Skip to content

MLB Power Rankings: Pirates are back

Aug 1, 2013, 4:47 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today
By Steve Roney
CSNwashington.com
A full generation of baseball fans has grown up without watching the Pittsburgh Pirates reach the playoffs — but barring a truly epic collapse, that should change in just a couple of months. Thanks to a recent winning surge at the expense of longtime NL Central leader St. Louis, and with the advent of the second wild card, the postseason will likely feature the first winning Pirates team since 1992.
Though Pittsburgh takes the top spot, here's how Nationals Insider Mark Zuckerman, Nats writer Chase Hughes, and I see the rest of the league shaking out:

1. Pittsburgh Pirates (65-42; LW: 4) – Roney: Pittsburgh has been in good position to post a winning record the last two seasons, but has faded down the stretch; thanks to a deep rotation, that isn't likely to be the case this year.

2. Tampa Bay Rays (64-44; LW: 5) – Zuckerman: 6-10 record vs. Boston right now is the difference. They only face each other 3 more times.

3. Boston Red Sox (65-44; LW: 2) – Zuckerman: The acquisition of Peavy really helps bolster the rotation and sets them up for stretch run.

4. Oakland A's (63-45; LW: 3) – Hughes: Bartolo Colon is 14-3 with a 2.50 ERA at the age of 40, but will reportedly avoid a Biogenesis suspension. Exactly how is anyone's guess.

5. Detroit Tigers (61-45; LW: 8) – Roney: The Tigers inserted themselves into the Peavy trade, netting noted gloveman Jose Iglesias. He could stick in the majors for 10 years based on his defense alone, but he's likely to be a No. 9 hitter the entire time.

Read more »

117 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Aug 1, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    Here is the excerpt from the SI power ratings with respect to the Nats that came out today:"After a promising start, Denard Span has cooled off badly atop Washington's lineup — and in centerfield. Over his last 63 games, his OBP has been a subpar .309, and for the season he has a Plus/Minus of 0, according to the Fielding Bible, meaning he's been no better than a replacement-level centerfielder despite saving 55 runs over the two previous seasons in Minnesota."Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/mlb/news/20130801/mlb-power-rankings-tigers/#ixzz2ajqEAcZ1http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/mlb/news/20130801/mlb-power-rankings-tigers/

  2. SCNatsFan - Aug 1, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    WODL, serously give it a rest about Span. Everyone knows your feelings on him, raising it in every post is over the top. I respect your opinions, I really do, but it would be refreshing to hear another one of those opinions.Just my worhtless 2 cents.

  3. Theophilus T. S. - Aug 1, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Faraz Shaikh - Aug 1, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    we all know that is not true at all about his defense. anyways, will mike scioscia be a candidate for manager position next season if LAA lets him go? if someone that experienced is available, I don't mind Knorr to wait a bit more.

  5. Theophilus T. S. - Aug 1, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    Re: Bud Black, I still think he's one of the best managers in the MLs. I think the Nats' choice will be Randy Knorr, because there are no out-of-work resident genius managers to be hired (LaRussa and Cox being truly retired). I happen to think, especially after this season, they need someone w/ big-league managerial experience. Among employed managers that might be interested in the job, I'm indifferent between Black and Gardenhire.

  6. Tcostant - Aug 1, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    Another week when the Nationals are ranked to high…For next year manager, the gusty call would be Jason Giambi. No kidding, teammate rave about him and I might give it a shot.

  7. NatsLady - Aug 1, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    Cliff Lee has a stiff neck and Domonic Brown won't be back from his concussion for a week. Fillies are in bad shape.Although uncertain, Philadelphia Phillies ace Cliff Lee could miss his start on Friday, August 2, against the Atlanta Braves. MLB.com's Stephen Pianovich reports that Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr., has not yet decided if Lee will pitch on Friday due to Lee's stiff neck.Lee missed his last scheduled start against the Detroit Tigers on July 26 with the neck stiffness. Raul Valdes pitched in Lee's place and will likely do so again if Lee cannot go. Amaro explained that part of the decision comes from how he wants to work the rotation for the Braves series. Said Amaro, "We're trying to figure out how we're going to set up our rotation through the course of the weekend."http://www.mlbinjurynews.com/2013/08/phillies-update-cliff-lee-could-miss.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

  8. Section 222 - Aug 1, 2013 at 5:39 PM

    Chase's writeup of the A's wonders how Colon will avoid a suspension. I thought it had been announced (or leaked) that he was already suspended for PED use last year because of a positive test, and the league had concluded that the Biogenesis info was about the same incident.WODL, I have generally refrained from entering the Span debate with you because many of us have hobby horses that annoy other posters, and my general attitude is live and let live. But I would just suggest that at this point this blog would be a more interesting and congenial place if you would devote your considerable analytical and writing skills to a different topic.

  9. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Aug 1, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    Yes. I wrote this excerpt personally for Sports Illustrated and received $37.11 for it. I personally looked around for the worthless Fielding Bible reference, SCNatsFan, I thought it was a nice touch.

  10. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Aug 1, 2013 at 5:52 PM

    The fact is, and maybe it is sad, is that pretty soon, no one will be coming around to post here at all, for the most part, until hot stove and the like. We will all be off following the Ravens or Redskins, so just hang in there, everyone. The feeling of shock many of us are experiencing will so transform into stoic indifference. Having a day off today, actually helps accelerate the process. This is a great weekend for fly fishing. Who needs to see the Brewers? They stink and they have basically always been bad.For those of us who attended spring training, well, it was still a feeling of being on top of the world. That is the great thing that I will remember about this season. We/I probably felt just like Mike Tyson must have felt before his fight against Buster Douglas. The team seemed supremely confident and Gio had a great outing in his last turn against the Mets on a gorgeous day. This was our year. That feeling can't be taken away.

