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Consistency propels Nats to NL’s best record

Jul 28, 2014, 6:00 AM EST


There seems to be a sense among many that the Nationals haven’t really taken off as a team this season, that there’s a much higher level of success yet to reach for a talented ballclub that hasn’t achieved its full potential.

And perhaps that’s true. Maybe the Nationals are still capable of going on some kind of record-setting run, the kind that draws the attention of the entire baseball world and solidifies their standing as one of the sport’s elite contenders.

But here’s the thing: The Nats might not need to do that. As they have proven over the last four months, consistent — if not jaw-dropping — performances are good enough to catapult this team to the NL’s best record.

The Nationals left Cincinnati yesterday and headed to Miami for the final leg of their 9-game road trip boasting a 57-45 record. That’s 1 1/2 games better than the Braves in the NL East and percentage points better than anyone else in the NL. And they’ve done this not by going on some monster winning streak but rather by doing what all good ballclubs should strive to do: keep taking two of three from opponents.

The Nationals have now played 34 total series this year. They’ve won 20 of them, lost 10 of them and split the other four. And they’ve only gotten better over time. Since May 29, they’re 13-2-2 in series. Since June 17, they’re 8-1-2. (And the one series loss, to the Orioles, could ultimately turn into a 4-game split once the two clubs play their makeup game at Nationals Park one week from today.)

Here’s another way to look at it: Break up the season into 10-game stretches. Here’s the Nats’ record in those 10-game stretches: 7-3, 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 5-5, 7-3, 7-3. If you want to add the last two games over the weekend, they went 1-1.

There isn’t a single dominating run in there. At the same time, there isn’t a single prolonged slump in there.

How does that compare with the NL’s other contenders? Well, the Braves, Cardinals, Pirates and Reds all have struggled through 2-8 stretches at some point this season. The Brewers and Giants each have endured through a 1-9 slump. Only the Dodgers have matched the Nationals is avoiding a 3-7 stretch over the 10-game intervals.

It may come across as a tad boring to some. The Nationals haven’t had a particularly dramatic season to date. They’ve won a few games in dramatic style, and they’ve lost a few in heartbreaking fashion. But for the most part, they’ve simply plugged along, beating opponents twice every three days, winning series.

They’ve done this on an individual level, as well. If the season ended today, the Nationals most likely wouldn’t have one strong MVP or Cy Young Award candidate. Yet they’d have the league’s best record. How often does that happen?

This should be music to everyone’s ears. It’s evidence that this truly is a good baseball team. They may not be getting historic performances from individuals, but they’re getting a whole lot of good, solid showings from a whole lot of people.

Put that all together and you get the team with the NL’s best record nearly two-thirds of the way through the regular season.

Amazing how important it is to stay consistent over the long haul, huh?

107 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Faraz Shaikh - Jul 28, 2014 at 6:18 AM

    Mark, thank you for the new post. You were missed around here for last two series. Don’t mean to sound like a spoiled brat but if something can be done about WordPress, most of us will greatly appreciate it.

    On the post, we are doing very well but with RZ’s injury, we need to get another bat in the lineup. Beltre would be great but I fear he will cost too much in terms of prospects. Chase headley would have been great.

    • rayvil01 - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:08 AM had a piece over the weekend that Rizzo inquired about Beltre and was “rebuffed.” Beltre is 35. The Castro play is the one I like.

  2. laddieblahblah - Jul 28, 2014 at 7:54 AM

    The first 4 games without Zim show how badly they miss his bat in the 5-slot. His subs, mainly Walters and Espinsosa, have had 5 hits, including 2 for extra bases, and a few which have been meaningful in initiating and prolonging productive rallies. That’s pretty good, but they have done that while hitting at the back of the lineup, not in the 5-hole.

    Over that same stretch Desmond has had 2 hits, one with no one on, and the other with La Roche on 1b. ALR went to 3rd on a Desi single to right center. That’s been the only productive hit from the 5-slot since Zim went on the DL.

    On at least 2 occasions, Ian came up with the bags loaded. He struck out to end that 9th inning rally that almost caught the Brewers, and grounded out to end the inning on the other occasion. He has repeatedly come to the plate with 2 men on, or at least one man on, and has not even moved a single one of them up (except for La Roche). Not one of the many people who were on base and in scoring position when Ian came to the plate in the 5-hole scored. Not a one.

    The way Ryan was hitting, he probably would have produced 5-6 hits over that same time span. He may have made the difference in the 9th inning against the Brewers, or, perhaps, have contributed to a rally that may have changed that 1-0 loss against the Reds to a win. We’ll never know, but the odds are the team would have scored at least some of those runs which died, on base, with someone else hitting in the 5-hole, in place of Ryan.

    For those of us who have watched the Nats since Ian made the ML team, we know that he has never produced when hitting in the top half of the order. He has always done his most productive work in the 6-7 slots. Every time a manager has tried to move him higher in the order, the experiment ended in futility. Riggleman tried it, and Davey, several times.

    One time, Davey somehow convinced himself that Espinosa and Desmond were the perfect duo to lead off the game. That was when the Nats lead the majors in first inning futility, by an astronomical margin. Remember that?

