Monday, September 24, 2007

25 Down, Sadly 1 To Go

I've written often this year about the Nats' ability to time their wins right. I know the world doesn't revolve around this stupid weekly recaps, but my reflection does, and it certainly seems that as we look back, a well-timed Sunday win lifts the spirits after what was seemingly a disappointing week. So I looked back.

The Nats lost their first four Sunday games of the year. Since then, they're 14-6 on the day we praise Jesus (Flores) and root for Church (Ryan). I don't know what's in the water. A statistical fluke, of course, but also perhaps, a bit, because of team's resting some regulars on the day game after a night game, and Jesus' typical Sunday start, which takes one of the Nats' weakest bats out of the game. Regardless, I'll take it. As I took yesterday's fun (if slowly paced) victory.

Nats Record: 3-4. Philly can't really be disappointed with what we did this week. They had a positive result in 5 of the 7 games the Nats played this week.

Overall: 69-87, a 72-win pace. 72 is still going to be hard to get, but 69 ain't bad either! The Nats are 12/16 in the NL, three games ahead of Florida for the worst record. (Woohoo! Fourth place!) If the season ended today, they'd have the 8th draft pick. The 'best' they could likely do is 4th (and that'd take a truly terrible week from Baltimore -- so I s'pose we shouldn't rule that out!). They're likely not going to go any higher than 11th.

Runs Scored: 40 (5.7/g), 636 overall, last in the NL. They're only 12 runs behind SF for next-to-last now, a huge improvement. Although it seems like the offense is pitiful, they're on pace to score about 25 more runs than the semi-contending '05 team did.

Runs Allowed: 40 (5.7/g), 750 overall, 10th in the NL. It's unlikely they'll move from this position. They're 11 behind 9th and 40 ahead of 12th. Despite the 'success' of the staff, I need to hammer this point home again. Nationals starting pitchers have the third worst ERA in the league (5.08) despite pitching in front of an OK defense in a pitcher's park. When you adjust for those things, they're one of the very worst, if not the worst, rotations in the league. The Nationals success, such as it is, is from having a top bullpen pitching the equivalent of 7 complete games more than the league average bullpen. It's like getting 10 more starts out of Shawn Hill.

Expected Record: 69-93. They 'picked up' a game this week.

What's Good?
1) Ronnie Belliard! Watching him swing from his heels is quite a sight. When he really goes for it all, he twists his whole body around, pivoting on his back foot, swinging with everything he's got. You half expect him to twist like a rope, like one of those cartoon sluggers. When it works, as it mostly did this week, it's a thing of, well, maybe it's not truly beautiful.

2) Robert Fick!? He was having an all-time suck season, when Dmitri's concussion/obesity knocked him out of the game. He's responded by hitting the crap out of the ball, putting himself into dangerous territory, where the team might think it best to give him another shot next year -- didja see what he did in those 30 September ABs!?!?1! (while ignoring the 150 pathetic ones that came before.)

3) Jason Bergmann's K pitch. Six innings and seven more strikeouts. Maybe there's hope next year. If he can keep the walks down, which he's mostly done since that disaster at the beginning of the year, there's no reason he can't take a step forward next year. Other than Hill's sinker, he's about the only pitcher on the entire pitching staff with anything resembling a plus pitch.

What's Bad?

1) Ryan Zimmerman. He really came across like he was trying to do too much. He sometimes, despite the success, seems to push a little too much in high-pressure situations, swinging and fishing at sloppy pitches that he has no business going for. The end result is either a K (11 of them in just 6 games) or a weak tapper on the infield, usually for a dp grounder.

2) Shawn Hill. He finally laid an egg, sadly his second in his last few starts. Now that we know he's having shoulder surgery in his non-throwing arm, I wonder if that's affecting him. Not being able to have a full range of motion with his front shoulder could affect his delivery, throwing him off balance, causing him to leave some of his pitches up. He's had a solid year, and there's lots of potential if he can stay healthy. But, as we've seen with every other good pitcher we've had, that's a giant if.

