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Still too early

May 4, 2010, 2:16 PM EDT


Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Is Ivan Rodriguez going to maintain a .431 on-base percentage all season? Doubtful.

Every season, we hear the same refrain throughout April and May, from players and managers on both good and bad clubs.

"It's still early."

The baseball season truly is a marathon, and while everyone loves to either jump on or off the bandwagon after only one month, there's plenty of evidence that suggests you'd be wise not to draw any real conclusions yet.

Is Ivan Rodriguez going to hit .400 for the season? Is Livan Hernandez going to go 18-6 with an 0.87 ERA? Is Josh Willingham going to lead the Nationals with 78 RBI? Is Matt Capps going to go 60-for-60 in save situations?

Of course not. The sample size after 25 games remains too small to extrapolate those kinds of things out.

Likewise, it's not fair to predict the Nationals will finish 84-78 right now, even though their current .520 winning percentage suggests they will. Far too much can happen between now and October — both good and bad — to dramatically alter this team's course.

As much fun as it is to get excited about ballclubs after one month, history shows us April records don't mean much over the long haul. For example, take a look at the MLB standings on this date one yearRead more ยป

  1. Anonymous - May 4, 2010 at 2:53 PM

    Hot and cold streaks occur throughout the season. They simply stand out at the beginning of the season.

  2. Doc - May 4, 2010 at 3:02 PM

    The biggest difference this year is improved deeeeeeeeeefense. That shouldn't change. Pitching could change, for the better, with SS and DS, plus Detwiler and Wang. If the offense can jog it up a bit, with the continued efforts of Rick Eckstein, then yeah the Nats could have a winning record. You're right Mark, another 30 games in will offer more predictive value.

  3. Pete - May 4, 2010 at 3:14 PM

    SUPERBOWL!

  4. DJ - May 4, 2010 at 3:52 PM

    Mark-Do you think it'd be a good idea for the Nats to pick up Eric Byrnes to try his hand at the RF job?

  5. Mark Zuckerman - May 4, 2010 at 3:56 PM

    DJ: Sorry, but I don't see it. Byrnes' best days are way behind him. Plus, I've always thought he was more interested in becoming a TV star than a great ballplayer.

  6. JayB - May 4, 2010 at 4:10 PM

    Mark,It seems pretty clear to me that nobody on the team or in the organization for that matter is going to develop into a solution in RF this year or even the next few years. Rizzo can talk all he wants about JMax and Roger but facts are if this team had a 30 HR 100 RBI Rocket Arm RFer now and next year they would be in the race. Not so much without it. Does Rizzo get it and just say he is happy or does he really see the solution in house?

  7. Mark Zuckerman - May 4, 2010 at 4:15 PM

    JayB: I can assure you Rizzo would prefer to have a 30-HR, 100-RBI right fielder. But in his mind, there weren't any reasonable candidates out there at the right price. So he's content to go with what they have for now. If this team is somehow in contention in July, I could see him trying to acquire someone to take over that job.

  8. Aeoliano - May 4, 2010 at 4:57 PM

    Rizzo can talk all he wants about JMax and Roger but facts are if this team had a 30 HR 100 RBI Rocket Arm RFer now and next year they would be in the race. Not so much without it. Be nice to see what Mike Morse can do down in Syracuse in right field. But they are playing him at first. Otherwise he has the rifle arm, the athleticism, and the guy is a proven hitter. But not a right fielder.

  9. Aeoliano - May 4, 2010 at 5:00 PM

    They are better off with JMax, Bernadina, Harris, and Morse and Duncan than Byrnes. Duncan is starting to hit. Morse is continuing to hit. Good thing Rizzo has better taste than NJ'ers and Insiders. He apparently went after BJ Upton pretty early on in the game. Too bad the Rays are playing better than the Yankees else you might find him in right field for the Nats right now.

  10. Aeoliano - May 4, 2010 at 5:01 PM

    So, is Strasburg pitching for Syracuse on Friday? And who got moved to replace him? Balester? Wonder if he will end up doing a Willems. Guess Willems had a problem watching Storen and Strasburg and others fly by him in the minors?

  11. Tcostant - May 4, 2010 at 5:05 PM

    Yes -ESPN 980 is reporting that Strusburg is going to triple A and will pitch there on Friday. I just heard this at 1PM.

  12. Aeoliano - May 4, 2010 at 5:15 PM

    Guess Eric Karabell (and Hendo) do not consider Livan an "ace" … figuring his run to be sabermatician's luck?The Nationals will leave Hernandez out there for those bad innings as well, and soon this fancy ERA will be erased, and erased badly. His current hit rate is incomprehensible in relation to his ability. Hernandez has a 2.9 per nine innings strikeout rate, which is ridiculously low. His batting average on balls in play is .177, which is unsustainable. The league average is around .300. Run, people, run away fast! A season ago Hernandez was permitted to stay in games long enough, to save the bullpen, to allow seven or more earned runs in a game five times.

  13. Tcostant - May 4, 2010 at 5:18 PM

    Eric Karabell is likely not far off. Hernandez is likely a .500 pitcher at years end and always starts fast. He will have bad games and if you don't believe that your likely fooling yourself. I hope I'm wrong.

  14. JayB - May 4, 2010 at 5:26 PM

    Mark,Does Rizzo understand that his cupboard is bare with regards to RF and at some point he is going to have to look outside?

  15. Tcostant - May 4, 2010 at 5:41 PM

    Is not out of the question that the Nats unload one of the extra starters at the trading deadline to get a RF. After all, if two of Strasburg, Wang, Marquis, and Detwiler pand out then a starter from the current rotation could be dealt.

  16. BinM - May 4, 2010 at 5:50 PM

    peric – Isn't Karabell a fantasy baseball writer for ESPN? His reasons for "running away" from a player are driven purely by isolated statistics, imo.

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