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Nats midseason report card

Jul 14, 2010, 3:20 PM EDT


Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Ryan Zimmerman has set a high standard for himself, which affects his grade.

OK, class, settle down. Time to pay attention. I've gone through all of your midterm exams and now it's time to tell you how you did.

I'm pleased to report that several of you did an outstanding job: Mr. Dunn, Mr. Zimmerman, Mr. Willingham, Mr. Clippard, Mr. Capps. Even Mr. Strasburg and Mr. Storen, who I know didn't join our class until recently but showed impressive aptitude in catching up to the rest of the group.

On the other hand, I'm very disappointed in the work turned in by a few of you. Mr. Harris: I expected more of you. Same for you, Mr. Kennedy. And Mr. Marquis? Well, I don't even know where to begin.

Overall, this class performed better than I probably expected it would this semester. Everyone worked extremely hard, so everyone gets an A for effort. But that's only a portion of your overall grade. This is a class based on actual results.

So with that, here is your midterm report card. If anyone wants to dispute their grade, I'll be available for office hours…

LUIS ATILANO: C
I had no expectation for you when you arrived. (Truthfully, I barely knew you existed.) But you turned some heads and impressed with your ability. I'm still not sure if you're worthy of a permanent spot in this class, but you'll probably get another chance to show me whetherRead more ยป

  1. Nick - Jul 14, 2010 at 3:30 PM

    No grade for Mr. Taveras?

  2. Anonymous - Jul 14, 2010 at 3:39 PM

    Then he would have to also grade Brian Bruney …

  3. Knoxville Nat - Jul 14, 2010 at 3:42 PM

    No grade for Rizzo or Riggleman?

  4. Anonymous - Jul 14, 2010 at 3:43 PM

    Both were expelled, along with Mr. Dukes.

  5. Dave - Jul 14, 2010 at 3:50 PM

    I have to say, I agree with just about all of these grades.I hope Mr. Dunn's scholarship is renewed so he doesn't transfer to another school.

  6. markfd - Jul 14, 2010 at 4:04 PM

    Awesome writing Mark, this cracked me up as I could almost see and hear a teacher reading this out loud! I agree with most of your grading as well, I think I would have less D's and more Fs.

  7. cksteveson - Jul 14, 2010 at 4:40 PM

    I disagree with markfd, I didn't really like the theme of the post with the mock school report card (which was curiously written as though Mark Z were the Nationals, an inherent problem with using this theme).I would have at least liked a much more stat based version of this. There were maybe 6 total stats used in the whole thing.I give you a C+.

  8. HHover - Jul 14, 2010 at 4:45 PM

    Great story, Mark, and good grades.I would have maybe one quibble–with Zim, you give him an A-, saying that you're grading on a curve and that he's not quite "in top form." But I wonder if you're not over-emphasizing his June slump, and not grading him on the whole semester.2009: .292 BA, .888 OPS, 33 HR, 17E2010: .294 BA, .909 OPS, 16 HR, 8 EHe's on a pace to hit 31 HR, which is the only place where I see him less than "top form."

  9. Anonymous - Jul 14, 2010 at 4:46 PM

    Grades I would change:Atilano C+Desmond DDunn BGuzman AHarris FHernandez A+Kenndy DLannan FMarquis INC (you cannot grade on an injury and he was clearly injured all year)Morse C-Zimmerman B

  10. natsfan1a - Jul 14, 2010 at 5:01 PM

    Cracked me up, too, and I couldn't but help think of Sister Mary Elephant (yes, I realize that I'm dating myself there). Overall, the grades struck me as on target, too.I would add the following (if I may presume to speak for faithful readers of this blog):MARK ZUCKERMAN: AAlthough you were laid off by a local outlet due to their misguided belief that baseball was no longer a worthy subject, you took a leap of faith and started your own venture, putting your knowledge and experience to good use. Your blog has been a great resource for the fan community, and I hope that it turns out to be half as rewarding for you as it has been for us. Keep up the good work, young man!

  11. Sec3MySofa - Jul 14, 2010 at 5:08 PM

    I'd be careful with that precedent, 1a. Now the obvious next choice is grades for posters here. I know Anonymous flunks out every year, and yet keeps sitting in random desks around the room somehow.

  12. natsfan1a - Jul 14, 2010 at 5:14 PM

    hehe

  13. Anonymous - Jul 14, 2010 at 5:15 PM

    More or less agree with most of them, but Guzman has got to be a joke. A B? He's having a mediocre year offensively (.314 wOBA, and he's being lucky (second highest BABIP of his career)), he's playing below average defense at 2nd, and, he's making 8 million. That's more money than anyone not called Dunn is making on the team.Bottom line, he's barely above replacement level (0.6 WAR so far according to fangraphs) while making 8 million dollars.But hey, he's not complaining a lot during the process, so he gets a B?BTW, you know who's also 0,6 WAR? Alberto Gonzalez. Who barely ever gets a chance "to stay sharp" (even though Riggleman hands those out by the hundreds) yet performs admirably once he does play. Plus, he probably makes the minimum $ 400,000.Your grade for him: B-.Come on, Mark.I really hope one or two GMs share your mistaken views on Guzman and give the Nats something resembling a prospect at the deadline.