    I don’t know where to find the stats, or even if such stats exist, but if I did, I am sure they would substantiate what we have all seen, for years. Desmond belongs in the 7-hole, or the 6-hole, at best. He struggles when hitting anywhere higher than that in the lineup. This time has been no different. Matt is a very analytical manager, and an objective evaluation of the facts would tell him not to use Desmond in the 5-hole. Ian had gone 7 for 8 in the previous 2 games out of the 7-hole, but has gone something like 2 for 17 since then. Even the combo of Walters and Espinosa has done better than that.

    Four + years of this is not a fluke. It’s the objective truth.

    I don’t know what the solution is, but I don’t think that Desmond is it.

    • sjm308 - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:16 AM

      Laddie, another very interesting analysis. Since I agree that Desmond does better at #6 or 7, the only solution I can see is maybe moving Ramos up to #5 which gives you the R/L/R/L/R that MW seems to favor. Ramos is that rare hitter that is not affected by hitting 8th but with Espinosa/Walters instead of Zimm that is not where he will hit now. Harper is hurting us big time but I still have faith he can figure this out. If he starts to catch fire would you hit him behind LaRoche giving us two lefties in a row?

      Good news is, we are still battling and still winning more than we are losing. We are now 12 games over .500 (I think) and when we get to 15 it will be, to me, another big step. Would love to think we can finish 20 games over if we just keep plugging.

      Another place we miss Zimm is that Harper really needs a day off. If they are not trusting McClouth, I don’t see how this is going to happen.

      I have not posted much since it seems that most of the discussion here is a back and forth between Mick and his group of harper haters versus the rational baseball minds and I have to admit, its been kinda fun to read at times but gets a bit old. I love what the future holds for Harper and still think he will get it figured out, but no doubt he is frustrating when his aggressive play turns into baserunning outs.

      Go Nats!!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:40 AM

        sjm, glad I read your response before posting. Same thoughts, time to move Ramos up.

      • Joe Seamhead - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:46 AM

        Good posts from both laddie and 308, however I disagree about Harper needing a day off. He just came back from the all star break and he had 2 months off before that. He needs to play through this. He needs that one magical swing that Werth spoke about that ends slumps. I think the kid is so frustrated right now that he is having a one way conversation with himself.He is probably going through the longest tough stretch of his entire young life. He has never had to deal with prolonged failure before. I have no doubts that he’ll come out of it stronger.

        Between the baserunning screwups and the lack of run production, the Nats were very fortunate to escape with a series win in Cincy. Harper and Rendon’s can somewhat be attributed to inexperience, but no excuse for Span’s yesterday.I’m sure that Denard didn’t think that Lutz would catch that ball, but still…

        The Marlins, in Miami, are not going to be an easy series. Let’s get the first one!


      • NatsLady - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:48 AM

        However, I might move Desi out of the 5-sport because you might want to move Harper up into it. Even though it means two lefties in a row (ALR and Bryce), maybe that slight morale boost might help him. I wouldn’t move him to the 3-spot as suggested below. You have synergy going there 1-4, and it’s been really productive. But if you put him in the 5-spot he can “lead” the second half of the lineup, get on base for Desi or Ramos to drive in.

        Also, when Werth needs a break, put McLouth in left and Harper in right (as MW did the other day). No, I wouldn’t put him in center, but he might feel more “needed” in right.

        But I wonder if more of his problem is that his hand/thumb are not right yet. Hitting bombs in batting practice proves nothing to me, except that his body (legs, torso, arms) are strong. In actual games you have to get the “feel” of your hands, because pitchers aren’t throwing cookies, you have to get to breaking pitches and outside-low pitches, etc. Trying different stances and hand placement suggests a physical problem to me–namely that he just isn’t comfortable. He’s seeing pitches, he’s taking walks, just not getting any power or direction, hence the routine fly balls.

      • NatsLady - Jul 28, 2014 at 12:01 PM

        Well, at the time I made this post, moving Bryce to the 3-spot was suggested BELOW. Now it’s suggested ABOVE. OK, then. Time to see if the Pads can get a series split with the Barves.

        Here are the Nats Stats for Week 17.

      • natsfan1a - Jul 28, 2014 at 12:52 PM

        Go, Pads, go! :-)

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:31 AM

        I also disagree about Harper sitting. I mean, if you are sitting him as he needs a day off, then sure but to sit him since he isn’t hitting right now… Don’t think that is the best move.

        He just had 2 months off. I know people keep talking about how he was hitting the cover off the ball prior to going out… I swear I don’t remember that… but its like his mind/body is still in April/May whereas mostly everyone else is in July. Man, baseball is a humbling sport and maybe Harper does need to be humbled, idk… who knows… I hope he gets it together soon and gets the confidence that he is seemingly lacking…

    • thelatencn - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:26 AM

      Just amazing that we have the best record in the league, isn’t it?

    • NatsLady - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:32 AM

      Desi batting
      5th (career) .281/.322/.473 OPS = .794
      6th (career) .275/.328/.479 OPS = .806
      7th (career) .282/.314/.498 OPS = .812

      Desi batting
      leadoff (career) .275/.305/.425 OPS = .730
      2nd (career) .283/.324/.393 OPS = .717

      The only slots where Desi hasn’t performed well are where the sample size is too small for conclusions:
      3rd (12 PAs) .116/.208/.116
      4th (12PAs) .237/.302/.316
      9th (21 PAs) .125/.222/.125

      And in the 8-hole, where you wouldn’t put him because he’s not a patient hitter, so he wouldn’t take all the “pitch arounds” he’d get in front of the pitcher.
      8th .245/.305/.349

      So while his OPS is clearly higher when he is 5, 6, 7 than 1 or 2 it seems to me that moving him between the 5-7 slots isn’t a big deal, it depends on who else is in the lineup.