  11. A DC Wonk - Aug 1, 2013 at 5:53 PM

    From last thread about MorseThankfully they got Cole back.My two cents:And don't forget the acquisition of Ian Krol — who's only 22.

  12. NatsLady - Aug 1, 2013 at 5:58 PM

    Speaking of Cole, here is a write-up. You have to wonder what happened to him out West.Colehttp://www.masnsports.com/byron_kerr/2013/08/aj-cole-making-progress-after-two-wins-to-begin-double-a-career.html

  13. A DC Wonk - Aug 1, 2013 at 6:01 PM

    Over his last 63 games, his OBP has been a subpar .309Over July, his OBP was .349. And, to say a third time: he's one of only six position players on the team to have a WAR that's 1.0 or greater according to B-R.According to Fangraphs Span has the third highest WAR on the team as well as the highest UZR on the team.

  14. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Aug 1, 2013 at 6:01 PM

    On the bright side, tickets are cheap and available for next week:http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dc-sports-bog/wp/2013/07/31/cheap-tickets-to-nats-braves/?wprss=rss_nationals

  15. NatsLady - Aug 1, 2013 at 6:03 PM

    LOL, the Fielding Bible for 2013 doesn't exist. The latest version is from March 1, 2012. Nice try.

  16. NatsLady - Aug 1, 2013 at 6:04 PM

    Wow, nice double play in the Marlins game, speaking of centerfielders!

  17. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 1, 2013 at 6:14 PM

    Since Span corrected his early season issues with the walls by playing a little deeper, I can only remember 1 mis-play and it was a ball in medium right-centerfield that he didn't get to.All in all when Harp is manning LF and Werth in RF, this is a very good outfield defensively. The problem is the corner infielders lack range. Since most batters are right-handed, 3rd base has been exposed even more and any ball going to Ryan Zimmerman's right is a sure double.

  18. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Aug 1, 2013 at 6:23 PM

    Ahh, Fangraphs, the instigator of the Span trade to begin with. It is good to know that Fangraphs is still on board. Apparently, according to Fangraphs, the Nats only won 77 games last year, as Morse's defense cost the Nats' 22 games in the outfield.And the SI quote is from SI and the link is good, NatsLady. Take it up with him. Perhaps he has inside access that NatsLady doesn't get. I have no idea but I probably trust SI a bit more than NatsLady…. I am just going to link and provide references and you guys can beat your heads against the wall and berate the ignorance of people who write anything negative about the Nats and how stupid they must be compared to you….I am sure that will make me more popular because it won't be my words, I will just be the bearer of the news who delivers it with no editorial content whatsoever from my part….

  19. TimDz - Aug 1, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    NatsLady said… Speaking of Cole, here is a write-up. You have to wonder what happened to him out West.I think what happened to him was the AA league out there…high altitude and/or wind blowing out…it is a notorious hitter's league

  20. TimDz - Aug 1, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    It seems the Astros got very little in return for two years of Bud Norris. I know he is not Nolan Ryan, but the Orioles got him for their #6 prospect and another prospect.Given the National's Pitching issues AND considering this is a guy that would be more than a rental…I wonder why the Nats didn't get in on this…Anyone?

  21. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Aug 1, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    Rick Ankiel, 2011:Assists as CF (s.1954) s c a p y1. Kemp (LAD) 112. McCutchen (PIT) 93. Stubbs (CIN) 8 Byrd (CHC) 8 Ankiel (WSN) 8Range Factor/9Inn as CF (s.1954) s c a p y1. Gomez (MIL) 2.972. McCutchen (PIT) 2.813. Ankiel (WSN) 2.774. Morgan (MIL) 2.735. Pagan (NYM) 2.64 Range Factor/Game as CF (s.1954) s c a p y1. McCutchen (PIT) 2.732. Fowler (COL) 2.583. Young (ARI) 2.574. Pagan (NYM) 2.54Total Zone Runs as CF (s.1954) s c a p y1. Young (ARI) 192. Stubbs (CIN) 153. Gomez (MIL) 154. Ankiel (WSN) 145. Kemp (LAD)http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/NL/2011-fielding-leaders.shtml

  22. A DC Wonk - Aug 1, 2013 at 6:41 PM

    Apparently, according to Fangraphs, the Nats only won 77 games last year, as Morse's defense cost the Nats' 22 games in the outfield.You're either making stuff up, or have reading comprehension trouble.Morse's overall WAR was 0.0 last year according to Fg (his -17 for UZR does not mean 17 games, it mean 17 runs). Morse's WAR was 0.8 according to B-R.Both, btw, are lower than what either of them have for Span. (1.7 and 1.0, respectively.)QED.OK, I think I'm finally done with this.

  23. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Aug 1, 2013 at 6:45 PM

    So we could have used a replacement player for Morse and we would have been just as good last year, DC Wonk? Is that what you are claiming, because if you are, you are not very intelligent… Just saying…. Just keep quoting your useless Fangraphs, DC Wonk. You have chosen your name well. I love the way that the Fangraphs people let the stats obfuscate what is actually going on in the games. You cannot just plug in one guy for another and assume that that does not upset the dynamics of the offensive process, but we always have people like DC Wonk who are from the government and who know what is best for us.

  24. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Aug 1, 2013 at 6:47 PM

    How long has defensive War and War in general been around? Look at the fangraphs site and notice their feeble defense of their own statistic and yet, DC Wonk jumps on boards. It is number after all. I just think people like DC Wonk like the name, WAR.