  14. Section 222 - Jul 14, 2010 at 5:16 PM

    Highly entertaining report card Mark. Many thanks. I agree with most of the grades. And I must say that Anon 12:46 has a really strange curve. Marquis deserves a low grade because he was awful before he was injured. Sure, he very well might have been injured from the start, but you have to grade him on what he did. Otherwise, it would be like letting someone take an incomplete on a test after failing it if she tells you she had a migraine while taking it. So maybe Olsen should get a B+ (Inc), and Marquis an F (Inc).Also, Anon 12:46, you're entitled to your opinion, but how do you justify giving Morse a C-? He's hitting .310/.364/.526, giving him the 4th highest OBP on the club (after Hammer, Zim, and Dunn), and the 3rd highest SLP (higher than Hammer's). Mark, you're really too stingy with his B too. What do you want from the guy? You really shouldn't reduce his grade because the teacher refuses to call on him.

  15. Anonymous - Jul 14, 2010 at 5:24 PM

    Bill Ladson's grades:Adam Dunn: FYou aren't stoping your SS from making fielding errors, its your fault.Trade him now.

  16. Anonymous - Jul 14, 2010 at 5:36 PM

    Mostly agree, but… an A- for Clippard? He's let 21 of 50 inherited runners score on him which means his ERA is deceptively low– he's allowing a ton of runs to score, but they're charged to somebody else. Despite that, his ERA more than doubled in the last month. He's blown seven saves in 44 appearances. Even four of his vultured wins came on blown saves. I can't see how that adds up to anything in the A range.

  17. The Great Unwashed - Jul 14, 2010 at 5:47 PM

    natsfan1a:Claaaaaaass, SHUT UP!!! Thank you.Good call!

  18. Doc - Jul 14, 2010 at 5:47 PM

    Great stuff, MarkMeister! I knew Sister Mary Elephant, and she would have expelled some these guys. Discussing more appropriate vocations is in order!

  19. Pat Boyle - Jul 14, 2010 at 5:48 PM

    Mark, you are brilliant! Thanks for all your hard work first semester. This reader gives you an A.

  20. Bowdenball - Jul 14, 2010 at 5:50 PM

    Anonymous 1:36:If you find his ERA deceptive, look at his WHIP K/BB ratio, or other stats that solely reflect how a pitcher does against the hitters he faces.Clip's been good- a 1.29 WHIP is not great but certainly acceptable from a 7th inning guy, which is what Clip will probably be going forward. It's better than All-Star Capps' WHIP. He strikes out 10.1 every 9 innings, and while his 4.2 BB/9 figure is too high, it's also the best of his career, which is good to see, and results in a K/BB ratio better than 2/1.It's easy to let recent results color your perception of Clippard, but overall he's been as solid as any of us could have reasonably hoped at the start of the season.here's hoping Mark's comments in Hammer getting "rewarded" soon were more than just a shot in the dark.

  21. Anonymous - Jul 14, 2010 at 5:52 PM

    Mark,You are a very generous grader. I would probably grade many of them slightly lower. Overall I would give the team a C-, but compared to last year for the entire Nationals organization, a B- .Keep up the great work!Nats Fan number 30,003.

  22. Benj - Jul 14, 2010 at 5:58 PM

    Bernadina deserves an A more than Capps or Clipp. Guzman should be lower and Nyjer should be a little higher (climbing the wall in B'more, drag bunts, other athletic plays…)

  23. Anonymous - Jul 14, 2010 at 6:09 PM

    My only quibble – Gonzo deserves a B or B+ – otherwise, very entertaining.

  24. Sam - Jul 14, 2010 at 6:15 PM

    This absolutely drives me crazy. When has Maxwell been given chance after chance? He has 182 plate appearances over 3 seasons. That's not "chance after chance." That's barely any playing time to prove himself. I'm not sure why people like to rag on him so much, especially given his success in the minor leagues and his success in the National League last year (his only stint in which he was given 100+ PA).I wouldn't call Ivan Rodriguez's recent struggles a "slump." I would call his early success a fluke. He's really not a good hitter at all at this stage of his career. He has as much power as the fly that I swatted on my wall last week, and he is as patient as a 2-year old hungry baby. He is a glorified 8th place hitter only hitting higher because the other hitters on the team are just as terrible. Seriously, what in the world would lead anyone to believe he is having a good offensive season? His .713 OPS? His .311 wOBA?Otherwise, I have no complaints with the grades. Although, the second-person style of writing was a bit creepy.

  25. David Lint - Jul 14, 2010 at 6:17 PM

    Benji,One or two athletic plays does not make up for the mental mistakes that have cost Morgan, and the team a ton of runs.- Going for a triple and getting thrown out before Stammen crossed the plate against the Dodgers.- Pouting as the ball lay next to him while Adam Jones picked up an inside the park HR. – Swinging at a pitch that bounced five feet in front of home plate and thus being ruled out when the ball hit him.- Numerous CS and PO. If you don't know how to steal, either call Rickey Henderson up, or stop hurting the team.

  26. cadeck13 - Jul 14, 2010 at 6:23 PM

    Natsfan1a nailed your grade Mark! I agree with her on both her posts! Also, I might add I couldn't help but smile that 1a's wishes for Capps & Byrd came true last night :) Good call and we may need you to make more wishes!

