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Loud and Proud

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I've noticed most of your stats dork Nats bloggers out there are, in no real cohesive sense: (a) generally supportive of Ryan Church; (b) generally dismissive of Larry Broadway; (c) generally emotionless automatons who abstain from sunlight. Ahem. I mean we generally support Church and are dismissive of Broadway.

Lucky for us, something like PECOTA comes along and reinforces our preconceived notions. Of Church's four published comps, he gets a couple of former all-stars (Ryan Klesko and Geoff Jenkins). Not bad for a 28 year-old who's still trying to earn his first regular playing time. (And no, I have no idea how those comps came to be.)

As for Broadway, well . . . let's put it this way: PECOTA projects him, a 26 year-old first base prospect, as basically Rog Bernadina with an extra fifty points of slugging. That's the Rog Bernadina who's a 23 year-old outfielder who has spent every year since the Coolidge Administration in A-Ball, just keeping it cool. PECOTA has Broadway being out-OPS'ed by six points by Josh Whitesell, Broadway's organizational first base understudy who's generally considered no prospect. PECOTA even gives Marlon Byrd a few OPS ponts over Broadway.

I don't mean to dump on Broadway, I swear. I just don't get the interest, other than him being sort of young and cheap and a Nats minor leaguer and therefore a seemingly logical successor/replacement for Nick Johnson. In those senses, yes, it makes sense to give him a shot or two. And I don't think the projection systems really take into account Broadway's power potential, as he's a big guy. Well, maybe PECOTA does---it just compares him to big guys who mainly stunk. I don't necessarily think if you plopped Broadway in the lineup he'd end up with a slugging percentage teetering just over four hundred. However, we're not talking about much above replacement-level production production at first base, and the guy's no spring chicken as far as prospects go. And he went to Duke.

More broadly, it seems like Broadway is a recipient of what I'll call the Kory Casto Effect. By this---and I really don't mean any particular disrespect to Casto or Broadway, as they are among the best 1,000 baseball players on the planet---I mean they're like a first-wave of new era Nats prospects, sort of the loss-leaders before the real prospects arrive. They're both sort of old for their levels, they both have foreseeable holes in their games, and they both project more on the role player end of the helpfulness spectrum. Casto's got by far the better credentials, but they are similar cases. This could be rank cynicism on my part, but I suspect both players are pumped up by the organization in large part because they're (somewhat) young and, given the team's stated direction, young talent equates with excitement.

Looking at Broadway, what do we see? A guy who hit .288 with 15 homers? As a first baseman? At age 25? In the Pacific Coast League? Granted, the PCL isn't the old PCL anymore and, to the extent it's still a hyper-offensive league, Broadway was stationed on the wrong side of the map. Even so, that's supposed to be exciting? That's supposed to instill confidence he could take over a position, and take it over competently? I don't see it. Even acknowledging he's done a bit more in previous years, I still don't see it. And it's not PECOTA, and it's not any particular inclination to stats dorkism. It's just the sense that you can look at what he's done so far and conclude that the scouts had really better see something that hasn't materialized yet.

However, I must recognize that if Broadway does turn into something, I've been forewarned.