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Statistical (in)significance

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What's better than looking at thirty at-bat samples? Fifteen at-bat samples, of course.

I'm sure every Nats blog will do this at least once before the team breaks camp, and I've decided to get my kicks in before the ides of March. Without further ado, let's look at how some select players are comporting themselves in lovely Viera:

FOGERTY-FOR-A-DAY

Situation: Brandon Watson and Ryan Church appear to be in direct competition for the starting centerfield spot, or at least the regular (lefty) platoon side thereof. Both players have at least one option year remaining, though by all accounts Watson would be far more likely to be optioned. Byrd, who aspires to be the righty half and fill-in at the corner spots, is out of options and potentially will be waived or traded if Watson makes the club.

Stats: Watson is slapping singles effectively and taking a walk or two, impressing the club with his coachability. Church is in a bit of a funk. Byrd has been on fire.

PL    AB    AVG    OBP    SLG    HR    RBI
BW    31    .323    .389    .355    0    1
RC    27    .185    .371    .296    1    4
MB    31    .355    .429    .645    2    7

Spin: Signs appear to be pointing to Watson claiming the job in center out of the gate, but the conversation has been subject to change all offseason.

SHORT MOTIVATION

Situation: The story goes that Royce Clayton is in camp to push and/or challenge incumbent Cristian Guzman, who was only slightly more useful than an abject waste of oxygen in '05. Ailing from inflammation and bursitis in his right shoulder, Guzman is scheduled for a check-up in Cincinnati this week.

Stats: With Guzman all bursitisy, Clayton has played a lot but hasn't hit all that much.

PL    AB    AVG    OBP    SLG    HR    RBI
RC    31    .194    .265    .226    0    1

Spin: Let's see what happens with Guzman's shoulder. But a question to consider (and ask in chats and mailbags) in the near future is whether Clayton could refuse an assignment to New Orleans. I don't think there's room for him on the roster as a reserve.

SCRUB WATCH '06

Situation: Michael Tucker and Daryle Ward, like Clayton, are working on non-roster invitations. Brendan Harris is fighting to catch on as a utility infielder/primarily third base back-up.

Stats: Tucker, probably the safest of the lot because of his ability to play all outfield positions and his inherent proven veteranness, has hit with a bat made of stank. Ward is flexing a bit of muscle. Harris has been okay, though Charlie and Dave 2.0 criticized a throw he made from shortstop on Saturday afternoon.

PL    AB    AVG    OBP    SLG    HR    RBI
MT    22    .182    .182    .240    0    2
DW    28    .179    .200    .429    2    4
BH    33    .242    .342    .394    1    4

Spin: I tend to perceive a presumption that Tucker will make the team. I tend to perceive a presumption that Harris is a longshot. And I would ask the same question of Ward that I have of Clayton.

YOUR POOR, YOUR TIRED, YOUR STIFF CATCHERS YEARNING TO BE FREE

Situation: The LeFick offense-first combo for reserve catcher is not pleasing to Frank Robinson, it would seem. So now it's the turn for some usual suspects to thrash it out for the defense-first spot. One of them, Alberto Castillo, is in absentia, starring for the Dominican Republic entry in the World Baseball Classic. That leaves two who are actually in camp, Wiki Gonzalez and Mike DiFelice.

Stats: Gonzalez and DiFelice have also split some time with Matt Lecroy, but DiFelice has started out the spring like a house afire. Or at least he did, through mid-game on Saturday. He was 8-for-17 then; he's 1-for-8 since.

PL    AB    AVG    OBP    SLG    HR    RBI
WG   14    .286    .375    .357    0    0
MD    25    .360    .407    .400    0    2

Spin: This is mostly conjecture, but I think DiFelice is primed to make the club.

* * *

Well, there you go. I decided not to waste time on the Kenny Kelly/George Lombard toolsy death match (winner to New Orleans, loser . . . to Harrisburg!), but you're free to engage in one if you wish. Tomorrow: the pitchers.