  27. Anonymous - Jul 14, 2010 at 7:05 PM

    Buttttt I've got to go to the can maaaan! I've got to go to the cannn!

  28. Anonymous - Jul 14, 2010 at 7:15 PM

    This absolutely drives me crazy. When has Maxwell been given chance after chance? He has 182 plate appearances over 3 seasons. That's not "chance after chance."Michael Morse: 71 AB, 3 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, .310 BA, .364 OBP, .521 SLG, .885 OPS Mostly as a pinch hitter with few if any opportunities to start. Bats better against right handed pitching.Justin Maxwell: 38 AB, 1 2b, 1 HR, .105 BA, .340 OBP, .211 SLG, .551 OPS (mostly as a starter).Maxwell hits okay against left handed pitchers but against right handers?Maxwell lifetime: .227/.320/.805Morse (against right handers): .364/.417/1.053.Who looks like he can hit? Who looks like he belongs in AAAA?

  29. Anonymous - Jul 14, 2010 at 7:22 PM

    Bernadina deserves an A more than Capps or Clipp. Like Morgan, Bernadina is very poor against left handed pitching.

  30. Sam - Jul 14, 2010 at 7:22 PM

    So, you proved my point about how he has so few plate appearances that we shouldn't be allowed to judge him? Why, thank you.He has a .125 BABIP in his 53 PA in 2010. Clearly, that is not a big enough sample size for stats to stabilize.The same goes for Dunn's PA with RISP or, even better, with 2 outs and RISP. Does anyone honestly think 32 PA is enough to judge someone? Honestly? Please go back to college and take statistics again or use Google to learn about sample sizes. It's really pretty obvious that judging someone from so few PA is not smart.

  31. Avar - Jul 14, 2010 at 7:45 PM

    Great stuff Mark. Love the post, love the site. Would hate to have to get by without it.My two cents on the grades. Morse is an easy A, as is Gonzo. Guzie deserves a lower grade. Agree his attitude and OBP are surprisingly good this year but he needs to be graded against his $8m salary, there I'd give him a C. Think Clippard s/b a little lower and Capps too. Very few disagreements really, I agree w/ the vast majority of those including most all of the comments. Again, great stuff, thanks.

  32. BinM - Jul 14, 2010 at 7:53 PM

    FWIW, Justin Maxwell (WSH)- 78GP, 182PA, .216/.335/.399 slash line. Justin Maxwell (minors)- 414GP, 1739PA, .262/.358/.444 slash line——————Michael Morse (Majors)- 174GP, 469PA, .296/.356/.428 slash line. Michael Morse (minors)- 744GP, 3039PA, .271/.330/.425 slash line.While Maxwell has provided slightly better numbers than Morse comparing their minor league numbers, Morse has suffered no offensive dropoff at the next level, while Maxwell's numbers have all tailed off. As a hitter, advantage to Morse.

  33. HHover - Jul 14, 2010 at 7:58 PM

    Anon @3:22, yes and no – Neither Morgan nor Bernadina hits LHP that well (both are .250 this season), but there are 2 differences: 1, Bernadina hits LHP with at least some power, for a .768 OPS vs. Morgan's .646; and Morgan can't that hit much, period–he's .250 vs LHP and .253 vs RHP (Bernadina hits RHP more than pts better).Sam: I'm not sure what your point is about "not be[ing] allowed to judge" Maxwell–of course he's going to be judged on his performance, by both the fans and the front office. No player is entitled to any time at all the big leagues, much less to the statistically significant sample size of plate appearances that you seem to be demanding on his behalf. FWIW, I'm not one of the Maxwell haters and I'd like to see him develop–I was at the last home game last season with my son and he still raves about Maxwell's walk off grand slam, and I'd like to see that player more consistently. But frankly the Nats don't need another light hitting AAAA outfielder, and if Maxwell can't prove himself to be something more in however many PA he's lucky enough to get, then he's gone.

  34. Anonymous - Jul 14, 2010 at 7:58 PM

    Please go back to college and take statistics again or use Google to learn about sample sizes. It's really pretty obvious that judging someone from so few PA is not smart.@Sam, Maybe you need Math remedial education? Oh, right you skipped Algebra in high school didn't you? What about this don't you understand? LIFETIME over 3 seasons he has consistently provenhe cannot hit right handed pitching: .227/.320/.805?That's just NOT GOING TO CUT for a right handed CF/RF lead off hitter now is it? Most pitchers are right handed. For a far less "sample size" and similar stats Justin Smoak, the Rangers (now Mariners) top first base prospect was sent back to the minors for lack of production at the plate. The sample size of 188 AB's across 2 or 3 seasons with little production is enough to prove to most MLB scouts that what you have is a AAAA player. I used Morse as an example to show you what CAN be accomplished in just a few plate appearances. Morse's minor league batting stats over the last year completely demolish Maxwell's in AAA. Yet many still consider him AAAA? Reality dude. That's the reality of MLB baseball. 182 is ONE HALF a season in the majors. And unlike Morse, Maxwell got far more starts!!!

