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Record-setting woes with men in scoring position

Apr 25, 2014, 12:57 AM EDT

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If the Nationals keep giving themselves opportunities to drive in runs, they will eventually convert at least some of those opportunities, that’s what Matt Williams insists.

“It’s part of the game, and it is the game,” the rookie manager said after watching his team go a staggering 0-for-16 with runners in scoring position during Thursday night’s 4-3, 12-inning loss to the Padres. “We’ll take our chances with that many guys out there all night.”

Perhaps the law of averages suggests Williams will be proven right. It’s got to be statistically impossible to be that inept in clutch situations over the course of a full season, right?

Maybe so, but that still didn’t ease the sting of Thursday’s loss, one in which the Nationals presented themselves with opportunity after opportunity after opportunity to deliver the one hit that would have won this game and left everybody feeling better at the end of a long night at the ballpark.

How bad were the Nationals at situational hitting? Well, this was the first time in Expos/Nationals franchise history they went 0-for-16 with runners in scoring position. It’s only the 19th time since 1976 that any MLB club went 0-for-16 or worse with runners in scoring position. (The record since this stat has been recorded is 0-for-19, accomplished by the 1977 Pirates, 2004 Red Sox and 2013 Mets.)

Adding to the mind-numbing nature of this game: The Nationals, as a whole, were quite productive at the plate. They went 16-for-34 against a good Padres pitching staff when there weren’t any runners in scoring position. They just couldn’t deliver once in the situations that really mattered.

“Could be some bad luck there,” said second baseman Danny Espinosa, who went 3-for-4 without runners in scoring position, 0-for-2 with them. “At the same time, they can make pitches. I don’t know. Every guy’s got a different approach there, so you can’t really tell what everyone is doing. Nobody’s trying to get out.”

Of course not, but is it fair to question the approach some players took to those situations? For example, three times in the game’s final five innings the Nationals had their leadoff man on second base with nobody out. In a tie game late, the next batter’s responsibility was simple: Advance the runner to third base by any means necessary.

All three batters (Jose Lobaton in the eighth, Zach Walters in the 10th, Tyler Moore in the 12th) struck out.

“I think we’re trying too hard,” said Lobaton, who was the victim of genuine back luck when he lined out hard to shortstop to end the game in the bottom of the 12th. “We’re trying too hard. We’ve just got to relax and let the ball drive. It’s going to happen. I know we’ve got a pretty good team. We can do better and better.”

Williams was asked if he considered bunting the runner to third in any of those situations.

“Yeah,” he said. “Zach’s up there looking for a groundball to second base. And [Padres reliever Tim Stauffer] ended up striking out the side, so it wouldn’t have mattered anyway, moving him over. And in the last inning, against [closer Huston Street], he’s kinda the same guy, too. Real good changeup. And Loby put a nice at-bat on him. Just happened to be right at him. So there was opportunity.”

This may have been the most-dramatic overall display of poor situational hitting by the Nationals this season, but it wasn’t their first display of it. They’re now hitting a collective .250 as a team, but only .206 with runners in scoring position, only .160 with two outs and runners in scoring position.

They’ve stranded a total of 176 runners on base in 23 games, tops in the National League.

“We want to win,” Lobaton said. “We’re there to win. I think everybody wants to. We’re trying to do the best. I can see in the dugout, everybody wants to. I know it’s going to happen. I know the offense is going to be better and better. I know everybody is working for that. We’ve got to just get past this day and get ready for tomorrow.”

101 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. breakbad1 - Apr 25, 2014 at 1:46 AM

    2014 is the new 2013.

    • sunshinebobby - Apr 25, 2014 at 7:53 AM

      +1

  2. texnat1 - Apr 25, 2014 at 2:05 AM

    MW is to blame for not having Walters bunt, especially given these RISP woes.

    Hard to overlook that blunder.

    • nats128 - Apr 25, 2014 at 7:32 AM

      Hard not to look at the Padres stats of how good there bullpen is. Why arent you bunting to force them to make a mistake. Then you dont even need a hit. They got a 3rd baseman in who already flubbed one bunt attempt. Its just hard to believe unless you tell me Zach Walters doesnt know how to bunt.

    • NatsNut - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:20 AM

      Yep. That one thing lost the whole game. ;)

  3. secretwasianman - Apr 25, 2014 at 4:00 AM

    Season is gone already.

    • Steady Eddie - Apr 25, 2014 at 6:29 AM

      So what do you get out of still being here and repeating that same comment?

      • scnatsfan - Apr 25, 2014 at 7:37 AM

        No in one shape or another that post will be made over and over in every thread because it adds so much to the discussion

      • Steady Eddie - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:18 AM

        Ah, sweet enlightenment! So it’s all about value added after all.

      • Joe Seamhead - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:37 AM

        Yes, and if nothing else, last night’s game was entertaining.