      • Doc - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:15 AM


        Way to crunch some data on Desi,NL!!

      • NatsLady - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:24 AM

        Thanks, Doc. I knew where it was –it’s here–and reformatted it according to the discussion.

    • Sam - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:15 AM

      Desmond career splits by batting order:
      1. 421 PA, .275/.305/.425, 99 wRC+
      2. 508 PA, .283/.324/.393, 94 wRC+
      3. 48 PA, .116/.208/.116, -7 wRC+
      4. 43 PA, .237/.302/.316, 75 wRC+
      5. 568 PA, .281/.322/.473, 119 wRC+
      6. 748 PA, .275/.328/.479, 120 wRC+
      7. 291 PA, .282/.314/.498, 120 wRC+
      8. 241 PA, .245/.305/.349, 72 wRC+
      9. 48 PA, .125/.222/.125, 2 wRC+

      Even ~500 PA samples aren’t big enough to confidently say that the numbers are a true representation of talent level, so all of these numbers should be analyzed with caution.

      Hitting Desmond 5-7 is negligible; he’s actually been remarkably consistent in all of those spots.

      • Sam - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:16 AM

        Well, I was a little late to the party…my bad. Forgot to hit refresh before I posted.

      • NatsLady - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:53 AM

        It’s OK, you made my point even better with the wRC+ number. Hit Desi somewhere 5-7. Where depends on who else is in the lineup, righties/lefties, etc.

  3. NatsLady - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:19 AM

    Always fun to check out the baby Nats. MLB released a new prospect watch. So, who should get traded?

    • sjm308 - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:30 AM

      Thanks as always. Really surprised to see our latest draft pick already ranked #4. I guess this Rizzo guy knows a little bit. Maybe we should keep him around.

  4. mrnat7 - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:27 AM

    I wish Matt would try something to help Harper with his confidence. Harp looks very unhappy and very disconnected, his head is not into the game. I would like to see Matt put Harper in the 3 hole and move everyone else down one spot. Not just for 1 day but about 10 days. I think Harper feels he not part of the team. Harp needs to get his enthusiasm back. Remember he still very young and we need to do everything to get him back on track. Harper is the type of person who needs responsibility and think he’s making a large contribution. In the number 6 or 7 hole Harper feels he just filling a spot.. He wants to lead! He can’t even do that in the OF. In 2012 he felt important in CF. He like the lamp light!!! If Harp starts hitting we won’t miss Zim as much!

    • sjm308 - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:29 AM

      Definitely agree with your last sentence. I thought this might be the opportunity Bryce needed and maybe it still will be.

    • NatsLady - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:51 AM

      What will build Harper’s confidence is getting hits, homers and RBIs, and maybe being the hero of a couple of games. He can do that in any lineup position. I think it’s physical more than mental, and he just needs to work through it.

    • hitmeimopen - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:36 AM

      You mean baby him? Dude needs to grow up…not be pampered.

      • adcwonk - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:17 AM

        Dude needs to grow up

        You’re right — most 3rd year players are, like, 26 or so. He needs to start acting like a 26 year old.

        Oh, wait . . . 😉

      • texnat1 - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:33 AM

        MW came in with the mentality that he needed to challenge Harper. It may have paid off with MW establishing his credentials as the boss, but it has not gone well with Harper at all. I don’t know why anyone would suggest Bryce has been pampered. He has gotten the harshest treatment from MW.

    • Chazz - Jul 28, 2014 at 1:53 PM

      He like[s] the lamp light!!!

      He likes the limelight better.

  5. adcwonk - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:42 AM

    Funny thing. Reading the comments all year, you’d think that the Nats completely suck, and that they blow all opportunities. The closers, unreliable. Backup catcher stinks. Only two starters are good. CF can’t walk, LF is a stupid selfish chump, and RF is slow and over the hill. 3d base coach is reckless and manager is just a rookie who over-manages and sticks to the book with no creativity. Worst bench ever. SS is Mr. Unclutch, 2b is a hole in the lineup, 1b has no range and overrated defense. We’re not scrappy, wilt under pressure, and show no heart. And all of this is Rizzo’s fault. In fact, of the 40-man roster, we have only four good players: Rendon (who doesn’t walk enough), Ramos (who should play every day always), Fister and Roark.

    You’d certainly never guess in a million years from reading the comments here that we have — and how in the world can it be — the best record in the NL.

    This should be music to everyone’s ears.

    Yeah — it should be. It’s music to my ears. I never watched AL baseball — can’t stand it. I waited way too damn long for baseball in DC, and then endured, fairly recently, multiple last place finished and back-to-back 100+ loss seasons.

    Those who want a first place club ought to sit back and enjoy some of this season before it ends (hello? regular season just shy of 2/3’s being over). Mark just spilled the beans: the Nats are a first place club — and those who bitch about every blown opportunity and every loss are really missing an opportunity to watch a pretty well balanced team do better than all the other NL teams.

    Baseball in DC brings fun entertainment to my life, and it’s an activity where I can forge some extra bonds with my kids. I’ve enjoyed the season so far. Those who have been grumpy all season about how “we coulda/shoulda” done better are really missing out.

    Thanks, Mark, for a good and put-it-into-perspective post!

    • Joe Seamhead - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:51 AM

      Great post, wonk.