  35. HHover - Jul 14, 2010 at 8:02 PM

    Oops – "Bernadina hits RHP more than *30* pts better"

  36. NatsJack in Florida - Jul 14, 2010 at 8:02 PM

    182 at bats is actually 1/3 of a full season for a regular but still enough to prove that Maxwell is BARELY a AAA ball player.

  37. Section 222 - Jul 14, 2010 at 8:05 PM

    Start rant. I can't believe we're even having a debate over whether Maxwell should be given even more at bats to show he's not a good hitter and whether he's better than Morse. Maxwell has been kicking around for three seasons. Every year he plays passably in AAA and can't hit for beans in the majors. ZHe's fast, plays good defense, and can't hit. There are lots of those guys around (including Ryan Langerhans who at least was left handed and had a little power.) Morse has delivered, this year better than ever. I have no idea whether he can keep up anywhere near his current level of productivity as an every day player (or at least a three way platooner with Bernadina and Morgan), but he has earned a shot. In fact, Riggleman has already wasted the chance to use him when he was hot as Hades by foolishly insisting on giving Willie Harris at bats against righties during interleague play. At this point, Morse should get a PH chance in every game he doesn't start, against left handed and right handed pitching. And he should start all games against lefties and at least some against righties (moving Bernie to CF for those games.) He's our best bat right now other than the big three and he's being wasted by our manager. End rant.

  38. Anonymous - Jul 14, 2010 at 8:18 PM

    182 at bats is actually 1/3 of a full season for a regularIvan Rodriguez currently sits at 216 at bats. He is a regular, is 39 years old, is batting .296 and may be the best defensive catcher in baseball. You have to assume that Maxwell would not be an every day player initially much like Roger Bernadina who currently stands at 181 AT BATS with a .282 BA. This is the 1/2 season mark is it not? I am comparing apples with apples. Bernadina vs. Maxwell. But, ah, Bernadina does have an advantage: He bats left handed and his better numbers are against right-handed hitting. Against lefties he is hitting .250/.318/.768 which is slightly better than Maxwell against his stats against right handed pitching. But there are more right handed pitchers than lefties.Clearly a platoon of the two would work. The problem one would have is that Morse right now is destroying right handed hitting and is pretty good against lefties too. Morse's most recent 2009 (post shoulder injury) to 2010 minor league stats are very impressive which is why he is here. He demolished 2 AAA leagues in 2009. This is something Bernadina and Maxwell have never done. Morse is the more mature hitter with more at bats overall. For Morse hitting was never his problem it was fielding at shortstop as many like to remind us.The question is: is his fielding in right field good enough to play full time? I believe that it is.

  39. Anonymous - Jul 14, 2010 at 8:20 PM

    Morse right now is destroying right handed hittingMeant to say right handed pitching … my bad.

  40. Anonymous - Jul 14, 2010 at 8:22 PM

    Thanks, Mark. Lotta fun, and this kind of discussion is what makes this game so great, so enduring. [And btw, your pictures are always teriffic. Solid A+]I'm right there with most of the grades you posted — I'm close to your marks — with a couple of exceptions:Martin – I give him a D- tops. I don't recall an effective outing by this guy. I'm likely blinded by the principle of recent observations dominating my perception, though.Nieves – I think your mark of D- is low. Yes, he's in a very difficult situation but I think at least he averted total disaster while Pudge was down.And I'm in line with the poster above: A+ for Zuckerman.

  41. phil dunn - Jul 14, 2010 at 9:48 PM

    I would give Capps a B- at best and Maxwell an F. I agree with most of the others.Capps has been hit hard but he's been extremely lucky. In 40 innings, he's given up 53 hits and opposing hitters have a batting average of .305 against him. He's had a lot of lucky saves that could have easily been blown saves. The 23 saves number is very misleading.

  42. Anonymous - Jul 14, 2010 at 9:58 PM

    Mark for a team in the cellar, I think you have way too many A's/A-'s, I counted 9 of them. I think as the grader, you could be accused of grade inflation. But I have to say this is one of the more enjoyable posts.

  43. K.D. - Jul 14, 2010 at 10:26 PM

    Enjoyed and agreed with all but one of your grades, being Marquis. I think his grade should be the same as Olsen's; INC. Unless I'm mistaken he was horrible because of an injury, the main mark against him was him not admitting it early enough.

  44. Sam - Jul 14, 2010 at 11:19 PM

    In Maxwell's 182 plate appearances, he has a .332 wOBA. That's actually slightly above average. And his .280 BABIP is far less than his previous performance in the minor leagues. So, there is reason to believe that he can perform better in the National League. Why does everyone have such a hard time believing that? It's not my opinion. It's in the numbers (i.e. facts). There is a chance that he can get better, and that chance is a pretty decent one. If he is allowed to take a few plate appearances, he might prove that he is a good hitter. 182 plate appearances over 3 seasons is simply not enough. End of story.@Anon 3:58: Due to my stunning ability to add and subtract, I actually got straight A+s in Algebra in 7th grade.

