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Where the Nats ranked in 2011

Oct 14, 2011, 11:00 AM EST

US Presswire photo
The Nationals didn't cross the plate nearly enough times this season.

This season saw the Nationals win 80 games, a mark that left everyone happy and was reason to proclaim 2011 a success for this franchise. But how did they get to those 80 wins? How did they lose 81? And how did they compare to baseball's 29 other clubs?

One way to determine this is to figure out where the Nats ranked in a number of statistical categories: At the plate, on the mound, in the field and on the bases.

Here, then, is how the Nationals stacked up to the rest of the sport in the following areas…

HITTING
Runs scored: 624 (3.88/game), 24th in MLB
Home runs: 154 (.96/game), tied-15th in MLB
Stolen bases: 106 (.66/game), 16th in MLBRead more »

  1. gonatsgo - Oct 14, 2011 at 11:30 AM

    This is very cool – you can see it right there within reach. I would like to have seen where this compared with last year, though, so I could see where there was improvement or not in each category.

  2. Constant Reader - Oct 14, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    Mark and friends, curious what you think about this … I generally never look at our team in comparison to MLB; I almost always look at us versus the NL. Doesn't the DH skew the numbers on hitting and pitching (and even to a lesser degree fielding)?If no one beats me to it, I promise I'll post all the numbers compared to the NL later.

  3. Anonymous - Oct 14, 2011 at 11:48 AM

    "Pitching and defense may win games, but you still have to score at least a couple of runs each night."Yep. Just ask the Phillies

  4. natsfan1a - Oct 14, 2011 at 11:55 AM

    Don't trying calling them at CBP, though, 'cause they're not there now. ;-)

  5. Constant Reader - Oct 14, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    Making good on my promise:Stat and NL RankRuns 12HR 7SB 8BB 13Ks 16BA 14OBP 13SLG 11BA w/ RISP 15R 7ER 6HR 5SB 3BB 5Ks 15BA 9OBP 10SLG 6BA w/ RISP 11Es T9FPct 10DP 5UZR (feh)Does looking at it NL-only make a difference? I think Mark's evaluation of our needs is the same. We were tied for 15th in wins in MLB and 8th in the NL in wins. Does it look like we are closer to being one of the top 8 in MLB or top 4 in the NL? The latter is the only one that matters of course.And, no, I am not certain I have a particular point here, just observations.

  6. sjm308 - Oct 14, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    I just remember time after time having a runner in scoring position and not even getting a productive out. The strikeouts just killed us. Just moving the runner over one base should have led to more runs being scored. I don't have an answer but they obviously have the numbers in front of them and should be working on this. I remember Boz actually predicting better HR numbers this season but also more K's. He got that right but I hate to see Desmond and Espinosa missing so many pitches. I guess you can't change Ankiel from being a free swinger but I am hoping Werth, Desmond and Espi all bring their numbers down next year.

  7. Mark'd - Oct 14, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    Mark said…"Really, though, the No. 1 reason the Nationals didn't surpass the .500 mark this season was their lack of offense. Pitching and defense may win games, but you still have to score at least a couple of runs each night."I think if you read Jordan Zimmermann's mind, he would say the same thing. 2.60 of run support per 9 innings while he is in the game is pathetic.I will repeat SteveM mantra BALANCE. Earned runs allowed was 6th in the game which means the Nats have very good pitching. If Rizzo doesn't fix the offense without jeopardizing the defense it will be more of these 1 run games with great starts wasted.

  8. Bowdenball - Oct 14, 2011 at 12:38 PM

    Constant Reader, I had the exact same thought when I saw Mark's post. Thanks for doing that.

  9. Gonat - Oct 14, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    I am reposting this as I think it puts the core issue of the offense out there. It doesn't fix the CLUTCH HITTING w/ RISP that Mark highlighted.Gonat said… Jeeves, the Nats scored 624 runs this season. If they can increase that by 14% to get above 700, it certainly gets them into that range to be in the playoff discussion. Roughly 1/2 run per game more.Here's where the Nats were for BA/OBP in batting order:1st .226/ .285 2nd .222/ .283 3rd .270/ .344 4th .255/ .3305th .251/ .326 6th .260/ .330 7th .240/ .304 8th .259/ .318 There were a total of 1,485 plate appearances between the leadoff and 2nd batter. The 1st and 2nd spots got on base 412 times while a .320 OBP would get you 63 more men on base in the 1st and 2nd spots over the season. It also gets you 63 more at-bats during those games since they aren't extra outs. Not sure what metric would tell you how many of those runs would score. Now take 63 outs saved gives you an additional 63 at-bats and they get on at a .320 clip gives you 20 more base runners so of the 83 extra runners on base if 1/3 scores, you just found 27 runs.Werth needs to be in the 2 hole for 2012. BTW, Bernadina had the highest BA/OBP in the 2 hole .313/.333 in 67 plate appearances which may make that a compelling platoon in 2012 so Werth gets some days off. Werth had a .327 OBP. October 11, 2011 10:33 PM

