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Instant Analysis: Braves 3, Nats 1

Apr 13, 2013, 7:52 PM EST

Photo by USA Today

Game in a nutshell: Stephen Strasburg did not have his best stuff on Saturday and early on there was no question about it. But as an ace, he did his job in putting the Nationals in position to win. He threw six innings of inconsistent but effective ball, finishing the day with no earned runs. He did surrender a home run to Evan Gattis in the fourth inning, but the two runs were not earned because it happened after a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman. The Nats’ third baseman had his second error in as many games with a routine toss that missed first by a few feet. That allowed Justin Upton to get on in the fourth with two outs and set up Gattis’ homer. Atlanta put another run on the board in the ninth on a fielder's choice grounder by Jason Heyward, the Nats couldn't turn the double play and the runner at third came across.
Hitting highlight: The Nats had a long day at the plate facing the veteran Tim Hudson. Their one shining moment came in the fifth inning with a solo homer by Danny Espinosa. The Nats’ second baseman hit his first home run of the year and took the first pitch he saw in the at-bat. A nice sign of progress for the otherwise struggling Espinosa.

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  1. Gonat - Apr 13, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    Adam Kilgore‏ @AdamKilgoreWPNats lose, 3-1. For the second straight day, it hinged on a Zimmerman error. Nats scored 4 runs in the first 2 innings Friday. One since.

  2. Secret wasian man - Apr 13, 2013 at 7:59 PM

    The loss against Hudson is not anything new or that upsetting. However the error by Zimm and the constant people on base in the late innings is a major concern.

  3. Gonat - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:06 PM

    The Nats had the starters set up perfectly for this series and the starters have performed with 1 earned run over 2 games and it's the relievers and Zimmerman's fielding that let this team down and then you have the Braves who had bad starting pitching yesterday and good enough today but their bullpen and fielding were very good both games and that's the difference.

  4. DJB - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:07 PM

    The next two weeks will determine this season. I think we need to move, platoon, or bench Zimmerman. His career ops does not justify his treatment or the contract he received. His defense is now a liability, and we're stuck with his contract. Second, if the Braves are better, and I do believe they are considerably better as a team, then Rizzo should never have sat Stras last year. Rizzo strike two. Third, we didn't sign Burnett or a LOOGY and our bullpen is horrible. Rizzo strike three. He could have cost this town its first World Series in close to a hundred years. Hubris. Another Washington sports tragedy.

  5. Gonat - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:08 PM

    Amanda Comak ‏@acomakRe: Ramos, hamstring — that is a tough blow for the #Nats and for the catcher. He's worked so hard to get back after torn ACL last May._____________________________________Crap!

  6. NatsLady - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:09 PM

    Secret–agree. This one is easier to take than yesterday. Sometimes their Ace and their setup/closer are just working. A bit unfair to say the game "hinged" on the Zim error, but in a way it was fortuitous, allowing the bullpen a rest in a game we probably weren't winning anyway. I hope Zim is being honest with the medical staff about his shoulder (even if not honest in public). This reminds me of last spring before he started with the cortisone shots.

  7. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:10 PM

    If Rendon is as good as people say, maybe we should bring him up for a cup of coffee at 3rd base. If Moore is the 1st baseman of the future, that means we could move Ryan Zimmerman to 2nd base with its shorter throws and deal Espinosa, or otherwise, put Ryan on the market and see if we could get a couple of good lefties in return. Obviously, there is no room for Moore at 1st if Zimmerman plans to move there at some time in the future, but the throwing woes of the last 2 years are getting exasperating at 1st. They are beginning to look more Sax-like and less injury related.

  8. peric - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:11 PM

    I don't know who is worse Oriole fan Steve J or William O. Douglas Loeffler. Me thinks Steve might be smarter.

  9. peric - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:14 PM

    Nats lose, 3-1. For the second straight day, it hinged on a Zimmerman error. Nats scored 4 runs in the first 2 innings Friday. One since.Zim's errors seem glaring … but that is because THERE IS NO OFFENSE. This offense doesn't scare any major league pitcher. Its a offense that must manufacture runs to win and keep opponents's scores low by great defense and pitching. They need to getTyler Moore into the outfield to improve that.

  10. Gonat - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:16 PM

    I don't know about you Peric but I expected this to be a low scoring game with Hudson pitching.It all came down to that error as it would have ended the inning.

  11. Secret wasian man - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:16 PM

    William o just gets frustrated. I can relate. But he is a NATS fan all the way. Steve is just a hater. Who hates because he has to live in Bmore. I'd bet he's a raven fan also. I can smell the hate.

  12. DJB - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:17 PM

    I would be open to dealing Ryan Z., but whose going to take on that ludicrous contract? We can deal Espinosa for a LOOGY I would think.

