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The Washington Nationals by the obscure numbers

Morning roundup

I've got something a little different this morning. I spent a good chunk of time Monday night poking around Baseball Reference, Fan Graphs and StatsPass and these are some of the more interesting nuggets I stumbled across. I'm not sure what, if anything, can be concluded, but here's a starting nine of stats, facts and figures that don't really fit together but may help tell the story of this Nationals season.

1. Michael Morse has the same OPS+ (146) as Ryan Zimmerman.

2. The Nationals have struck out 187 times since the all-star break, fifth-most in the majors.

3. Jason Marquis has managed a -1.8 WAR in just four starts.

4. Stephen Strasburg's fastball averages 97.3 mph, faster than any other starting pitcher in the majors this season, but his most valuable pitch is his change-up - his fastball is 1.71 runs above average per 100 pitches and his changeup is 2.19, according to FanGraphs.

5. The Nationals have allowed 64 unearned runs, second only to the Chicago Cubs in the major leagues.

6. Ian Desmond's .695 OPS ranks second lowest among qualifying major league rookies despite his fortunate .316 batting average on balls put in play.

7. Craig Stammen has made batters swing and miss 49 times in his last four starts. Strasburg has made batters swing and miss 43 times in his last four starts.

8. The Nationals are 20-40 on the road, the sixth-worst record in baseball. They have a 4.32 ERA on the road and a 3.81 ERA at home. They have a .772 OPS at home and a .683 OPS on the road.

9. Ryan Zimmerman's 5.1 WAR ranks sixth best among major leaguers. He is the only player in the top 10 on a losing team.


Stephen Strasburg will return tonight with a new focus from outsiders on his health and mechanics.


Syracuse was postponed. Jordan Zimmermann will start this evening.

Harrisburg was off.

Potomac 8, Lynchburg 7 (Game 1): Derek Norris went 2 for 3 with a home run, a double and two walks. Mike Burgess went 2 for 5 with a double.

Lynchburg 5, Potomac 2 (Game 2, 7 innings): Mike Burgess went 2 for 3 with a home run. Garrett Mock allowed three runs on eight hits and no walks in four innings, striking out two.

Hagerstown 4, Kannapolis 1: J.P. Ramirez, just named the South Atlantic League player of the week, went 3 for 4. Paul Applebee allowed one run in seven innings on seven hits and no walks, striking out one.

Vermont was canceled.


Stephen Strasburg is a reminder how fragile pitchers can be, Jeff MacGregor writes.

Mark Zuckerman looks at five Nationals with high stakes in the final stretch.

By Adam Kilgore  |  August 10, 2010; 6:19 AM ET
Categories:  Ryan Zimmerman , Stephen Strasburg  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Does Jason Marquis have a future with Washington Nationals?
Next: In-game chat: Nationals vs. Marlins


Here's a stat:

After beating the Mets on 5/12, Nats were 8-3 in series finales. Since then, Nats are 5-20!

Posted by: rbelleisle | August 10, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Interesting stuff for sure.

Re: Desmond's OPS. Comparing him only to "qualifying rookies" certainly limits the comparison to those rookies who are doing well enough this season to be getting significant playing time. So I put very little into that stat.

Re: Stammen's swing and miss count v Strasburg's. That's a surprise, and perhaps demonstrates why people see upside in Stammen.

Re: Zimmerman's WAR. Yeah. He's good.

Re: Unearned runs. I'm shocked anyone has allowed more unearned runs than we have.

One stat I'd like to see (Adam, if you're listening, I have not been able to find out).
What are opposing pitchers hitting against us, and how does that compare to other NL teams?

Posted by: Sunderland | August 10, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

2010 Presidents Race Standings

Abraham Lincoln 18
Thomas Jefferson 18
George Washington 18
Teddy Roosevelt 0

Teddy needs to be DFA'd for Kennedy

For Maya's first start, to make him feel at home could we have a guest racer? I was thinking a Racing Castro and Kennedy could hit him with a tee shirt gun.