      • secretwasianman - Apr 25, 2014 at 2:36 PM

        Satisfaction from aggravating you

      • Steady Eddie - Apr 25, 2014 at 5:58 PM

        Thank you for the confirmation that it was at that adolescent a level. Now that you’ve confirmed it, I will go back to skipping all your posts.

    • adcwonk - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:13 AM

      Yep — come back next March.

    • adcwonk - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:17 AM

      Yep. Come back next March.

  4. Hiram Hover - Apr 25, 2014 at 7:39 AM

    If the Nationals keep giving themselves opportunities to drive in runs, they will eventually convert at least some of those opportunities, that’s what Matt Williams insists.

    Yes, and common sense, history, and statistics agree.

    • NatsLady - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:27 AM

      Absolutely. I am having fun with Baseball References’ Play Index. Times that a team batted .320, scored 3 or more runs with 2 home runs, did NOT GIDP and lost the game, LOB = greater than 14.

      Seven games since the year 2000. Can’t find a game where the opponents only scored 4 runs, most of them are slugfests. So in thousands and thousands of games this happened ONCE.. I’ll take my chances.

      • Hiram Hover - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:44 AM

        Thanks for digging out the #s, NL.

        This was an incredibly frustrating game, but there’s a good chance it won’t happen again tonite!

  5. nats128 - Apr 25, 2014 at 7:41 AM

    Matty’s response to having Walters bunt: “Yeah,” he said. “Zach’s up there looking for a groundball to second base. And [Padres reliever Tim Stauffer] ended up striking out the side, so it wouldn’t have mattered anyway, moving him over”

    If Lobaton is standing at 3rd with 1 out, the pressure is up on Stauffer. He has to change the way he is pitching with a runner on 3rd. Hes not going to bounce a ball in the dirt for fear of a WP, and a productive out can become the GW RBI. I guess Matt forgot what Span did on his Walkoff last week.

  6. Hiram Hover - Apr 25, 2014 at 7:44 AM

    So when do the “fire Rick Schu!” comments begin?

    ‘Cause as we learned last year, it’s all the batting coach’s fault.

    • ehay2k - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:16 AM

      Not going to hear that from me. Last year, we may not have even had 16 base runners in a month, let alone a game.

      For whatever reason, Eck was not effective. There is no real argument to the contrary. Even Boz agrees Eck’s departure led to positive results.

      In just one stark contrast, Schu has worked wonders so far with Espi, a player Eck could not help. Span under Eck or Span under Schu, who would you rather have?

      0-16 looks worse than it is, because you can’t get that many base runners without doing a lot right at the plate in the first place.

      • tcostant - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:21 AM

        All good points – remember that you need to have a lot of guys on base, in order to go 0-16 with RISP. I’m just saying…

      • Hiram Hover - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:44 AM

        I was being tongue in cheek. My real point is that a hitting coach doesn’t matter nearly as much as people were saying last year.

        But whatever difference Schu can make, he needs to make it now with Desi.

      • mauimo22 - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:45 AM

        Hitting coach makes ALL the difference. Now we need a “RISP Management Specialist” !
        MW is showing his rookie managerial mistakes but not manufacturing runs better but the MENTAL APPROACH of the players is horrible. Quick taking these BIG HACKS and put the damn ball in play or talk a walk.

        This ship better be righted soon and I agree with Yogi Berra:

        Baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical.

      • Hiram Hover - Apr 25, 2014 at 3:56 PM

        Baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical.

        So what % does that leave for the hitting coach?

  7. chaz11963 - Apr 25, 2014 at 7:46 AM

    We stayed for the whole game last night. It was painful to watch them squander so many opportunities. It really should have been blow out. ZNN and Stammen pitched really well. Very frustrating, yet again though, they never gave up and pressed right up until the last out. Despite the frustration, I can live with this loss. At least they are hitting.

    The worst part is the Mets are now in 2nd place and the Phillies are a half game behind us.

  8. sunshinebobby - Apr 25, 2014 at 7:54 AM

    My theory: the Big Marine has everybody so tight and so nervous, they can’t execute with men on base.

    Does Matt Williams always have to look like he’s about ready to jump over the table and put a half-Nelson on you?

    Heck, the guy makes me nervous just watching his post-game pressers.

    • NatsNut - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:21 AM

      Haha. Me too.

  9. laddieblahblah - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:16 AM

    It’s not just that they left 16 RISP, they did it while compiling 16 hits! What are the odds of that happening? Does anyone think it is likely to happen, again? Just another 2 feet toward the hole and Lobaton’s liner would have tied the game.

    Tough loss, but they fought down to the last out.

    • NatsLady - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:28 AM

      See above. This game has NEVER happened–not with giving up only four runs. Well, never before.

