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Who gets the final bullpen spot?

Mar 4, 2013, 11:00 AM EDT

USA Today Sports Images
Fernando Abad is surprisingly in the mix for the final bullpen spot.

It was perhaps the only spot on the Nationals' 25-man roster that was undecided when camp opened three weeks ago, but even then the options were pretty clear: The final man in the Opening Day bullpen would be Henry Rodriguez if healthy; if not, it would be either lefty Bill Bray or right-hander Christian Garcia.

Nearly halfway through spring training, that spot remains very much up for grabs, except now there's no telling who will emerge from the pack after a combination of injuries and demotions has thrown a wrench into the Nationals' plans.

Yesterday's first round of cuts eliminated three left-handers from big-league camp: Bray, veteran Will Ohman and spring training invitee Brandon Mann. Which, on the surface, would seem to further emphasize the likelihood of the Nationals' opening the season without a traditional, lefty specialist in their bullpen.

Just one problem: The right-handers contending for that spot haven't seen any game action yet due to injuries.Read more »

  1. Positively Half St. - Mar 4, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    I didn't. It would have been a bad bet.

  2. Doc - Mar 4, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    If his '3 inning arm' is impressive, it must be doing something that it didn't do for the Astros over the last three years.

  3. Joe Seamhead - Mar 4, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Joe Seamhead - Mar 4, 2013 at 12:29 PM

    Though he 's a RH, Erik Davis has been pretty impressive in his limited chances also. He has virtually no chance to be one of the 25 to go north, but he is looking like he has a ML future.

  5. Section 222 - Mar 4, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    And now the moment you've all been waiting for — the last installment of Harper Hustle Runs 2012. Whew! September (plus the last three games of the regular season in October ) was far and away Harper's best month of the season at the plate. In 31 games, his slashline was .330/.400/.643!! He had 8 doubles, 3 triples, 7 homeruns and 14 RBI. Those are serious MVP-caliber numbers if he's ever able to match them over the course of a season. And it was a banner hustle month too. I count 12 runs that can be attributed to the way he plays the game, which FP started to call the "run till they tag you" offense. That's a total of 48 runs this year produced not with his power but with his hustle. I started this project with a hypothesis that Harper's style of play is not just flashy and exciting, but also influences the outcomes of games. I think the highlights I’ve collected in the last week prove that hypothesis quite convincingly. So here's my take on Harper's magical September:Sept. 1 vs. STL – In the first inning of that wild Saturday afternoon game on Fox, Harper bloops a hit into shallow left field and stretches it into a double. Zim grounds out to short (Harper holding at 2nd), but then ALR hits a sharp single to right and Harper races home. (The sequence starts at 1:25.)Sept. 3 vs. CHC – Harper singles to right and then scores all the way from first on Zim’s ground double down the left field line. Start watching the condensed game at 7:23 for the whole sequence, including a nice running catch by Harper in the top of the inning. Sept. 4 vs. CHC – Harper sat out this game, in which the Nats hit 6 homers, until the 7th inning. When I read the play by play description –double to LF (fly ball to deep LF line)/Wild Pitch; Harper to 3B/ Single to RF (Line Drive to Short CF-RF); Harper Scores — I figured no hustle would be involved. But check out the “wild pitch.” It’s a ball in the dirt that is nicely blocked by the catcher, but Harper goes to 3rd anyway, just avoiding the tag. Werth’s single to right might have brought him home from 2nd, but that would have been a hustle run too, so it counts. (The sequence starts at 13:19.)September to be continued in the next comment.