  45. greg - Jul 15, 2010 at 12:04 AM

    [quote]182 at bats is actually 1/3 of a full season for a regularIvan Rodriguez currently sits at 216 at bats. He is a regular, is 39 years old, is batting .296 and may be the best defensive catcher in baseball. You have to assume that Maxwell would not be an every day player initially much like Roger Bernadina who currently stands at 181 AT BATS with a .282 BA. This is the 1/2 season mark is it not?[/quote]no. first off, rodriguez is a catcher. catchers do not get as many ABs as regular fielders. they need more days off. not to mention his DL stint where he missed a few weeks. invalid comparison.your second comparison is to a part time player and trying to justify it by saying maxwell would be a part-time player. not really relevant to the discussion about what "a full season of ABs is."600 ABs is generally accepted as a full season of every day player ABs, with a +/- of 40-50 ABs (to adjust for days off, how good your offense is, whether you hit 1st or 8th, etc). by no real valid measure is 180 AB a half season for a regular player. your primary argument is only damaged by you not being willing to admit your mistake with some of the "supporting facts" you used. being unable to recognize that calls all of your logic into question.

  46. Anonymous - Jul 15, 2010 at 12:10 AM

    In Maxwell's 182 plate appearances, he has a .332 wOBA. That's actually slightly above average. And his .280 BABIP is far less than his previous performance in the minor leagues.He's still currently hitting .105 and .279 w/OBA; after the right field job was handed to him on a silver platter by JIm Riggleman. That's what we mean when we say he has gotten plenty of chances, lots of golden opportunities? As soon as they guy gets called Riggleman pencils him into the lineup. Did you see that happen with Mike Morse? With Roger Bernadina? No.You don't get every chance in the world to prove you belong. As a starting centerfielder "average" just won't cut it. As a utility guy like Willie Harris or Willy Taveras maybe. Bottom line Michael Morse has earned a shot at the job the hard way. Justin Maxwell has earned a ticket back to the minors. He has had plenty of opportunities both in the minors and the majors. All of your really anal "Math" isn't going to change that. It is your opinion not in anyone's numbers but your own.

  47. Sam - Jul 15, 2010 at 12:26 AM

    His .279 wOBA is largely due to the .125 BABIP he has produced, which is in large part due to the fact that he has only had 53 PA this season. 53 plate appearances are highly subject to random variation. That's not debatable. Counting how many times he plays is not "anal math." It's simply stating facts. He hasn't had many PAs in the National League, meaning he hasn't had many chances. He has had many in the minor leagues, and he has been pretty successful.

  48. Anonymous - Jul 15, 2010 at 12:39 AM

    Justin Maxwell (minors)- 414GP, 1739PA, .262/.358/.444 slash lineThis is not successful. Its average. His inability to hit major league pitching, and specifically right handed pitching (that's the true facts you seem intent on avoiding) clearly indicate that he is not a starting caliber major league hitter. Your own "numbers" appear to bely what you say dude.

  49. Anonymous - Jul 15, 2010 at 12:52 AM

    In 2009 in 472 AAA minor league plate appearances Michael Morse went .322/.383/.894 with 26 doubles, 3 triples and 16 HR's. Plus 86 RBI.In 2009 in 448 plate AAA minor league appearances Justin Maxwell went.242/.344/.740. He hit 10 doubles, 3 triples, and 13 home runs plus 42 RBI.In 2007 (Morse was injured in 2008) in 342 AAA minor league plate appearances Michael Morse went .304/.367/.881 with 27 doubles and 6 home runs plus 41 RBI.In 2008 in 180 AA plate appearances Justin Maxwell went .233/.367/.826 with 6 doubles, 3 triples and seven home runs plus 28 RBI. There's your facts, your "numbers" and they aren't very pretty. Maxwell is not a top major league prospect, he is a career minor leaguer who must have some pretty good connections with Riggleman and the Nats organization.

  50. Anonymous - Jul 15, 2010 at 12:56 AM

    .105 on 53 plate appearances means nothing; people should stop using this as a basis for an argument. Sam's point and it is a correct one is that you can't judge a player unless you let him play for a while (like 150 at bats over 40 games); people on this board said the same things about Bernadina at the beginning of the year; the tendency is to over react positively or negatively. The only way to judge objectively is to look at numbers based on a significant sample size.Pudge's .296 is not that impressive considering he gets no walks and does not hit for any power at all.

  51. Jeeves - Jul 15, 2010 at 1:17 AM

    Sam, I'm sure you feel alone out there re Maxwell. If it's any consolation, I agree with you and have supported him a few times on this forum. Considering that he was injured a lot in the minors and not been given much of a chance in the majors, I'm at a loss why so many consider him so bad, with no chance whatsoever. He's had two sucessful callups in September that practically everyone appears to dismiss, not to mention five tool potential.

  52. Anonymous - Jul 15, 2010 at 1:42 AM

    Considering that he was injured a lot in the minors and not been given much of a chance in the majors, So, to was Morse, so too was Bernadina. Let's make excuses for everyone and give everyone every chance to succeed. Let's bring back Joel Hanarahan, he just needed a few more "appearances" to get things right.Math smarts apparently does not equate to any real common sense.

  53. Anonymous - Jul 15, 2010 at 1:45 AM

    Pudge's .296 is not that impressive considering he gets no walks and does not hit for any power at all.HE IS STLL a plus-plus defensive CATCHER and a future HOF!!! He is 39 years old!!! No one expected him to hit!? He was brought in to help a young pitching staff and to show Jesus Flores the ropes and instead, like Livan, he is starting at catcher and one the club's leaders? You guys must really not be watching these games … seriously flawed perspectives and outlooks.Would you prefer Wil Nieves who has no offensive ability at all and marginal on defense and calling games?