  10. AlexandriaNatFan - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    Fully agree with the lack of situational bunting and that could have won the game for us…twice…last night. But I don’t think the “season is gone already” comment is accurate, constructive or has any semblance to anyone with any baseball experience.

    Btw, for what it’s worth, in reference to Zuckerman’s comment about other teams having the record for being 0 for 19 with RISP…as he said, the 2004 Red Sox were one of those teams…and that’s not the only thing they accomplished that historic year….just sayin…

  11. NatsLady - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:34 AM

    The team got 16 hits, and they weren’t just punchy singles. They batted .320 (16 for 50), and didn’t GIDP a single time, and the pitchers only gave up four runs (I’m not sure why Stammen’s run was earned). If you don’t want that offense with that pitching–find another team! The runs will come. What stymied us the most (IMO) was Desi stepping up to the plate. .164/.220/.236 over the last 14 days. Rendon seems to be on one day, off the next, but I bear in mind he’s only in his second year and hasn’t seen most of these pitchers, ever.

    • Eric - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:59 AM

      Agreed re: Desi. If Desi we a that it would change a lot.

      • Eric - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:31 AM

        Wow.

        If Desi *were a threat* it would change a lot. Thanks autocorrect!

    • Hiram Hover - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:16 AM

      Desi is clearly scuffling.

      He’s never walked much, and that hasn’t changed (5.6% career walk rate, 5.2% 2014).

      His K rate is way up – career is 21.2%, 2014 is 32.3%. He’s chasing more pitches outside the zone and making contact far less often (his contact rate on balls outside the zone has gone from 62.2% last year to 35.9% this year). He’s also connecting less when he swings at pitches inside the zone – 77.8% career, 63.9% in 2014.

      He’s a valuable and necessary part of this team – the “bench/trade Desi” calls are all BS. But he does need a reboot/retool.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:24 AM

        I don’t think you bench Desi.. I think the trade talk is people just flying off at the handle, imo… but the only way he can get it together is to play… Hopefully Schu is working with him in the batting cage to settle him down and remind him that he is flying open, etc…

        I got faith in Desi… we know he is an aggressive batter.. hurts to see him struggling like he is especially since he isn’t showing up in clutch situations but he will get it… I got faith!

      • Eric - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:27 AM

        I don’t think giving him one day off would be the worst thing in the world, but beyond that I think it’s way too soon to throw in the towel on him.

        On the other hand, if he’s still scuffling when Zim gets back, and if Espi’s still on fire, I wouldn’t be opposed to Espi at SS, Rendon at 2nd, and Zim at 3rd.

      • texnat1 - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:27 AM

        One thing is for sure, you don’t bat him fifth when he is playing like this.

        He came up in some key situations in which it would have been much better to have Harper or Espi up last night.

        We can look at the hits and stranded runners and shake our heads and say its bad luck. But at least some of that luck is what you make on your own. Batting automatic outs 5th and failing to bunt with a guy like Walters in obvious bunting situations are self-inflicted mistakes.

        MW needs to put on his big boy pants. Ask your bench coach if you can’t manage a game yourself.

  12. Natsfool - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:36 AM

    MW’s statement is premised on the assumption that the Nats will keep giving themselves these opportunities. I don’t buy it. The plate approach is bad, especially in high leverage situations. Our scoring will get worse until we bring in one or two better hitters, maybe by trading Desmond. I am amazed Desi hasn’t torn his oblique with the way he swings.

    • Eric - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:28 AM

      They’ve been doing it all season so far. What makes you think they’ll stop now?

  13. Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:57 AM

    Couple of things… As I fell asleep on the game last night…

    1. Did MW (or can anyone here) give an explamnation on why a bunt green light was given to our #8 pull hitter Lobo… I know I screamed at the TV and curse MW out something serious… Why is lobo trying to bunt?

    2. Did MW (or can anyone here) give an en explanation on why bunt green light was NOT given to Z Walters.. look, he isn’t going to come in every game and hit a damn HR.

    Losses like that happen, we have hardly no luck with babip (well Span may start to be getting lucky in that regard) but the law of averages say that we it will start to happen soon.

    • texnat1 - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:31 AM

      Re: number 2

      He apparently made some comment about how Walters was trying to hit a grounder to 2nd. I have never heard a manager suggest that hitting a grounder to second intentionally is a higher percentage play than the sacrifice bunt. But there you have it. He also made some excuse about how it didn’t matter because the pitcher struck out the side anyways. But needless to say that next AB might well have been totally different if the batter knows they only need a flyball rather than a hit.

      He needs to stop being cute and play the percentages.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:38 AM

        People kill me when they say ‘well the next at bat wouldn’t have mattered…’

        Give me a damn break… had the bunt been successful, then that changes the whole at bat and situation..

