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Nationals preview – another clash for best record in the NL

September 1, 2014


While the Dodgers are looking over their shoulder at the streaking Giants, the Nationals are having an easy time in the NL East. Both teams come into this series with 77 wins and by the end of the series one team will have more wins than the other.  Since the Giants have the benefit of playing the Rockies at AT&T the Dodgers better hope they have more than 77 wins after the three games series, but it won’t be easy.

The Nationals led by Jayson Werth just posted a 19 – 10 August. Not only do the Nat’s have a potent rotation but the offense doesn’t have a weak link anywhere.

1st Base – Adam LaRoche might seem to be an inconsistent hitter but the career stats don’t agree with that. His currently has an OPS+ of 122, which matches his OPS+ in both 2008 and 2009.  I guess that miserable injury racked 2011 season throws every thing askew when he put up that OPS+ of 52. LaRoche has 19 home runs, 70 RBI and 72 walks making him an important part of the National attack. Career wise Adam has now stroked 236 home runs since breaking into MLB in 2004. I  was wondering where that put him so I ran the numbers for 1st baseman since 2004 with at least 200 home runs.

Rk            Player  HR From   To   Age   PA   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1      Albert Pujols 402 2004 2014 24-34 7103 .313 .403 .583 .986
2      Mark Teixeira 335 2004 2014 24-34 6458 .276 .369 .522 .891
3        Ryan Howard 331 2004 2014 24-34 5574 .266 .356 .529 .885
4       Paul Konerko 310 2004 2014 28-38 6306 .280 .361 .497 .858
5     Prince Fielder 288 2005 2014 21-30 5790 .285 .388 .522 .910
6    Adrian Gonzalez 254 2004 2014 22-32 6226 .293 .365 .498 .863
7        Carlos Pena 246 2004 2014 26-36 4862 .228 .350 .465 .816
8      Lance Berkman 240 2004 2013 28-37 5253 .290 .405 .524 .930
9       Adam LaRoche 236 2004 2014 24-34 5757 .264 .339 .471 .810
10    Justin Morneau 231 2004 2014 23-33 5792 .281 .349 .485 .834
11        Derrek Lee 201 2004 2011 28-35 4649 .294 .373 .514 .887

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/1/2014.

2nd  Base – Asdrubal Cabrera became the National second baseman when he was acquired from the Indians for Zach Walters thus solving the one offensive weak spot in the National lineup. Cabrera is no great shakes as a hitter but he’s not the black hole that Danny Espinosa has become. Asdrubal has a career OPS+ of 105 and look at that, he’s got a 105 OPS+ with the Nationals so far, giving them a lineup with every hitter having an OPS+ above 100.  While his range at SS had hurt his defensive rating, the move back to 2nd has to help him.

SS – Ian Desmond leads the Nationals with 22 home runs but that is about all he’s doing this year. His average, on base, and slug% have all dropped off from his all – star production of 2012 – 2013.  With an OPS+ of 100, Ian is now the weakest link in the offense.  Still over the last three years what shortstop has hit more home runs? The answer is nobody and it is not even close.

Player            HR From   To   Age   PA   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
Ian Desmond       67 2012 2014 26-28 1756 .275 .324 .463 .787
Hanley Ramirez    57 2012 2014 28-30 1435 .281 .352 .488 .839
J.J. Hardy        56 2012 2014 29-31 1859 .259 .300 .406 .706
Troy Tulowitzki   54 2012 2014 27-29 1090 .316 .399 .551 .950

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/1/2014.

3rd – Anthony Rendon the sixth pick of the 2011 draft has quickly adapted to whatever position he plays. He started as the starting second baseman but moved to third when the Nationals lost Ryan Zimmerman. No matter where he playing he’s banging with his eighteen home runs, fifty-eight extra-base-hits, and seventy-two runs batted in.

C – Wilson Ramos returned on May 7th, and has done exactly what he’s always done the last four years. Put up better than average numbers from the catching spot. He’s never had more than 450 plate appearances, but he also has never had an OPS+ below 104.  One of the better deadline deals when he was acquired from the Twins in 2010 for Nat closer Matt Caps.

