Monday, October 03, 2005

Stack 'Em Up

Way back at the midway point, I looked at the Nationals in the context of league average performance at each position. I think that that's a useful way of looking at the lineup as it shows where the strengths and weakness of a team are -- and sometimes, as we saw, the holes become glaring.

As I cautioned last time, it's important to make a mental adjustment to account for park factors. ESPN's rough estimates have RFK as allowing 14% fewer runs than average, including 23% fewer home runs. So, if a hitter is at or near league average based on the raw numbers, it's fair to say that he was probably better.

Let's get to the numbers. (Players numbers are listed for those with 75+ ABs at that position)

Brian Schneider .266 .324 .409 .733 364
Gary Bennett .229 .307 .281 .589 192
NATIONALS .252 .317 .363 .680 559
NL Average .250 .313 .387 .700

Schneider was well above the average NL Catcher BEFORE you factor in defense. His reduced playing time because of the injury was one of the factors in the season's slide.

What can you say about Gary Bennett? Ummm... Well... He's appeared in more major league games than me, at least.

If Schneider doesn't suffer any long-term injuries (I'm presuming the rest will heal him), catcher will remain an asset for this team.

First Base
Nick Johnson .290 .408 .481 .889 451
Brad Wilkerson .215 .287 .354 .642 79
NATIONALS .271 .374 .442 .816 602
NL Average .280 .361 .482 .843

Nick Johnson has a handy lead over the average NL first baseman, but it's a far cry from the heady near-All-Star heights from earlier in the season. Still, he remained the team's most consistent threat.

And the numbers also show how important him staying healthy is. Luminaries such as Carlos Baerga and Wil Cordero did their best to make first base a net loss for the team.

Second Base
Jose Vidro .275 .338 .427 .765 302
Jamey Carroll .253 .338 .292 .630 178
Junior Spivey .224 .333 .395 .728 76
NATIONALS .260 .337 .384 .721 619
NL Average .276 .338 .413 .751

When Vidro's healthy, he's better than even this. But he hasn't been healthy in at least two years. And he's not getting any younger.

Jamey Carroll showed that he's not a regular player, and that the Junior Spivey trade probably wasn't completely horrible. Spivey treaded water at the position much better than Vidro did, but still dragged the position to below average.

Third Base
Vinny Castilla .255 .322 .406 .728 490
NATIONALS .266 .328 .407 .735 617
NL Average .274 .344 .442 .786

Vinny's aching knee hurt his offense and his defense. Combined, he was well below average.

Young Zimmerman batted .420/ .453/ .580 as a 3B in just 50. If he does that next year, maybe we'll ALL owe Bodes an apology! ;) Regardless, the plate control, even though it hasn't manifested itself in walks, bodes well for the future.

Cristian Guzman .221 .262 .316 .578 453
Jamey Carroll .239 .324 .250 .574 92
NATIONALS .227 .275 .308 .583 569
NL Average .264 .313 .378 .691

Ugh. It's hard to believe that you could have two players playing that poorly. That's a HUGE hole. The Nationals would have needed an exceptional performance from one or two of the other positions to overcome that deficit.

Left Field
Marlon Byrd .265 .327 .368 .695 155
Ryan Church .293 .348 .536 .884 140
Brad Wilkerson .225 .338 .349 .686 129
NATIONALS .251 .321 .404 .725 609
NL Average .272 .348 .457 .805

How surprised are you that Marlon Byrd led the team in LF ABs? Church performed exceptionally well, but the bulk of that performance came pre-PNC wall. He ripped two long homers on the final weekend, perhaps a portent that his power has returned?

Center Field
Brad Wilkerson .267 .374 .444 .819 333
Preston Wilson .275 .335 .454 .789 207
NATIONALS .266 .352 .437 .789 625
NL Average .275 .340 .437 .777

Who would've thunk? Wilkerson and Wilson both pulled the Nats to above average. Wilkerson's glove is probably average for the position. Wilson's is decidedly below. Either way, I've got a strong suspiction that neither will be patrolling the position come April.

Right Field
Jose Guillen .280 .335 .481 .816 528
NATIONALS .288 .346 .476 .823 638
NL Average .269 .346 .456 .802

The once and future king reigned at the position all year. Despite the crap we give him, his numbers overall are excellent. It's just that we've seen him fail time and time again in too many big situations. Hopefully the offseason will give him enough time to heal, so that he can show the form he had during April and May, when he WAS carrying the team.

Pinch Hitters (20 AB minimum)
Carlos Baerga .241 .328 .315 .643 54
Tony Blanco .148 .207 .185 .392 27
Ryan Church .125 .276 .125 .407 24
NATIONALS .199 .298 .261 .559 226
NL Average .232 .305 .343 .648

Not only are these numbers brutal, there are others that are just as ugly. The Nats hit only two PH homers -- one, the shot by Carlos Baerga off Roberto Hernandez late last month. Remember the other? Brendan Harris ripped one mid-summer.

Not only that, but the Nats hit just six doubles. No power. No patience. That equals pretty poor pinch performances.


Overall, it's not hard to see why this was such a horrid offense. They were above average at only two positions: center and right. Catcher and first base could've been assets were it not for the injuries.

Combine that with the sinkholes that were shortstop and third, and well, it's pretty damn ugly.

As the off-season begins, I'll be looking at each position individually, assessing where I think we need to go with it, always keeping that damn budget in mind.

But for now, we can see where we're hurting.


  • Pratt's interesting. He's not a great defensive catcher, but he can actually hit. Since Schneider can catch, I wouldn't worry about having a good gloveman as backup.

    If Bodes is around, he'll go after Encarnacion. That'd be a mistake. He's a worse player than Preston Wilson -- horrible onbase skills, not a ton of power. (Plus, he's ugly! :P )

    Cruz would be interesting. He's stretched playing center, but is a decent corner ofer. But teams have been tossing him lately. I wonder if there are some problems we're not aware of.

    Weaver's interesting if the price is right.

    We'll see... there are some good names out there, and some ugly ones too. Hopefully I'll hash it out position by position.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 10/03/2005 9:43 PM  

  • IMHO, Juan Pierre would be a great leadoff man/CF. He'd also bring some much needed basebath speed to this team. He's automatic for 45+ steals each year. He also doesn't hit for power, which is almost an advantage in RFK...imagine how many triples he could pull off with those legs of his. He'd be on base enough for Johnson/Guillen et al to knock him in a few times.

    By Blogger Brandon, at 10/03/2005 10:54 PM  

  • Pierre's in his last year of arbitration eligibility.

    FL is under a huge financial crunch, so they might not be able to give him the kind of raise he'll earn through the process.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 10/03/2005 11:15 PM  

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