Well, we suffered through a second set of 7 games this last week that were markedly better than the first (0 and ) 7. But for a series of stomach-gnawing bullpen implosions, we had a fighting chance at winning all 7, and managed to go 3-4 in spite of some disappointing relief work and a ton of runners left on base. How are our boys doing, stats-wise? The numbers tell us who's hot and who's not after the jump.
The good: hitting, hitting, hitting
I know, we lost a bunch of one-run games where just one fewer LOB would have saved us from the bullpen going to a tie then losing in extras, or losing it outright in ninth and failing to come back and retake the lead in the home half. However, take a look at the big picture: last season, we'd leave a ton of runners on base and not score any of them. This year, we're leaving a ton of runners on base but scoring some of them, too!
At this point in the season, we're scoring 4.36 runs per game--that's 9th in the NL, and 4th in the NL East (ahead of Atlanta). Need I point out what an improvement that is over our consistent last in 2008? Team OPS+ is a below-average 92, which is still good for 9th in the NL (last in our division), so our overall hitting is a bit below par--but not much! Interestingly, the team OBP of .352 is good for 4th in the NL (2nd in the NL East, behind the hated Mets), in spite of our struggles to find a leadoff hitter. Thanks, NJ and Big Walkie! Power, however, is a problem: in spite of how far Dunn hits his homers, they only count as four bases: the team SLG of .393 is 13th in the NL and last in the division.
Meanwhile, regression to the mean is actually helping more than it's hurting:
- Adam Dunn has dropped back to "only" a 283/476/609 batting line (still good for an eye-watering 178 OPS+), a mere 5th in the NL in OBP, 6th in OPS+, and 13th in SLG. His 4 HR and 12 RBI easily put him on pace for 40 HR and 100 RBI for the season, even with an inevitable slump.
- Nick Johnson has improved his line to 380/446/420 (125 OPS+, which is about his career average). That AVG is good enough for 4th in the NL--who turned NJ into a contact hitter? Okay, he's still walking enough to keep his OBP above .400.
- Ryan "No, the old one" Zimmerman has busted out the two-baggers, shaking off his history of slow starts and getting his rates up to 274/318/468 (at an exactly-league-average 100 OPS+). His six doubles put him in a many-way tie for 3rd most in the NL. Only two dingers so far, but that's consistent with about 20 on the season.
- Austin "I don't care what you say he's still my favorite" Kearns has shaken off week one to show that his ST wasn't such a fluke, now sporting a 229/386/514 line (130 OPS+). I renewed my fan club membership solely because of theis week's grand salami, although the 9 BBs so far this season (second only to Dunn's 17) don't hurt, either.
- Elijah "I'd be the favorite if it weren't for Kearns" Dukes is further vindicating the confidence of Federal Baseball readers with a 311/380/533 batting line (133 OPS+). I almost feel churlish pointing out his 13 Ks so far this season, which I'm hoping will shift more toward his 5 BBs as the season wears on (which I could say even moreso for Zimmy, who has 13 Ks and 4 BBs so far).
- Jesus Flores is the only starter who's still disappointing, struggling with a 268/340/317 (for a below-average 71 OPS+). He leads the team in Ks so far with 16 (even Dunn only has 11) and hasn't shown much power so far: only two extra-base hits, both doubles. Show Jesus some love, Eckstein--if you fixed Kearns, you can fix anyone!
That's everyone who has 50ish PA so far this season, so I'm not going to talk about Willingham, the middle infield, or the other short-timers for now. Let's just say "sub-100 OPS+" and move on.
The bad: pitching
To be fair, pitching has improved since week 1. Team ERA is down to 5.36, ahead of only Colorado and league-trailing Phillie in the NL. Runs allowed per game, however, is 5.79, only good enough to beat Phillie's abysmal 6.21. Team WHIP is a lousy 1.536, also 15th in the league. Starters are lasting nearly a full inning longer, though, now up to 5.3 IP per game--14th in the NL. That's part of the reason that we now have 6 quality starts (every game but one from the last seven), which is second in the NL East (behind ATL). Things are still bad, but they're getting better.
Of particular note this week:
- Joe "Get well soon, we miss you already" Beimel had a 1.23 ERA before going on the DL, with a 0.955 WHIP and 3 K/BB (although only 3.7 K/9)
- Julian Tavarez, despite the whole beer-goggles thing, is also pitching well. His 3.68 ERA is behind even better peripherals: 13.5 K/9, 3.7 K/BB, and an extraordinarily stingy 0.818 WHIP (by comparison, Johan Santana's WHIP is 0.814).
- Jordan "The new one" Zimmerman has only pitched one game, so stats are extra-pointless for him. Still, his 1.167 WHIP and 3.00 ERA easily lead the starters (for now) and would look good on any rotation.
I'm trying to concentrate on the positive for individuals, so we'll overlook some of the painful K/BB, HR/9 and ERA numbers to be found among starters and relievers. We all saw the blown saves from this week and the blown starts (is that a stat?) from last week.
The Ugly: Team W/L
The only stat that matters in the end is wins, and Our 2009 Washington Nationals are all of 3-11 right now. We're 7.5 GB from the first-place Marlins, 5.5 GB in the WC race, and trail all of MLB (2 GB from #29 Houston...). On the bright side, our expected "Pythogorean" W/L total for the season (based on a ratio of runs scored and runs allowed) is up to 59-103... To put a positive spin on it: in spite of our disastrous start, we've already improved from "1962 Mets revisited" to "no worse than last season." Yes, my 75 win prediction is looking less likely, but I'm going to cling to it all the up to loss number 88... After all, we were only four blown saves and one-run games from being 0.500 after this week!