I'll let the historians sort out how to treat the 2006 Washington Nationals, if they choose to do so at all. There are several potential prevailing topics:
- Ownership . . . finally.
- Television . . . finally (for most).
- Sorianus Rex.
- Arrival of Zimmerman Era.
- Stan the Plan (Marrero, Willems, other draft guys, Martis, Arizona guys, dudes acquired for Marlon and Big Fly).
- Goodbye, Frank.
REALLY, REALLY WRETCHED PITCHING
Well, it's my choice. I'm stickin' with it.
The National League ERA was 4.48. The Nats' ERA was 5.03. It takes one inning pitched per team game to qualify for the individual ERA title; for the Nats, that would have been 162 innings over the course of the season. One Nat qualified for the ERA title, Ramon Ortiz. His ERA was 5.57. In all, thirty-eight pitchers qualified for the NL ERA title. Don't worry---Ortiz didn't rank last among those guys. He ranked next-to-last.
[editor's note, by Basil] Disregard the "WAS" next to Livan Hernandez's name. To the extent it matters, he didn't garner enough innings to qualify for the ERA title as a member of the Nationals.
So, to recap, the Nats had one pitcher to qualify for the ERA title. His ERA was 5.57. Let's put this in perspective, because, as an old roommate used to say, "I'm a big fan of perspective."
The Colorado Rockies, you might recall, play a mile above sea level, or something like that. Whatever it is, it's hell on pitchers. In the entire history of the Colorado Rockies---fourteen seasons now---they've never had a top qualifier with anything as bad as a 5.57 ERA.
The 2003 Detroit Tigers won forty-three games. That sounds okay, at least until you remember that they lost 119 games. That's so many losses that even I won't write out the number. The '03 Tigers had a top qualifier with below a 5.57 ERA, almost a full run below. In fact, those Tigers had three ERA qualifiers. The second, Jeremy Bonderman, barely squeaked by Ortiz (5.56 ERA with the bare minimum 162 innings pitched). The third, Mike Maroth, came fairly close to Ortiz (5.73 ERA), and that's before we consider: 1) Maroth had the burden of facing the designated hitter, and 2) Maroth lost twenty-one games that season.
The 1996 Detroit Tigers---well, they didn't lose 119 games (not quite), but these guys really couldn't pitch. Those '03 Tigers we just discussed had a 5.30 team ERA; these '96 Tigers . . . how do I put this? . . . their team ERA was more than a full run higher than those '03 Tigers, and more than a full run higher than any other '96 AL team. The '96 Tigers had a 6.38 team ERA. I'll write it out this time: six point three eight. That's like video game stuff. But guess what? Even the '96 Tigers had a qualifier---their only qualifier---with an ERA better than 5.57. In fact, if the immortal Omar Olivares had pitched two more innings, they would have had a couple of those guys---guys better than Ramon Ortiz.
Do you recall the 1987 Cleveland Indians? These were the "Indian Uprising" guys, the team Sports Illustrated infamously picked to win the AL, only to fall flat on the keister and lose 101 games. Except for the predicted-to-win part, they were sort of the model for Major League. Well, except for the winning part, too. The '87 Indians had no pitching, even in a season that at the time seemed curiously loaded with offense. Their 5.28 team ERA was nearly three-tenths of a run worse than the next team (the Baltimore Orioles) and was well further from the league average than the '06 Nats. (The AL average ERA that year was 4.46.) Eight-and-a-third more innings, and they would have qualified Ken Schrom's lovely 6.50 ERA. But their one qualifier had an ERA better than 5.57---at 4.78, Tom Candiotti's ERA was much better, actually.
And so forth. I won't go on.
Don't get me wrong: I'm merely trying to point out bad stuff, not implying historic stuff. You only have to go back to last season to find a team whose top ERA qualifier had a worse figure than the number put up by Ortiz---the '05 Royals. Zach Greinke put up a 5.80 ERA, and for good measure, Jose Lima added a 6.99 ERA in 168 innings pitched. Not that this should make us feel much better; after all, those Royals lost 106 games, but they also had Mrs. Lima rooting them on.
Anyway . . . SEND PITCHING!!!!111!!!
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And thuseth concludeth another exciting year of Nats baseball. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. On that note, a quick confession: I barely paid attention in September. Sorry. I was busy; real life intervenes sometimes. Plus, it's not like I was missing much.
A few housekeeping items I've meant to fix but haven't yet for no reason other than inexcusable neglect:
- Nationals Nation has a new address that I really need to update on the sidebar. For now, here's a really nice tribute to Frank Robinson; I really like the fourth picture, with Sonny Bono's second cousin giving a Cleveland-era Frank a five.
- I also need to update the new (temporary?) address of Beltway Boys, who set up shop somewhere else while Blogger does something or other. Here's the world's only Nats/Senators/Quantum Leap analogy.
- I've been just plain old neglectful in adding Nats320 to the blogroll, which I don't think I've updated since like March; yeah, I guess that's sheer neglect. Anyway, here's a greatest hit: Nats320 in the Race of the Presidents. Good times.
At any rate, that's sort of a wrap for this season, isn't it? I would say it's been fun, but really now, let's not be insincere. It's been . . . I don't know . . . necessary? And parts of it have been fun: Soriano, Zimmerman, Johnson, a little bit of Church 'n Nook, Astacio's bizarro shut-out. Some other stuff I can't recall, too. Not to be presumptuous about these kind of things, but I'll be around during the offseason, too.
Trade for Manny!
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One final note: The Travelodge Dancin' Teddy freaks the hell out of me.