  13. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:17 PM

    Who is to say that last year wasn't Strasburg's peak? I don't think it was, but one never knows. Look at Lincecum.I didn't understand the reasoning behind letting Sean Burnett go after all the time and money wasted on Wang, who never pitched decently until the WBC for Taiwan.I don't like all this stuff with Ryan Zimmerman because he has been a really decent guy and above average player, but I am not sure that he is even David Wright. We have one field player who appears to have the talent to be a Hall of Famer and who is idolized by the under 10 year old set. Beyond Harper and Strasburg, no one should be untouchable. There have been tons of guys who have had injuries rob their potential, but at some point, Zimmerman needs to get healthy and stop putting the Nats through this every year.

  14. peric - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:17 PM

    Ryan Zimmerman is a perennial gold-glove at first base. If he can play reasonably injury free he is one rung below the top elite impact hitters. He is very good. And no one else currently on the Nat's roster or in the minors is even close. I am betting Anthony Rendon might achieve that lofty place before Bryce mostly because he is a smarter, more refined, professional hitter. And he's not all about power like BHarp is. Tyler Moore has the potential to be another Morse-like presence in the lineup. Perhaps better than Willigham and Dunn at their height. Things aren't as bad as they seem.

  15. peric - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:18 PM

    And to first base Ryan should go as soon as it can be managed.

  16. peric - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:21 PM

    Let me know when someone says this about Machado or Harper in a year or two. By moving Zim to first base he might become even better offensively sans the plethora of injuries.Written by Dave Cameron of Fangraph's a couple of years ago before Zim's spate of injuries.A few weeks ago, I was asked the popular barstool argument question: if you could start a franchise with just one player – with contracts and dollars being irrelevant – who would it be? I’d guess that a lot of us have had that conversation more than once. It’s a fun topic to talk about.There are a few names that naturally get mentioned early on. Joe Mauer, Evan Longoria, and Hanley Ramirez are popular choices because they’re established stars and still in the earlier stages of their careers. Albert Pujols and Chase Utley get nominated for their sheer greatness, even though they’re already past their primes. Miguel Cabrera draws a mention from people who want to build around a premier young hitter. And then you’ll have the guy who likes pitching and brings up Tim Lincecum, Josh Johnson, Jon Lester, or Felix Hernandez.There’s one guy that never gets brought up, though, who might just be the best answer of them all: Ryan Zimmerman. He shares the spotlight with Adam Dunn and Stephen Strasburg in Washington, but given how good he has become at such a young age, his star should shine the brightest.Last year, Zimmerman had his breakout season, putting up a +6.6 win season that ranked as the ninth best in baseball. This year, he’s followed it up with a +6.0 win season so far, ranking second. Since the beginning of the 2009 season, only Albert Pujols has posted a better WAR than Zimmerman. He has become a complete all-around player, adding patience and power to an already impressive skillset.Because he came up at an early age and was just a good hitter rather than a great one out of the gates, his reputation has seemingly not yet caught up with his abilities. However, let’s just throw this out there:Rest-of-season ZiPS projections:Zimmerman: .289/.366/.526, .388 wOBALongoria: .276/.360/.519, .385 wOBARamirez: .307/.384/.509, .393 wOBAThose are basically an estimate of true talent level, and it sees no discernible differences between the three as hitters. While the other two have significantly better career slash lines, Zimmerman’s performance over his last 1,100 plate appearances has been better than either of the other two.Defensively, he and Longoria couldn’t be more similar, as they are the two premier young defensive third baseman in the game. Which one you like more is basically a matter of preference – they’re both outstanding. Ramirez does not rate out nearly as well, but of course he’s playing a more difficult position and being compared to better defenders overall. I would still place him a bit behind both of the third baseman in defensive value, but the gap isn’t as large as simply comparing their UZRs would suggest.Longoria turns 25 in October, while Zimmerman turns 26 a couple of weeks prior to that. Ramirez turns 27 in December. Ramirez has a bit better offensive track record but is the oldest and worst defender of the trio. Longoria is the youngest, but his best season at the plate is not as good as the best season of either of the other two.It is splitting hairs to pick between them, but gun to my head, I think I’d take Washington’s third baseman. Right now, he’s the perfect blend, combining Ramirez’s offense with Longoria’s defense into one unbelievably good package.If his teammates were more talented, he’d be have a strong case for the NL MVP right now. Zimmerman has truly become of the game’s great young players, and the guy I’d point to if I could only take one player to begin a franchise.

  17. Travis Williams - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:21 PM

    I know it's still early. but this team played over it's head last season. They are still 2 closers 1 good starter and 2 good power hitters away from contending. i say 2 or 3 years away still.