  25. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Aug 1, 2013 at 6:51 PM

    And it was satire, DC Wonk. Learn to laugh a little before telling everyone else what they have to believe. We went through this last year with the Strasburg shutdown. I opposed it and people on here would shout others down and tell them that they had no business posting on here if they disagreed with shutting Strasburg down. These are the same people who come on every night and shout down anyone who says anything that they don't want to read.

  26. alexva - Aug 1, 2013 at 6:51 PM

    Tim, not sure if you're a fan of minorleagueball.com but here is his take on the deal.http://www.minorleagueball.com/2013/7/31/4576686/astros-trade-bud-norris-to-orioles-for-prospects-hoes-haderto equate it to our prospect list, that could be Eury Perez and Robbie Ray. just my quick comparison as to how our prospects are ranked by this writer.

  27. natsfan1a - Aug 1, 2013 at 6:51 PM

    Um, not all of us. I don't do pointy-ball.We will all be off following the Ravens or Redskins, so just hang in there, everyone.

  28. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Aug 1, 2013 at 6:52 PM

    Wait, Tito Francona?Take your dad to work day already?

  29. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Aug 1, 2013 at 6:56 PM

    This is dead on. They could have signed Morse, Span and ALR and platooned Morse between 1st and the outfield:Theophilus T. S. said… "But if Davey is such a great psychologist, why did he want LaRoche instead of Morse–that is, if Morse was such a key to the team chemistry." The answer is that Johnson wanted both. No manager says, "I don't mind getting rid of a .300 hitter" who coincidentally happens to be a good clubhouse guy. Instead, he says, "I'll find a way to keep him busy." Like Lombardozzi last year Johnson would have found a way to get Morse 400 PA. The LaRoche/Morse either-or decision has its roots in the front office, not the dugout. Likely the Nats diminished (per MASN) revenue position had much to do with it. Rizzo believed he wasn't going to have the money to pay Morse in 2014 so was panicked at the idea he wouldn't get anything in return. The theoretical replacement of $6.5MM with $400K (Moore) no doubt appealed as well, although Soriano shows that the organization wasn't averse to spending money. (Maybe we can blame Boras and Lerner for that.)

  30. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 1, 2013 at 7:14 PM

    nasfan1a…somebody thinks we watch the Redskins? WOW!Are they on the wrong site.

  31. sjm308 - Aug 1, 2013 at 7:29 PM

    NatsJack – in reading your last comment I have a feeling you slipped and did not follow your own advice. While not really reading, I did skim quickly thru the 20 or so anti-span spams(damn another rhyme) and I honestly think I can do even better and just skip them entirely. On to baseball. The interesting discussion to me is all the hindsight on Morse/LaRoche or even keeping them both. Rizzo chose LaRoche, we got decent return on Morse although I was one who wanted him as a super sub.The team as constructed did not play as well as we or they hoped and it is where we are right now.I don't consider these next 50+ games will be played with any less effort but I am interested to see how Moore does when he returns and also if Danny gets brought back. There is a lot more baseball to be played and that is a good thing. I would guess there will be more WODL posts to skip than games though.Go Nats!!

  32. PDowdy83 - Aug 1, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    WODL, you are correct in the fact that you cannot simply plug in Span for Morse or a replacement player for that matter but by trying to place the blame on Span for this teams issues you are ignoring the other issues. Span isn't having a "terrible" season. He is having an average season. The National league average for OBP is .314. Span checks in 9 points higher at .323. The National league average for batting average is .251. Span checks in 18 points higher at .269. The NL average OPS is .705. Span checks in 12 points lower at .693. He is above the league average in 2 out of 3 slash line categories. Span has been a disappointment but he has shown some signs of life lately and he is NOT the problem with this team. He still has time to finish strong like he started and turn in a good season. Below is a list of WAR for 2012 vs 2013. The 2012 totals are the season end totals. Since we are exactly 2/3rds through the season I cut the 2012 WAR total down to 2/3rds the final total. It is simply a rough estimate but it shows where the problems with the team are.2012Werth – 0.6Harper – 4.5Zimmerman – 4.1LaRoche – 3.4Morse – 0.0 Desmond – 5.0Espinosa – 3.4Catcher – 0.9Bernadina – 1.7Tracy – 0.5Lombardozzi – 0.6Moore – 0.6Total WAR – 29.8 if you divide by 2/3 of the season you get 19.8662013Span – 1.7Harper – 2.1Zim – 1.1LaRoche – 0.0Werth – 1.7Desmond – 3.8Espinosa/Rendon -0.2Catcher – 1.0Bernadina – -0.2Tracy – -0.7Lombardozzi – -0.9Moore – -1.4Total WAR – 8This is a crude method but after 108 games last season the Nationals had 65 wins. This year they have 52. That is a difference of 13 wins. Without looking at the pitching WAR this year it is quite striking to me that the team has a rough estimate of 12 less WAR from its position players. The part that stands out the most to me is the bench. Last year the team put up 3.4 WAR from Bernadina/Tracy/Lombo/Moore. This year that quartet has been worth -3.2. That is an almost 7 win swing.

  33. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 1, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    sjm…. natsfan1a posted something about it. I was questioning her.

  34. NatsLady - Aug 1, 2013 at 7:49 PM

    That's very telling about the bench, PDowdy. I remember that in 2012 Davey wanted a strong bench, he didn't want defensive subs there, he wanted BATS. Many things were addressed in Juneof 2013, Henry, Duke, Danny, etc. Moore was sent down, Rendon up. But the bench was not reinforced (other than Moore leaving). At the beginning of July, when Ramos and Harper came back, we had a window of opportunity. I don't know why Davey wasn't banging on Rizzo's door in June screaming for a better bench.