  10. JamesFan - Oct 14, 2011 at 1:28 PM

    The one killer weakness on this team was strikeouts. Sure we need fewer errors, more walks and improved pitching, but the number of guys we have in the lineup with way over 100 strikeouts is too many. I do not know if this can be improved with players we have, but they should certainly try. It kills the team when they can't move the runner over or get even a sac fly.

  11. Anonymous8 - Oct 14, 2011 at 1:51 PM

    JamesFan, I agree with you on strikeouts as putting the ball in play gets you hits sometimes. Our old friend Nyjer last night got 2 hits in 2 strike counts. One was a blooper 5 feet over the head of the shortstop and the other was harder hit going the opposite way again that went down left field. Both were defensive swings and he didn't strike out.Our biggest swing and miss guy is Danny Espinosa. How can he change his approach to make contact with 2 strikes, that will be his challenge.

  12. Natslifer - Oct 14, 2011 at 2:12 PM

    This is why this site is the best. I really had "speedy mcleadoff" stuck in my brain as the #1 thing we needed for '12. Reading the past couple of days, I now think we need 2 or 3 Scott Haddeburgs (sp?) wherever they end up playing. The Yankees have had Jeter leading off forever and Desi compared favorably to him in the 2cnd half of last year. So add pitching it you want but focus on OBP and productive at-bats offensively.

  13. NatsStat - Oct 14, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    Thanks for the data guys , especially Mark and Constant Reader.

  14. NatsStat - Oct 14, 2011 at 2:22 PM

    Cutting down on the Ks is the bigger issue for the Nats' offense. Most of the bats are already in their lineup—they just need to know how to use them more effectively.

  15. Mark'd - Oct 14, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    We have been using .320 as the benchmark OBP. League average ended at .319. We are actually setting that benchmark too low.League average OBP configured to the Nats schedule for 2011 and the parks they played in gives an average player should have an OBP of .326 which means that Nats Park gives a hitters advantage of .007. Those numbers for batting average is .259 vs benchmark of .253 and Nats averaged .242 with an OBP of .309

  16. Anonymous8 - Oct 14, 2011 at 2:39 PM

    Mark'd, oh great. What you are saying is the Nats underachieved more than what we thought vs. the averages. So is it the personnel or the person teaching them? Is it the youth on the team where they will get better, lets hope.

  17. Anonymous - Oct 14, 2011 at 3:22 PM

    Now you have identified the problem. Here are the main offenders: Player K's %K's per ABDesmond: 139 .238 Espionoa: 166 .289Werth: 160 .285Morse: 126 .241(Much better second half) Do you expect this to get better or do you make changes? No easy answers.

  18. Anonymous - Oct 14, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    Solution: Get a new Hitting Coach. Since Rick Eckstein took over three years ago, almost every offensive category has gotten worse each year. It seemed in most of the written articles about the Nats in the last month of the baseball season, it said that DJ was giving hitting advice to the players and that some of the players were seeking him out for advise, with no mention of Eckstein.

  19. alexva - Oct 14, 2011 at 3:48 PM

    "Do you expect this to get better or do you make changes? No easy answers"I think you have to make changes in the case of Desi/Espi. You can have one or the other in the lineup since they do bring some power but the other must be a contact hitter.Werth will improve a little, Morse maybe. Those two bring enough otherwise.

  20. Another_Sam - Oct 14, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    In the poll a few days ago regarding what does the club need — to me the answer is clear: more big bats inthe lineup.

  21. JamesFan - Oct 14, 2011 at 4:23 PM

    Big bats are not the problem. We have plenty of power. What we don't do is hit the ball enough. Few sac fly runs, few runners moved over, too few hard hit balls causing the defense to error. I think a first class, former ML exceptional hitter as a hitting coach would help Espi and Desi and possibly others. Eck is not the answer to get this offense moving.