  6. Section 222 - Mar 4, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    More September hustle:Sept. 6 vs. CHC – Ok, revisiting this one game has made the many hours I’ve spent on this project worthwhile. Fresh off a game in which he had no hustle runs, but two homers, Harper had perhaps his most productive hustle game of the year. First, he comes up in the bottom of the 1st with the Nats trailing 1-0. He hits a drive to left center, and legs out triple. Watch on the replay how he’s off to races as soon as he hits the ball and never breaks stride until he slides head first into third. He only has four pitches to rest before, Zim hits the ball back to the pitcher just off the mound on the third base side. The pitcher checks Harper at third before throwing over to first, only Harper takes off for home as soon as he turns his back, and scores. he hustled into 2nd when Soriano couldn’t handle his blooper into short left center field. (Start video at 4:59.) How many major leaguers would have jogged down the line after hitting what looked off the bat like an easily catchable pop fly? But he didn’t end up scoring, Then with two outs in the 4th, and runners on 1st and 2nd, Harper pokes the ball towards the hole between short and third and beats out an infield hit. (The sequence starts at 6:50.) Watch as the rushed throw gets away, allowing a run to score and Harper to get to 2nd. Harper then scores from second on Zim’s single, for the third run in this game attributable to his hustle.Sept. 16 vs. ATL — Harper had quite a dry spell here, nine games between Sept. 6 and Sept. 19 in which his hustle didn't produce a single run, I thought show one reason why. He scored the Nats’ only run in this game against the Braves, but there just wasn’t any hustle involved. He hit a ground rule double (play starts at 4:11), advanced to 3rd on a groundout by ALR, and scored on Desmond’s single. Watch the replay though and see if you can decipher what he says as he motors into 2nd, unhappy either that the ball didn’t get out of the park on a fly, or, more likely, because he wasn’t able to stretch the hit into a triple. Wait, I thought he doesn’t curse…. Sept. 19 vs. LAD — In the first game of a doubleheader, Harper smokes the ball through the right side of the infield and it’s hit so hard it goes all the way to the wall in right center. Harper, of course, is thinking triple all the way, though as FP notes, he makes the decision as he rounds second with a last glance at the outfield. Watch also how Kemp hurries his throw when picks up the ball at the base of the wall. Zimmerman follows with a ground ball to to the second baseman and Harper comes in to score.More on September in the next comment.

  7. Section 222 - Mar 4, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    And still more Harper hustle in September:Sept. 19 vs. LAD – In the nightcap, Josh Beckett has as two hitter going through seven innings and the Dodgers lead 6-0, but the Nats mount a furious comeback in the 8th. Harper comes up with three runs already in and men on first and third with one out. He hits a slow chopper to the left side and beats it out for an infield hit. (The sequence starts at 11:53.)A run scores on the play, which is not attributable to his hustle. Espi hits a single to move Harper to second and load the bases. And then after a strikeout, which would have been the last out of the inning had Harper been out at first, Morse shoots a single into right field, scoring DeRosa from third and Harper from second. So that’s two more runs resulting from Harper’s hustle, for a total of three for the day.Sept. 20 vs. LAD – Werth leads off the third inning with a single, and Harper hits the ball sharply to the first baseman who starts what would have been a 3-6-1 double play except Harper beats the throw to first. Zimmerman follows with a double to the base of the wall in the left center and Harper races around to score. (The sequence starts at 1:34.)Sept. 22 vs. MIL – Harper hits a opposite field double down the line to score Werth. He then takes a bit too big of a secondary lead drawing a pickoff throw from the catcher. Instead of diving back to second, he just takes off for third and steals the base rather easily. Great call from Carp and FP. But Harper then scores on a double by ALR into the right field corner, so I’m not counting this as a hustle run. Nonetheless, it’s great highlight, so check out the video. Sept. 24 vs. MIL – In the bottom of the first, he beats out a swinging bunt down the third base line, advances to second on a walk, and then with two out he takes off for third on an 0-2 pitch. The catcher’s throw sails into left field and Harper scores. (Sequence starts at 0:39 with a nice running catch for the third out in the top of the inning.) Harper’s infield hit turns out to be the only hit in the inning.One last hustle run and some final thoughts in the next comment.

  8. Section 222 - Mar 4, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    Here’s the last Harper hustle run of the regular season: Sept. 25 vs. PHI – With one out and Suzuki at second, Harper grounds a single up the middle, driving in a run. Watch as he never breaks stride towards second as soon as he sees the center fielder launch a throw towards home. He would have been safe easily, even if the 1st baseman had been able to cut the throw off. Zimmerman then hits single to short left field, and Harper scores easily. (The sequence starts at 8:26.)We all know that Harper did not have a great postseason, except for game 5. He had no hustle runs as far as I can tell. But a review of his work product during the regular season has only convinced me even more than I already was that we are going to be watching a true superstar for the next several seasons at Nats Park. How cool is that?As always, I welcome your comments, and I hope you've enjoyed reliving some of this season's best moments in the linked highlights. And thanks to Mark (and any of you who found this tedious and thought "why don't you start your own blog like NL??") for indulging me in this space.