  54. Sam - Jul 15, 2010 at 1:53 AM

    I have not ignored the fact that Maxwell "can't hit right-handed pitching" because it is not a fact. I choose to ignore those numbers, yes, because as I have said, the little amount of PAs makes them unreliable.Joel Hanrahan has pitched well for the Pirates. No 1st, 2nd, or 3rd guy out of the bullpen well, but well nonetheless. 3.09 FIP, 3.19 xFIP, 3.02 tERA. Yeah, I'll take that. That's pretty good.Pudge might be a plus-defender, but he is still not good offensively. And the commenter who said that "Pudge's .296 is not that impressive…" was talking about his offensive production. So, you can disregard his defense in this case. We are talking about how well he is performing offensively.Math is built off of logic (or common sense, if you will). I'm fairly certain I do not lack any of it, especially considering I am the only one making any coherent arguments about Maxwell. Before you respond and rip on me, please gather some evidence. Don't blindly argue with me because you think I am wrong. I appreciate a good discussion, not simply being yelled at.

  55. alm100 - Jul 15, 2010 at 3:01 AM

    Guzman should be lower. His hitting does not make up for his errors. He is the one (not Dunn) who needs to go to the AL as a DH.I also think JMax has not been given enough time to prove himself. Nothing against Morse, I like him also, but I wouldn't mind seeing JMax get a long look in center field.

  56. HHover - Jul 15, 2010 at 3:53 AM

    In a perfect world, yes, Justin Maxwell would get more time in the majors to prove himself. This being a less than perfect world, someone will get sent down to the minors next week when the Nats have to make a roster move to fill the slot for their 5th starter (barring trades, injuries, etc.).That's the time line that Maxwell is looking at, and whining about inadequate sample sizes won't change it. I'm not sure there's anything he could have done in such a short period to earn a longer stay, but he certainly didn't do himself any favors by going 0-5 with 1 walk in 2 games last week. Now, there are obviously others who could get sent down, but it's hard to argue Maxwell is more deserving of an active roster slot. There's no way the Nats send down Morse when he has a batting average 3x Maxwell's. There's little chance they send down Harris when he's 1, a lefty bat, and B, has a much more proven record in the majors. The same applies to Nyjer, with all his baggage.And since the Nats are unlikely to keep Maxwell as a 6th OF and sacrifice a 6th IF, I won't even bother to make the comparisons to Kennedy, Guzman, and Gonzalez. I expect Maxwell to get another chance in Sept and I hope he seizes it, but his ticket is basically already punched for Syracuse.

  57. N. Cognito - Jul 15, 2010 at 11:06 AM

    Sam said… "Pudge might be a plus-defender, but he is still not good offensively. And the commenter who said that "Pudge's .296 is not that impressive…" was talking about his offensive production. So, you can disregard his defense in this case. We are talking about how well he is performing offensively.Math is built off of logic (or common sense, if you will). I'm fairly certain I do not lack any of it, especially considering I am the only one making any coherent arguments about Maxwell. Before you respond and rip on me, please gather some evidence. Don't blindly argue with me because you think I am wrong. I appreciate a good discussion, not simply being yelled at."Compare him to other catchers…then I'll consider your logic valid.

  58. Anonymous - Jul 15, 2010 at 12:19 PM

    When someone so obviously dislikes a player he/she will use/not use statistics to their advantage. In Pudge's case, so much of his success are the intangibles he brings to the field each day. So, you have to watch the games to fully appreciate his skills, not rely on statistics. Nobody has even mentioned the fact that opponents (still) hardly ever try to steal bases when he is behind the plate or that he has the respect of umpires and knows how to work with them. He could probably hit more home runs, but seems an unselfish player and is trying to place hits and not trying to pull the ball which results in unproductive pop-ups more often than not. He tried adding more muscle weight a few years back to add power to his bat. But if I remember correctly he felt it effected his mobility behind the plate especially as the season went on. As a catcher he feels his defense is more important than his offense.

  59. The Michael - Jul 15, 2010 at 1:02 PM

    Throw out the stats. All you need to do is watch Justin Maxwell at the plate to see he doesn't belong. Plain and simple.

  60. NatsJack in Florida - Jul 15, 2010 at 1:24 PM

    "The Michael said…" You are exactly right! The old eye test works every time and as some one who observed both Bernandina and Maxwell for all of Spring Training it was obvious which one passed and which one didn't.