Posted by: hansenjo | August 10, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

In keeping with the Kennedy/Cuba theme, I would opine that pigs will fly over the stadium before Teddy wins a race. (Unless the team agrees to let Dibble run as Teddy. In that case, all bets are off. ;-))

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 10, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

You know, when I was growing up in the 60s, some genius came up with the great idea of clear plastic slip covers for furniture. Just think, they'd last forever. Everyone got them. The practice lasted about the geologic equivalent of 5 minutes once it dawned on people that they were uncomfortable and ugly. What was the point of preserving the comfort and beauty of something while making it uncomfortable and ugly. Seems to me that the handling of Strasburg and most of these young phenoms these days is the logical equivalent of the 60s slip covers. What is the point of having them if they can't pitch? I could understand it if there was some scientific data that showed that someone's arm blew out only when they pitched over 178 and 2/3 innings within 192 days, but as far as I know, there isn't. This is apparently based on some voodoo science/logic invented by skittish GMs and new age trainers. Who is to say that limiting innings at a young age actually does anything to increase the total number of innings a pitcher will be able to give you over an entire career? Where is the data that proves this? Did they limit Nolan Ryan's innings? How about Tom Seaver or Walter Johnson? Isn't really more likely that some guys are going to blow while others aren't just based on their bodies and mechanics and all the coddling in the world won't change this? Where does this stop? Heck, if we limit SS to 25 innings a year maybe he can pitch until he's 50! In some ways it is similar to those who argue for a 55 mph speed limit (I know I'm digressing but I'm on a roll) because it saves lives. Well then, why don't we make the national speed limit 25 and save even more lives? Anyway, back to baseball, y'all.

Posted by: truke | August 10, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Hey Adam --

Want some strange nugget? How's about this:

On weekedays, the Nats record is 38-37
(Mon: 5-6; Tue: 7-8; Wed: 9-8; Thu: 8-7; Fri: 9-8)

On weekends, the Nats record is 11-26
(Sat: 6-13; Sun: 5-13)

Why? What's the significance? I DON'T KNOW!
(and kudos to those that get this movie reference!)

Posted by: erocks33 | August 10, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Bill Ladson's post about his deciding against signing Adam Dunn, after careful consideration and going back and forth on this, is really a plant from management? Ladson's concern is Adam's defense (not the expense of course).

Ladson downplayed the HRs, the slugging percentage, the OBP and the OPS, and how hard those numbers are to come by if you want to replace Dunn with a better-fielding 1st baseman. Ladson didn't mention that Dunn has made much progress in his defense at 1st in his first year at the position.

Ladson would still be tempted to sign Dunn for 3 years. I guess that means that if Dunn believes he can get 4 years elsewhere, then Dunn must go. So Ladson is among the many NJ posters who are concerned about that inevitably dreadful year of 2014. We must do everything possible to avoid that big down year for Dunn, apparently. Hopefully, that isn't a convenient excuse not to sign the big slugger.

Posted by: EdDC | August 10, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Hey Adam --

Want some strange nugget? How's about this:

On weekedays, the Nats record is 38-37
(Mon: 5-6; Tue: 7-8; Wed: 9-8; Thu: 8-7; Fri: 9-8)

On weekends, the Nats record is 11-26
(Sat: 6-13; Sun: 5-13)

Why? What's the significance? I DON'T KNOW!
(and kudos to those that get this movie reference!)

Posted by: erocks33 | August 10, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Pee Wee's Big Adventure?

Posted by: frenchyb | August 10, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

If you were on fangraphs, i'm surprised no mention of uzr/150 ratings. For all of Dunn's supposed "defensive weakness" he's got a better uzr/150 for the year than Teixeira, a three-time gold glove winner.

Dunn for the 2010 NL gold glove!

Posted by: tboss | August 10, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

don't know about the Saturday record, but Sunday is when Riggs gives people the day off and we get a line-up that leaves us scratching our heads....

Posted by: 1of9000 | August 10, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Ladson's an idiot. End of story.