  18. baseballswami - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:21 PM

    I have been a fan of this team since day one and I don't ever recall Zim having a bad series. I am so used to him being the hero that it just feels sad and confusing. We are not performing well, making physical and mental errors, but yet do not have a bad record so far, even though we have played 2 top tier teams. I have to believe things will get better, luck will change, balls will drop in. Losing Ramos hurts my heart. I am just not seeing the heart, the passion, the determination yet. I am quite ok with Drew showing anger. Most of these guys are pretty low key and don 't get too up or down- I realize that. It will start to click soon.

  19. Manassas Nats' Fan - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:21 PM

    lets see my formula works again.In games Harper 2 hits 7-0.1 hit 0-20 hits 0-2.

  20. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:22 PM

    That thing about the O's is tiresome since I ran the gauntlet wearing Nats gear along with my sons in Camden Yards last year. I probably would be watching them against the Yanks now if I even knew any of their players except for Jones and Markasis and Nick Johnson, who I doubt even made their team this year.I do like the Ravens and Redskins just about equally, though–barely rooting for RGIII against the Ravens last year– so maybe that is enough to impugn my credibility as a Maryland/erWashingtonian/Nats fan..

  21. Manassas Nats' Fan - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:23 PM

    Last night's loss pissed me off. Today's lost disappointed me, but not piss me off. Zim pissed me off though.

  22. DJB - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:23 PM

    I know we are fans, but Ryan Z is not a top-flight hitting 3rd baseman. GM's around the country would take the Wright deal straight up without thinking. Wright's career ops is near 900. Rendon will never achieve B. Harper's potential, are you kidding me? Harper hits for both 80 power and for average. He is the best player on the team. Rendon is a gap-hitter, but could be better than Zimm. Regardless, the first priority is the pen and we can deal almost anyone in the field for that – including Desmond.

  23. Manassas Nats' Fan - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:25 PM

    Peric sas zim is better than Harper

  24. baseballswami - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:27 PM

    Many teams take some time to get going. Many other teams start out hot and fade. Too soon to panic over anything. It's just losing to ATL, and on National tv. Seems like often we don 't do well on that stage. Hanging in no matter what happens.

  25. pk24 - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:29 PM

    Just leaving the ballpark. Frustrating game not only on the field but in the stands as well. IMO it seemed like the Barves fans were more into the game than ours' were. Let's hope that the Nats' bats wake up tomorrow.

  26. NatsLady - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:29 PM

    I am at work so only able to hear snatches, saw this.Wilson Ramos has been diagnosed with a pulled hamstring and will be placed on the 15-day disabled list.The Nationals are expected to call up Jhonatan Solano, who will provide depth at catcher behind starter Kurt Suzuki. Suzuki will get a nice boost in value. Ramos is likely to be sidelined for a little over two weeks.

  27. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:30 PM

    Go ask that guy if he stands by that paean to Zimmerman now and if he does, great. I doubt he feels the same way about Lincecum now.If Zimmerman is that great, it doesn't matter whether he stays in Washington or not. Check out the Coase Theorem in economics. Zimmerman's value should be roughly equivalent whether he stays here or whether the Nats trade him. Given the current make-up of the team, it would be far easier to trade Zimmerman for equivalent value at the positions we need covered then to try to deal Werth, Moore, Rendon and/or La Roche. I am also thrilled to hear that Rendon is better than Harper. The Nats have some amazing talent in their system if they have a guy in Double AA who is clearly better than Harper going forward. Good news all around!

  28. DJB - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:31 PM

    Since it is a depressing series, let's address the "thought that shall not be contemplated." What if last year was a fluke, and the Nats will not achieve that record in the next several years? What if having Stras in the rotation would have won the Cardinals series? Shouldn't Rizzo be fired? It was his decision, after all.

  29. baseballswami - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:31 PM

    And it also hurts my heart to hear people trashing Zim, who has meant so much to this team. Did it ever occur to you that he started late, is still building up and is going through a rough patch? When he gets hot. It 's a beautiful thing. And he will. Mark my words. He will go on a tear. You will eat your posts for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

  30. NatsFanSinceStart - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:31 PM

    To comment on the posters discussing dealing Zimmerman: No GM in his right mind is going to pick up Zimmerman with his terminal throwing problem and his LOOOOOng term, rich contract. Yep, no one would take him.

  31. NatsFanSinceStart - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    Swami: no one I have seen has stated Zim can't hit. Zim is an awesome hitter — his throwing, though, is terminal. Arguably costing two games already — Zim could hit a ton but would not make up for this Steve Sax/Mackey Sascer type throwing problem. No one hates Zim. No one is trashing Zim personally. But he's costing us games now —

  32. DJB - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:34 PM

    No one is going to take Zimmerman on that contract.

  33. baseballswami - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:36 PM

    Djb- and what if pigs flew and what if Stras was terrible, had too short of an off season and was on the dl now with a bad shoulder and what if fans made all the decisions about the team and what if anything?? And yes, it could be that last year was a fluke and it could be that we will win the World Series. 12 games.