  61. Anonymous - Jul 15, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    TC has the teacher fooled. He had good grades in the beginning, but really slacked off towards the semesters end. If he does not watch his peas and ques, he could very well be suspended soon. I for one will be watching very closely his attention to detail in the coming days and nights. I suggest the principal and staff do the same. JTinSC

  62. VCUAlum Kyle - Jul 15, 2010 at 1:51 PM

    Mark,Great Post, loved the report card type article. Only grades I would change are Marquis to INC and Walker to a D.A post I think many of us are curious about is when do you think we will see some of these prospects in DC?1) Chris MarreroHe was a 1st round pick in '06. He was a AA all-star this year and has been playing well the past two seasons. When does he get a shot at 1B?2) Danny EspinosaWhen does Desmond move to 2B and we see this guy at SS in Nats Park?3) Michael BurgerssPlaying very well in the Carolina League, when do you think we might hear his name in DC?4) Derrick Norris2012 or 2013 in Nats Park?5) Aaron ThompsonGot him for Nicky J (Nick Johnson), not the best W-L column in AA but has the stuff, when does he grace the rubber in DC?6) Brad MyersHe is starting to get old for a minor leaguer but pitches well, when does he get a shot?7) Zech ZincolaWe have been hearing about him for a long time, is it time to give up on seeing that name on the back of a Nats jersey?8) Destin Hood2012 or 2013 with Bryce Harper in DC?9) Stephen LombardozziIs this guy for real or a just a farm hand?10) Josh Smoker, Jack McGeary, & Colton WilliamsShould we just give up on them and blame them on Jim Bo Bo?There are more prospects but those are the ones with the most hype that you see on many Nats blogs including Nats Farm. I would love to see an article about these guys and when we might (if ever) see them at Nats Park.~Kyle

  63. A DC Wonk - Jul 15, 2010 at 1:55 PM

    Pudge's .296 is not that impressive considering he gets no walks and does not hit for any power at all.Sheesh. Yes, he shortened up his swing to hit more for average . . . but he's third on the team with doubles.But more importantly, as another writer wrote, the correct comparison is to other catchers.FWIW: of all the catchers in MLB with over 200 plate appearances — Pudge's .296 is second.

  64. Sam - Jul 15, 2010 at 2:26 PM

    The "eye test" is inferior to statistics because the "eye test" is subject to subjectivity. If you don't like Maxwell, you will automatically have a negative disposition when judging him with your eye. You can never throw out statistics because they tell you much more about a player than simply watching him (assuming you use the right statistics with an adequate sample size).HHover, you make a good point. Maxwell is screwed because, for whatever reason, the team is so high on Morgan. Maxwell has out-produced Morgan so far this year. Hopefully Morgan can regain his competency on the field and show that he deserves his spot. Also, more hopefully, Maxwell will find a spot on the active roster next season (or later this season) as a 4th or 5th outfielder. Regardless, I don't think people should be so quick to right him off.Of all of the catchers in the National League, Pudge is tied-10th with 1.1 WAR. Among players with 160+ PA (I just picked an arbitrary number to get backup catchers out of the way), Pudge is 12th in the NL with a .311 wOBA. That is your comparison with other catchers: he's worse than the vast majority of them. While he is hitting .296, his .311 wOBA proves that it is not that impressive due to his lack of power and lack of patience at the plate. He's getting a few singles and making lots of outs. That's not impressive. That's bad.However, I do agree that he is still a solid defensive catcher, and I am sure he has a positive impact on the pitching rotation. Of course, you can't make guys like Stammen and Batista good, but I'm sure he has helped them a bit.

  65. Sam - Jul 15, 2010 at 2:27 PM

    Besides, I think everyone takes things out of context. No one ever said his .296 batting average isn't good. It is. The commenter said that combined with his lack of power and patience, his overall offensive performance is not good. How can anyone debate that?Somehow people started talking about intangibles and defense to defend him. No one criticized him on those aspects. Only his offense.

  66. Anonymous - Jul 15, 2010 at 2:56 PM

    @Sam,You are either blind, or you suffer from Aspergers: I do not lack any of it, especially considering I am the only one making any coherent arguments about Maxwell. Before you respond and rip on me, please gather some evidence.As far as Hanrahan. Yep, he's done better … as long as there's less pressure. He was a closer in Washington, but according to your flawless logic a few more appearances at closer for the Nats and Hanrahan would have been just fine. Right, and the Nats would be in first place if only they started Justin Maxwell. Here's your evidence you damned fool! Read 'em again or swallow your medicine. This is why you saw Millege in the outfield along with Dukes. Because Maxwell just can't hit major league hitting. With around 700 or more plate appearances in AA/AAA Justin Maxwell has pretty much failed miserably and wouldn't be around if this were a contending team.In 2009 in 448 plate AAA minor league appearances Justin Maxwell went.242/.344/.740. He hit 10 doubles, 3 triples, and 13 home runs plus 42 RBI.In 2008 in 180 AA plate appearances Justin Maxwell went .233/.367/.826 with 6 doubles, 3 triples and seven home runs plus 28 RBI.

  67. Anonymous - Jul 15, 2010 at 3:00 PM

    @Sam,However, I do agree that he is still a solid defensive catcher, and I am sure he has a positive impact on the pitching rotation. Of course, you can't make guys like Stammen and Batista good, but I'm sure he has helped them a bit.Its too bad All Star Justin Maxwell can't make Pudge better at the plate, right?