  22. Anonymous - Oct 14, 2011 at 4:25 PM

    Rendon and Harper will help at some point, but next year the team appears set at most positions. So 2012 will be another year of 3 run baseball games.

  23. Bubs - Oct 14, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    If those hitting stats don't point out the dire need for a new hitting coach, then I don't know what does. Getting rid of Riok Eckstein is proving more difficult than getting rid of Jim Bowden. Just about about every other major league team that had bad hitting stats this past season has fired their hitting coach, but not the Nationals.

  24. Anonymous - Oct 14, 2011 at 4:38 PM

    Yes, the Nats ranked 7th in home runs in the NL, which looks respectable, but bear in mind that just about every dinger was a solo job. Solo homers don't win games, three run homers do. I agree, Eckstein has no business returning next season but he will because he is Rizzo's lap dog.

  25. #4 - Oct 14, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    The takeaway is that the Nats need more good players – either through improvement of existing ones or replacements. This isn't really shocking news. The debate should be about whether we think the young guys will get better or plateau and which old guys should be replaced. Here's one suggestion: trade Peacock or Milone for Brett Gardner or Dexter Fowler.#4

  26. Eugene in Oregon - Oct 14, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    Since we're looking at comparative stats, it's also worth noting that league-wide offensive averages have been trending downwards (along with various measures of pitching, but with pitching stats down tends to be a positive direction) in recent years.Over the past six years, the NL-average slash line has gone:2006: .265/.334./.427 (OPS .761)2007: ,266/.334/.423 (.757)2008: .260/.331/.413 (.744)2009: .259/.331/.409 (.739)2010: .255/.324/.399 (.723)2011: .253/.319/.391 (.710)Runs scored per game were down to 4.13 per NL team in 2011 (from 4.76 in 2006).This is not to excuse or minimize the Nats' hitting woes, but simply to note — as Mark'd alluded to in a slightly different context — that all these numbers have to be considered comparatively. This also applies to individuals. Morse's .303/.360/.550 may not seem as impressive to someone whose point of reference is 1999 or 2000 (when league-wide averages were much higher in every category and teams were averaging five runs a game), but it's huge by 2011 standards (as evidenced by Morse finishing in the top ten in a number of individual offensive categories).Similarly, as we all evaluate prospective acquisitions, we should be looking at their 2011 numbers in the context of the lower averages, not comparing them to a late-1990s/early-2000s standard. In these terms, some of the potential free agents or trade targets who names are being bandied about look a bit better than I had initially thought.

  27. Steve M. - Oct 14, 2011 at 5:32 PM

    Anonymous said… Solution: Get a new Hitting Coach. Since Rick Eckstein took over three years ago, almost every offensive category has gotten worse each year. It seemed in most of the written articles about the Nats in the last month of the baseball season, it said that DJ was giving hitting advice to the players and that some of the players were seeking him out for advise, with no mention of Eckstein. October 14, 2011 11:27 AM I noticed Mark McGwire finally getting some recognition last night during the telecast for his work as a hitting coach. Rarely do you see hitting coaches get credit. It isn't like hitting coaches walk to the batter's box like pitching coaches make visits to the mound. They are usually as unknown as the bench coaches until something goes wrong.You always wonder, is it the pupil or is it the teacher? I think it has to be a little bit of both in the case of the Nats. Eckstein has done great work with Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse. They are great pupils. Who else has gotten better or worse than where they started?Two players that come to mind were Espinosa and Ramos who hit prolonged slumps. Also it seemed anyone who got put in leadoff went into a slump with the exception of Ian Desmond and much of that is credited to Davey Johnson.

  28. NatsJack in Florida - Oct 14, 2011 at 5:34 PM

    Why is it so hard for the same anonymous poster to understand that as long as Davey Johnson is calling the field shots, Rick Eckstein WILL BE the teams hitting coach. Davey is the sole reason Rick was hired by the Nats.

  29. baseballswami - Oct 14, 2011 at 5:39 PM

    In the first half of the season we at least scratched out a few runs with small ball. Johnson absolutely refuses to "give up outs" at all in any situation. Not saying you use sacrificing all the time , just saying you have to be willing to use it sometimes, especially when your team has trouble scoring runs. All good teams do it. Look forward to more of waiting for the big hit that may or may not come. Sometimes the manufactured runs are the ones that make the difference in the game.