  34. NatsFanSinceStart - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:38 PM

    William O– Rendon is better than Harper??? News to me

  35. peric - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:38 PM

    Zim needs to move to first base where his bat can be an effective and devastating weapon in the Nat's offense. And his defense and penchant for injury at third hopefully no longer effects that. You don't trade Zim. You move Rendon to third and LaRoche to bench bat and late inning replacement. LaRoche is NOT going to repeat what he did last season.THAT WAS the FLUKE. Zim's hitting ability IS NOT.The same will happen to Werth in two years. Bench bat and 4th outfielder. Werth will be 37 years old.

  36. DJB - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:39 PM

    True, baseballswami, just pissed right now. Windows in baseball stay open for the briefest moments in time.

  37. peric - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:40 PM

    William O– Rendon is better than Harper??? News to meAs a pure hitter? Yes. He has a more disciplined, refined hitting approach. He has the potential to do exactly that. But, he will never produce Harper's power. Harper's power potential is impressive.

  38. NatsFanSinceStart - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:40 PM

    It will be interesting to see how Davey manages the expected front running team that is not performing well. He's proven to be good at building up a team and getting them to believe in themselves and perhaps Overachieve. I remember he underachieved with the then mighty O's of 96-97. This will be interesting. he cant bull%$%$ forever.

  39. DJB - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    I'm all for platooning LaRoche. He played for the contract last year. Never liked him. When Morse hits the open market, we should re-sign him. Too much hubris all around the Nats front office.

  40. peric - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    And Stras wasn't terrible. The real problem is he is trying to be a god damned pitch-to-contact pitcher. Well, Davey told Mattheus to stop doing that so much to just K guys out in key situations. He needs to have the same discussion with Stras. There's a time for pitch-to-contact and there's a time for 100 mph-rod heat. And you don't exclude one to do the other you use all of your tools at the most propitious moments. And that is pitching.

  41. NatsFanSinceStart - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:43 PM

    Well, whatever — with the loss of Morse's power and .300 batting average, we need him to make up for that needed power outage. How did management think Morse's production was going to be made up? With a player who gets on base slightly more than Morse did? What were they thinking? or not thinking …

  42. peric - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:45 PM

    When Morse hits the open market, we should re-sign him.Unfortunately, Morse gets injured too much … he missed an entire season with the shoulder after running into a wall in the outfield with the Mariners and landed in AAA. He hasn't been free of injury since. And? He is now over 30 years old.Like it or not you'll just have to learn to accept the much younger and injury free Magnolia Muscle. Last year's stats indicated that he might just have an even more potent bat than Morse. In mostly PH appearances he hit 10 home runs.

  43. NatsFanSinceStart - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:45 PM

    Stras does not look great to me. His command is spotty — has been all year. He is so talented though, that he fights and claws and keeps his team in the game, but it takes him so many pitches to hang in there — his arm slot is drifting which explains the 20 or so pitches per start that miss the glove by a foot or more — he's bouncing 10 or pitches per game now. With his "Bird" release, his release point is not consistent — it also sets him up for another Tommy John in a couple of years. I am a little worried about the Stras

  44. Faraz Shaikh - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:46 PM

    Ramos loss is worst than losing this game.

  45. peric - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:48 PM

    Ramos loss is worst than losing this game.But not unexpected. That's why there's Suzuki. They'll recall Solano. Interesting side note: If Jaso with the A's gets injured his backup will be David Freitas. Which means the two former top Nat's catching prospects would be the A's catchers.

  46. NatsFanSinceStart - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:49 PM

    I'm very comfortable with Suzuki — they should teach Rendon to catch — Ramos is turning into an injury plagued player

  47. peric - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    they should teach Rendon to catch Before that happens they would go to Harper. But that would require time in the minors to hone that skill. Surprisingly enough I actually believe Harper would jump at the chance.

  48. NatsFanSinceStart - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    Peric Correction. Our top catching prospect was Derek Norris who went in the gio trade — he played in the bigs last year, but did not hit well. have no idea what he's doing this year

  49. peric - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:52 PM

    How did management think Morse's production was going to be made up?They didn't. Rizzo basically implied they would have to go with "smart ball". The problem is that IS NOT how Davey manages. That's Riggleman.

  50. NatsFanSinceStart - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:52 PM

    I cant imagine management allowing Harper to catch. Hell, this organization is afraid to let Det go beyond 90 pitches in a calm game ..

  51. DJB - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:54 PM

    Too small a sample size for Moore. I think we can live with our bats if somehow we can shore up our pen and defense. Trading Espinosa or a combination of player and moving Zimm out of third is the logical first step.