  68. natsfan1a - Jul 15, 2010 at 3:02 PM

    (raises hand) um, teacher? We seem to have an unruly pupil here…

  69. Anonymous - Jul 15, 2010 at 3:04 PM

    Maxwell is screwed because, for whatever reason, the team is so high on Morgan. Maxwell has out-produced Morgan so far this year.@Sam,They brought in Millege and Dukes before Morgan. And there's also Bernadina. Morgan can be a real offensive threat when he is on. Right now he is not and at .105 Maxwell is a lot worst. No, Maxwell will not be a 4th or 5th outfielder on this team because he sees himself as a starter and has a difficult time accepting his demotions (as he himself admitted) much less a bench role as Bernadina and Morse have. His 'attitude" at the demotions was his excuse for these horrendous performance in the last 2 years:In 2009 in 448 plate AAA minor league appearances Justin Maxwell went.242/.344/.740. He hit 10 doubles, 3 triples, and 13 home runs plus 42 RBI.In 2008 in 180 AA plate appearances Justin Maxwell went .233/.367/.826 with 6 doubles, 3 triples and seven home runs plus 28 RBI.

  70. Anonymous - Jul 15, 2010 at 3:09 PM

    Uh sister 1a? I still have to go to the can man?

  71. Dave - Jul 15, 2010 at 3:12 PM

    Wow, it's getting noisy in here! And that guy "Anonymous" has a lot to say. But sometimes it seems like he's arguing with himself.???

  72. Anonymous - Jul 15, 2010 at 3:14 PM

    Uh Sister Natsfan1a, I still have to go to the can man?

  73. Dave - Jul 15, 2010 at 3:16 PM

    FWIW, the Nats had four "best plays" on the MLB network's top 75 plays of the first half. They showed Willie Harris's Met-killing catch, Dunn's three homers vs. San Diego, the great Bernadina dive in RF (don't remember the opponent). And #9 out of 75 was Morgan's robbery of the home run at OPCY.I do recall, however, that the Nats lost that game against the Orioles, so, yeah… Great plays don't necessarily win games.(Even J. Maxwell's great plays…)

  74. Mark Zuckerman - Jul 15, 2010 at 3:27 PM

    Wow, can't say I expected a midseason report card of 30 different players would turn into an intense argument about the merits of only Justin Maxwell and Ivan Rodriguez. But I'm certainly happy to provide the forum for spirited debate. Please refrain from any personal insults, though.

  75. Anonymous - Jul 15, 2010 at 3:57 PM

    Sister Natsfan1a? I still have to go to the can man?

  76. Anonymous - Jul 15, 2010 at 4:02 PM

    A post I think many of us are curious about is when do you think we will see some of these prospects in DC?I'm still wondering what happened to the only other high end power arm in the organization: Nate Karns?

  77. Anonymous - Jul 15, 2010 at 4:59 PM

    Dave,Strasburg's debut was not included? Seriously?

  78. natsfan1a - Jul 15, 2010 at 5:20 PM

    Anon, was that one finger that I saw you holding up? You may be excused (but don't forget your hall pass) … :-)

  79. Dave - Jul 15, 2010 at 6:38 PM

    @Anon 12:59, as I recall, Strassy's debut was not among the top 75 plays. It was featured in the opening montage as something worthy of note, but it was not among the 75. I was quite surprised.

  80. Sam - Jul 15, 2010 at 8:56 PM

    @Anon 10:56 AM: Just because he hasn't put up absolutely amazing numbers does not mean he has failed. .260/.363/.416 for Maxwell in 681 Triple-A PA and .233/.367/.459 in 180 Double-A PAs. That's really not bad. He has an .801 OPS in 1700+ PAs in the minor leagues. And he has yet to prove that he cannot hit major league pitching because he has yet to get many chances. Plus, he actually did very well in September 2009.I am not arguing that Maxwell will be a good player. I am simply saying that there is a chance that he can produce at the major league level, but he has not been given a chance. Please keep in mind that he did hit well in his stint last September. And he has been very, very unlucky in 2010. He may not be good, but we surely have no way of knowing until he puts together a long string of PAs in the major leagues.As far as Hanrahan goes, there's no question he was not a good closer. He certainly did not pitch too well with the Nationals in that role. However, you cannot just try to twist my words to say that if he had more appearances, everything would be fine. My argument is that with more appearances, we will figure out whether or not he is a good player (Maxwell, that is). We simply have no way of knowing with such little on which to judge. I bet more than one All-Star has had a string of 180 PAs during which he hit poorly. Maybe after 300 PAs or 500 PAs, we will know that Maxwell is truly a career minor leaguer. But how can we tell if he hasn't yet had the proper experience in the major leagues? That would be like going for an interview and your potential boss telling you you aren't cut out for the job – not because there are better candidates but just because he doesn't think you are good enough.

  81. Dave - Jul 15, 2010 at 9:12 PM

    Yee-ikes. I have never yet done this, but I am now going to unsubscribe from email alerts for this comment thread. It just goes on and on without saying anything new whatsoever.I'll check the RSS feed for Mark's next post.

  82. Berndaddy - Jul 16, 2010 at 3:54 PM

    Mark that was brilliant man, wow! I love this site and love lurker at the responses…Hey word up, the Cheech and Chong stuff is great. The Sr.Mary Elephant bit was from the first LP I ever bought. Awesome to read a reference to it…

  83. Ron In Reston - Jul 16, 2010 at 6:56 PM

    I'm going to guess the reason SS's debut wasn't included is because it was the top 75 PLAYS, and a game is not a play, but a series of them….just sayin'

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