  30. Anonymous - Oct 14, 2011 at 5:59 PM

    Strikeouts aren't the big issue for the team. This article details how strikeouts aren't bad if you bring other things to the plate. http://riveraveblues.com/2010/01/what-do-strikeout-totals-tell-us-about-offensive-performance-22897/When you look down the list, the guys with the high strikeout rates like Morse, Espi and Werth are actually creating the most runs for the team despite the strikeout rates. The reason the strikeouts aren't hurting these guys is because they are going other things well, mainly getting on base at a high percentage. Yes strikeouts are bad (any outs are bad) and we would love for the team to cut down, but you have to look at the whole picture not just strikeouts.Name K% wOBA  wRC+Michael Morse 21.90% 0.387 147Ryan Zimmerman 16.60% 0.347 119Wilson Ramos 17.50% 0.332 109Danny Espinosa 25.20% 0.325 104Jayson Werth 24.70% 0.323 103Laynce Nix 23.40% 0.321 101Jerry Hairston 12.60% 0.321 101Roger Bernadina 18.70% 0.303 89Jonny Gomes 29.00% 0.301 88Rick Ankiel 23.10% 0.294 83Ian Desmond 21.80% 0.29 80Ivan Rodriguez 20.40% 0.265 63Alex Cora 13.40% 0.259 59Adam LaRoche 20.90% 0.258 58Chris Marrero 23.10% 0.251 53From http://www.fangraphs.com/winss.aspx?team=Nationals&pos=all&stats=bat&qual=100&type=8&season=2011&month=0&season1=2011

  31. Feel Wood - Oct 14, 2011 at 6:01 PM

    Johnson absolutely refuses to "give up outs" at all in any situation. Not saying you use sacrificing all the time , just saying you have to be willing to use it sometimes, especially when your team has trouble scoring runs.Don't confuse Davey saying he doesn't like to do something – such as "give up outs" – with him refusing to ever do it. There are plenty of instances where he sacrificed, hit and ran, etc, when the situation demanded it. In general, it's much better to pay attention to what managers do instead of pigeonholing them based on what they say.

  32. Wally - Oct 14, 2011 at 6:22 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said…Why is it so hard for the same anonymous poster to understand that as long as Davey Johnson is calling the field shots, Rick Eckstein WILL BE the teams hitting coach. Davey is the sole reason Rick was hired by the Nats.NatsJack – can you elaborate on that? I agree that he is coming back because Davey likes him, but I thought that Eckstein was in our organization before Davey was a consultant. But maybe I am wrong.My take on the question of 'is it the teacher or the pupil', I don't think that the hitting instructor has that big of an influence. These guys have all developed their own style from a young age and had obvious success to even reach the pros. Unless their careers are in jeopardy, I think that they would be reluctant to change anything significantly on the advice of a hitting coach. I am just guessing here, but I think a hitting coach primarily helps them understand opposing pitcher tendencies and maybe looks for things that the batter is doing differently from past periods, especially past periods of success.

  33. Wally - Oct 14, 2011 at 6:32 PM

    My other reaction to Mark's article is different from most posters: I don't think that we should necessarily assume that our pitching performance will hold steady or improve. I think that we got a sizable amount of decent innings in 2011 from guys that aren't coming back (Marquis, Livo and maybe Wang) or may not replicate it (Detwiler, Peacock and Milone). Collectively that is about 400 innings of FIP less than 4, maybe even closer to 3.75.Now, getting about 130 more innings out of Stras is clearly going to help. And overall, I feel good about the pitching, but I wouldn't just assume that we replicate it and would still argue that another quality starter should be one of the offseason priorities.

  34. JamesFan - Oct 14, 2011 at 6:44 PM

    A year ago I thought that strikeouts did not matter. After watching the Nats for a year, I have completely changed my view. Why? Because I watched one potential rally after another killed by strikeouts when we could have scored with a fly ball, a runner would have been in scoring position if someone had hit it almost anywhere. When the infield is in, strikeouts kill and on and on. Not buying the "out is an out" philosophy any more.

  35. Steve M. - Oct 14, 2011 at 7:18 PM

    Here's what I find interesting that some of the same people that are upset seeing all the strikeouts would welcome BJ Upton as their CF. Well, BJ Upton is a strikeout machine and he's been in the league 7 years which is a lot longer than Espinosa and Desmond.Last year BJ Upton struck out 161 times which would make him 2nd on the Nationals although he appeared in 5 less games than Danny Espinosa so they would almost be tied for Strikeouts per Plate Appearance.