  52. NatsFanSinceStart - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:54 PM

    Peric: Best post of the day. You are right — Davey's game is not small ball – period. Riggs excelled at it. The Braves played some small ball and made the Nats look stupid sitting back on the heals. Nats just don't think small ball. Personally, I love small ball — even Mickey Mantle bunted for 20+ hits per year

  53. peric - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:54 PM

    Our top catching prospect was Derek Norris who went in the gio tradeAND David Freitas was right behind him. And who is the second catcher on the A's roster? Derrick Norris. And who is the catcher behind Jaso in AAA should he go down. A guy who bats left like Jaso and is an offensive catcher? David Freitas. BOTH NAT'S PROSPECTS AS I SAID sheesh!

  54. peric - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    Everybody keeps two catchers on their roster NOT ONE doh!

  55. NatsFanSinceStart - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    No one remembers, but last year I defended Riggleman and lauded his small ball approach as I upbraided Davey for eschewing it. I got attacked by a dozen Nats fans

  56. NatsFanSinceStart - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:56 PM

    Never fear, Peric – Rizzo is in complete control hahahaha

  57. peric - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:57 PM

    Too small a sample size for Moore. I think we can live with our bats if somehow we can shore up our pen and defense. Moore had a statistically valid major league sample size. FURTHER corroborated by the fact that most of his appearances were challenging PH appearances!? Its why Rizzo wasn't afraid to let Morse go.

  58. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:58 PM

    I don't know what that means, that Rendon is a more pure hitter than Harper. As far as I can see, the best hitters in history have been those with the highest OPS. Either one is saying that Rendon is likely to have a higher OPS than Harper or he is not. Pete Rose hit pretty well for average, as did Rod Carew and George Brett. No sane person thinks they were better hitters, i.e., added more value than Hank Aaron or Willie Mays, and their "approach" is irrelevant. Adam Dunn is a one dimensional slugger. Adam La Roche is also. There is no indication whatsoever that Bryce Harper is a hitter of that sort. He seems more than adaptable to the point that pitchers are now pitching him inside now instead of outside. There seems little or no reason to expect Rendon to be of the same caliber as Harper. If he could be a competent infielder and better than average hitter who manages to make it to a couple of All Star games like Zimmerman, then that would be fine. Brooks Robinson was far from a great hitter and Cal Ripken, with the exception of two or three great years, was not either, but both of them played on World Champions and made it to the Hall of Fame. Ryan Zimmerman would have to more than double his first 7.5 years to do so.We already know, for a fact, that Bryce Harper had one of the best seasons ever for a 19 year old field player. Period.

  59. peric - Apr 13, 2013 at 8:59 PM

    I'm not a fan of small ball or "smart ball" as Riggleman called it. You give up too many outs without enough return on the investment. I hate that game.BUT to play Earl Weaver style old-school 70's ball you need a lineup with solid power/impact hitting in the heart of the lineup. The Nats have speed and defense instead …

  60. peric - Apr 13, 2013 at 9:02 PM

    We already know, for a fact, that Bryce Harper had one of the best seasons ever for a 19 year old field player. Period.We also know that Rendon is considered one of the best college hitters in well over a decade. So acclaimed by scouts. Last season he was injured for the better part. So, he didn't get his chance to end up on the major league roster this season.Harper was considered one of the best prep star hitters because he went to junior college. Whereas Rendon graduated from an excellent program at Rice. There is a HUGE difference dude.