        Does MW think we are stupid…

      • mauimo22 - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:47 AM

        Agreed. I’m not impressed with Matty so far.

  14. Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:58 AM

    Also, Desi is becoming an automatic out and a rally killer… I hope to goodness he gets on soon.

    • scnatsfan - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:07 AM

      Agree, he needs to stop looking at his bat and wondering if he is going to touch the ball with it

  15. coolhandbane - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:14 AM

    The thing that gets me is that after every thing loss or even bad performance, some people say the nats are “overrated”, “outmatched”, “one of the worst teams in the league” and “will finish last in the division. You shouldnt have a football like mentality on a baseball season. I am saying his now because it is still April but this is a LONG season. They have time to turn it around. This is not last season.

    Remember, “Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical.” If they can get mentally better, we will get better.

    Positive thoughts.

  16. tcostant - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:14 AM

    I’ve never seen a team, so bad at, getting a guy in from 3B with less than two outs. And I watch some Mets teams back in the early 90’s who were were better bad at that two.

    In other news, our boards own Nats106, caught Espi HR last night, here is the clip:

    http://m.nationals.mlb.com/video/topic/8877508/v32355845/sdwsh-espinosa-sends-a-homer-to-left-to-cut-deficit

    • adcwonk - Apr 25, 2014 at 4:00 PM

      Nice!!

  17. Theophilus T.S. - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:15 AM

    There are two anomalies in the box score — one which, at least, explains the outcome. First, the Nats get big nights at the plate (but not much in the way of run-productivity) from three guys — Spann, Espinosa, Lobaton — from whom not much is ordinarily expected. If Williams thinks these guys are going to put up eight hits in a game more than rarely, and lead the turnaround, he’s deluding himself. The other is that two guys from whom big things are expected — Rendon and Desmond — contributed absolutely nothing (and with Desmond it’s pretty much a trend). These guys are expected to have good (if not big) nights on a regular basis and if either of them had done anything last night the outcome would have been different. Conclusion: the Nats have vastly diminished chances when their “leaders” are letting the team down. Rendon seems to be in the phase of adjusting to pitchers’ adjustments. Desmond appears to be in yet another self-induced slump resulting from compulsive free swinging, waiting for Stan Musial to appear in a dream to teach him — again — how to hit.

    Without diminishing how valuable Lobaton has been, Ramos will be a big upgrade when he returns. Zimmerman will add some power — although I rather think the defense will be more unsteady. If Williams really expects this trend to reverse itself he needs high octane performance from the players who are supposed to provide it.

    • texnat1 - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:33 AM

      Rendon contributed a sac fly, but I understand your point.

      One thing that would help would be putting a guy that is currently an automatic out as low in the batting order as possible rather than hitting him fifth. It’s pretty much common sense, and given MW’s willingness to move people around constantly, it is hard to rationalize batting Desi 5th.

      If Harper or Espi hit fifth last night, the Nats probably win.

  18. Joe Seamhead - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:34 AM

    The good: Leads them in home runs (4), is tied for second in RBI’s (13)
    The bad: Is batting .200
    The ugly: Leads team in strikeouts with 31 K’s in 90 AB’s, leads team in GDP’s with 6 (and there would be at least 2 more if not for Harper breaking them up with hard slides), leads team and league with 8 errors.

    This is not the prototypical Ian Desmond we are seeing here. This team needs him to step it up.

  19. Natsfool - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:40 AM

    At this point, I don’t believe Desi will ever get it. You have to make the pitcher come to you. You can choke up on a bat, you know, and hit for contact. Easy to say but hard to do when your down on yourself and struggling. It requires brutal honesty to be a winning franchise. Desi is very good trade bait. We have options defensively at short and his bad habits seem to affect others.

    • therealjohnc - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:27 AM

      Welcome to Nats Town, Natsfool! I hope you stay a while.

      You must be new in town because for years Riggleman tried to turn Desmond into exactly the kind of hitter you are talking about. Choke up, hit for contact, take the ball to right field. The result? Desmond was every bit as bad as he is now, but without the occasional power. We’ve seen that movie; no, thanks.

      Desmond is who he is – he’s effective when he swings hard and aggressively. That’s the guy who has put up back-to-back Silver Sluggers seasons and been among the best SS in the league. So you’re going to punt two consecutive seasons of premium production based on less than four weeks of data? That’s not “brutal honesty” it’s just knee-jerk talk radio levels of dumb.

      • texnat1 - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:35 AM

        Agree with John. Desi is who he is. And though his approach is unorthodox (and, frankly, unfortunate), it works for him. And his numbers speak for themselves.

        The fact that he is not really capable of changing his approach to account for situations is something you need to consider when weighing whether to pay him near 20 million a year for something like six years, however.

      • Hiram Hover - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:42 AM

        Agree that there’s no point in trying to change Desi into a different hitter.