  35. sjm308 - Aug 1, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    Gottcha NJ – I thought maybe you had slipped for a secondPDowdy – I have always enjoyed reading you no matter whose blog you comment on. I remember way back when you tried your hand at starting one and I thought it was very good. Please don't confuse WODL with facts. Between you and Wonk he will not know what to do. I just go with my eyes and like others have said, Span glides to the ball, gets better jumps, and makes hard plays look easier than any centerfielder I have seen wear a Washington uniform and that goes back to 1950. He does not have the best arm but I think he will continue to improve as he learns this league and its batters.Go Nats

  36. MrsB loves the Nats - Aug 1, 2013 at 7:55 PM

    Good post PD – a few of us discussed the fact that the weak bench added or didnt help the Nats out at all… Which is a shame… I definitely think the goon squad over achieved last year but I still wanted Rizzo do a few things (not re-signing C Tracy was one of them)At the point when some of our big bats were out, we kept trotting a line up out that had about 3/4 automatic outs all the time… Can't sustain that of course…

  37. MrsB loves the Nats - Aug 1, 2013 at 7:57 PM

    I was one of the ones who thought that if the other 7 batters lived up to performance, we could carry 1 under achiever (Espi) at the time….It's a shame that everyone isn't performing to the likes we need… I'm not giving up hope of course but I just want to see good baseball… Good clean solid defense and pitching and sustainable offense…

  38. A DC Wonk - Aug 1, 2013 at 8:20 PM

    PDowdy wrote:TThe part that stands out the most to me is the bench. Last year the team put up 3.4 WAR from Bernadina/Tracy/Lombo/Moore. This year that quartet has been worth -3.2. That is an almost 7 win swing. Very nice work, PD!This is in accord with what I wrote in last thread about "nine reasons" we're doing poorly. Here are three of them:5. Bernadina dropping over .100 points6. Tyler Moore dropping over .100 points7. Chad Tracy dropping almost .100 pointsOf course, that's just another way of saying what you are saying: our weak bench seems to be the biggest drop-off, difference and the biggest reason for our woes.

  39. Section 222 - Aug 1, 2013 at 8:23 PM

    According to Fangraphs Span has the third highest WAR on the team.Wonk, doesn't this make you doubt Fangraphs a bit? Even with Span's defense, I can think of several Nats who ought to be considered more valuable than Span, including Desmond, Zim, Harper, Werth, JZnn, Stras, Gio, Clip, and Soriano. Maybe even ALR if his defense is adequately counted. What gives? It's all well and good to disagree strongly with WODL about Span, but relying on this kind of stat seems to undercut your case.

  40. David Proctor - Aug 1, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    I've watched a few games from 2012 over the last few days. It's rather depressing now. But I was looking to see what's different. I was fine getting rid of Morse, but I'm beginning to wonder if we're missing him more than I thought. It seemed like he and ALR were involved in every rally. Of course, it's possible that if ALR performs like he did last year, it's a non-issue. It's hard to say.Also, Zimmerman put up near-MVP numbers the second half of last year. In the second half, he hit .318/.381/.564 with a .945 OPS. He had 17 of his 25 home runs. This team doesn't win 95 games without Ryan Zimmerman playing as well as he did. And while Zimmerman has been a good offensive player this year, he hasn't put up those types of numbers for a sustained period of time.And I think losing Danny Espinosa has hurt more than people realize. Like I said yesterday, Espi was a valuable player last year. He hit for power, he stole bases and he was a key player. Yeah, he struck out too much, but if we could get 2012 Espi back, I would take him back.

  41. David Proctor - Aug 1, 2013 at 8:34 PM

    98 games, of course. Same point though.

  42. A DC Wonk - Aug 1, 2013 at 8:40 PM

    According to Fangraphs Span has the third highest WAR on the team.Wonk, doesn't this make you doubt Fangraphs a bit?Yes (perhaps they are counting a large amount for defensive range? I dunno) — but, in any event, that is why I also included B-R's WAR.My point, in that post, was this: use Fangraphs *or* B-R, either way, Span's WAR this year is already ahead of Morse for last year.

  43. JD - Aug 1, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    222, Desmond has a much higher WAR than Span, Harper is also higher and Werth is equal. Werth and Zim are hurt bu poor defensive rankings (especially Zim). The pitcher's WAR is a whole different category so it can't really be compared. ALR's numbers (relative to his position) are at replacement level as they should be and his defense is ranked 'below average' based on limited range. I think Span is rated appropriately.

  44. A DC Wonk - Aug 1, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    … and my larger point was this: I'm not even trying to prove that Span is worth more to the team than Morse. I was only trying to show that the Nats problems are not caused by acquiring Span. (Thus, my other post of "nine reasons")

  45. Tcostant - Aug 1, 2013 at 8:44 PM

    The Nationals make me cry, byt this article of the Phils made me smile:http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/phillies/The-broken-road-leads-us-back-to-the-Howard-contract.html

  46. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Aug 1, 2013 at 8:45 PM

    The National league average for OBP is .314. Span checks in 9 points higher at .323. The National league average for batting average is .251. Span checks in 18 points higher at .269. I believe these numbers are for all players. The averages for non-pitchers and non-reserves is considerably higher.

