Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Stack 'Em Up

It's been a few months since I've done one of these, so let's see how our batters compare position by position to their friends around the league.

All stats are by players at that respective position and don't necessarily reflect their total stats. 40 AB minimum

Catcher           AB    AVE    OBP    SLG
Brian Schneider 317 .240 .310 .315
Robert Fick 45 .244 .358 .400
Total 446 .247 .316 .354
NL AVE .269 .325 .413
And there you see what a drain Brian Schneider has been. Last year, he had a .743 OPS, which is roughly what his career average is. Oh, if he had just done what he did last year. Just for fun: He's had about 50 fewer plate appearances this year than he did last year. Using Bill James' runs created formula, he was worth about 51 runs last year, but only 34 this year. Adjust for playing time differences, and his bad offense has cost the Nats about 1 win this year -- that's not counting his defensive decline either. (Runs created is just a rough snapshot; for strict qualitative analysis, there are better choices.)

First Base      AB    AVE    OBP    SLG
Nick Johnson 411 .292 .428 .521
Total 446 .291 .421 .511
NL AVE .287 .368 .498
People wanted to trade this guy? And play Larry Broadway there? He doesn't hit for the power of a cleanup guy, but on a non-dysfunctional team, he'd rightly be hitting second. He's finally staying healthy, but in a lost season. If only he could've stayed healthy last year. How might things have been different? He's getting a night off tonight, but the next highest AB total at 1B is 17, by Robert Fick.

Second Base        AB    AVE    OBP    SLG
Jose Vidro 348 .302 .364 .405
Marlon Anderson 99 .283 .335 .505
Bernie Castro 25 .280 .308 .280
Total 498 .291 .355 .410
NL AVE .275 .338 .415
What to make of this? Offensively, Jose Vidro's still a net plus at second. He can smack singles with the best of him, and he's got just enough of an eye to give him a pretty good on-base perecentage. But defensively? Yeesh. The team is at the bottom of the league, and his inability to get to balls or stay in on the tough pivot are the primary reason why. Marlon Anderson isn't great, but if Vidro were traded, having him as your second baseman isn't going to cripple the team. Bernie Castro's stats (small sample size, of course) are there just to illustrate how silly the idea of him having a starting job is, no matter how feckin' fast he is.

Third Base        AB    AVE    OBP    SLG
Ryan Zimmerman 473 .279 .349 .471
Total 490 .276 .347 .461
NL AVE .281 .352 .470
Just as the last time, this one depresses me. For all his wonderfullness, Zimmerman's basically an average third baseman. Defense, of course, ups his value, but the Nats aren't netting a whole lot of advantage here; they're not losing anything, either.

I wonder how many other players in the league have played all but 17 ABs of their team's games at a position. (Of course, he's off tonight, so that'll go up.). It's pretty telling, too, that the team's overall numbers get dragged down that much by those 17 ABs, which tells you how uniformally pathetic his replacements (Only Harris and Jackson) have been.

Shortstop        AB    AVE    OBP    SLG
Royce Clayton 305 .269 .313 .348
Felipe Lopez 138 .283 .379 .384
Total 471 .270 .332 .361
NL AVE .268 .329 .393
Royce Clayton: Bad! Felipe Lopez: Not-so Bad! Let's play with the Runs Created thing some more. Clayton has created 42 runs. Lopez has created 67, but in about 100 more plate appearances. With the bat, he's been about 15-20 runs better, all things being equal. Every 10 runs or so is, in general, worth a win. Defensively, Clayton's more sure-handed, but it does seem that Lopez has more lateral range. Still, as we're seeing tonight, some of Lopez' errors are soul-crushing.

Left Field         AB    AVE    OBP    SLG
Alfonso Soriano 506 .292 .365 .607
Total 524 .290 .361 .595
NL AVE .280 .360 .480
Hey, the man can slug! What's there to say? While we're playing with runs created, he's at 106 for the year. The last 2 years, in about 150 more plate appearances, he's averaged just 88 or so. He's been roughly two wins better in less playing time. Think he can keep it up next year? Me neither.

Center Field    AB    AVE    OBP    SLG
Marlon Byrd 159 .233 .303 .371
Ryan Church 118 .229 .333 .407
Alex Escobar 69 .333 .355 .478
Total 461 .243 .316 .393
NL AVE .263 .333 .421
Yeesh. Another blackhole. Still, there's the makings of something here. Church's stats are hurt by his miserable start to the year. He's hit fairly decently of late, raising those numbers to where they are. Byrd's time, it seems, has come and gone (I imagine he'll be non-tendered in the offseason). Escobar has shown he can hit -- he's tacked on a few more impressive swings tonight, which aren't reflected in the totals above). Defensively, none of them are very good. Byrd is probably the best. Church is alright. Escobar seems to be below average. If Frank would just hand the job two Church and Escobar, platooning them or going with the hot hand (instead of jerking them around willy-nilly), the Nats would be ok here, unless they have plans to bring in a gold-glover. (And those don't grow on trees!)

Right Field        AB    AVE    OBP    SLG
Jose Guillen 238 .214 .275 .399
Austin Kearns 106 .236 .354 .349
Total 471 .227 .308 .397
NL AVE .266 .341 .431
Another black hole! I've almost completely forgotten about Jose Guillen. That doesn't seem like it's a bad thing. Kearns has been disappointing (although he just hit another homer tonight), but he shows the value of a walk; even when he's not hitting or slugging, he's still getting on base. In one of those vagaries, Ryan Church has 3 homers as a RFer, giving him a slugging % over 1.000.

Pinch Hitters     AB    AVE    OBP    SLG
Marlon Anderson 49 .245 .351 .306
Daryle Ward 43 .302 .418 .605
Matt LeCroy 14 .357 .591 .357
Robert Fick 13 .385 .385 .385
Total 188 .271 .389 .431
NL AVE .235 .311 .359
The average NL team has 4 PH homers. We have 7. Last year, we had just two. Do you know who hit them? Brendan Harris and, on the last weekend of the year, Carlos Baerga. This is another one of those frustrating things. If we had had this bench, and a healthy Nick Johnson last year, there's a good chance that we're in the playoffs. Alas. It's a good mix here. Marlon gets on base. Ward crushes the ball. LeCroy and Fick just hit. Anderson is sure to be back

  • I won't bore you with the pitching stats, but Tony Armas, Ramon Ortiz and Mike O'Connor are three of the worst hitting pitchers in the league, well below even the meager league standards. One prominent stathead said recently that Livan's plus bat was worth about .2 runs of ERA. These guys are probably that bad in the other direction.

  • It's easy to see why the offense struggles so much. Only first base and left field are significantly above average. Meanwhile, center, right and catcher are all well below average. Carrying one sinkhole is ok. Three isn't.

    There's potential there, but as we've seen recently, the clutch hitting is completely non-existent. And recently, the team has shown a terrible trend of striking out in drove. On there own, strikeouts aren't bad. But when everyone is hacking, there's a problem.

    The potential's there. And there are flashes.

    Unfortunately, the team mostly smolders.
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