  61. peric - Apr 13, 2013 at 9:04 PM

    Dave Cameron of Fangraphs again …Yesterday, I took part (along with Jonah Keri and 28 other contributors to ESPN’s baseball section) in a Franchise Player Draft. We were tasked with selecting one player who we would want to build our franchise around, and in this hypothetical world, actual contract status was irrelevant. I ended up drawing the fourth pick in the draft, giving me an embarrassment of riches to select from, especially after my request to trade down was denied.By the time my pick was up, Troy Tulowitzki, Evan Longoria, and Felix Hernandez were off the board. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t get a crack at Tulo, who was a pretty easy call as the first player selected. I figured Longoria would probably be gone as well, and wasn’t surprised at all when Keith Law snapped him up. David Schoenfeld made my life easier by taking Felix, which meant that I didn’t have to worry about whether or not I should consider drafting a pitcher – the only one worthy of that kind of selection in my mind was already gone, allowing me to focus on a handful of elite position players to choose from.As you see in the link, I ended up taking Joey Votto, who I would say is the safest bet of any player in baseball to produce at an elite level going forward. He’s right there with Albert Pujols and Jose Bautista for the title of best hitter in baseball, he’s several younger than both of them, and he just keeps getting better each season he’s in the big leagues. Votto is the no-risk choice, and I’d argue that minimizing risk in this kind of situation is more important than trying to split hairs between which great player is marginally greater. I had a chance to get an elite player no matter which direction I went, so I focused on getting a player who was almost certainly going to produce at a premium level rather than rolling the dice looking for extra mythical upside.That said, my selection of Votto wasn’t a clear cut choice. In the end, I narrowed my selection down to five players, choosing Votto over Hanley Ramirez, Jose Bautista, Miguel Cabrera, and Ryan Zimmerman. Obviously, my board was quite a bit different than most of the others drafting, as Ramirez went #20, Bautista #26 (to the other FanGraphs author in the draft, which is likely not a coincidence), and both Cabrera and Zimmerman went unselected. I was surprised that Cabrera wasn’t picked, but given his issues with alcohol, I can somewhat understand the drafters going other directions. After all, if others were also looking to minimize risk, there are a lot of great players who don’t have some of the baggage that Cabrera brings to the table. I think everyone realizes how great of a hitter he is, but my guess is that he was left unselected because of his off the field issues.Zimmerman, though, apparently needs a new PR representative. If Schoenfeld had selected Votto, I probably would have taken Zimmerman ahead of the other three runners-up in the discussion with myself. Instead, he’s hanging out with Cabrera in the voting for biggest snub.Really, though, what else could Zimmerman do to get noticed? I’m not the first person to mention this, but if you like Evan Longoria, you should like Zimmerman, because they’re the exact same player.Longoria, 2009-2011: .284/.367/.510, 134 wRC+, +36.3 UZR, +16.6 WARZimmerman, 2009-2011: .300/.378/.518, 137 wRC+, +28.8 UZR, +15.1 WARThe gap in value is entirely the result of Longoria getting more playing time this year due a shorter DL stint, but they’re essentially twins. Their numbers across the board are the same no matter what category you look at – walk rate, strikeout rate, power, defense, whatever. Zimmerman is a year older and currently on the disabled list, but he’s still younger than most other players selected and a current lack of health didn’t stop Josh Johnson, Joe Mauer, Buster Posey, or Stephen Strasburg from being drafted. Zimmerman’s abdominal strain is not a long term concern, and so I find it hard to believe that it played a major role in his snubbing.

  62. peric - Apr 13, 2013 at 9:04 PM

    Instead, it seems like Zimmerman simply suffers from a lack of national exposure. Longoria has played in the World Series and had the national spotlight shined upon him in the process, while Zimmerman has spent his career playing for losing teams in Washington. He didn’t burst on the scene with a strong debut, but instead has taken the slower path of improving each year he’s been in the big leagues. He’s not a commanding personality, and even on his own team, has been overshadowed by the likes of Adam Dunn and Stephen Strasburg. Pretty soon, he’ll also have to share the spotlight with Bryce Harper.With the focus on his teammates, it can be easy to forget that Zimmerman is the Nationals best player, and one of the best players in the game. He may have gotten ignored yesterday, but he deserves to be mentioned in any conversation of cornerstone franchise players.

  63. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Apr 13, 2013 at 9:05 PM

    If Zimmerman, Espinosa, Desmond and La Roche match their homer totals of last year, there is no problem whatsoever with playing large ball. The current problem is that none of those four are currently matching last years totals or even close when dividing 162/11 games, but once again, the Nats didn't start hitting until late June of last year either. There is no point in going around and around in circles. With the exception of Morse, you have the same guys out there and purportedly a healed Zimmerman with more seasoned Desmond and Harper.

  64. peric - Apr 13, 2013 at 9:05 PM

    Let me know when they write the above about Machado or Harper. It'll be a while I guarantee you.

  65. peric - Apr 13, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    If Zimmerman, Espinosa, Desmond and La Roche match their homer totals of last year, there is no problem whatsoever with playing large ball.Because its not just homers its also doubles and triples and when these occur in high leverage RISP situations. Zim excels at this. The others do not even come close. Morse was on the cusp of becoming an elite hitter.

  66. DJB - Apr 13, 2013 at 9:08 PM

    Statistically significant, but not projectible since Moore is such a young player. He could either exceed or fail to meet his sample going forward. That's why young players are so exciting.

  67. Joe Seamhead - Apr 13, 2013 at 9:08 PM

    NatsFan sSince Start-Riggs excelled at small ball? Sure, right to the all time lowest won-loss percentage career in the history of MLB managers. To quote peric, "Jeesh"

  68. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Apr 13, 2013 at 9:18 PM

    Because Cameron wrote that 2 years ago at the age where Zimmerman was expected to take a step up, around 25 or 26. For whatever reason, Zimmerman never took a step up. You can post that article over and over and it isn't going to change anything. First of all, that is one guy and no one else is saying that. Zimmerman had one Gold Glove. One!–even though the Nats announcers act like he is Clete Boyer or something. If Zimmerman were as good as Cameron said, we would have expected a great deal of interest from other teams to sign him, but there seemed to be little interest in signing him or David Wright, for that matter. It is not that hard to find decent hitting, decent fielding 3rd basemen, unlike shortstops.Whether it was injuries or lack or hard work by Zimmerman or bad luck or whatever, he simply falls in the pretty good to very good category of players. If you claim he is a Mike Schimidt or George Brett or Cal Ripken, I don't buy it. He has been over 20 years old and with the Nats since 2005. We are all hoping that this is the put up or shut up season and we will finally see him impress by hitting 40 homers and maybe an ops of 1000 but he is not even hitting that many doubles any more compared to prior to 2007.

