Tuesday, June 12, 2007

10 Down, One Less To Go

We beat the good teams and lose to the bad. That's a reverse of the previous two weeks of play. So who really knows what makes a 'lesser' team? I'm confident in saying we're not the "least" umm.... at least.

Nats Record: 3-3
Overall: 26-37, tied with three teams for 13th. Despite all the winning, this is still a 95-loss pace.

I should note, though, that over their last 30 games, the team is 17-13, which is a 92-win pace. This is tied for the fourth best record in the NL over that time.

Expected Record: 63-99. Despite our good forture, the team has been outscored by 68 runs, just over one per game. Although, in that 30-game stretch, they've outscored their opponents by four runs, 142-138.

Runs Scored: 28, 4.7/g; overall, 240, last in the NL.
Runs Allowed: 27, 4.5; overall, 308, 12th in the NL.

What's Good?
1) Guzmania! What the hell has gotten into him? Four extra-base hits and twelve overall, gave him a pretty incredible .630 slugging average. Is it all the eye surgery? What if he had done what he's doing this year back in '05? At the current pace he's on, he'd have created about 75 runs in '05, assuming a similar level of playing time. He actually created 37 that year, so he's roughly 40 runs better this year. That's about four wins, maybe a bit more because of the low run environment.

Four wins wouldn't have been enough for the Wild Card on its own, but you've gotta think the stretch drive would've played out a bit different had the team had those wins. Oh, what if!

2) Matt Chico! All of a sudden, he's a strike-thrown, innings-eating machine. The maturation of him as a pitcher has been pretty incredible. Early on, he looked completely incapable of throwing strikes and now we're confident in him as our best starter. I don't think he's got the stuff to ever be an ace, but at worst, the Nats have found themselves a #3 starter for the next 5.5 years.

Over his last 7 starts, he's walked just 11 batters, which is half of the total he walked over his first 6. Over those same starts, he has a 3.66 ERA and has held opposing batters to a .296 on-base average. He hasn't been winning games because the team's offense stinks, and because he doesn't usually work too deep into games, but he's putting the Nats into a position to win and the Nats are 5-2 in those games despite his personal 1-1 record over that time.

3) Dmitri Young! How much more can the big guy give us? I really wish we were a better team so he could get the recognition he deserves. As it is, he's not likely to win the Player of the Month award because his hot stretch has been over the last 30 days, not a calendar month, and he hasn't been slamming homers, even if he's been scattering the ball all over the park. Another week, another .462 batting average; that's even a cold slump for him.

What's Bad?

1) Mike Bacsik. The chickens came home to roost. He's got marginal stuff, and he's completely unable to miss bats as his 9/8 K/BB ratio attests. Even in his good starts, he was relying on good defensive positioning to catch the scorchers he was giving up. He's the kind of guy that you can have fill in for a few starts, but if you're relying on him for a few months, gulp.

2) FLop. .091 isn't going to get it done. What's most distressing about that isn't the lack of hits, per se, but his lack of patience: 0 walks, 8 strikeouts. What Lopez did so well last year and in '05, was work the count. He probably will never be an elite hitter, but if he's putting up a .350 OBP, you won't complain too much.

But he's putting up a .277. That's terrible and it's probably time to point out that he's nearing Guzman in '05 territory (65 OPS+ for Lopez v. 55 for Guzman).

To me, he's going to be the interesting story coming up. He's arbitration eligible at the end of the year, and would be due for a raise to the $5 million range. Is he worth it? Not if he's producing like that. If he doesn't pick it up, do the Nats non-tender him? There's nobody in the system ready to step in and replace him either. It's going to be an interesting decision.

I wonder if he's injured. When players fall off the table, there's usually some sort of explanation. I haven't seen or heard anything about it, but I bet something's nagging at him.

3) Ryan Langerhans. He wins the balsa bat award for the most ABs sans hit: 0-10. On the plus side, he drew 5 walks, giving him a respectable .333 on-base percentage. Such is the life of an 8th place hitter.

Game O' The Week
I'm reluctant to talk about it, but needless to say after Saturday night's game, I spent all of Sunday on my knees praying, fearing for the impending Judgment Day. That that ripple in the universe didn't bring about the Apocalypse, unleashing foul beasts to make us sinners suffer for our transgressions is perhaps the most surprising development of the year.

Weekly Awards
MVP: Until he stops hitting, Dmitri Young's name goes here every week. This is his fourth in a row. .462/ .481/ .654

Cy Young: Matt Chico was impressive, and Jesus Colome was pretty outstanding, but it's gotta go to The Golem.

LVP: Sorry, Flop. I mean, Sorry Flop.

Joe Horgan Award: Jon Rauch is the tough-luck winner, just because I like it when players finish with ERAs higher that'd still be bad if they were quartered: 20.25.

Weekly Whips
6/5: Felipe Lopez had his only two hits of the week, but it was Ryan Church's 3 hits and 2 runs scored which carried the offense to a close loss.
6/6: Hohum. Another three hits for Dmitri.
6/7: 7 innings and 2 runs should be enough for Matt Chico to get a farkin' win.
6/8: I want to take Youngs' 3 RBI, but I can't overloook 4 hits and 3 runs scored by Cristian Guzman.
6/9: I dare not even mention his name. Here's a hint. His name is an anagram for "Gal Revels In Pee"
6/10: Hohum. Three more hits for Dmitri.

What's Ahead
One of those lesser teams, that's for sure.

One of the other Nats bloggers, who'll remain nameless to protect his safety, recently, in an email exchange, called into question the validity of the oft-trotted out Peter Angelos quote: "There are no real baseball fans in DC. That's a fiction."

I pointed out that I've heard audio of Angelos delivering the line in a most condescending fashion.

But what I've also heard (or read?) was the full quote in context. Angelos was alluding to the actual District itself, as he made the point he's made repeatedly that Montgomery County and other Maryland counties make up a sizable portion of his fan base. Angelos was saying, in a most inartful way, that the actual District doesn't have that many baseball fans.

I wonder how true that is. I know that traffic is always a @#$# when I'm scurrying back to my not-so-tony Virginia suburb after a game. I'd be interested to see what % of Nats season tickets are from areas other than DC.

After battling the Blowrioles, the Nats head up north to meet their old Interleague rivals in the Capital of Canadia (every time I make that 'joke', I get email; I guess those humorless, moose-sucking hosiers have never seen this terrible movie.)

6 games on the road, and Cristian Guzman and Dmitri Young have been carrying the team on their broad, broad, mile-wide shoulders. Can it keep up?


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