  47. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Aug 1, 2013 at 8:53 PM

    This guy deals with the controversial sports issues that the guys who get paid to cover DC sports don't like to deal with because it makes them uncomfortable. He covers the Strasburg shutdown decision that the Post issued a coverage and debate shut-down on last year, and shows that actually many knowledgeable insiders found little or no basis for the shut-down, and little medical basis for Rizzo's action in shutting down Strasburg.http://thefingerman.blogspot.com/

  48. JD - Aug 1, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    David, You are on the money in my opinion. In my mind the following are the main issues: 1)ALR – big drop in production. 2)Zimm – big drop in defense and hitting is good but large drop in power stats. 3)Espinosa – the 2012 production by Espi(offense and defense) has not been recaptured by him or his replacement. 4)Haren hasn't worked out. 5)Soriano signing created unforeseen upheaval and loss of productivity from Storen. 6)Consistently poor in game management. Strange decisions on when to keep starters in the game and when to take them out. 7)Complete failure by the entire bench, most especially loss of production from Tyler Moore.

  49. Section 222 - Aug 1, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    DP, I agree we miss a big bat in the middle of the lineup. That was supposed to be Harper of course, though Werth has stepped up. And if Span had delivered in his leadoff and ALR were playing up to his career numbers, I doubt we'd be missing Morse as much.As for Espi, sure if he were playing like the overall 2012 Espi that would be fine, but he wasn't. And even in AAA, he isn't. And I don't really agree that we're missing him that much. His OPS+ last year was 93. Rendon's OPS+, even after the terrible slump he's been in, was 89. I don't feel like Espi was that big a part of our offensive surge last year, but maybe my memory is clouded by how horribly he played in the playoffs and this year.

  50. David Proctor - Aug 1, 2013 at 9:02 PM

    I really think that the lack of power is what has doomed this team. Look at the power difference (and paces for this year):Desi 2012: 25Desi pace for 2013: 25Morse 2012: 18Span pace for 2013: 3Espinosa 2012: 17Rendon pace for 2013: 6Zimmerman 2012: 25Zimmerman pace for 2013: 18Adam LaRoche 2012: 33Adam LaRoche pace for 2013: 21Harper 2012: 22Harper pace for 2013: 23Werth 2012: 5Werth pace for 2013: 23That's all of the everyday players except for catcher, which is kind of convoluted because of how many people we've used there. Power is down SIGNIFICANTLY across the board. Desi is going to match what he did last year (but he did it in less games last year). Harper and Werth are the only ones who will outperform last year and Werth the only one significantly so.We've lost 12 home runs from LaRoche. I expected to lose some (did not think 33 was going to happen again), but I did not expect to lose that much.Obviously we've lost 15 from the Morse to Span transition.11 from Espinosa to Rendon.7 from Zim, who put up crazy numbers in the second half of last year.That's a lot of power we're missing. This team is not built to play smallball. It's just not. We were at our best when guys were knocking it out of the ballpark. I like Span. And I've defended him a long-time. He is not the problem with the team. But, I don't think he fits into what this team does well. I understand Rizzo's thinking: get a tablesetter and then the home run hitters behind him will drive in more runs. It makes sense. It hasn't really worked out like that. In the offseason, that needs to be something that Rizzo reevaluates. It's a problem.

  51. ChiefWJ - Aug 1, 2013 at 9:03 PM

    With all the discussion in the last two days on CFers, the following information might be interesting (stat references courtesy of baseball-reference):1. The Nats haven’t ever had the same player be the team leader in innings played in CF during different seasons. (Wilkerson, Byrd, Logan, Milledge, Harris, Morgan, Ankiel, Harper, Span). Morgan came the closest but was narrowly beaten out by Willie Harris for team leadership in 2009. I wonder if any other team has duplicated this over a 9-year period.2. The range factor of CFers was significantly higher at RFK than at Nats Park, which should come as no surprise to anyone who was there regularly (sorry, Jose).3. The cumulative range factor per 9 innings of CFers for the entire league has declined every year since 2007 (more strikeouts?)4. Every Nat leader in CF innings has been above the league average for that year, ranging from .32 per game for Brad Wilkerson to .04 per game for Lastings Milledge. Note again that the figures for 2005-2007 are quite different than those for 2008-2013. 5. For Nats Park CFers, Denard Span has the greatest excess of range factor over the league average (2.74 to 2.47). Rick Ankiel had a better range factor in 2011, but the difference between than his number and the league average (2.77 to 2.55) was smaller than Span’s. That’s not to say Ankiel wasn’t better; his arm clearly puts him at or near the top of Nats’ CFers, at least defensively.6. Bryce Harper in 2012 had the lowest range factor per 9 innings of any Nats CFer (2.57), although his excess over that year’s league average was greater than Milledge’s in 2008.

  52. David Proctor - Aug 1, 2013 at 9:05 PM

    That post doesn't even include the power we got from the bench either. Tyler Moore hit 10. That was huge. Bernadina hit 5. Tracy had a few. Ankiel had several. Even Lombo had 2.

  53. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 1, 2013 at 9:06 PM

    TimDZ,.I mentioned Bud Norris several times as a target. His home/road splits are an issue. Yes, he went way too cheap.

  54. NatsLady - Aug 1, 2013 at 9:10 PM

    I love LaRoche but his defense has not been perfect, he had a period there where he made a few errors and missed several balls that he should have reached, and I think that's what Fangraphs picked up on.

  55. Secret wasian man - Aug 1, 2013 at 9:13 PM

    If you have to name one player and one only who killed us this year I would have to Go with ALR. I'd be interested in folks ONE player.

  56. paul brandt - Aug 1, 2013 at 9:16 PM

    SWM, tough one but have to go with Espinosa.