  9. Gonat - Mar 4, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    Sect222, your research on the Bryce Harper Heart & Hustle is excellent. Thanks for all the time you put into that!

  10. Section 222 - Mar 4, 2013 at 12:55 PM

    Here's a corrected link for the second Sept. 6 highlight.

  11. Court Swift - Mar 4, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    I think Chris Young will get the final spot as the RH long man. That would allow Stammen to be used situationally and would prevent Young from opting out. The Nats need Young as insurance for the rotation and Rizzo loves his 'inventory'. I believe HRod will be put on the DL to start the year and Abad will go to AAA to prove himself. Let's not forget the Ballad of Jesse English – lights out in the Spring; demoted, never to return, by the end of April. Spring Training is too small of a sample size (without much of a track record) to draw many conclusions.

  12. Doc - Mar 4, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    Secton 222 I particularly have enjoyed your past September review of Boy Wonder. It's his September stats that project an awesome 2013, as opposed to Baseball Prospectus and their projections of a mediocre year for Harps.They again these are the same clowns that say the Nats will win 88 games and the Yanks will will 92 in the coming season.Thanks again for your incredible efforts!

  13. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Mar 4, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    Yes, thanks Deuces. Great work.

  14. NatsLady - Mar 4, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    As most "regular" readers know, I've been tracking the lefties. As of now, IF Davey wants a "lefty specialist," I would agree Abad has a strong chance. Remember Davey himself said he wanted to see the guy again. Bray still has a chance, too, if he can straighten out his arm slot in a "less stressful" situation (i.e., minor-league camp). However, that's a big IF. St. Louis got within one game of the WS with only one lefty in their bullpen. Agree Erik Davis looks good for the future–that's why the Nats protected him from the Rule 5 draft, and so far, that decision looks right. Here are grades as of 3/3, with various quotes…Leftieshttp://ladyandthenats.blogspot.com/2013/02/lefties-for-hire-as-of-332013.html

  15. NatsLady - Mar 4, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    222, great work, lots of wonderful memories there!

  16. sjm308 - Mar 4, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    It really is way too early to speculate on this. I think if Cole Kimball keeps pounding the strike zone for the rest of spring training he would be my choice. I remember him being almost dominant before his injury and would give us another power arm in the bullpen. Stammen, Mattheus, Kimball, Storen, Clippard and Soriano all throwing heat and hopefully all throwing strikes and hopefully holding the few runners on that are allowed. Here we come!!!Go Nats!

  17. sjm308 - Mar 4, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    222: when your work from the last 3 days is sent to the printer and bound, how much will you be selling it for on Amazon? Seriously, great work and thanks for all those memories (hey, that might make a good song title "Thanks for the memories. Of Bryce rounding first base, the eye black on his face, his pounding feet, his helmet gone the cheering and the race. Thank you so much. If you don't remember Bob Hope then his went way over your head.)

  18. sjm308 - Mar 4, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    "then this"

  19. UnkyD - Mar 4, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    Echoing the plaudits, for 222…did I miss the season total, on Harp's Hustle and Heart Value (runs, as well as wins)?And, I'll be shocked, if nobody's posted this before, but here's 222's walk-up music:http://youtu.be/-MLkofLSYZs

  20. Uncle Atom - Mar 4, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    Thanks again 222. SJM, nice verse – I for one do remember Bob Hope and his song

  21. Drew - Mar 4, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    Abad looks intriguing and I always liked Kimball.I'd prefer an empty chair to Henry Rodriguez.

  22. Faraz Shaikh - Mar 4, 2013 at 2:06 PM

    Sec222, great work. I can spend all day watching those clips.Court swift has a point. I can see Nats trying to hold onto Young, if they trust their righties to get lefties out and Abad has an option for minor leagues.anyways nice to see that is the only spot left to be filled unlike previous seasons.

  23. NatsLady - Mar 4, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    Here is a story you won't want to read (but probably should).Dominican sweatshophttp://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/03/baseball-dominican-system-yewri-guillen?slide=0

  24. NCNatsie - Mar 4, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    What a great blog this is. 222 — we're lucky to get to read your in-depth study, and NatsLady is doing some outstanding work. And 308 gives us a nice little jingle that takes us old guys back to pleasant times in which, however, we would have had to buy a subscription to the Sporting News or some such to read the quality of analysis we read daily on NI and NL blogs.Heading to Viera for the weekend. Will report.