    • thelatencn - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:53 AM

      Yea, Wonk.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:25 AM

      It boils down to not everyone knowing how to be a baseball fan. They don’t understand the ebbs and flows of a 162 game season. It really is that simple. There is nothing wrong with discussing (yes, discussing) issues revolving players and circumstances (ie the base running this past series, Harper’s struggles) but some of the stuff some people say, they just show their ignorance (i.e Harper is a spoiled brat and some of the other lame stupidity people say. Like do they really know him, have they sat down with him and spoke to them.. no, just mindless ASSumptions).

      Wonk, that is why I don’t read everyone… nor do I respond to everyone. I cant indulge people’s ignorance.. Sorry… I will leave that to others…

      But yeah, good post.

    • jd - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:40 AM

      Couldn’t have said it better myself. Great stuff wonk.

    • nats106 - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:45 AM

      Thank you-echoes my thoughts completely. I would also add in the comments with your remark about Span and that he can’t get walks-and that he should be replaced by somebody, anybody as soon as possible. He covers so much ground and if anybody saw his at bat against Garza (I think 9 pitches) to get a base hit-maybe walks aren’t that big a deal. PS, how many pitches did he take yesterday (enough to get a few base on balls).

      • jd - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:02 AM


        This is why I stay away from blogging during games. Fans analyze every at bat, every pitch, every play on the field ad nauseum. Sometimes I wander how the heck are people enjoying the game when they are power posting, but alas to each their own.

    • micksback1 - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:15 AM

      maybe a bit over the top, I do not think a single poster here has EVER posted Ramos should play every day, but your post is a good example and a teachable moment on how one can take some one’s else’s posts and completely make it inaccurate. A good example is Ramos, I for one suggested that he SIT the first game of the Marlins series to REST, my point being that I felt the Nats needed to win a 1-1 series with the Reds. It worked out yesterday with Lobaton and I am happy. But to suggest that posters state Ramos should play every da and ignore one’s actual post is shall we say politely, dishonest, and, i will call it at when its obvious

      • sjm308 - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:25 AM

        But you do constantly trash Harper and you can’t ignore that

      • adcwonk - Jul 28, 2014 at 12:10 PM

        mick — I was criticizing lots of posts, and just characterizing them, and, yes, I used poetic licence, which is why I went out of my way to not call out anybody in particular, or use any names.

        If you want to talk about your views about MW’s use of Ramos, however, I will:

        First, while you don’t want Ramos to be used every day, it does seems the case that every time he is rested you complain about it.

        Secondly, I have no idea why you want to rest him on the first game against Miami so much. Miami is one hot team right now — they’ve won four straight, and seven of the last eight (including 3-of-4 from the Braves). I’d rather have Ramos to start the first two against Miami, than to play three straight against the slumping Reds.

        Thirdly, many players say that the games after a series in Colorado are hard on the body. Perhaps that factored into Ramos’ rest.

        Fourthly, did it occur to you that the reason why Ramos is so hot, and our only .300+ hitter is precisely because MW rests him so much.

        Fifthly — you do recall that Ramos has had many problems with his hamstring, right? It’s better to underplay him by a bit than to overplay him.

        And, finally, we have no idea how tired Ramos might have been after the Reds’ second game — only guys in the dugout know.

        And so, I think the gut reaction to excoriate MW for resting Ramos on a day game following a late-afternoon-twilight game is a bit short-sighted. Truth be told, wins against a hot Miami (in our division) might matter a bit more than wins against the slumping Reds (not in our division).

        My two cents.

      • adcwonk - Jul 28, 2014 at 12:17 PM

        And sixthly — as noted below:

        Fister is 7-0 in 8 starts with a 1.82 ERA with Lobatan behind the plate.

    • Section 222 - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:17 AM

      I liked your post too wong, but I just want to point out that several of the people responding “nice post” (including me) do plenty of complaining and criticizing when they feel like it. And sometimes it’s play by play or pitch by pitch. It’s part of being a fan to criticize and complain. I think we’d all be a lot happier if we spent less time criticizing and complaining about other commenters. Might even leave us more time to criticize, or to praise, the team.

    • Smyrcok - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:46 AM

      Some good thoughts in here wonk. I do take issue with these kind of posts though because you ignore the actual legitimate discussion by 90% of commenters in favor of the 10% who actually bitch and complain but are just louder. People like to analyze a loss, there’s no problem with that at all. Some losses sting more than others (when you “give away a game” you should have won) and those bring out the knee jerk reactions for sure, but that is all they are for most people and they get over it the next day (if you’re complaining about knee jerk reactions you need to take that up with human nature in my opinion). When people complained about the under performing club, they weren’t completely off the mark, but I do agree that some people just aren’t ever satisfied. Just look at how fierce this offense was fully healthy with Zimmerman having turned it on. That’s what people were expecting to start the year. It doesn’t always work out like that though.

      You’re getting a lot of accolades here for complaining about complainers which is fine. People do need to look more at the big picture. Your main point, that we have a first place team despite all those complaints, is the most important one.

      • adcwonk - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:22 AM

        Thanks all for the compliments on my post.

        And the criticisms of my post are all valid. I was, indeed, just trying to make a point, expressed by a few, including Smyrcok: “that we have a first place team despite all those complaints, is the most important one” (and, also his other notation that it may be only 10% that bitch the most, but sometimes can dominate a conversation, making it all take on a negative tinge).

