Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Stack 'Em Up

If you were around last year, you'll remember that I took periodic looks at the offense and how it compares to league average at their position. I think it gives us a pretty good idea of where our strengths are and where the weaknesses are. Although anyone with a pulse (not named Boswell) could tell that Guzman was the gaping hole of last year.

One thing to keep in mind is that RFK still suppresses offense by a decent amount, roughly 15% for runs, so you'll need to make a mental adjustment upwards with some of the stats. (Were I any sort of saberista, I'd break out the abacus and twirl some beads to give you some adjusted numbers, but, eh, that'd be work and stuff)

CATCHER
AB AVE OBP SLG
LG Average .264 .325 .386
Matt LeCroy 33 .273 .306 .545
Brian Schneider 99 .232 .309 .293
NATS 143 .259 .318 .364

Overall, the production's not terrible, even if it's below average. Schneider didn't seem right, and defensively, he was certainly off. Runners ran on him and LeCroy, but at least Schneider would occasionally throw through to second. The Nats are sure to improve here when Schneider comes back, if only because he can't continue to be this terrible.

FIRST BASE
AB AVE OBP SLG
LG Average .279 .363 .503
Nick Johnson 144 .313 .421 .583
NATS 149 .309 .415 .570

That Nick Johnson guy's pretty good, huh? I'm not going to jinx him by bringing up the blindingly obvious thing that he's done this year that he's failed to do every other year in his career. I'll just hope he'll continue to do it all year!


SECOND BASE
AB AVE OBP SLG
LG Average .273 .339 .380
Jose Vidro 139 .338 .415 .439
NATS 154 .325 .403 .422

This is vintage Vidro, giving the Nats a clear offensive advantage here. The only worry is that his stats are batting average heavy -- that is, he's not walking a ton, and he's not hitting many extra base hits. If those singles stop dropping in, his overall production grinds to a halt. Still, he's been a good line-drive machine throughout his career. It could just be a slump. (I hope!)

THIRD BASE
AB AVE OBP SLG
LG Average .275 .347 .443
Ryan Zimmerman 147 .265 .335 .435
NATS 153 .261 .329 .425

Those who were predicting a .300 average out of Zimmerman were wildly optimistic. He's doing about what reasonable expectations thought, perfectly replacing Vinny Castilla's production, even as he's improved on the ol' guy's defense. If he could just get over the throwing yips, which he shows only one the easiest plays, he'd be unstoppable.

SHORTSTOP
AB AVE OBP SLG
Lg Average .265 .327 .381
Royce Clayton 126 .246 .300 .333
NATS 136 .243 .293 .324

Black hole! He's putrid offensively, and anyone who claims that that's acceptable because Guzman was so bad is missing the point. He's also pretty poor defensively, showing, at best, average range, but has booted too many balls (when he's not throwing them away.) If you're going to hit like Rey Ordonez, you've gotta field like Rey Ordonez.

Like last year, this should be priority #1 for the Nats. Like last year, they'll ignore the problem.

LEFT FIELD
AB AVE OBP SLG
LF Average .265 .351 .435
Alfonso Soriano 161 .280 .322 .534
NATS 172 .279 .319 .523

He's well below the league average OBP, but when you can slug like that, who gives a feck? Still, when you factor in the terrible defense, you've gotta wonder how much better than average he is, and all for the bargain price of $10 million.

CENTER FIELD
AB AVE OBP SLG
LF Average .261 .333 .392
Marlon Byrd 72 .264 .354 .389
Ryan Church 50 .180 .317 .340
Brandon Watson 27 .185 .214 .185
NATS 153 .222 .316 .340

Oy. As bad as this has been, this is another position I think'll improve, especially as Frank figures out that the Church/Byrd platoon that I've been yammering about since about May of last year is the way to go. Defensively, this position's a bit of a worry. Church has a strong, accurate arm, and seems to make all the plays, but sometimes his routes are a bit funky. I've never been impressed with Byrd's defense in center, and now that his ass is the size of a Buick, I'm even more skeptical.

RIGHT FIELD
AB AVE OBP SLG
Lg Average .275 .347 .456
Jose Guillen 129 .217 .261 .395
NATS 149 .242 .316 .497

We knew that Guillen stunk! This position is saved only because this is where Ryan Church did all his damage, cranking out three homers. Take him away, and this position, too, is below average. Guillen's defense has slipped. He seems to have lost a bit of range, and his throws have been poor, both weak, and inaccurate.

PITCHER
AB AVE OBP SLG
Lg Average .128 .160 .154
Livan Hernandez 20 .250 .250 .550
Tony Armas 15 .067 .067 .067
Ramon Ortiz 12 .083 .154 .083
NATS 79 .127 .138 .340

I've thought about expanding this into a bigger post, but the Nats pitchers are wretched batters, Livan excepted. Armas and Ortiz are two of the worst batters in the league, and with Al Leiter retired to stud, they might be THE worst. What's particularly problematic with those two (especially Armas) is his inability to get the bunt down either. That just kills a pitcher's chances -- especially with the low margin of error they have on this team.

PINCH HITTERS
AB AVE OBP SLG
LG Average .241 .305 .333
Marlon Anderson 22 .182 .333 .227
Daryle Ward 13 .231 .412 .538
NATS 66 .197 .349 .318

The pinch-hitting extraordinaire isn't really getting the job done, but Ward has excelled, showing a strong eye, and working out some walks in critical situations. Frank's cheated and had him lumber around the outfield a bit, which, if he picks the spots right, might not be that bad. Sometimes this team needs to punt defense to get more offense --lord knows they're trying in left!