  25. Candide - Mar 4, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. Candide - Mar 4, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    Great work, 222. There's no doubt in my mind that we're looking at an all-time great in the making, barring (God forbid) an injury-riddled career.I think you said somewhere the Nats scored 46 runs because of Harper Hustle (HH). That's an amazing statistic; it means roughly five percent of the team's runs scored because, and ONLY because ONE MAN played his heart out.Not to put a damper on it, but did you happen to catch how many times Harper's hustle led to his being put out on the basepaths? For example, thrown out trying to stretch a sure double into a triple, etc.? I'm sure not remotely often enough to complain, but you have to factor in costs as well as benefits, just as you have to factor in a runner's caught-stealings in his total stolen base attempts.But again, terrific work.

  27. DaveB - Mar 4, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    From Ladson ..Asked how he is doing in camp, Walters said, "Overall, the biggest thing I'm trying to do is just work hard, blend in and kind of be a wallflower and not stick out too much. I don't need [Jayson] Werth, [Adam] LaRoche and those older guys barking at my neck. I'll work hard, see what I can do and then progress."Expected Werth to be barking at the youngsters, but good (and surprising) to hear LaRoche mentioned as one of the leaders in keeping the camp in line and working hard.

  28. JaneB - Mar 4, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    Love it 222. DON'T love it, NatsLady…but still glad I read your link on the DR…

  29. NatsLady - Mar 4, 2013 at 2:45 PM

    JaneB, I always wonder when I read these stories how much the reporter is aiming for dramatic effect. But it still doesn't put the Nats in a good light.

  30. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 4, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    DaveB, that's good to hear about the Veterans. Section 222, keep it up!

  31. Theophilus T. S. - Mar 4, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    My recollection of Young is that he goes to a lot of long counts. Also, his 6'10" doesn't translate into holding runners on base very well. Not the best credentials for a reliever. Also, being the long/mop up guy won't get him very many innings in April. I hope they're able to keep him but I don't how they'll get it done; there've got to be 5-6 teams for whom he could start.

  32. Tcostant - Mar 4, 2013 at 3:24 PM

    Garcia now seems like a major long shot. Even if gets back sooner, he likely won't get the reps needed to make the team.http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/nationals-journal/wp/2013/03/03/christian-garcia-could-miss-opening-day-with-partial-tear-in-forearm-tendon/

  33. Section 222 - Mar 4, 2013 at 3:45 PM

    Thanks for all the good wishes my virtual friends. Much appreciated. sjm — I'll bet if I ever did try to sell this tome on Amazon, mlb.com would probably come after me or zap my links, which would make it much less enjoyable to read I'm sure. However, if anyone has ideas of other places where I might post it, I'm open to that.Candide — I came up with a total of 48 hustle runs:Apr/May — 8June — 7July — 13August — 8Sept/Oct — 12Most of them were runs he scored. When I have a chance, I'll go back and total the other runs I think should be attributed to his hustle, but it's probably about 5. He scored a total of 98 runs in the 139 games he played, so nearly half were hustle related. That's pretty amazing.It's an overstatement though to say that these runs were due ONLY to him, or his hustle. In many cases, one of his teammates had to get the hit that sent him off to the races, or drove him in after he went first to third. But certainly quite a few were Harper's work alone. The steal of home is the best known example, but hopefully you've seen some others along the way. He's a game changer, and you can't say that about all that many players. And we've already seen how his play has influenced his teammates, which may be the most significant thing.Your point about factoring in instances where his aggressive baserunning let him and the team down is a good one. I understand that the UBR rating that TeddyR noted includes that, and Harper's baserunning is only rated about average as a result. I guess if you looked at every play where he made an out at a base other than 1st you could assess whether he was overly aggressive. I saw what looked like 3 or 4 such plays in the course of my research, but I haven't gone looking for more (and I'm not likely to :-) )And, of course, there's a second part of the analysis. Just as I couldn't credit Harper with a hustle run if the Nats didn't score, you can't assume that every time he was caught stealing or trying to stretch a single into a double that he would have scored if he had played it safe. I don't think UBR has a way of assessing that either. I have a few thoughts about UBR that I'll share later today. Suffice it to say that I don't think the folks that calculate that stat actually look at the plays, so it's really a different kind of analysis than what I did. As Ghost and others have noted, not everything that Harper does is reflected in the box score.