        But he does need to get back to being the hitter who was so successful the last 2 years – see my comment upthread for some #s about what’s different this year – mainly, he’s swinging and missing a lot more.

      • Natsfool - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:58 AM

        Yes, I grew up in Cards country but love the Nats. What you are basically saying is Desi can’t do what every little league player is taught to do with 2 strikes. Awards aside, if you cannot hit the situation, you are just a flawed hitter. He’s done it his way for 2 years, but the league adjusts. If he can’t what does that tell you about him?

  20. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:51 AM

    MW says he wanted Walters to hit rightside to move Lobaton to 3rd.  Do you think Walters is Yadier Molina? This kid has exactly TWENTY, count them, 20 Major League plate appearances and you really expect him to hit a ball to 2nd base?

    Keep giving away games MW.  The Padres all but gift wrapped a win last night. Yes, I know MW expected his players to execute and not K 10 times with 8 of those 10 Ks with RISP.

    MW talked about being aggressive and force the other team to mow mistakes. Alexi Amarista was playing 3rd base instead of Headley and you must force him to field a bunt like Espi did earlier in the game.

    You are playing for 1 run in that situation to win the game. The pressure at that point was on Stauffer and the Padres with Lobaton on 2nd and no outs. Have you seen Zach’s stats from AAA last year? 134 K’s in 487 ABs and that was facing many career Minor League pitchers. Zach has had 9 sac bunts in his MiLB career.

    Keep telling us you really had a reasonable expectation Zach Walters could roll a grounder to that 3.5 hole.

    • jd - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:02 AM

      Ghost,

      You are 100% right. I can’t argue with anything you say, it’s also interesting that in a similar situation in the 8th inning he had Lobaton who was clearly uncomfortable bunting against Benoit give away a valuable out so if anything the consistency in the decision making isn’t there. I only hope MW is simply going through a rookie manager’s learning curve and this is not what we can expect all year.

      At the same time if you keep playing 1 run games you are going to be close to .500.The other night we stole 1 from the Angels and last night the Padres stole 1 from us. That’s the nature of the beast. As a superior team, and we all feel that we have a superior team (not all but most) it would be nice to get some 3 run homers and 4 run innings occasionally so we don’t have to live and die on 1 play every night.

      • tcostant - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:08 AM

        What’s the point of getting the guy to 3B with less than two outs? On this team, that guyt never gets home on an out anyway.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:15 AM

        Great points JD on Lobaton in the 8th. If MW could just freeze frame and call a timeout I think he would’ve made better decisions. The game seems to be moving too quick at times the last week.

        Do you realize it was the Padres who arrived in DC at 4AM. Tired teams make mistakes and the Padres were depleted and tied and it looked the opposite from what I saw. The game was gift wrapped for MW and he blew it.

      • texnat1 - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:39 AM

        JD,

        good points also. I will say that when it comes to percentage plays, I am not very tolerant of a rookie manager’s learning curve (not that my tolerance counts for anything, ha!).

        He has a bench coach. These guys all know what the book says. If he is having trouble figuring things out fast enough then he should just stick with by the book decisions until he gets his feet under him.

    • texnat1 - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:37 AM

      Well said.

      The only excuse I can think of is that the book on Walters is that he is a terrible bunter, and MW just doesn’t want to come out and say that. Does anyone know if that is the case?

      I almost hope it is. Because if its not, we have a manager who thinks its a higher percentage play to ask an infielder who is not a contact hitter to try to hit a ground ball to the 2b than to simply bunt.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:38 AM

        9 career successful Sac Bunts

      • texnat1 - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:41 AM

        Worrisome. MW needs a benching like Harper did.

        I guess the equivalent would be a behind the scenes dressing down from Rizzo. Stop freelancing MW! You don’t have the chops yet.

    • therealjohnc - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:58 AM

      Everyone always assumes that a sac bunt will be successful; that’s where the conversations start on sacrifice bunts. It’s touching, really.

      Nine sacrifice bunts in five seasons and suddenly the kid is going to get one down in the extra innings of a major league game. He might. And he’s about as likely to get the game winning hit. Let’s see, which do I like better: a roll of the dice on a game winning hit, or a roll of the dice on giving up an out to move the runner along? One ends the game, the other doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I hear all of the advantages if you can get the runner to third. But don’t pretend it’s simply a matter of squaring the batter around and bunting. And don’t pretend that there is no possibility that, even if (putting aside popups and other assorted bunt fails) Walters gets the bunt down, that with a slow runner on second it’s guaranteed to advance the runner. There is a real risk that Walters’s bunt ends up getting Lobaton thrown out at third (SS covers third, takes the throw). So congratulations, not only have you given up an out, but you no longer have a runner in scoring position.