3) Joel Hanrahan. It's awfully strange seeing someone leave a game where he didn't make it through 5 getting a standing ovation when he's yanked. But with Joel, you need to grade on a curve, I guess.

Weekly Awards

MVP: Ronnie Belliard!
Cy Young: Jason Bergmann!
LVP: Ryan Zimmerman
Joe Horgan Award: Arnie Munoz

Weekly Whips
9/17: 3 hits and 3 runs for Logan. I wish he had more games like this.
9/18: Three hits and a three-run bomb for Belliard!
9/19: Felipe Lopez' three hits weren't enough.
9/20: Jason Bergmann deserved a win.
9/21: Belly had two more hits, but Zimmerman kept stranding him.
9/22: Tim Redding K'd 7 and BB's 0.
9/23: Kearns Klosed the dump with 2 huge RBI.

What's Ahead?
3 in NY then 3 in Philly. Can the Nats get the two wins they need to pass last year's record? Seems so easy, yet so far away. Just enjoy the games. They're the last ones you'll see for six months.


  • I hate to sound like rah-rah guy, but we really must give Jim-Bo credit all the way around on Belliard, first picking him up off the scrap heap and then extending him for two years at Wal-Mart prices.

    With the organization's middle infield depth non-existent, I think we can reasonaby say that without Ronnie they would be firting with those 100 losses eveyone expected them to have. Imagine 120 games of D'Angelo Jiminez and Bernie Castro at second!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/24/2007 11:48 AM  

  • Uhoh... you're quoting numbers... Lemme check....

    Belliard has created about 70 runs this year in 528 plate appearances.

    If we had a scrub like Bernie Castro (which we wouldn't have done; we'd have found someone else like Belliard on the scrap heap), who has created about 20 runs in 209 career plate appearances...

    prorate, adjust, blah blah blah (ignoring outs, which really should be the baseline, but, whatever)...

    Given the same number of PA, Castro would create about 53 runs.

    So Belliard has been about 25 runs or so better than Castro, so about 2-3 wins.

    Good, for sure. But it's not like Belliard has been Pujols with the bat.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 9/24/2007 11:53 AM  

  • Someone wake me when it's time to sign ARod.

    By Blogger RPS, at 9/24/2007 12:24 PM  

  • That's a great point about Zim trying to do too much. I feel like he's been that way the whole year, and I'd love to know how his 'clutch' stats add up over the season (RISP, 2 out, GIDP, etc)

    P.S. Thanks for keeping up the funny posts, I need something to laugh at other than the hilarity that ensues after a Lopez/Belliard DP grounder

    By Blogger Rob B, at 9/24/2007 2:23 PM  

  • Before the season started, I predicted that Zimmerman would have a tough time without Nick batting behind him. Further, he does not have the same sweet swing he had when he came up from Harrisburg two years ago. He seems hellbent on hitting to the opposite field and that has hurt him. We can thank Mitchell Page for that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/24/2007 4:13 PM  

  • With the 2007 season winding down, there is a large amount of time to be filled and I will miss Chris' wicked observations.

    Things will pick up a little when "24" begins and we can read Dave Barry's take on the show, but overall it's going to be slim pickins on the internet until March 2008.

    Thanks, Chris!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/24/2007 5:39 PM  

  • Yeah, thanks Chris. Capitol Punishment is by far the best Nats blog out there, and one of the most well thought out, wittiest team blogs i've read. Please stick with it occasionally in the off-season.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/24/2007 6:39 PM  

  • Thanks guys!

    Two points

    1) The season isn't over, dammit!

    2) Check the archives. I blog every farkin' day analyzing the thousands of moves our owners are too cheap to make! ;)

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 9/24/2007 6:41 PM  

  • Man, that Needham was a good guy.

    Shame what happened -- I'll miss him.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9/24/2007 10:42 PM  

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