  69. baseballswami - Apr 13, 2013 at 9:18 PM

    I am also struggling with watching Zim fail because it is such a shock. But, I still say, mark this date and re- read this post in November. He will settle back in at third and hit for average, hit some home runs and have his usual season, if not better. News flash- he will make more errors and so will every other player in baseball. The Nsts have plenty of talent but things are not right with them as a team right now. Will they right the ship? How long will it take? Losing Ramos is going to hurt this rotation and the offense. It will be interesting to see how the difficulties are managed.

  70. NatsFanSinceStart - Apr 13, 2013 at 9:22 PM

    Joe Seamhead: I haven't read a comment by you yet that isn't negative and cutting people down.But to answer you and trying to stay above your level, here is your answer: Riggleman did indeed play small ball. he wasn't bad at it. Look at the teams riggs has managed — pure crap teams. News for you, Seamless, Riggs had as good a record with the 2011 Nats as Davey had. You got that, dude? Davey won not a bit more than Riggs given the same material to work with.

  71. NatsFanSinceStart - Apr 13, 2013 at 9:23 PM

    Seamless: You are brainless. Its amazing how you embarrass yourself with blockheaded logic and cutting 'tude.

  72. sjm308 - Apr 13, 2013 at 9:26 PM

    Home from a frustrating afternoon. Actually, except for the loss it was terrific. Got to see my grandson, biked over to the park and picked up my bobblehead. Spent a great afternoon talking baseball with my son and rooting for the home team. We did not realize Ramos was hurt, I am guessing it was on his running out his groundball. I have not read any posts so if this is redundant please accept my apologies. Amazed at how efficient Hudson is and also how many ground ball outs there were. On the opposite side, Strasburg went to 3 balls on 9 different batters. He only walked one but sure does throw a lot of pitches. Span made 7 putouts and every one of them was crushed. Hate to have seen this game played in Cinn.Duke was the only efficient pitcher for our side. Just 10 pitches to get through the 7th. Was pleased that Davey used Duke and Henry in what was a close one run game at the time.If we can get to 8-4, that is still winning 2 of 3 and that will still get us comfortably into the post-season. Lastly, I went over to the picnic tables behind 313 and since I know only a few people on Insider I did not know how to make it known. Kevin yelled "Insiders??" and people looked at us very strangely (which is not that unusual for me but is for Kevin). Maybe another game.Go Nats!!

  73. NatsFanSinceStart - Apr 13, 2013 at 9:28 PM

    I'll tell you another thing about Riggleman: he managed the meager nats bullpen better than any manager I have seen in Washington do yet. In fact, in spite of Clippard complaining about how much Riggleman used him, Clippard never was better than when he pitched for Riggs. Perhaps Clippard is one of those pitchers whose arm needs more work and is more effective when he pitches more often. Look at him now and even last year — used more sparingly as his ERA soared into the high 3's. What's Clip's ERA now? How's Clip doing now?

  74. Steve J, Alexandria - Apr 13, 2013 at 9:34 PM

    The defeat doesn't surprise me at all why should it surprise anybody unless ur into fooling urselfGo O's the Nats suck

  75. Steve J, Alexandria - Apr 13, 2013 at 9:35 PM

    Got a good idea for a bobblehead.How about one of the Learners holding the Head of Rizzo — that is bobbing up and down?Cool, I'll take two of em

  76. baseballswami - Apr 13, 2013 at 10:11 PM

    Groan. He 's back. Game tomorrow. Go Nats!! Hope Gio lands on the right foot :). P. S. — it's a game, it's fun.

  77. peric - Apr 13, 2013 at 10:11 PM

    The defeat doesn't surprise me at all why should it surprise anybody unless ur into fooling urselfSteven J,Machado sucks he isn't even as good as Espinosa at short which is why he is at third base. Hahahahahahahah the ORIHOLE suck whale protuberances. Angelos is the best owner in baseball … he is so great he'll fire Showalter and no one will work for the O's except possibly Giggleman. Yeah, and I can't wait to see Giggleman manage the O's to last place … hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.Dylan Bundy? He isn't even as good as the worst Nats pitching prospect. In fact he got beat in AA by Caleb Clay. HahahahahahahahahahahahaAnd that rotation? Arrieta? Chen? Tillman? Hammel? All smoke and mirrors flukes that will be the big fat FAIL this season. HahahahahahahahahahaYour top starting pitching prospect Matusz is in the bullpen. If he had come to the Nats he'd be starting and winning 20 games … hahahahahahahaOrIHOLES player development sucks giant whale protuberances …Hahahahahahahahaahahaahaha.What a loser being an OriHOLES fan. Big "L" on the forehead dude. That's Steve J from Alexandria. Hahahahahahahahahahaha.