      Admit it; it’s possible that rather than flunking Baseball 101 Williams considered all the possibilities and made a rationale decision in the heat of the moment. Just because it didn’t work out doesn’t mean that other possibilities had a better chance of success.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:06 AM

        John, thoughtful post but save it the point/counterpoint debate on me. The kid has 20 MLB plate appearances, I would say if you have him swing away he will K or make an unproductive out based on his stats going back in history.

        His history says he has laid down successful bunts and I have no knowledge of his bunting ability other than his stat sheet. Lobaton has 4 Sac bunts in his 622 PA career and MW had him bunting. Who do I expect to be more successful, Lobaton or Walters. My money is on Walters.

        When you learn there are few guarantees and all you can go on is statistical and situational likelihood you will understand the game better.

      • therealjohnc - Apr 25, 2014 at 12:01 PM

        When you learn there are few guarantees and all you can go on is statistical and situational likelihood you will understand the game better.

        Heh. Suffice it to say taht we should all strive to understand the game better.

        After thinking through a wide variety of factors (which you dismiss as “point/counterpoint debate”) the morning after I had to admit that there were a lot of moving parts to Williams’s decision and that there is a good chance (based on a fair number of variables not immediately in evidence) that he was right. You assume that you can provide a calculation out to a statistical nicety based solely on your reading of Walters’s stat sheet. Well, not only does Williams have that stat sheet, he has a LOT of knowledge that we simply don’t have access to, such as: (1) awareness from talking to the player what the player feels comfortable with; (2) Williams’s own personal assessment from watching the player during batting practice and drills throughout spring training; and (3) the assessments and reports of those in the organization who have been working with Walters since he was drafted by the team – including Randy Knorr, the bench coach. Unlike you (and others on this thread) I’m willing to acknowledge the possibility that Williams made a decision based on all the factors in play that, while ultimately it did not work, gave the team the greatest chance of winning.

        For me, I don’t ask that a manager make the decision that I would have made. As long as I understand the rationale, I’m generally OK with it even if it’s a different decision. Because not only is it possible that I don’t have all the facts, it’s possible that I’m just wrong.

  21. zmunchkin - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    I find it somewhat ironic/amusing that both here and the WaPo NJ blog, the a lot of comments from last year year are diametrically opposite.

    Last year: Davey is too laid back and he needs to light a fire under the players.

    This year: MW is putting too much pressure on them.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:09 AM

      I don’t buy that MW is putting too much pressure in them. I think MW is making too many mental errors in his own coaching with the youngsters. Every action late in a tied game is crucial as you deplete your bullpen and bench.

      The Padres were dry. Why not Strasburg instead of TyMo to bunt Harper to 3rd? The Nats had the upper hand but played a game as if they needed a 2 run inning.

      MW promised us when he was hired that he would put the pressure in the other team to make mistakes not the opposite.

      • micksback1 - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:22 AM

        hello old friend

        I am having my doubts on MW. Usually the next manger that follows a legend fails so maybe the next skipper will be the one to lead the Nats to achieve their potential. I am sourng quickly on MW, clearly his Spring training regiment did not change things in the least in any areas of the game. i justhope Rizzo and te Lerners do not wait too long

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:37 AM

        MW was flawless until the Braves series and messed up his planning. MW has to realize that he can’t make the plays for his guys but must put them in the best situation to succeed for their abilities.

        We should all be concerned but the fact is he isn’t making the errors on the field or not executing at the plate. Nats in Hi Lev had been very good until yesterday as a team.

        The bench is awful right now. McLouth had a chance to put bat on ball and can’t do it and Walters and TyMo are being exploited now that the other teams have a scouting report on them. They need to find a way to DL McLouth and get him on a rehab assignment and restart him. Frandsen is back to ordinary after his hot start.

    • Hiram Hover - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:11 AM

      The one constant – on the internet, people complain.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:23 AM

        People were complaining last week about the lack of hits… and I said, idc how many hits they get… I want the runs…

        Case in point, we got a ton of hits last night and couldn’t do anything with it.

      • zmunchkin - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:27 AM

        I agree that MW is making a lot of mistakes. Hopefully they are rookie mistakes that he will learn from and not repeat.

        And I doubly agree on Stras to bunt Harper to 3rd.

        And now that Livo has some official duties, lets add one more. Teaching the rest of the team, including the pitchers how to bunt. Really expands the bench if you can use your other starters to bunt someone over.

        And one of the things that Livo did better than anyone else I have ever seen is that he knew how to subtly get in the way of the fielder to give just a little more time for the runner to advance. I can’t count how many times I saw him drop the ball down the first base so softly that the catcher had to go around him to field the ball.

    • 6ID20 - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:58 AM

      They played tight under Davey and they’re playing tight under Matt. It’s not the manager’s fault.

  22. micksback1 - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    game was frustrating, Espi at bat sucked and the game should have been won then. the risp is unacceptale. I know MW is calm wit the media, I hope he kicks some ass privately. This is BS!!!