  57. JD - Aug 1, 2013 at 9:17 PM

    NatsLady, If you assume that the core will stay there aren't many places to tweak and I for one don't think it's reasonable to go into next year with the same lineup and expect significantly different results. To me the obvious place to upgrade is 1st base, I don't know how that gets accomplished but I think it needs to happen. BTW, I love Shin Soo Choo's game and his .400 OBP with some pop. But that implies moving Span out or putting Werth at 1st base and I'm not sure either of these solutions is practical.

  58. Secret wasian man - Aug 1, 2013 at 9:17 PM

    MLB network says that the lead the Barves have in the NL East is LAUGHABLE. I think it's cryable

  59. Secret wasian man - Aug 1, 2013 at 9:19 PM

    Paul I forgot about Danny. Ooh you may be right

  60. JD - Aug 1, 2013 at 9:20 PM

    222, Espinosa was a 3.4 WAR player in 2012, just as a reference, on the FA market that translates into roughly $20 mil a year. The loss of his overall contribution is no small thing. To answer SWM, I think it's a tie between ALR and Espinosa.

  61. Another_Sam - Aug 1, 2013 at 9:21 PM

    Did you guys talk about this — why the getaway day gametme when both teams had short trips and a day off?

  62. JD - Aug 1, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    Down on the farm: Robby Ray is pitching tonight for Harrisburg. Blake Schwartz is going for Potomac. The GCL Nats are 30 – 6. So there is hope.

  63. Section 222 - Aug 1, 2013 at 9:33 PM

    JD, I guess I'm getting more and more suspicious of WAR as a measure of value to a team. Seems to me that Harper, Zim, Morse, ALR, and Desi, and maybe Werth were all more important to the team than Espi last year, and that doesn't include our two All-Star pitchers. And Espi only played 44 games this year. Ok fine, we miss his defense, but to say he's the one player who killed us most this year is excessive. I'd go with ALR too. His dropoff has been much more damaging to the team.

  64. NatsLady - Aug 1, 2013 at 9:42 PM

    ATL's lead could get even funnier–Col is putting out a minor-leaguer to pitch, Cargo is resting his sprained finger and Cuddyer is on family leave.

  65. mick - Aug 1, 2013 at 9:53 PM

    Just win next 2 of 3 and win each series at home…that would be a good start…if they can do that, WC is possible. However, i have very serious doubts about this team's desire and fight

  66. JD - Aug 1, 2013 at 10:00 PM

    222, ALR is a very good choice. I just think that everyone wants to under estimate what Espinosa did for us over the entire 2012 season. He was the 3rd best over all 2nd baseman in the NL last year behind only Phillips and Hill and it's not all on the defensive side either.

  67. hiramhover - Aug 1, 2013 at 10:04 PM

    222I hear you but remember WAR is a cumulative stat, and Espi had 650 PA. Many of the other guys you name spent time on the DL.

  68. David Proctor - Aug 1, 2013 at 10:06 PM

    Interesting to note that last year, the Nationals had the 5th highest BABIP in baseball. This year, they have the third worst. So they went from being lucky to being very unlucky. If we had even a league average BABIP, our batting numbers would look much better.

  69. David Proctor - Aug 1, 2013 at 10:12 PM

    The Nationals were .009 ahead of the league average last year in BABIP, which could be classified as "moderately lucky." This year, we're -.014 under the league average, which would be classified as "very unlucky."

  70. NatsLady - Aug 1, 2013 at 10:31 PM

    Also, Espi spent time at shortstop which added to his WAR because WAR figures in position difficulty.So what do you think happened to LaRoche this year? Or do you think he will finish up with a strong August-September, offensively, and that's why Davey keeps him in the lineup?

  71. paul brandt - Aug 1, 2013 at 10:41 PM

    NL, re. ALR, great question…I would not be surprised to hear he's got mono…you don't just lose 17 lbs. in a few months (unless you are really trying) and are then out a few days with the "flu." He looks weak, pale, slow and just run down…all symptoms of mono. Although heck, I probably just described our skipper too so who knows?!

  72. David Proctor - Aug 1, 2013 at 10:49 PM

    LaRoche will get going again. I'm not concerned about that. The problem is that we can't keep suffering through these slumps to get to the streaks.

  73. MrsB loves the Nats - Aug 1, 2013 at 10:50 PM

    But doesn't ALR lose weight like this every year????I'm hoping he can get on… He is a vet, lets hope he finds the answer quick…

  74. David Proctor - Aug 1, 2013 at 11:03 PM

    You know Harper's average got as low as .239 last year? I was watching a game in August and that's what his average was going in (and he promptly hit a triple and home run). I knew his slump was bad, but I didn't recall his average ever being so low.

  75. paul brandt - Aug 1, 2013 at 11:07 PM

    DP, man, are you watching the entire 2012 season all over again? you are a better man than I…too painful…let me know when you get to game 5 and if it ends any differently.#waytoopainful

  76. A DC Wonk - Aug 1, 2013 at 11:12 PM

    Well, going by WAR, the three worst, according to B-R are:TyMo -1.1Lombo -1.1Danny -0.6Tracy -0.6Rendon -0.6For pitchers the lowest are:Storen -1.5Haren -1.0Duke -0.9Nevertheless, perhaps the better measure might be the drop off from one year to the nextSo, ALR went from 4.2 to 0.1Storen and Lombo went down lessDanny 2.6 to -0.6

  77. A DC Wonk - Aug 1, 2013 at 11:14 PM

    Oh — and Harper from 5.2 to 1.8 (!!).