Rk                  Player OPS+   PA From   To HR  OBP  SLG  OPS
1             Buster Posey  144 1900 2011 2014 61 .377 .480 .857
2            Yadier Molina  127 1971 2011 2014 55 .358 .469 .826
3           Carlos Santana  127 2454 2011 2014 87 .364 .440 .804
4          Jonathan Lucroy  117 1938 2011 2014 55 .345 .456 .802
5                John Jaso  116 1227 2011 2014 27 .355 .408 .763
6              Carlos Ruiz  115 1613 2011 2014 31 .364 .419 .782
7           Chris Iannetta  111 1391 2011 2014 41 .362 .403 .765
8           Miguel Montero  109 2084 2011 2014 57 .352 .415 .768
9             Wilson Ramos  109 1118 2011 2014 43 .325 .443 .768
10              Alex Avila  108 1764 2011 2014 49 .349 .417 .766
11            Jason Castro  108 1238 2012 2014 38 .327 .428 .755
12          Salvador Perez  106 1495 2011 2014 42 .320 .438 .758
13          Russell Martin  104 1842 2011 2014 61 .340 .399 .739
14            Brian McCann  104 1865 2011 2014 79 .319 .427 .746
15   Jarrod Saltalamacchia  104 1673 2011 2014 66 .313 .443 .756
16            Matt Wieters  104 1835 2011 2014 72 .316 .438 .754

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/1/2014.

LF – Bryce Harper is now the LF for the Nationals. The 21-year-old is still one of the five youngest players in all of baseball but has already amassed over 1,000 plate appearances with an OPS+ of 122. The disturbing trend is PA going from 597 – 497 – 302. Sure we have a month to go but no matter what, he’s going to end 2014 with less than 450 PA.  If staying healthy is a skill, it is one skill and maybe the only skill Harper needs to work on. He has been quite pedestrian this year, but did blast two bombs on Sunday, so maybe he’s about to go off.

CF – Denard Span – way back in 2009 Span posted his second straight plus .380 OB%. Combine that with his speed you have a valuable center fielder. Yet from 2010 – 2013 Span could not get that OB% above .342 so his value had plummeted. He’s still not walking at his 2009 level but at least he has his OB% almost touching .350 which combined with his best slug% (.405) since 2009 has made him a plus player in 2014.

RF – Jayson Werth the real 2014 Mountain Man has had a hell of a career since the Dodgers let him walk away after the 2005 season. 160 home runs, 104 stolen bases, 374 extra base hits, 514 walks, and an 128 OPS+.  Werth may have struggled in the first year of his massive contract in 2011, but since than, has done nothing but produce at his previous high level.

Rk              Player OPS+   PA From   To   Age   AB  HR  BB  OBP  SLG  OPS
1    Giancarlo Stanton  143 2596 2010 2014 20-24 2249 150 313 .364 .538 .903
2        Jose Bautista  131 4742 2006 2014 25-33 3970 240 656 .369 .499 .868
3        Shin-Soo Choo  131 4185 2006 2014 23-31 3559 117 504 .384 .455 .839
4         Jayson Werth  128 4176 2007 2014 28-35 3584 160 514 .375 .478 .853
5      Magglio Ordonez  124 3188 2006 2011 32-37 2866  99 288 .375 .480 .855
6         Justin Upton  122 4224 2007 2014 19-26 3704 161 436 .357 .479 .836
7         Andre Ethier  121 4891 2006 2014 24-32 4329 145 465 .358 .462 .821
8         Hunter Pence  121 5081 2007 2014 24-31 4660 183 372 .340 .476 .816
9      Michael Cuddyer  118 4522 2006 2014 27-35 4056 151 400 .350 .473 .823
10          Brad Hawpe  117 2932 2006 2013 27-34 2524 112 376 .372 .489 .861

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/1/2014.
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