    So let me see, i guess suggesting that Desi should sit a few games is still an extreme position,l even though he is hittng 200 and falling. I posted this at 23, at 220, at 215 and I guess 201 is still OK for some and i bet i would stil take heat if he hits 150?

    • jd - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:29 AM

      Mick,

      Didn’t Espi go 3 for 6 with a HR? which of his AB’s sucked?

      MW should kick his own ass for some of the strange decisions he made last night.

      • micksback1 - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:35 AM

        Espi is hitting well, I was only refering to his last at bat. I am impresse with how Espi worked his issues out, i really thought he was going to connect. I probably should not have one after him. Now, Desi may have to do the same and sit, his season is terrible so far and he is killing this team the way Espi did in 2013, howver so many are in denial

      • Eric - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:26 AM

        Didn’t Espi in his last at bat work the count to 3-1 and then get jammed for a pop out? I seem to recall it was anything but a terrible AB, and that he was beaten by movement.

  23. NatsNut - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    From another website that rhymes with Vashington Most: “‘I had really good stuff and everything was working,’ Zimmermann said. ‘It’s just unacceptable going six innings with the stuff I had. Just frustrating. You throw 90-some pitches and two of them aren’t where you wanted them to be.'”

    Sounds like a direct dig at MW. And Wednesday night, even from the left field 200-level seats, I could see Gio cursing like a sailor all the way back to the dugout. I wonder if this will become a theme.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:18 AM

      JZim was taking the blame for that 2 run double. That was no dig at MW that was swallowing the grenade and taking the blame himself.

  24. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:23 AM

    There is a managing guide of axioms and one is to play for the tie at home while on the road you play for the win.

    Bryce has that gift double to start the 12th. MW had a chance to bunt him over and bring in Strasburg to bunt and instead went to TyMo to swing away.

    Just another head scratcher. Apply pressure on the opposition not on yourself.

  25. Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    Naw, MW isn’t putting too much pressure… But some of his decision making has been questionable. I am still baffled at Lobo trying to bunt… a pull hitter… all I kept thinking was – why???

    And as I suggested before, MW could have put 1 of the pitchers – Gio or SS in for Z Walters to bunt… You don’t send Z Walters in to bunt at that time…

    Im sorry, this is about the 3/4 game that I can think of where MW’s decision cost us the game…

    Yes, we should have hit more but the manager has to step up in key situations…

    • jd - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:43 AM

      Look,

      I’m not gonna pass judgement on MW after 23 games. Clearly he is still adjusting to his team and managing at the major league level and that’s fine. I think he’s also hurt by the fact that he doesn’t have all of his horses available. wouldn’t it be nice that in game situations you had Ramos or Zimmerman instead of Walters and Moore?

      As I said before the results in 1 run games will even out in the end. None of this would be an issue if someone hit a 3 run homer somewhere along the way or if the team strung together a bunch of hits and pushed 3 – 4 runs in an inning or 2.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:47 AM

        But they didn’t hit the 3 run.. and sometimes 1 run games are what we are dealth with… we need the manager to think outside the box, and make the right decisions…

        Asking Lobo to bunt is not a good decision… Asking Walters to not bunt is not a good decision (As I said earlier, I wouldn’t have used Walters, I would have put a pitcher in)..

        MW has made some costly decisions, lets not act like he hasn’t…

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:52 AM

        And I don’t think anyone is ‘passing judgement’ more so making observations that some of his managerial decisions have cost us games… I still support him, don’t think he should be fired or any of that non-sense.. I just think he has made some mistakes and I hope he learns from them..

      • jd - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:55 AM

        I happen to agree with what you say but I’m not conceited enough to assume that I’m right and MW is wrong. I don’t think the decision to have Lobaton bunt was outrageous because I’m not sure I believe he could have pulled Benoit so I think that one could have gone either way.

        I do agree that asking Walters to pull Street was not optimal and not likely to succeed. but again, we won a 1 run decision the night before that we had no business winning so these things do even out.

      • Eric - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:28 AM

        “But they didn’t hit the 3 run.. and sometimes 1 run games are what we are dealth with… ”

        Zim and *especially* Ramos both are good for a single up the middle as anything else. I have little doubt that we’d’ve had at least 1 more run yesterday wither either of them in the line up, let alone both.

      • Eric - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:30 AM

        Oh, sorry, I misread “didn’t *hit* the 3-run” as “didn’t *need* the 3-run”

        Anyway, I do think the point remains: all the close games with 0 fer RIPS since Ramos and Zim went down are very likely candidates for a different outcome with either or both in the mix. Ramos, in particular, can be a well-oiled RBI machine.