        I love my Nats, I love that we have a team in DC — and I’m ecstatic that, despite all the problems, we have the best record in the NL.

    • MicheleS - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:27 AM

      Which is why some of us don’t post as much :-)

  6. natsjackinfl - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:49 AM

    Nice to see reasonable and responsible posts concerning Bryce.

    You can really see that he’s pressing. Baseball is not kind to those that try to squeeze results out of their actions.

    There just seems to be so many moving parts to his swing mechanics. Somehow, he needs to relax and react.

    Let’s hope he finds it in Miami. He hit pretty well there in the past.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:54 AM

      One more comment regarding Harper. He misses Davey Johnson whether he wants to admit it or not. I honestly think that Davey had an almost paternal influence on helping Bryce cope without breaking his spirit. Just an opinion, based on nothing other than my own guesses and perceptions.

      • natsjackinfl - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:00 AM

        Good call, Joe. Davey has been helping out down here with the Winter Park Diamond Dogs of the Florida Collegiate Summer League and he relates extremely well to these college kids.

      • NatsLady - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:06 AM

        That could be true. Matty may have less patience with Bryce, because he overcame a lot of obstacles to become a star, whereas Bryce has been a star since he hit the scene and right now is in MLB ads with the image of Babe Ruth. Meanwhile, Davey, through the years, has seen all kinds of players flame out and flame in (if that’s a term), many different talent levels contributing, etc.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:27 AM

        Doesn’t Davey still work with/for the Nats?

      • natsjackinfl - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:32 AM

        He has a consulting gig with them. On call as needed.

  7. coollikelivo - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:53 AM

    These batting order debates always puzzle me a bit. While I understand the general theory of who should lead off, and the idea of putting power at 3 or 4, and batting the catcher 8th, and pitcher 9th, what are the reasons certain players do better in certain spots in the middle of the order? And do career or season-long stat lines really tell the whole story?

    For example, if you take a career stat line for a player when he bats 5, that doesn’t account for who batted ahead of and behind him. Yes, it may be one guy or another for long stretches on stable teams, but over time the surrounding hitters will vary (with more or less pressure to pitch around, or to go at him to avoid the next batter). Is it a statistical thing, i.e., how likely there will be men on, or men on at certain bases, thus calling for certain types of hits that one player or another is better suited to deliver? Or is there just a psychological aspect to it? I get the felling there is no satisfactory scientific answer to the question, either on an individual basis, or on a general batter-type basis, but would love to hear the expert opinions here…

    • NatsLady - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:19 AM

      I’m far from an expert, but I’ll take a shot. Yes, you do look at the “ideal” lineup compared to your team’s hitters to scope out a lineup, but after than I think it’s more important to develop and keep a stable lineup. Just as in the bullpen, guys know their role in the lineup and they prepare for it.

      For example, when Werth was recovering from his wrist injury, he didn’t have power, but he still had the good eye. So batting leadoff was OK, but he used a lighter bat and a different approach. As the No. 3 hitter he uses a heavier bat for power and he also strikes out more as he expands the zone looking for pitches he can crush.

      Also, with a stable lineup, you know what the guy ahead of you will do. If he gets on base, you know his moves, when he might steal, etc. If you get on base, you have an idea what the guy behind you will do, whether he will get distracted by your baserunning antics, whether it’s important to open up a “hole” for him to hit into, etc. In theory, you could change your lineup daily because of guys getting hot or slumping, because of the handedness of the pitcher, the wind direction, and a dozen other factors. In practics, as Desi once said, “It helps a lot that I just come in day after day and see my name posted in the lineup.” When you have a synergy (as with Span/Rendon and Werth/LaRoche) you try to keep it. Zim out is a big hole, not just because of his stats but because of that synergy.

  8. NatsLady - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:02 AM

    I don’t see a problem with analyzing (“complaing about”) issues with the team, while still being aware it’s a first place team. I’m happy, I see the progress (especially in the defense and offense). I like winning 2 of 3, and although a run of 10 wins would be fun, I would hate the 7-game slump that might follow if the Nats were a streaky team.

    Matt Williams is growing on me, as you can see how he develops and how different his managing style is from Davey’s. This is the grind now, the late-July grind. I’d like to see Rizzo add a bat (almost any bat) so the boys know he’s spending some of the future (and perhaps some $$) on them for this year (as opposed to last year, when he basically said, “You’re on your own,” and Werth STILL almost did it). Or maybe Danny will hit. I’m still in the Danny camp…

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:13 AM

      When you start to think everything’s perfect, that’s a problem as your competition coukd be working to better themselves.

      • natsjackinfl - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:20 AM

        Exactly. Made me smile when I heard Kasten say that the Dodgers would probably stand pat through the trading deadline. However, I have never trusted that used car salesman.

      • Doc - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:39 AM

        Correctomundo, Ghost!

        We should never forget regression to the mean(s). It happens to teams and players. Ruben Amaro pretended that it wouldn’t happen.

      • jd - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:56 AM

        Everything is not perfect, it rarely is and adding a solid bat at 2nd base, improving the bench and maybe adding a piece to the pen would be nice in principal but you gotta remember that sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make. Our pipeline is still fairly lean and I wouldn’t give away: Giolito, Cole, Taylor or Voth unless we get a young stud in return. I would consider moving: Souza, Goodwin, Moore and Skole in the right deal but the sellers aren’t interested in helping our team they want top prospects.

