While researching for today’s column I found a lot of stats
or 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
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.