  78. A DC Wonk - Aug 1, 2013 at 11:16 PM

    You know Harper's average got as low as .239 last year? I was watching a game in August and that's what his average was going inI dunno . . . looking at http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=harpebr03&t=b&year=2012 it seems the lowest he got in August was .248That was the second wave of "Davey's an idiot for insisting Harper was ready for MLB" (the first wave was May when he was at .230 after 20 games or so.)

  79. jw - Aug 1, 2013 at 11:24 PM

    from the last thread –WODL — I looked at the Natstradamus blog for your posting on Span vis a vis other Nats centerfielders. I was hoping I'd see your analysis of their fielding percentages, as well as their hitting. http://natstradamus.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/im-sorry-nats-town/I'll add here that while you've offered to look at any stats anyone can bring, for purposes of discussion (and avoiding repetition), it would be helpful to know what stats you have already reviewed, and what conclusions you've reached. If we know can follow along with your analysis, that might reduce the possibility of duplicating your work (or reinventing the wheel). Thanks!

  80. David Proctor - Aug 1, 2013 at 11:25 PM

    Ha, I only watched a couple of games, not the entire season! It is depressing, but it's interesting to watch in hindsight to.I'm not going anywhere near the playoffs though.That's interesting, DC Wonk. The broadcast must have been wrong because I'm pretty certain it said .239.

  81. David Proctor - Aug 1, 2013 at 11:26 PM

    DC Wonk, much of that has to be defensive WAR with Harper. Him playing center is more valuable than playing left.

  82. NatsLady - Aug 1, 2013 at 11:27 PM

    MrsB, yes, LaRoche loses weight in the summer, but not this much. Also he had over the All-Star Break to put weight on, and he didn't. I don't remember him looking like this last year at all.

  83. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 1, 2013 at 11:30 PM

    Section 222 said… JD, I guess I'm getting more and more suspicious of WAR as a measure of value to a team. Seems to me that Harper, Zim, Morse, ALR, and Desi, and maybe Werth were all more important to the team than Espi last year, and that doesn't include our two All-Star pitchers. And Espi only played 44 games this year. Ok fine, we miss his defense, but to say he's the one player who killed us most this year is excessive. I'd go with ALR too. His dropoff has been much more damaging to the team.He didn't have a slow start, he had an abysmal start leaving men on base and RISP by the bus load.I would say his slow April hurt much more than his slow July. He has now shown that he can't be counted on for 2014.On top of that his range just isn't good. You can't put out there a 1st baseman in a power spot whose main value to his team is catching infielder throws that bounce. Sorry.You take the combination of all those sub-Mendoza players (ALR, Espinosa, Tracy, Bernadina, TyMo) in April and disaster was averted only by the great pitching.

  84. NatsLady - Aug 1, 2013 at 11:36 PM

    Harper's batting average on Aug 15 was .245. If you were watching a broadcast on Aug 17 before he got a couple of hits, .239 could be about right.For the 20 games from Jul 24-Aug 15 he hit .143/.244/.195 and was caught stealing twice.

  85. A DC Wonk - Aug 1, 2013 at 11:41 PM

    David Proctor said… DC Wonk, much of that has to be defensive WAR with Harper. Him playing center is more valuable than playing left.Well, it actually might be the simple factor of: he missed a month earlier this season, and: there's still two months in this season (as WAR is cumulative…)

  86. A DC Wonk - Aug 1, 2013 at 11:43 PM

    You take the combination of all those sub-Mendoza players (ALR, Espinosa, Tracy, Bernadina, TyMo) in AprilUghh, I hated when there were three sub .200 guys in the line-up at the same time (during Harper's time away, was there ever _four_ in at the same time?)

  87. David Proctor - Aug 1, 2013 at 11:57 PM

    Roger Bernadina was such a weapon for us last year. Wish we could get that back.

  88. David Proctor - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:02 AM

    Also an update on Tyler Moore, who unlike Danny Espinosa, I think may have figured it out:http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/nationals-journal/wp/2013/08/01/tyler-moore-finds-regular-time-improved-timing/

  89. sjm308 - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:08 AM

    I would think that when you started Espinoza, Tracy, Bernadina and LaRoche you had the 4. I seriously remember being at at least 1game where our pitcher had the 5th highest batting ave.

  90. NatsLady - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:32 AM

    Tulo gets ejected for arguing balls and strikes and then Teheran (the pitcher) gets a double. Atlanta can do no wrong… that's the way it was for us last year.

  91. David Proctor - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:35 AM

    ALR has 4 home runs over his last 50 games. That's easily the worst stretch of his career.

  92. Nats 128 - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:42 AM

    "David Proctor said… ALR has 4 home runs over his last 50 games. That's easily the worst stretch of his career."When he slumped in April he was having dificulty in bending to his side on grounders and that was probaly becuz of his bad back. Seeing it again. At the time the Nats needed to go on a run their power(less) hitting 1st baseman batted .160 in July.

  93. Nats 128 - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:48 AM

    For all the grief on Span his current hot streak has pushed his OPS splits vs RHP over .800. .312/.363/.443/.806Unfortunately his LHP splits got worse: .144/.205/.163/.369How does Davey and Rizzo feel about platoons. You cant bank on Span to start against lefties.Also, Span is 1 for 18 this season against lefty relievers.

