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Nationals Stock Watch: Rough road trip out West

May 15, 2014, 2:48 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today
We take a look at the Nationals’ past week:

Record: 
2-4
Team slash: .205/.246/.328
Team ERA: 4.45
Runs per game: 2.6

STOCK UP 

Tyler Clippard, RP: 3 GP/2-0/0.00 ERA/0.00 WHIP
There were few bright spots during a somewhat tumultuous week for the Nationals, so it’s been slim pickings recently trying to find out whose stock has been rising. However, Tyler Clippard’s had a solid stretch and is quietly rebounding from a tough April. He earned two wins this week in the Diamondbacks series, pitching shutout frames in both appearances, striking out four and walking none, all of which gave the Nats a chance to stage two late rallies to secure the series victory. Clippard now has a 4-2 record with a 2.08 ERA (and falling), and hasn’t allowed a run since April 21st. Not too shabby for Washington’s setup man.

Kevin Fransden and Tyler Moore, 1B: 2 HR/6 RBI/.465 SLG (combined)
We can take a look at this duo’s combined stats because they’re both trying to serve the same purpose, which is to replace Adam LaRoche’s hot bat. Obviously, it’ll be hard for this platoon to match LaRoche’s level of production, but so far, they’ve done a solid job of holding down the fort. Fransden in particular has been coming on as of late, with his highlight of the week being his go-ahead pinch-hit homerun in the ninth inning of Monday’s 6-5 win in Arizona (which prompted his former to GM to wonder if it was a mistake to let him go). These two may not be hitting for average, but they’ve found ways to get the big knocks in limited opportunities. That’s all you can ask of them while LaRoche is on the mend.

STOCK DOWN

Gio Gonzalez, SP: 0-1/7 ER/2.77 WHIP 
Gio’s return to Oakland could not have gone much worse. For one, the A’s chased him early; his former team put up seven runs off him in just 4.1 innings of work. But to make matters worse, Gonzalez was seen arguing with teammates in the dugout between innings after botching a routine play in the field that eventually led to A’s catcher Derek Norris — who was acquired in the trade that sent Gonzalez to the Nats– launching his second three-run homer of the afternoon. So Gio not only lost the game, he apparently lost his cool. Gonzalez has now lost his last two decisions, and his season ERA is creeping closer to 4.00. So it goes without saying that he’s going to have to find his 2012 All-Star form, and find it soon.

Anthony Rendon, 3B: .167 AVG/.160 OBP/.167 SLG 
It makes sense that during a tough week offensively for the Nationals, Rendon cooled off and Adam LaRoche suffered an injury (more on that later). After last week’s monster showing, the Nationals infielder took a step back, and it seemed that the rest of the lineup followed suit. Rendon drove in just one run and posted a ghastly .327 OPS for the week. With LaRoche out for the next few weeks, Washington may need the young Rendon (who still leads the team in hits and RBIs) to step up and carry the load like he has for most of the season.

Adam LaRoche, 1B: Quad Injury 
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse on the injury front, it does for the Nationals. Adam LaRoche, the lineup’s most consistent hitter, was put on the 15-day DL this past week thanks to a quad strain he suffered Friday night against Oakland. He may not be out for a significant amount of time, but the setback keeps this offense is in a perpetual state of flux, as it’s been for most of the season. It’s just their luck that this happens right when a key contributor like catcher Wilson Ramos returns to the lineup, but it’s been that kind of year so far for the Nats.
  1. Section 222 - May 15, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    Well, Rendon’s stock may be down, but only because it was soaring. And it’s hard to be too critical of the guy when he got such a key hit yesterday and has made so many outstanding plays in the field. Plus, he does it with a smile and a shrug. Great player, great attitude.

  2. letswin3 - May 15, 2014 at 3:38 PM

    Several comments over the last two days have centered on Desi’s lack of production, and the possible causes, including concerns about being distracted by the birth of a third child and his abandonment of smokeless tobacco. I’ve noticed over the last several games that he’s loading up snuff (that’s what is was always called where I grew up) every game. I’m pretty sure that he has fallen completely off that wagon. Anyone else see what I think I’ve seen?