  78. peric - Apr 13, 2013 at 10:13 PM

    Don't worry 'Swami I'll get rid of him … ~eager smiles~

  79. peric - Apr 13, 2013 at 10:16 PM

    OriHOLES 5-5 soon to be 5 – 6 and eventually? Mebbe 52 and 110. Hahahahahahaahahahahaha The former St. Louis "Browns" and the play like they are brown like the stuff whales poop out.

  80. mick - Apr 13, 2013 at 10:17 PM

    I dunno, 3 runs is not bad to give up. why we could not hit is a mystery to me. Long way to go, but it is clear the Braves are better than us and would beat us in a best of 5 or 7 series. I suspect Cards and Giants are still better than us.

  81. mick - Apr 13, 2013 at 10:18 PM

    our B pen is inconsistent period. If Zim is hurting them g-damn it put him on the DL!

  82. peric - Apr 13, 2013 at 10:24 PM

    I dunno, 3 runs is not bad to give up. why we could not hit is a mystery to me. Long way to go, but it is clear the Braves are better than us and would beat us in a best of 5 or 7 series. I suspect Cards and Giants are still better than us.Again, they are weaker with Span instead of Morse. Its an experiment that is doomed to fail. They need Tyler Moore in this lineup bating behind Harper. They need to get Zim healthy so that he will again hit as he did last season with the cortisone shot before the surgery and the previous season when he came back from the abdominal issue. THEY NEED TO KEEP ZIM HEALTHY because he is THE KEY to this offense. NOT HARPER. After that hope that Goodwin develops as expected for CF because he has the ability to generate ISO from the left side. And Rendon needs to get to the majors. Pretty much that should be enough to create a pretty good offense.

  83. Joe Seamhead - Apr 13, 2013 at 10:28 PM

    Ok, I'll give you a positive statement Nats Fan Since Start: Coming into this season, Davey Johnson has the second highest career winning percentage .(564 ) of any living manager. He is the reigning NL Manager of the Year. However, Jim Riggleman has a winning career percentage record of .445 Among 86 managers that have managed at least 1400 games Riggs is ranked 84th of the 86, ahead of only Patsy Donovan who managed around 1900.andBilly Barnie that managed in the 1800's.NFSS, you make a preposterous statement that Jim excelled at small all.The record doesn't support it. He tried to manage smallball. Many bloggers have been pretty harsh with their criticism of Davey. I feel like we are very fortunate to have him as our manager.It's not just because I think that he's great. His record says that there isn't anybody out there with a better track record. It's pretty simple arithmetic, and I'll use it to defend him against un-informed statements.

  84. peric - Apr 13, 2013 at 10:29 PM

    our B pen is inconsistent period.Looks like signing on Soriano to be closer was a very canny move.Again, they have too many one-and-done relievers. No left-handers except for Duke. This is not a well organize bullpen and now Davey has pretty said as much.We'll see if they do something to restructure it.

  85. mick - Apr 13, 2013 at 10:51 PM

    PericI am not sure I agree with you about Span. Morse, I agree with, I really think the team misses his bat and his club house demeanor. Mike Rizzo is an awesome GM and it is hard for me to be critical of him, however, I think he made a mistake by trading Morse. I also think Span is doing what he is suppose to do and his defense will always be better than Morse's. Nats OF is solid with Span

  86. mick - Apr 13, 2013 at 10:54 PM

    If Nats can win tomorrow, it will be a huge momentum builder this week and mentally, the team can feel that they really could have won the series if the pen did not implode on Friday. If Braves sweep us, mentally it could be a tough road for Nats

  87. Manassas Nats' Fan - Apr 13, 2013 at 11:07 PM

    I dont look at all those fancy stats. Just do the eye ball exam and am happy with my conclusuons. I beoke this inro 2 catigories. Starts by pitchergood stsrts 6-2ok starts 1_1poor starts 0-1Team qualityGood teams 1-4ok teams 3-0poir team 3-0

  88. JaneB - Apr 14, 2013 at 12:24 AM

    I'd like to offer a little post-game-thread analysis. This has been a friendly place for Nats fan to gather and enjoy the game together. It's a whole lot less friendly when some posters post over and over and over. Get your own blog, if that's the case, especially when you're so negative.





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