  36. baseballswami - Oct 14, 2011 at 7:38 PM

    I think that Danny Espinosa will improve this year – his rookie year was great defensively and his home runs broke a record for our team that had been set by none other than ryan zimmerman. No reason to think he does not have a high ceiling. Desi improved his defense and then when he got moved to lead-off improved there, too. As long as we see forward progress then I think we are going to see even more. Werth should regain form, LaRoche couldn't be much worse. But a lot of guys that hit the long ball strike out a lot — Adam Dunn in almost every year, even when he was hitting along with striking out. What I hate is the called third strike right down the middle – looking. Do we have any backwards K stats? Very frustrating.

  37. Steve M. - Oct 14, 2011 at 7:52 PM

    baseballswami said… In the first half of the season we at least scratched out a few runs with small ball. Johnson absolutely refuses to "give up outs" at all in any situation. Not saying you use sacrificing all the time , just saying you have to be willing to use it sometimes, especially when your team has trouble scoring runs. All good teams do it. Look forward to more of waiting for the big hit that may or may not come. Sometimes the manufactured runs are the ones that make the difference in the game. October 14, 2011 1:39 PM Davey is a big inning guy. That is his philosphy and in the last few weeks of the season, the team started producing towards that. Riggleman played small ball/smart ball and it worked for him.You can win under many different management philosophies.

  38. Jim in MD - Oct 14, 2011 at 7:57 PM

    Nats Jack: Very good point. As long as Davey Johnson is the manager, Eckstein will have a job. Wally: Eckstein was in the dugout before Johnson took over, but those two go way back. Eckstein was the hitting coach when Johnson managed the U.S. Olympic team.

  39. Scooter - Oct 14, 2011 at 7:57 PM

    NI commenters, bringin' it with the reasonable. Good work, team. A big thanks to Constant Reader for doing the NL ranks — those usually take longer to compile than I think they will.I think I had something else to say, but I forgot it.

  40. Mark'd - Oct 14, 2011 at 8:06 PM

    Can't Davey adjust his managerial style to play some small ball when JZim and Strasburg are pitching. One extra run can be all they need. I saw to many great starts become losses when the big innings didn't materialize.Hopefully the Nats can get an Alex Gordon type to lead off or to bat 6th to push across more runs.That RISP stat tells me that there were to many missed opportunities.

  41. Steve M. - Oct 14, 2011 at 8:37 PM

    Eugene, the drops in OPS year over year is incredible. I wonder when it will stabilize or increase.For the Nats, the HRs are a pleasant surprise and as someone mentioned, too many were solo.Mark'd, I agree the BA w/ RISP has to improve. I think the batters have to walk up to the plate with a plan. These leadoff and 2 hole BA/OBP numbers have to improve. 1st .226/ .285 2nd .222/ .283

  42. Wally - Oct 14, 2011 at 9:08 PM

    I think that asking a team to have a better BA with RISP than they do BA overall is a tough proposition. I know that it happens, but I think it has a randomness to it, and that planning for it is risky business. BA=BA with RISP? Sure, and we were below that in 2011, so I can see the point there. (I could try to argue that there should naturally be a slight decline in BA w/ RISP because at least half the time (late in games) you are probably facing a high leverage, rested reliever than a tired SP, but I don't think that it is a huge difference).But I wonder how many PAs we had with RISP, and how that compared around the league. I couldn't figure out how to find this on Fangraphs or B-R, nor did I see it referred above (although I think it is merely a different way to express Gonat's point in his repost). More opportunities should lead to more runs. I guess the conclusion is the same as many of you are making – get higher OBP hitters.Jim in MD – thanks, I didn't know that.

  43. Gonat - Oct 15, 2011 at 12:09 AM

    Good reading and a lot of work went into compiling the different stats.I expect that the combination of Eckstein/Davey working with hitters will have a continued positive effect from what we saw mid-August on.From what I understand, Davey gave off-season instructions to some of the players on different areas to concentrate on. Flores and Ramos are both playing in the Venezuelan Winter League and have areas of improvement to work on.

  44. Tim - Oct 15, 2011 at 1:54 AM

    I dig all these stats and, yes, we need to hit better, but let's just BEAT FLORIDA! We go 10-8 vs the Marlins insted of 7-11 and we finish 83-78.

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