    • veejh - May 15, 2014 at 4:14 PM

      I don’t care what he does as long as he huts and fields well. If he is dipping again, it sure is coincidental that he seems to be emerging from his slump.

    • Brookstoor - May 15, 2014 at 4:27 PM

      I’ve definitely noticed that he is dipping again and he has been for a few weeks now. Not that I care, that’s his business. When you’re trying to do something new, or quit something old, the last thing you want to do is announce it on the first day you are trying like Desi did. Just sets you up for disappointment because you haven’t actually done anything yet. You’ll feel like you let people down. I don’t think that’s what’s affecting him, but now we all know that Desmond tried and failed to quit (at least for now, I’m sure he’ll try again and hopefully succeed). If he had kept quiet about it and told us at the All Star break that he had already successfully quit, we’d all be impressed. Instead we all patted him on the back when he didn’t actually do anything. I just want him to hit and field like he knows he can, I won’t judge him for not being able to escape the clutches of tobacco-based addictions. Quit dip in the off season, don’t let it distract you now (if it even is a distraction). That’s my pointless summary about quitting tobacco.

      • natsfan1a - May 15, 2014 at 4:33 PM

        Brookstor, fwiw, I thought your “pointless summary” was excellent, and I agree with you on pretty much all of it. Not to get in his head, but it occurs to me that being a standup type of guy, maybe Desi revealed his struggle as a means of being accountable.

      • Section 222 - May 15, 2014 at 5:48 PM

        I thought I noticed too. Quitting must be a b*%tch and I certainly don’t blame him. I think he announced his effort publicly as a way to motivate himself to not fall off the wagon. It’s unfortunate it didn’t work, and hopefully he’ll have better luck in the off season.

        Most importantly, I hope that he’s able to quit before the health impacts get him.

      • dcwx61 - May 15, 2014 at 6:26 PM

        I do care and feel bad that he got addicted to that s…t
        .seen two cousins lose their jaws before 50 from the chaw. Both dead now.
        There are things more important than baseball, like being alive before your kid’s graduation.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 15, 2014 at 6:39 PM

        Probably not the best time to try to quit dipping during the 1st few weeks of the season. Try it again for November 1st when you can be away from the game.

      • dcwx61 - May 15, 2014 at 6:47 PM

        There’s never a good time to stop an addiction in IMHO. It’s a one day at a time practice anyway. Tomorrow is a new day.

    • texnat1 - May 15, 2014 at 6:52 PM

      Are we sure he is chewing again? Could it be sunflower seeds, big league chew, something along those lines he is using to try get over the addiction?

      • therealjohnc - May 15, 2014 at 9:06 PM

        Oh heck, why wait for facts? Let’s speculate and extrapolate!

  3. dcwx61 - May 15, 2014 at 6:33 PM

    What gaul…one of the Mid atlantlic talking heads (the guy with a continual frog in his voice) praising Bud Selig as Commis….While he continues to ignore the unjustice of the MASN deal for Washington.
    I need to call that guy out. Who does he work for ? oh MASN

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 15, 2014 at 6:40 PM

      True. They all know where their paychecks are written from. Its like everyone is afraid of the Angelos.

      • dcwx61 - May 15, 2014 at 6:45 PM

        Yeah, the guy recommends that Bud’s assistant take over. How about one of the Lerner boys instead ?
        As Don Sterling can attest, every dog has its day….. Peter’s day is coming.

    • Hiram Hover - May 15, 2014 at 7:02 PM

      Yeah, we’re going to hear a lot of praise for Bud over the next 6-7 months. That’s the bad news.

      The good news is that we’re hearing it because he’s on his way out the door. Try to remember that part if you find yourself grinding your teeth.

      • dcwx61 - May 15, 2014 at 7:09 PM

        Thanks…..acceptance is the key

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 15, 2014 at 7:04 PM

      In Latin: Exspectamus diaboli discipulus. The Devil and Angelos will meet one day “We wait for the Devil to have his day.”