  34. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 4, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/nationals-journal/wp/2013/03/04/what-kurt-suzuki-looks-for-when-he-prepares-for-an-opponent/A really good read and you can see how Suzuki approaches the game in analyzing what he calls 10 game tendencies.I find that interesting as I call a season 16x 10 game trends in the "what have you done for me lately".Most batters don't make big changes in-season as the changes are more subtle and usually a factor of seeing the ball better at certain times. Those 10 game tendencies, good & bad, are a key in seeing what's working.

  35. JD - Mar 4, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    Nats Lady,That's a really sad story. I don't think it's necessarily an indictment of the Nationals as much as it is the overall approach of MLB toward young baseball players in Latin America and particularly in the DR. I think there needs to be a way to make sure that prospects are treated equally whether they come from Florida or San Pedro de Macoris.

  36. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 4, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/article_f1eaafe3-f08b-5a5b-9f23-e5c69d43a64c.htmlYou may not like the Cardinals however Stan Musial was a class act and can spot talent even if it is a Washington National or 2.

  37. Candide - Mar 4, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    Section 222 said… It's an overstatement though to say that these runs were due ONLY to him, or his hustle.Is it? I wasn't trying to say that Harper scored all those runs himself, or that no one else helped make them happen by driving him in, etc.What I was saying is that likely NONE of them would have happened without Harper's full-throttle, balls-to-the-wall play. So I stand by my statement that those runs scored ONLY because of his hustle.Forty-eight runs… that's about eight games' worth of runs. Wow. Never take your eyes off the field when he isn't in the dugout.

  38. tayo - Mar 4, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    Right Now, it seems to be between Abbad and Kimball. whoever impresses the most at the end of spring probably wins the job with the slight edge going to Abbad if they both impress equally, because he is a lefty. This could change if either HRod or Garcia get healthy enough before opening day not to be put on the Dl.Nate Karns has impressed so far, but I know if he is quite ready for the majors even as just a reliever. Moreover, I would much rather prefer the Nats keep developing him as a Starting Pitching prospect in AA.Could Rizzo possibly offer Chris Young the last spot as a relief pitcher just to preserve/ensure that Starting Pitching depth.? Would he even be open to the idea and could he succeed as a relief pitcher. I think he can with the way he confounds hitters and gets them to swing and miss with his average fastball. This would mean having 3 long relievers which I am not so sure we need.

  39. peric - Mar 4, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    Today Davey gets to beat everyone at scratch golf.

  40. peric - Mar 4, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    You may not like the Cardinals however Stan Musial was a class act and can spot talent even if it is a Washington National or 2.That Cardinals announcer was too drunk to spot anything …

  41. peric - Mar 4, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    And 222 you need to start a blog like Natslady has done.

  42. Laddie Blah Blah - Mar 4, 2013 at 4:33 PM

    "It really is way too early to speculate on this. I think if Cole Kimball keeps pounding the strike zone for the rest of spring training he would be my choice."Me, too. He reminds me of Truck Farrell, Don Drysdale and Bob Gibson. With him, it's personal.

  43. peric - Mar 4, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    Could Rizzo possibly offer Chris Young the last spot as a relief pitcher just to preserve/ensure that Starting Pitching depth.?Stammen would have to lose his job and get sent to the minors. Its short relievers like Abad, HRod, etc. not starters. Young either goes to AAA or gets his release. Stammen either makes the club as the 2nd long guy or goes to AAA that is how is goes.

  44. peric - Mar 4, 2013 at 4:37 PM

    I'm waiting to see how Davey works Tyler Moore into the lineup more. He's the Beast's replacement. Not Span.

  45. Laddie Blah Blah - Mar 4, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    Very disappointed in the way the Nats handled the Yewry Guillen matter, especially by taking advantage of an aggrieved family to eliminate any legal liability for his death. No wonder lawyers have the low reputation that they continue to reaffirm by what they did in that case.