Posted by: truke | August 10, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

There are two ways I see Teddy winning
A) We clinch the playoffs
B) Someone steals the Teddy uniform and outruns everyone to the finish.

Truke, there's no shortage of overused pitchers with arm injuries (Prior, Wood, Willis being a few recent examples. From what I understand the biggest problems are progressing too quickly to higher workload, and pitching a lot in the early 20s (because you build up bulk across the mid-late 20s that increases endurance).

Posted by: 202character | August 10, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

All this tells us is what we've known since the 60's;


Good Gawd Y'all.

What is it good for?

Absolutely nothin'!

Say it again!

Posted by: DCSec112 | August 10, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

DCSec112, it ain't nothing but a heartbreaker.

Friend only to the undertaker!!!

Posted by: baltova1 | August 10, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse


1st in WAR

Last in Peace

Last in the National League

Posted by: EdDC | August 10, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

LOL! You guys are on a roll. btw, did you know the original title for "War and Peace" was "War--What Is It Good For?"

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 10, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm always glad when I check in. Sometimes for the most unpredictable of reasons.

Adam Parsons would not have approved at how we changed his lyrics in our sing alongs with the juke box at the officer's club at Phu Bai, Viet Nam in 1970 between helicopter flights.
Oh, well
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

We got to get out of this place!
Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | August 10, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Wow, really enjoyable read.

Ladson, idiot, for sure.

DCSec112 - WAR, what is it good for?
Most excellent.

hansenjo - DFA'ing Kennedy, calling up Castro for a spot start, great idea.

erocks, any idea what the Nats record is during Shark Week?

Posted by: Sunderland | August 10, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Stat's be damned,the starting pitching is horrible with the exception of Livo and "The Kid" the defense is even worse the bullpen is overworked thank's to the kid glove treatment that the starters get, why not ask Livo how he consistently pitch's past the sixth and seventh innings maybe we can use that formula for the rest of the starters and when we look into the Marlin's dugout tonight their will sit the man that i think should be still coaching this pitching staff Randy St.Claire,the fall guy for Manny's ineptitude.

Posted by: dargregmag | August 10, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

To Truke - I agree to some extent that today's pitchers are coddled and that may or may not be to their detriment. I don't think that there's a magic number for blowing out your elbow or shoulder. Everyone has their own physiology and limitations. For every Seaver or Ryan, there's a Mark Fidrych, a Steve Busby and other pitchers in the 60s/70s who logged lots of MLB innings at a young age and suffered career ending injuries.

Steve Busby threw 831 innings for the Royals before he was 26, was one of the first to have rotator cuff surgery and then threw only 229 more MLB innings from age 26-30 before his career was done.

Mark Fidrych reportedly tore his rotator cuff in 1977 and pitched on and off, not very effectively. it wasn't until 1985 that it was diagnosed.

And I'm sure there are many others.

I don't know what the answer is, I think somewhere in between is probably the answer. You cannot have guys throwing 250-300 innings in their early 20s, maybe something like 175-225 is a more moderate workload.

Growing up in the 70s, I remember having friends whose parents had a formal room where the furniture was covered in plastic, and no one was allowed in there.

Posted by: comish4lif | August 10, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Interesting question about how opposing teams' pitchers are hitting against us! Me? I favor having Stammen pinch hit sometimes!

Posted by: poncedeleroy | August 10, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

OK, Baseball-reference has splits by team and league.

Against the 9th spot in the order (which isn't exactly only the pitchers), the Nats pitchers are allowing .217/.234/.283 (a .517 OPS). I took the NL splits and subtracted out the Nats pitchers' number to get an "all teams in the NL but not the Nats number" which is .181/.212/.262 (a .472 OPS). Comparing OPS, the Nats are about 9% less effective than the rest of the NL when facing the 9th spot in the order.

Nats pitchers strike out about 27 batters in the 9th spot for every 100 ABs; the rest of the NL strikes out about 32 batters.

Posted by: comish4lif | August 10, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

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