      There are business practices that are rather ruthless but when you are affecting a population in the public trust then it goes beyond business practices.

      In not 1 of the Major US sports has a team’s geographic monopoly created a TV deal like this. Nobody would agree to this but MLB as the owner of the Expos/Nationals did agree to it and now refuse to fix it.

  4. ratiocinational - May 15, 2014 at 6:41 PM

    I wasn’t sure Desmond was such a good first pitch hitter. People cite his great average when putting the first pitch into play, but I think the average is high for all major league batters. Here’s a search for the best Nationals hitters when putting the ball in play on the first pitch (measured by OPS, minimum 30 ABs):

    Ian Desmond is 21st

    • David Proctor - May 15, 2014 at 7:11 PM

      All this tells me is that many hitters are too patient. What’s the downside? You miss or foul it off and you’re behind in the count. But, the first pitch tends to be a strike many times anyway. So you’re where you would be anyway. And the upside is that first pitch tends to be a meatball and you can do some real damage on it.

      • ratiocinational - May 15, 2014 at 7:29 PM

        Well you can credit Ian with having learned that lesson. He tops the list in ABs.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 15, 2014 at 7:16 PM

      #2 on the list: Tyler Moore

      Good sort, I like your chart.

    • Hiram Hover - May 15, 2014 at 7:30 PM

      A few thoughts:

      1. That’s really cool–I didn’t know you can sort that way with bbref, and now I know how. Thanks!

      2. That said, I’m really not that interested in how Ian stacks up against what Nook Logan did in 57 ABs 7 or 8 years ago–because I’m not that interested in Nook Logan, and because 57 ABs is a pretty meaningless sample size.

      3. The real question is how Ian stacks up vs Ian in other counts–i.e., what approach at the plate is best for him?

      His OPS is .930 in your chart, vs an overall OPS of .743, or a spread of 187 pts. I didn’t have the patience to check everyone, but most others have a higher OPS on the first pitch as well, but a smaller spread bwn that and their overall OPS as a Nat (Zim’s spread is around 120 pts, Werth’s is around 130-40, ALR’s is around 80). That suggests to me there is some greater virtue to Ian doing it than the other guys.

      • ratiocinational - May 15, 2014 at 8:03 PM

        Hiram–

        This is a good point. Ian may be better than other players on 0-0 relative to other counts (it would take some time to check, but the other ones you looked at suggest he is). Still, I think my point that his 1st pitch ball in play avg. isn’t really *that* impressive, stands. Also, this doesn’t count 1st pitch swinging strikes. I don’t know how to do a search that includes that, but it could make a big difference in whether you think someone’s a good 1st pitch hitter or not.

      • ratiocinational - May 15, 2014 at 8:09 PM

        And called strikes, I should add. It only counts at-bats that end after the 0-0 count.

      • Eugene in Oregon - May 15, 2014 at 8:59 PM

        Did we really pay to watch Nook Logan play? Wow.

      • Hiram Hover - May 15, 2014 at 9:12 PM

        ratio (if I may)

        If you can figure out how to do some of those other charts, they would be cool to see. As I said, I didn’t even know how to do the first pitch split before, so you’ve already taught me something!

      • Hiram Hover - May 15, 2014 at 9:28 PM

        PS – and I think the negative side of this is that Ian it reflects how lousy Ian is in pitchers counts.

        Re-jiggering that nifty chart, he hits only .558 in pitchers counts, almost 200 pts below his overall OPS (Werth is worse in pitchers counts too, but only about 90 pts below his overall OPS as a Nat).

      • ratiocinational - May 15, 2014 at 9:46 PM

        Hiram–

        Let me know if there are any specific charts you’d like me to try–though I don’t claim any special expertise using b-ref. But let’s stick with Desmond:

        Desi’s count splits

        So Desi is about the same in a 1-0 count as he is 0-0. But of course much worse in pitcher’s counts. The thing is, everyone’s much worse in those. To know how good Desi is, you’d have to know the league average for each count. I’ll bet you can get this from b-ref, but I don’t know how to do it off the top of my head. I’ll look into it, but if someone else can find it first, please post it.