        Historically, deadline deals have had mixed results for the buyers but a solid targeted pickup such as what the Red Sox did with Peavy last year and what the Giants did with Scutaro the previous year can be a difference maker.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 28, 2014 at 2:40 PM

        I would move Souza for sure. His tradeability is very high now. Can’t trade pitching away as I charted because of the holes coming up with JZim and Fister after 2015 and Strasburg after 2016.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 28, 2014 at 2:45 PM

        XFactor player is what the Nats need and Yankees think they got that with Headley. I think Beltre is a sure thing and Castro has underlying stats that make him a hidden gem.

        Hill and Prado are intriguing if you get that bump in change of scenery like Yankees went after with Headley.

        Not all those deals work. Beltre and Castro look to be as solid as you can get. The underlying stats on Castro are solid. His home/road splits and OPS in NL East parks would make him best on the Nats.

      • dcwx61 - Jul 28, 2014 at 1:37 PM


  9. rabbit433 - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:06 AM

    If everybody went 2 for 3, I don’t care where they hit!!!!!!!! GO NATS!

  10. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:33 AM

    Gosh, I was hoping the Fish would have traded Cishek by now…

    • nats106 - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:50 AM

      Cishek isn’t a free agent until 2018. In my opinion (once they get Fernandez back) the Marlins are a bullpen and 2 position players away from competing in the NL East. Even though he is costing Loria tons of money, I think they are looking ahead to 2016, maybe even next year. I don’t see them moving him unless they get beyond fair value.

    • Section 222 - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:33 AM

      Didn’t GC Stanton let it be known that he didn’t want Fish management to trade away their good players?

  11. habs3 - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:39 AM

    Since we are doing so well why the talk about trading for a bat. Why not give Walters a decent shot. Lets see what he has. The majority of players on the team all had an extended opportunity. Why give Walters a shot before we trade what few prospects we have. Desmond, Harper, Espinosa, and Rendon all had ample opportunity to prove themselves.

    Those who say Walters can’t play at the major league level have no basis to make that statement since he hasn’t played there yet.

    • Doc - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:44 AM

      Walters may be the most athletic player that the Nats have on their 40 man roster.

      Such athleticism needs to be trained and disciplined on a regular basis—sounds like a good job for Davey!

      • Section 222 - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:35 AM

        I’m kind of surprised to read this. More athletic than Desi? He seems like a nice hitter, but not much in the field. How does that jive with being the most athletic on the 40 man?

        That said, I’d like to see him play a lot this week.

    • jd - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:47 AM


      I agree. I was especially puzzled to see Frandsen start on Saturday. If you want to look at a prospect, put him in for 10 days in a row and see what he’s got.

      I do think that 2nd base will become clearer after the trade deadline.

      • knoxvillenat - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:17 AM

        I was also surprised to see Frandsen in the lineup on Saturday especially since Walters had a double on Friday night for a couple of RBI’s. I’m not sure exactly what we get from Frandsen at this point as it seems he hasn’t been hitting all that much since earlier in the year and he certainly isn’t the defensive infielder that Espinosa is. That said I’d rather see Walters and Espi in a platoon situation at second base and leave KF on the bench.

  12. micksback1 - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:06 AM

    Even though R Zim went down, why has MW not platooned his outfielders? He still has McClouth, is he in MW’s dog house for some reason? I understand not playing Hairston and I hope he is long gone by July 31, he is terrible!

    If Harper needs rest, why not rest him? I thought MW wanted to rest his outfield.

    • adcwonk - Jul 28, 2014 at 12:12 PM

      ’cause McClouth is batting .182?

  13. micksback1 - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:07 AM

    to add, bot Harper and McClouth are left handed batters so I wonder what s up, maybe McClouth will be part of trade package?

  14. micksback1 - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:19 AM

    If a trade is not made for an infielder, I think Espi will have the spot indefinitely, based on MW’s line up the past few days. If Walters really was in the equation, he would have played him all 3 games this past weekend. The fact that Walters had a good game and did not play after that is what I base it on. Maybe MW feels Walters may KO to much.

    who knows?

    • letswin3 - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:36 AM

      You wanna talk K’s ………..give second base to Danny and you will get all the K’s you want. Walters deserves a shot. Earlier I said I hoped that Walters would get every start from the day he came up until July 31 to see what he has to offer….. he gets a big hit Friday against the Reds, and then sits the next two days?? He does indeed have plate discipline issues that can be addressed even at the major league level, but he can hit (in AAA), he can hit for power (in AAA and the bigs) and his defense looks to be adequate so far. Give him a shot.

      • adcwonk - Jul 28, 2014 at 12:16 PM

        I think, however, it makes sense to have Espi and Danny playing whenever Mr. Ground Ball (aka Fister) starts. (12 ground balls, 7 flies, 5 K’s)

  15. micksback1 - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:31 AM


    i’m going make one point and then move on, with all due respect, what does your post have to do with my point? I clearly pointed out a flaw in the previous post and rather than say, good point you come back with harper, by the way,
    neither of us have been proven right or wrong on Harper and my last critique of him pertain to his post game comments which bothered a hell of a lot of other fans, not just me.