  46. Section 222 - Mar 4, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    UnkyD — Thanks for that walkup music. Boy, talk about feeling old. I chose the opening bars of Baba O'Reilly as my primary walkup music, but maybe I'll turn to the Room 222 theme when I'm in a slump.You can count me in the camp of Rizzo is going to figure out the bullpen somehow. I just doubt that in this World Series or Bust season for which he shelled out a draft pick and big bucks for Rafi Soriano, he's going to be satisfied with an unknown as the 7th guy. If Henry or Kimball isn't ready and reliable, look for a mid March signing or trade.

  47. peric - Mar 4, 2013 at 4:52 PM

    he's going to be satisfied with an unknown as the 7th guy. If Henry or Kimball isn't ready and reliable, look for a mid March signing or trade.He already did that and the guy's name is Soriano. So, no, that isn't going to happen unless he makes a deal with the Reds for a guy like say Aroldis Chapman. Then, yeah, I can see Rizzo jumping on that and attempting to convert him to a left-handed starter in AAA/AA. But the Reds would want too much.Given Davey's penchant for having enough lefties (see his quote about what he didn't like about his Dodgers roster) I suspect Abad as a legitimate shot. They've got plenty of veterans in the bullpen there is no reason not to take a chance on Abad given the sparse quantities of young lefty relievers that might be available out there.

  48. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 4, 2013 at 4:52 PM

    It wouldn't surprise me to see the Nats pulling in a reliever off of the waiver wire.

  49. peric - Mar 4, 2013 at 4:53 PM

    It wouldn't surprise me to see the Nats pulling in a reliever off of the waiver wire.Especially young ones with options. They probably could use some help in that area on the minor league side.

  50. JD - Mar 4, 2013 at 4:56 PM

    As of today I think it's Abad as well. I think Kimball needs to re-establish himself in the minors and I think both Garcia and Henry will start the season on the DL.

  51. Section 222 - Mar 4, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    Sorry, I meant, "he's not going to be satisfied with an unknown as the 7th guy." I also think Davey would like another lefty (I remember he was thrilled to have three when Gonzalez was picked up midseason last year.) Abad seems to have impressed, but I just don't think he's likely to end up in that 25th roster spot.

  52. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 4, 2013 at 4:59 PM

    The problem with giving the 7th spot to Bray is if he stumbles he has no MiLB options left and sending him down is complicated by the DFA rules. I think Rizzo would like to get him going in AAA and bring him up only when he is going well. Right now Bray is having issues with his mechanics.

  53. Section 222 - Mar 4, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    Oh, and if you think the Reds would even consider trading Chapman, you've been spending too much time with the tipsy Cards' announcer. :-)

  54. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 4, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    JD said… As of today I think it's Abad as well. I think minors and I think both Garcia and Henry will start the season on the DL. Kimball needs to re-establish himself in the March 04, 2013 11:56 AM Still 3 1/2 weeks away from Rizzo/Davey getting their 25th man.I don't think Garcia was ever in the equation given Rizzo wanting him as a starter.It was HenRod's spot to lose and now like you said the DL looks like where he will start.Abad looks like the 25th man right now.

  55. SCNatsFan - Mar 4, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    Remember we still have a spot on the 40 man open… Rizzo is just lying in wait for an arm to get cut loose

  56. blog - Mar 4, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    I just pinch myself thinking about how far the Nationals have come, to have 24 of 25 spots essentially spoken for before Spring Training even starts. That is one mark of a perennial championship contender.

  57. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 4, 2013 at 5:49 PM

    SCNatsfan, that's the point I was making at 11:52. There will be plenty of pitchers that will be cut loose and Rizzo is looking. Maybe Chad Cordero (wink)