  26. micksback1 - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    what has not changde is that the Nats are not beating the teams they should that held true for most of 2013. Right now, I would take Riggleman over MW. His job so far is a C minus to a D and I’m being generous. hell, Manny Acta may have gotten more out of this team than MW by now. i just have very bad vibes on MW

    • adcwonk - Apr 25, 2014 at 1:23 PM

      what has not changde is that the Nats are not beating the teams they should…

      Nats are 3-7 against the Braves and Cards; and 9-4 against everybody else.

  27. peewilly - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    I just have one request….for those who think it’s wise to trade Desi could you please indicate so at the beginning of your comment so I don’t waste my time reading the rest of it?

    Thank you.

    • micksback1 - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:38 AM

      I hope you do not mean me? I only said he should sit a few games. I love how some of you put words in people’s mouths in fainess maybe some i here have zero reading comprehension, and if that is the case, I fee sorry or you

      • jd - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:44 AM

        mick,

        he’s gonna sit a few games when we have better alternatives. Walters is not a better alternative and neither is Frandsen.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:29 AM

        jd is correct. When RZim returns Desi will get a well deserved rest.

    • Hiram Hover - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:39 AM

      Or just look for the poster’s name–same person making that comment in multiple threads.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:27 AM

      +1

  28. secretwasianman - Apr 25, 2014 at 2:40 PM

    We are missing Ramos which is huge. This other two catchers can’t hit. Desi is really killing this team right now. He is either dumb or selfish. His hitting approach with RISP is awful. Not to mention the 9 errors.. Also in 2012 the bench was good. This year like last it Stinks. Nate Mc out has done nothing for us. Rather have Chad or The shark.

    • therealjohnc - Apr 25, 2014 at 3:42 PM

      SWM, I realize that all you’re interested in is lobbing stink bombs into the room. But for the rest of the readers, I will note where you vary between merely wrong and utterly, completely wrong.

      (1) Merely wrong. We are missing Ramos which is huge. This other two catchers can’t hit.

      Well, an initial matter, Lobaton’s OPS+ is 100, which is exactly league average. That is actually pretty good for a catcher, whose OPS+ tend to run in the 92-93 range. So he’s not Ramos (career OPS+ 109), but the difference isn’t “huge.” Ramos has more power, but Lobaton will actually take a walk every now and then. And it’s very odd that this complaint comes just two days after Lobaton sparked an improbable four run ninth inning rally with a HR and Leon has actually been OK offensively for the past couple of weeks. But we do miss Ramos, and the team will be better to have him back when he’s healthy.

      (2) Utterly, completely wrong. Also in 2012 the bench was good. This year like last it Stinks.

      Actually, the bench has saved this team so far. Don’t think so? Right now Lobaton is bringing his OK bat and good defense in place of Ramos. Last year the fillins were Kurt Suzuki (.593 OPS) and Jhonatan Solano (.368 OPS … blech). You want to know who is leading the league in caught stealing percentage right now? It’s Jose Lobaton, at 45% (league CS% is 26%). With last year’s bench if Zim had gone down with an injury our choices would have been 2013 Lombardozzi (mediocre defender, .616 OPS, .540 OPS in the first half of the season) or 2013 Espinosa (just BAD … avert your eyes). This year Danny Espinosa has filled in with solid defense and a .901 OPS (150 OPS+). The only reason Rendon was called up after playing just eight games at second base last year was that the starter AND the bench options were terrible.

      Remember that Lobaton and Espinosa are the backbone of the bench you’re criticizing. They’ve been pressed into service when regulars went down, which is what the bench players do. Sure, Tyler Moore has been bad and Nate McLouth worse (except for the occasional walk). But in addition to Lobaton and Espinosa, the Nats have also gotten positive contributions from Kevin Frandsen and even Zach Walters (don’t forget his go-ahead HR in Miami last week) in the early part of this season.

      You want a nightmare? Take this year’s setbacks and try to plug them with last year’s bench. Yikes!

  29. Joe Seamhead - Apr 25, 2014 at 3:37 PM

    Desi is not dumb, or selfish. The guy is in a slump. He will snap out of it. Mickey Mantle had slumps, Lord knows Cal Ripken had them. Ballplayers have slumps. That said, this needs Desi to get over his. Right now!

    As to MW, I will second guess some of his decisions. What ball fan doesn’t 2nd guess the manager sometimes? I feel like he has made some rookie mistakes. He still gets a pass from me.

  30. Joe Seamhead - Apr 25, 2014 at 3:38 PM

    this team needs Desi to get over his. Edit button?

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 76 57 --
ATLANTA 71 64 6.0
MIAMI 65 68 11.0
NEW YORK 63 72 14.0
PHILADELPHIA 61 73 15.5
Through Friday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
SAT: Nats at Mariners, 9:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Mariners, 4:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Dodgers, 8:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 4:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
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Full season schedule

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