  16. Joe Seamhead - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    I’m going to chime in on as to why I often go on , and participate on the game thread, but before I do, I want to say that I like ‘what I wish it was’ more than what it actually is. I really wish that some of the folks that used to play more of a part hadn’t left. My wife and I, in addition to going to youth league games and minor league games, watch about 99% of the Nats games either at the park, or on the tube. We are pretty social people and if there was a decent Nats bar anywhere near us we’d probably watch a lot of the games in the company of other baseball fans. Alas, thankfully we are wiser than to drive through at least 2 police districts to get home from watching a game. So here’s the gist of it: Nats Insider is our virtual bar. My wife doesn’t post, but she sometimes lurks during the games. I enjoy hashing it out with some of you all. And if I occasionally miss a play while posting? Well, with the wonders of modern technology I just go back and watch it again. Also, regarding the trolls? I look at it much like I did with the Phillie fans taking over Nats Park: It’s our house, damn it, and I’m not going to let the SOB’s take it from us.

  17. Section 222 - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:47 AM

    This is a WordPress test. It’s 10:45 on a Monday morning, and already I can’t find the last comment.

    I know I’m in the minority, but not only was Googleblogs better, but we all used to just post normally at the end, rather than replying to comments. It required some quoting of other posts, but it sure was easier to follow the discussion. And it might make WordPress behave. I’d be happy to return to that style of commenting if folks want to try it for a day or too and see how it goes.

    • natsjackinfl - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:56 AM

      As I reply to your comment, AMEN brother!

      This would be my daily “WordPress Sucks” comment.

  18. edshelton2013 - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    There was a lot of NI talk about Beltre recently. I love his big bat, and I could understand it if he was a short-term rental. I believe he’s signed through 2015. So, do you leave him at 3B next year, move Zimm to 1B and let ALR walk?

    • natsjackinfl - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:56 AM


      • texnat1 - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:38 AM

        RIght, or theoretically you could move RZim to left and keep ALR if you were inclined.

  19. Danny - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    Some posts regarding board behavior so far today, I’ll give my 2 cents. I don’t post enough to be considered a regular. I vent frustrations occasionally and I give credit when it’s necessary. I see it both ways. There can be a sense of holier than though from some I’ve seen, or attempts to police this board. Fans will be fans, of course SWM can be over the top. The fact is, this board is very very tame compared to other teams boards, ex (Braves, Reds, Dodgers, Giants). Some fans will critique more than others of course, every fan expresses themselves differently.

  20. coop202 - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:56 AM

    I truly hope the consistency keeps up – I don’t need a 10 game streak going forward and the schedule inversion with the only team I really care about when it comes to comparing our record hopefully means we can get a hair of seperation. Will be one of the rare times I root for the dodgers starting Tuesday. Always love reading everyone’s comments here simply because it means the team is building a loyal base (it takes years of good baseball to really get that), and as bad as the individual game variance can be, it is actually better than other team’s sites. 89 wins gets the east still, though I’m starting to buy our odds at the over.

  21. scnatsfan - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:01 AM

    The problem with the Nats getting Beltre – as some suggest – is what to do with him. It moves Rendon from his best position and leaves us with a serious glut of outfielders along with sending ALR the message to not but green bananas. Tough call on whether to spend what it would take – they wouldn’t fire sale him – to get the big bat.

  22. Theophilus T.S. - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    Harper doesn’t need a morale boost, he doesn’t need to be babied. (If that’s what Johnson did for Harper he set him back two seasons.) Harper needs to be motivated, possibly with a kick in the butt, plus a double injection of maturity. It’s impossible to see him performing anywhere near his potential with half his brain constantly churning about how he’s getting screwed by the umps.

    • snerdblurter - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:42 AM

      I hate it when fans claim the umps are out to get them, but in Harper’s case, it really does seem like the umps are out to get him. He definitely doesnt help things with how he reacts and the persona he pushes (would somebody buy the kid a chinstrap?), but I can’t remember the last time a borderline pitch went his way.

  23. Section 222 - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:05 AM

    Interesting piece about Fister being very successful with Lobo behind the plate. By “Catcher ERA” Lobo is slightly better (2.98) than Ramos (3.08) this year. Fister and JZnn do better pitching to Lobo. Stras, Roark, and Gio do better pitching to Ramos.


    • natsjackinfl - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:21 AM

      Fister is 7-0 in 8 starts with a 1.82 ERA with Lobatan behind the plate. Pretty sure that’s why Ramos got to rest yesterday.

  24. David Proctor - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    Bryce is 8 for his last 27 with 7 walks. That’s .296/.441/.444 since the break. His baserunning has negated some of that and the power hasn’t returned yet, but he’s getting there. Be patient.

    • letswin3 - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:51 AM

      Yep, patience. And his base-running gaffs are possibly the result of a hugely competitive ego who could always pull off that crap before he became a professional ballplayer. Someone (Werth, Desmond, MW, one of the coaches he respects??) needs to have a long sit-down with him to explain that there are guys hitting behind him who can drive him in. He’s a very good athlete who has rarely experienced failure, so this glitch in his short career is going to take a minute or two to be resolved, but it will be resolved.

    • rayvil01 - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:57 AM

      Good comment. I agree.

  25. Section 222 - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    Ooops. Here’s the link to the Lobo/Fister post on Nats Journal:

  26. chaz11963 - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    Yup, Harper definitely needs to play to get out of this funk. He will figure it out. Also, be a good idea to put him higher up in the order- 5th or 6th – and just keep him there consistently.

  27. edshelton2013 - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    I actually believe Harper does get screwed by the umps on close calls–but he has brought it on himself via his body language in showing them up. FP has used Werth as an example: he looks down at the plate and maybe utters something under his breath, and that’s it. He’s earned their respect around the league and the close calls go his way. It’s human nature–Bryce needs to learn this lesson from his mentor.

