 20, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Danny Espinosa went 5 for 5 with two home runs. On the season, he is batting .261 with a .791 OPS.

The Nationals as a team have a .258 batting avg and a .725 OPS

Posted by: hansenjo | July 20, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Agreed, Sec3--where quantity is concerned, Kilgore:Harlan as Riggleman:Acta. So an improvement to be sure, but also not saying much. It would be nice if the stuff was a bit more readable however. I missed the game last night and would have liked to read a good account of it.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | July 20, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Rigglemean = Fall Guy.
Dead Man Walking.
The team sucks again.

Posted by: ridgely1 | July 20, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Ghost7: I like the lineup, but I want Desmond outta there until we know the kid can catch and throw to the standard of at least a mid level MLB SS. We have a pitch to contact staff and the guy is just awful out there; its killing us. He should not be playing every day in the bigs after clowning around to make 20 errors in half a season. He makes Guzman look like Ozzie Smith.

Posted by: dfh21 | July 20, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

If this is true, it would be criminal not to trade Dunn.
I really hope Rizzo doesn't quickly get a Bowden-esque reputation for asking way too much.
Waiting is probably a good strategy here, though. Here's hoping the White Sox get desperate in the next ten days.

Posted by: amo36 | July 20, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Theres' nothing wrong with I-Rod that a visit to the friendly trainer, an injection or two, and a good masking agent wouldn't cure.

When will the Nationals learn that one can't make chicken salad out of everything that comes from a chicken.

Posted by: ShovelPlease | July 20, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Agreed, Desmond has definitely hurt the team with his 20+ errors (duh)... but, he also has made several plays that no other shortstop on this team would make, including two in a row last night (diving play up the middle and strong throw on ground ball in the hole)... So, in short, he is not perfect... and is raw in both the field and at the plate... but, looking at the current options, what else makes most sense for the future of the team? Playing Guzman at SS and Kennedy at 2b when both players likely will be gone after this year? Or playing Desmond as much as possible and hope he makes strides at the ML level... while giving Guzman most of the ABs at 2B because, well, he is outperforming Kennedy by far, both at the plate and in the field...

And, if Desmond doesn't make strides, at least we have found out he isn't part of the future... and we can start looking forward to Espinoza in 1 1/2 to 2 years... maybe Desmond can become a super utilty guy (he is athletic enough to probably learn to play every position on the field except catcher)... but still, giving him as much playing time and at bats now makes more sense then giving Kennedy or Harris, etc, at bats...

And don't get started on Alberto Gonzalez... he has done a solid job in the utility infielder role... and that role is where he belongs... no power, no speed, no on-base skills = no production, so unless he IS Ozzie Smith with the glove (or better), he is pointless to give significantly more playing time in the MI slots...

The team could (and hopefully will) help itself when they can start running these "pitch to contact" SPs out there 4 out of 5 days... Livan has been money... everyone else has been, well, somewhere between inconsistent and terrible... can't wait to see Zimmermann and Detwiler get the chance to prove they are healty, ML caliber pitchers... and if Olsen can come back (skeptical), would love to see that, too...

Posted by: Ghost7 | July 20, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Apparently Rizzo has the Bowden complex already written into his memory stack!

According to the SunTimes the ChiSox GM put together an impressive package of AA prospects and a few ready for primetime AAA'rs for Rizzo to chew on, but...Cousin Mikie said he wants Carlos Quentin and Gordon Beckham. ChiSox say no dice..., we are in a pennent race and we need our 2nd basemen and our RF.

Moral of the story...., typical Nats "brain trust". We'll dangle Dunn out there, ask for the moon to see if someone bites, let him walk in Oct and get a supplemental pick in the Jun 2011 draft.


Posted by: TippyCanoe | July 20, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

amo36, thanks for sharing that. That's the kind of information, even if it's speculative, that we're not getting in DC, from anybody. No one seems to be able to provide any names being bandied about in a trade.

If the White Sox offered Viciedo or Hudson and somebody else for Dunn, that would be a very appealing trade. Viciedo plays 1B and is a very good power hitting prospect who could probably step right in for Dunn. Hudson's an excellent pitching prospect also ready now. Getting that kind of guy plus another prospect makes a lot of sense to me, if you're going to trade someone like Dunn.

Posted by: baltova1 | July 20, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

What would Maxwell be hitting if his BABIP was even 250 (still a very low BABIP) instead of 125. His OBP would be well over 400! Bring him back up.

Posted by: audacitea | July 20, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Ghost7: Desmond made three intersting plays at SS last night. Neither of the 2 good plays was a great one and he nearly threw both balls away and the third was a gift hit he gave to Gomes (which turned into an add-on run, and which ball he also almost threw away). Not an error but worse, he just waited too long to make the play/throw and Gomes beat it.

The guy's ability to get to this or that ball (neither play last night was some spectacular get by the way) is nice but if he cannot finish the play, he cannot finish the play. By any standard of defensive statistical voodoo anyone wants to employ, Desmond is not getting it done and it is not like he's getting better.

It is not fair to the pitching staff to trot the guy out there as if he has the chops for the position, when at this point in his career he does not. Let the guy go to Cuse and get it right. Fundamental instruction is supposed to take place in the minors -- he needs fundamental instruction in a big, glaring way.

Posted by: dfh21 | July 20, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Manager Jim Riggleman has not seen a change in Rodríguez and believes he will revert back to the production he showed early in the year.

This is the scariest thing I've heard from Riggleman yet. Rodriguez hasn't been consistently as productive as he was early in the season for better than five years, and he's counting on him to "revert" back to that level? One one hand, that level of delusion doesn't hurt us because there's no better option at catcher right now anyway, but you'd like to have a manager with some grasp of reality.

Posted by: zimbar | July 20, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Shameful team. A team that embarrasses our city and our people with their lazy incompetent play every day they walk on the field. Pudge Rodriguez looks spent. Christian "ball? what ball?" Guzman. Nyjer "Mr. Pouty" Morgan. Spent over-the-hill nothing pitcher Livan Hernandez. Human embarrassment non-fielder Ian Desmond. Loser bullpen (pick any name other than Storen and Capps.) People everywhere just picking up a paycheck who take ZERO pride in their work as professionals (other than Zimmerman and Dunn).

A shameful team of losers under a lazy, has-been coach. A team of tired rich-boys who don't care if they lose any more. Disgusting. An insult to the city of Washington and to themselves as men.

Don't ask us fans to pay for this travesty any more. Even your announcers seem fed up.

Posted by: dstafford2 | July 20, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I-Rod's season numbers could sink to .240/.290/.350 and he'd still have value for his defensive skills, imo. You just couldn't bat him in the 6-7 slots.

Posted by: BinM | July 20, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Pudge was brought here as a super-sub or emergency starter. He's old for a professional athlete, in a brutally hard position, so it's no wonder if he wears out as the year goes along. And it's harsh to expect Riggleman to rip his own team or downplay their chances. Talking to the media is a kind of silly part of a manager's job, and there is no upside to telling the truth if it's negative. Coach-speak was invented, and is almost universally spoken, for a reason.

Posted by: markfromark | July 20, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

and Pudge was not brought in to be the number 6th hitter. 93 games into the season, catching in the midst of July heat, and the 38-year old is having trouble catching up with the fastballs.

I'm shocked . . . shocked, I tell you to discover gambling going on inside this nightclub.

Posted by: lowcountry | July 20, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

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