Jul 19, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (11) is congratulated by Adam LaRoche (25) after hitting a home run against the New York Mets during the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE
"Baseball is about to see the equivalent of a laboratory study of the value of defense," the Washington Post's Thomas Boswell wrote at the time. "Rizzo has expelled every defender except Ryan Zimmerman from the hideous bunch he inherited," Mr. Boswell noted, in an attempt to turn what had been one of the worst defensive teams in baseball before he took over into a team based on speed, pitching, athleticism and defense. Between 2009 and 2010, the Washington Post reporter pointed out, the Nationals had surrendered 132 fewer runs (down from 874 in '09 to 742 in 2010). "Just 28 teams have matched that since 1995," Mr. Boswell wrote. Rizzo's main concern was run prevention.
Heading into the 2011 campaign, Rizzo examined the Nats' roster and concluded, as he told the WaPost writer, that, "Sabermetrically, we're about equal in run production. But our run prevention should be way up." The pitching and defense improved again for the third straight year under his guidance in 2011, allowing 99 fewer runs than they had in 2010 (down from 874 in '09 to 742 in 2010 to 643 in 2011) and committing 23 fewer errors in 2011 (104) than they had in 2010 (127) and 39 fewer than they had in 2009 (143)."
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The Washington Nationals, Mike Rizzo And Run Prevention. sbn.to/NS9hDZ— SBNation DC (@sbnationdc) July 31, 2012