  58. SCNatsFan - Mar 4, 2013 at 6:20 PM

    Unless that spot is reserved from the PTBNL for Morse

  59. Section 222 - Mar 4, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    In response to my Harper Hustle presentation, TeddyR pointed out that Fangraphs uses a stat called Ultimate Base Running, or UBR to measure the impact of a player’s baserunning. I hadn’t looked at this stat and am by no means a SABR expert. But I noticed a few things as I tried to figure out how Harper’s UBR for 2012 could be just average. Here’s a summary from Fangraphs:"Here are most of the situations where a base runner gets some kind of positive or negative credit. Obviously more than one base runner can get credit on any particular play.1) On a hit, advancing an extra base, not advancing an extra base, or getting thrown out trying to advance an extra base, as long as no other base runner is blocking an advance.2) A batter getting thrown out trying to advance an extra base on a hit (if he successfully does, we don’t know it, as he is simply awarded a double, for example, on a usual single where he advances an extra base).3) On a hit, the batter advancing, not advancing, or getting thrown out when a runner is safe or out advancing an extra base.4) Trailing runners advancing, not advancing or getting thrown out when a leading runner is safe or out trying to advance an extra base on a hit or an out. This is basically lumped together with #1 above.5) Runners trying to advance on fly ball outs – i.e. tagging up.6) As mentioned above, on ground balls to the infield, runners on first staying out of the force or DP at second base, whether the batter is out or is safe on a FC.7) Also as mentioned above, a runner on second advancing or not (or getting thrown out) on a ground ball hit to SS or 3B.Runners on third base advancing, not advancing, or getting thrown out at home on a ground ball are not considered (on air balls they are). Runner advances or outs on WP or PB are not considered either.All of these situations are considered an “opportunity” for the base runner or the batter (except when a batter gets a hit, he is not awarded an opportunity unless a leading runner tries to advance an extra base and the batter has an opportunity to advance on the throw)."Sorry about this, but the long quote from Fangraphs means my analysis of the stat and how it applies to the kinds of things that Harper does will have to come in the next comment.

  60. alexva - Mar 4, 2013 at 6:40 PM

    when they signed Sean West I wondered if he had potential for this role. for the eyes on the ground, is he even in the ML camp?

  61. Section 222 - Mar 4, 2013 at 6:41 PM

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  62. Section 222 - Mar 4, 2013 at 6:46 PM

    In response to my Harper Hustle presentation, TeddyR pointed out that Fangraphs uses a stat called Ultimate Base Running, or UBR to measure the impact of a player’s baserunning. I hadn’t looked at this stat before and am by no means a SABR expert. But I noticed a few things as I tried to figure out how Harper’s UBR for 2012 could be just average. This is from Fangraphs discussion of UBR:"Here are most of the situations where a base runner gets some kind of positive or negative credit. Obviously more than one base runner can get credit on any particular play.1) On a hit, advancing an extra base, not advancing an extra base, or getting thrown out trying to advance an extra base, as long as no other base runner is blocking an advance.2) A batter getting thrown out trying to advance an extra base on a hit (if he successfully does, we don’t know it, as he is simply awarded a double, for example, on a usual single where he advances an extra base).3) On a hit, the batter advancing, not advancing, or getting thrown out when a runner is safe or out advancing an extra base.4) Trailing runners advancing, not advancing or getting thrown out when a leading runner is safe or out trying to advance an extra base on a hit or an out. This is basically lumped together with #1 above.5) Runners trying to advance on fly ball outs – i.e. tagging up.6) As mentioned above, on ground balls to the infield, runners on first staying out of the force or DP at second base, whether the batter is out or is safe on a FC.7) Also as mentioned above, a runner on second advancing or not (or getting thrown out) on a ground ball hit to SS or 3B.Runners on third base advancing, not advancing, or getting thrown out at home on a ground ball are not considered (on air balls they are). Runner advances or outs on WP or PB are not considered either.All of these situations are considered an “opportunity” for the base runner or the batter (except when a batter gets a hit, he is not awarded an opportunity unless a leading runner tries to advance an extra base and the batter has an opportunity to advance on the throw)."Sorry about this, but the long quote from Frangraphs means I have to put my analysis of UBR and how it may shortchange Harper in my next comment.