        PS – I’m an infrequent poster, but have been an avid reader since Mark started this thing. So I feel like I know all of you regulars and appreciate all of your insightful observations! Grew up in DC having to go to Orioles games, and although I’ve never lived there since the Nats have been there, they’ve always been my team.

      • Section 222 - May 15, 2014 at 10:32 PM

        You’ve made an auspicious debut ratiocinational! Please come back soon.

    • tcostant - May 16, 2014 at 7:37 AM

      I hate when I hear stats with terms like “ball in play on the first pitch”. So if he swings and miss or fouls the ball off it doesn’t count. Does a foul ball that is caught for an out count? No one knows.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - May 16, 2014 at 8:58 AM

        A foul ball caught for an out is “in play.”

  5. ArVAFan - May 15, 2014 at 6:58 PM

    Off topic, but things are not good in Philly. Awww (not).

    http://tracking.si.com/2014/05/14/phillies-ryne-sandberg-criticizes-jonathan-papelbon/?sct=obinsite

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 15, 2014 at 7:10 PM

      Nice to see the Phoolies manager calling out his player in public. That is usually the start of the unraveling.

      • David Proctor - May 15, 2014 at 7:23 PM

        It’s pretty ridiculous for Papelbon, who is a closer making $50M, to say he can’t go three days in a row.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 15, 2014 at 7:37 PM

        It is but never should have been made public.

      • veejh - May 15, 2014 at 8:13 PM

        Somehow this sounds awfully familiar. Hmmmmm…..

      • NatsLady - May 15, 2014 at 10:00 PM

        Whaaaat??? Papelbon was sore because he threw 21 pitches over two games???

        Seven in one game and 14 in the other? http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=papeljo01&t=p&year=2014

      • ArVAFan - May 15, 2014 at 10:07 PM

        Maybe it wasn’t the pitching he was sore about.

      • Section 222 - May 15, 2014 at 10:29 PM

        To be fair, he didn’t say that he couldn’t go because he’d thrown 21 pitches, he said his arm was sore, and he didn’t feel comfortable pitching again. That seems like a good reason not to pitch, no?

      • Eric - May 16, 2014 at 12:18 AM

        Given what’s happened with pitchers already this season, I think Sandberg should’ve said, “he’s a vet, and he knows what his arm can handle.”

        I have know idea what undercurrents are at play between them, but right about now I find it odd to take a pitcher to task for trying to respect their limits.

      • Eric - May 16, 2014 at 12:19 AM

        IOW, +1 to dueces ;)

  6. Ghost of Steve M. - May 15, 2014 at 9:46 PM

    It’s so strange listening to other teams radio broadcasts and hearing Nats stories. I was listening to the Mets radio broadcast and they talked about all the defensive shifts which segued into a story on how Davey Johnson never shifted (did he ever?). They said how he was so analytical that when he was the Manager of the Mets they had a cover photo of him in front of a computer which made him one-of-a-kind at the time. That led to a conversation that Davey loved his stats but when advanced stats came out, Davey said no thank you I like the stats the way I’ve always done them.

  7. natsfan09 - May 15, 2014 at 9:55 PM

    I miss morse!!!!

  8. David Proctor - May 15, 2014 at 9:56 PM

    Syracuse lost tonight on a walk-off balk.

  9. Ghost of Steve M. - May 15, 2014 at 11:30 PM

    Michael Morse making San Fran’s ballpark look small. Just hit his 4th oppo HR of the year. HR #10

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 55 44 --
ATLANTA 55 46 1.0
NEW YORK 48 53 8.0
MIAMI 47 52 8.5
PHILADELPHIA 43 57 12.5
Through Wednesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
THU: OFF
FRI: Nats at Reds, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Reds, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Reds, 1:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Marlins, 12:40 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.

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