  28. Section 222 - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    The problem with the Nats getting Beltre – as some suggest – is what to do with him.

    I think it’s pretty easy, Beltre plays third, Rendon plays second, Espi goes to the bench, Walters goes back to the ‘Cuse (unless you want to send Epsi there). Hairston is DFA’d to make room on the 40 and 25 man rosters. You still have McLouth as a backup outfielder, and Frandsen too, if needed.

    Am I missing something?

    • scnatsfan - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:30 AM

      You are moving Rendon, who seems to be a gold glove 3B, off the base and upon Zims return you put one of the OF on the bench – on merit that would be Harper. Would you be willing to give up what little depth we have in the minors to solve a problem that solves itself in 6-8 weeks?

  29. Danny - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    Peter Gammons and Gordon Edes reporting the Nationals are among the latest suitors for Red Sox LHR Andrew Miller who hosts a 2.45 ERA, 14.5 K/9, 5.0 K/BB.

  30. unterp - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    we’ll the Nats were consistently the worst base runners I have seen in my 50 years + of watching MLB baseball over the weekend of my lifetime. Never seen worse. It will nearly, emphasis on nearly, be impossible not to be better this series….

  31. Section 222 - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:54 AM

    You are moving Rendon, who seems to be a gold glove 3B, off the base and upon Zims return you put one of the OF on the bench – on merit that would be Harper. Would you be willing to give up what little depth we have in the minors to solve a problem that solves itself in 6-8 weeks?

    I’m not sure if I’d do it, and I’m pretty sure Rizzo won’t make any big move. Just not his style. I was responding to your question of where you put Beltre and what the domino effect would be. I had no problem moving Rendon to 2B to get Zim’s bat in the lineup and I’d do the same for Beltre. As for what happens on Zim’s return, I agree that’s tricky. Do you really think it’s going to be 6-8 weeks though? Sure doesn’t sound like it to me.

    At any rate, we’re now 5 weeks from September when the roster expands so it’s not a roster spot problem. If Beltre could be had for a reasonable price, if and when Zim returns you have the same problem you had when he returned the first time, except that unlike Espi, Beltre can hit.

  32. Eric - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:58 AM

    As for what happens on Zim’s return, I agree that’s tricky. Do you really think it’s going to be 6-8 weeks though? Sure doesn’t sound like it to me.

    What’s your guess?

  33. Danny - Jul 28, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    Based on the Rangers reluctance to move Beltre we aren’t getting him unless Rizzo shoots for the moon, which he won’t.

    • Danny - Jul 28, 2014 at 12:04 PM

      Surprised at the lack of discussion about a Zobrist trade.

  34. Section 222 - Jul 28, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    Eric, given on how bad the injury looked, and the lack of a timetable yet, it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s out until late September if he comes back at all. But that’s truly a guess. I don’t even know what a Class 2 hamstring pull is.

  35. letswin3 - Jul 28, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    The conversations regarding going after Beltre or Castro are interesting and provide good questions about what those acquisitions might provide and what problems they might create. My question is … how many games (before R ZIM returns) might either of those two possible acquisitions impact favorably? I guess what I’m thinking is that if neither can effect the outcome of one or more games over the next 6,8,10,12 weeks (we still don’t know how long Zim will be out), then why trade for either of them. Castro, on the other hand, could be a solution to the ’15 season and beyond, so his availability would be a different situation to consider on a long-term basis.

  36. micksback1 - Jul 28, 2014 at 12:39 PM


    as far as McClouth batting 183, that is of course true, but 2 points, what is Bryce’s BA since the break and 2, what is Hairston’s? McClouth needs more at bats an in fact there was game inside a month ago where he had 3 key hits and a spectacular play and was deemed the player of the game by FP and Bobby C. We are talking rest my friend, not making McClouth a starter and my point was why hairston over McClouth. I bet McClouth’s BA since the break is as dismal as both Bryce and Hairston so your point really does not make sense.

    now, I have to respond to your retort on Ramos, since it seems you are never wrong and everyone else is,later on

    • Chazz - Jul 28, 2014 at 5:42 PM

      David Proctor – Jul 28, 2014 at 11:09 AM

      Bryce is 8 for his last 27 with 7 walks. That’s .296/.441/.444 since the break.

      • Chazz - Jul 28, 2014 at 5:52 PM

        As for McLouth and Hairston:

        McLouth hasn’t had a start since June; he’s appeared in 12 games in July, with one PA each in 10 of them (5 since the ASB), with no hits or walks, and one K.

        In that same time, Hairston has had 10 appearances, 2 of which were starts, but he didn’t finish either game. In those 10 games, he’s had 15 PA, with no walks, 4 Ks, and 1 hit (a bunt single if memory serves, against the Phillies in DC).

    • Chazz - Jul 28, 2014 at 6:11 PM

      McLouth has not had a 3-hit game in 2014. He did go 4-4 back on May 28, in a 10-inning, 8-5 loss to Miami.
      Within the past month, he did go 2-4 and 2-3, respectively, in a doubleheader against the Cubs, which the Nats won 3-0 and 7-2, at Wrigley. Perhaps that’s the day you had in mind.

      • Chazz - Jul 28, 2014 at 6:14 PM

        MCLOUTH: ADD — That DH in Chicago was June 28.





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