  63. Section 222 - Mar 4, 2013 at 6:48 PM

    The first thing I noticed is that UBR appears to not take into account baserunning out of the batter’s box, except in a negative way. So if a batter gets thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double that counts against him, but if he slides into second under a tag, he gets no credit. I assume they do this because they are just reviewing box scores or game play by play summaries and as the stat summary notes, if he’s safe, he just gets a double. This is very significant for a player like Harper. Lots of the hustle runs I found resulted from his speed and aggressive approach after he hits the ball. Likewise, as far as I can tell, a runner on first gets credit for making it to second on a fielder’s choice, but a batter who legs out an infield hit or avoids a double play by beating the relay to first gets nothing. An all out dash to first when he hits a ground ball is a Harper specialty as well. Again, if you’re just looking at the play by play a single is a single, and grounding into a force out is simply grounding into a force out, but if you look at the replays you can tell the impact that Harper’s hustle has.Advancing on a wild pitch or a passed ball doesn’t help you either. Again, there’s no way of telling from the box score whether the runner could jog to the next base or had to run with his hair on fire. But of course, off target pitches only become wild pitches because a runner advanced. To take an extreme example, if the pitch goes over the catcher’s head but the ball bounces against the back wall right back to the catcher and the runners hold, that’s not a wild pitch. And some “wild pitches” are only pitches in the dirt combined with an especially aggressive runner’s dash to the next base. That’s what Harper did on Sept. 4. (Start watching at 13:30.) It led to a run, but I don’t think UBR captured it at all. Finally, if you score on a sac fly, you get credit (even if the fly ball is caught at the wall), but if you score from third on a groundball you don’t, (even if you do what Harper did on Sept. 6).In fact, the Sept. 6 sequence incorporates two of UBR’s shortcomings. Harper turned a double into a triple, then scored on a ground out, taking advantage of somewhat lazy effort to hold him at third. (Start watching at 1:05.) Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure he gets exactly diddly from UBR for that effort.So UBR seems like a very useful stat with a lot of value, and certainly it’s legitimate to try to take into account baserunning mistakes as well as baserunning successes. But by watching Harper’s highlights, a quite different picture emerges. The guy is not just an average baserunner in my opinion. He just isn’t. And now, out of deference to peric, I'm going to try to stop hogging the blog with this Harper stuff. Thanks for your indulgence.

  64. Unknown - Mar 4, 2013 at 7:01 PM

    Anybody, but Henry!

  65. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 4, 2013 at 7:12 PM

    Section222, I go with the eye test and Bryce Harper does things on the base paths that only a few MLBers dare to do.He got better on risking those doubles into triples also.Bryce raises the adrenaline level every time he steps onto the field. He is better than advertised.

  66. Section 222 - Mar 4, 2013 at 7:25 PM

    That's a good point Ghost. If someone were to take the time to do the analysis (and don't worry, it's not going to be me), I'll bet Harper's demerits on the basepaths decreased as the year went on. He began to trust his coaches more, and read the situations better. The triple against the Dodgers where he took a last glance over his right shoulder as he rounded second was a great example. In the category of things that don't show up in the boxscore are the huge secondary leads he takes, especially off second. That can pay huge dividends.

  67. Candide - Mar 4, 2013 at 7:55 PM

    Section 222 said……I'm going to try to stop hogging the blog with this Harper stuff.It ain't hogging when the stuff you post is original and interesting and fun.

  68. Doc - Mar 4, 2013 at 8:24 PM

    Keep on hoggin', Section 222!We all enjoy the ride!

  69. SlowPitch63 - Mar 4, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    222,Thank you so much.What fun!What a team!What a blog!Let's Play Two!

  70. peric - Mar 4, 2013 at 9:54 PM

    Yeah, I guess it depends …Honestly, although one might not be a rude as to call it 'hogging' you do need to get your own blog 222 and drop links to it here. Like many others do and now have done …Its not like folks won't try the link out. Plus with the various blog tools available you can clean up your output and refine the wording more. I'm sure Mark would give you a left-side gutter link. He's got at least three fairly worthless blogs (mostly people who hardly ever post and some post topics which are often not about baseball) that linger at the bottom.

  71. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Mar 4, 2013 at 10:46 PM

    Hog away, Deuces. Scrolling a few extra inches won't hurt anybody. It's not as if we pay by the column inch to read comments on a blog.

  72. natsfan1a - Mar 5, 2013 at 12:04 AM

    Eh, have to say that I tend to agree with Peric. But I've also been scrolling, so there's that.

  73. natsfan1a - Mar 5, 2013 at 12:06 AM

    No offense, 222.

  74. sm13 - Mar 5, 2013 at 12:37 AM

    Thank you 222. Your research and analysis of Bryce Hustle is a great read.

  75. hallwagner - Mar 5, 2013 at 2:47 PM

    correction, jeremy accardo has 262 games of big league experience

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