  94. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:48 AM

    David Proctor: "That's a lot of power we're missing. This team is not built to play smallball. It's just not. We were at our best when guys were knocking it out of the ballpark.I like Span. And I've defended him a long-time. He is not the problem with the team. But, I don't think he fits into what this team does well. I understand Rizzo's thinking: get a tablesetter and then the home run hitters behind him will drive in more runs. It makes sense. It hasn't really worked out like that. In the offseason, that needs to be something that Rizzo reevaluates.It's a problem. "That is what I think. The mathematics of the issue appear to be due to a clumping effect of runners on base whereby it is basically all or nothing with the Nats. We don't have many four hit innings to score two runs.

  95. NatsLady - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:50 AM

    seems like you could hire a retired lefty to pitch batting practice to Span. Or project life-size video on a screen.

  96. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:52 AM

    Players who killed us the most this year:1. Haren2. Espinosa3. ALR4. Harper5. ZimmermanHarper is way better than what we have gotten this year.

  97. Nats 128 - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:53 AM

    Adam Kilgore‏@AdamKilgoreWP2m Nats announce Mike Rizzo has been promoted to President of Baseball Operations and signed a "long-term" deal.

  98. Nats 128 - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:54 AM

    and that Tweet isnt a April Fools joke! That is shocking to me. Rizzo even rated himself as a C and he gets promoted.

  99. James Joyce - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:54 AM

    WOah!! They just rewarded Rizzo as if he had actually won something. Holy cow. Nutso. They guy is midling. $126M to Werth; $100M to a bawky-armed Zim; $28M to Soriano; $24M to LaRoche; $13M to Haren; $5M for Lannan to star in Cuse, etc. Iffy trade for Span. The guy had been worng A LOT and is a one trick pony to date. Headscratcher.

  100. NatsLady - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:55 AM

    Part of the problem was Davey's insistence on L/R/L/R instead of using Span and Harper to actually SET the table for RZim and Werth and Desi. Then LaRoche should be hitting lower.

  101. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:57 AM

    David Proctor said… Interesting to note that last year, the Nationals had the 5th highest BABIP in baseball. This year, they have the third worst. So they went from being lucky to being very unlucky. If we had even a league average BABIP, our batting numbers would look much better.That is why I think results of teams with a core group can indeed be lucky over a string of seasons. Most of the fans who watch baseball think of luck as being discreet within a season but we see over and over where the same core group of guys will do better some years than others, and that is without accounting for injuries.This is a stinker of a season, that has been slightly worse than necessary.

  102. Nats 128 - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:59 AM

    In a statement, Rizzo says "We’ve made significant progress toward our goal of competing for a World Series Championship"Come on this is meant to be funny. RIght?

  103. paul brandt - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:03 AM

    I don't have a problem with the Rizzo announcement, timing is a bit odd but he's done more good than bad with this team. Maybe they are showing potential FA's that they are stable since we all know they are getting a new manager in a few months. Sorry but Rizzo isn't the problem, its the players on the field that are not performing.

  104. SCNatsFan - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:07 AM

    I like the timing showing faith by the owner in the direction even in a lost season. I'm glad he is staying.

  105. David Proctor - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:10 AM

    The #Nats announced that Mike Rizzo has signed a new, long-term contract and been promoted to President of Baseball Operations & GMSo much for everyone who wanted him run out of town.

  106. James Joyce - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:11 AM

    Where is the progress toward the WS goal? They are losing and this is after they went out and spent a bunch of money. And promoting Rizzo after he fires Eck and demotes Storen for not performing sends a mixed message. Mike's performance is iffy not promotion-worthy. Makes no sense.

  107. paul brandt - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:15 AM

    hate to admit it but I am watching the O's and even though they were down 2-0 in the 5th they played smart baseball, moved the line, hit line-drives and are now up 5-2…yes, its the Astros, but when we are down 2-0 late in a game, it's over, you can see it the way they all carry themselves.Not calling our Nats gutless but they are just missing something "internal" in my opinion…almost like they are all Glum from Gulliver's Travels all screaming at once…"it will never work, we're doomed…"

  108. Nats 128 - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:22 AM

    David, I dont want the man run out of town however Rizzo has to improve. I think hes made some good moves and some poor moves. He has to learn by his mistakes and get stronger in making trades.Before the Hot Stove he had a multitude of choices on how he could spend money and he spent about $42 million on 3 Free Agent players named Laroche, Haren, Soriano of which 2 are being called the big mistakes of the 2013 season.

  109. Nats 128 - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:27 AM

    I think the timing of the promotion had more to do with making sure NO Nats were on the Biogenesis report.Either that or a coincidence.

  110. UnkyD - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:27 AM

    Congrats, Riz!!! Now stick to your guns… I trust your judgement!!!

  111. Nats 128 - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:28 AM

    Yah, Paul. The Os lost yesterday 11-0 against the worst team in the Majors.

  112. David Proctor - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:28 AM

    new post

  113. paul brandt - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:38 AM

    Nats 128 said…Yah, Paul. The Os lost yesterday 11-0 against the worst team in the Majors.128, no question and that happens to the best of them but I like how they are coming back & FWIW they are 10 games over .500 and every team gets blown out over the course of a year sooner than later.

  114. SonnyG10 - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:11 AM

    David Proctor said…Also an update on Tyler Moore, who unlike Danny Espinosa, I think may have figured it out:This is good to hear. I was afraid the Nats were ruining TyMo's development by making him a bench player. Hopefully they've righted that problem. If Zimmerman stays at third next year, I wouldn't mind seeing if TyMo could permanently replace ALR next year; or heck, even this year.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 57 46 --
ATLANTA 58 48 0.5
MIAMI 52 53 6.0
NEW YORK 51 55 7.5
PHILADELPHIA 46 60 12.5
Through Monday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
TUE: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Marlins, 12:40 p.m.
THU: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Orioles at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

Follow us on Twitter