clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Your 2007 Washington Nationals . . . As Baseball Stars!

Is that Robert Fick in the middle picture?

With the Nats on pace to lose 115.65* games, perhaps some escape-ism is in order. Unless you want to dwell on Ronnie Belliard dropping a pop-up, that is; I suppose I am game if you are.

In the meantime, I'm feeling the urge to remove these 6-15 Washington Nationals from any context even remotely applicable to the real world. My instinctive inclination is to resort to the ultimate video game of my adolescent and teen years, the original Baseball Stars. Thank you so much, SNK Corp. of America, whatever you're called these days.

What I'm going to do below is place each Nats position player in the Baseball Stars universe according to the game's scaling attributes for Hitting (contact hitting), Batting (power), Speed, and Defense. I'll stick with this simple four-category system because the other two categories (Prestige and Luck) don't seem all that apparent in these guys; I'll stick with the position players for now because the pitching categories are more subtle and not as fun to imagine. For those poor souls unfamiliar with game's mechanics, these attributes are scaled from 0 to 15, lowest to highest. The players are able to be "powered up" at increasingly costly rates at the beginning of a created season (from a starting pool of funds) and after victories (when your team is awarded money). The decision to power up the players is discretionary, of course, and sometimes we did and sometimes we didn't. Pursuant to what I'll call the Treaty of Midlothian, my best friend Shawn and I usually decided not to (or at least not to after the initial, preseason power up), so as to keep longer seasons more competitive. Think of that as a proto-salary cap.

One other Treaty of Midlothian provision now that I'm on the subject: Most of the time, we kept players to their original positions defined by the game. That is to say, each player was generically named something linked to a position(say, "1B-1" or "CA-1") before we renamed them as described below. Within reason, we restricted players to those positions even after renaming. For the five bench players, we made two infield reserves, two outfield reserves, and the last a catching reserve. The one exception was first base, where anyone could play.

Anyway, we'll start with the current lineup and go from there. I'll give each player an alter ego of not more than six letters; you could "name your players" in the game, but the name couldn't go more than six characters. And remember, the scale of attributes is from 0 to 15; anything from, say, 11 to 15 is pretty exceptional ability in a given area. I'll note the attributes as Hitting/Batting/Speed/Defense.


SS Felipe Lopez (a/k/a FLOP), 6/2/9/8: Decent enough hitter, not much power these days, plus-speed, enough defensive ability to play a critical position on the diamond, but sort of stretched at shortstop. A viable Baseball Stars leadoff man, especially under Treaty of Midlothian rules.

2B Ronnie Belliard (a/k/a RONNYB) 6/5/4/5: An okay player -- some hitting, some power, not the kind of guy you'd make a regular second baseman but could play there in a pinch. The Treaty of Midlothian also contained a provision that Shawn and I would each select a player's name out of a hat to go on a five-game disabled list. If you drew your second baseman, then you could get by with Belliard, though 5 Defense is sort of pushing it there. He's a bench player, the type you'd pinch-hit with or pinch-run for a guy with low Speed and Defense and there is no more bench speed remaining.

3B Ryan Zimmerman (a/k/a ZIMM) 10/8/7/9: Early season slump notwithstanding, this is your best player. Can slam the ball all over SNK Stadium, launch a few homers, run a little bit, and is a big plus at third. It's tempting to play him at short, in fact, but he's good at thwarting bunt attempts but speedy members of the opposition and the drop between him and the next guy at the hot corner would be too significant.

1B Dmitri Young (a/k/a DMEAT) 8/9/0/1: He's in your lineup to do one thing: hit, preferably with home run power. Can get by at first with 1 Defense, and occasionally the gameplay will allow him to make that play he made the other night in Miami -- the line-drive-right-at-ya, jump-slightly-to-snare-it kind of thing. Will clog the bases, so you need a RONNYB on hand to pinch-run late without sacrificing too much hitting or batting ability. The 9 Power is sufficient to hit with something resembling reliable power, but you'd far prefer 11 or 12 power from this type of guy. If he's hitting cleanup, you've got some problems. Still, he's better than a 4/9 kind of guy, because at least there are no real holes in the swing.

RF Austin Kearns (a/k/a AUSTIN) 7/8/6/8: A good player, the well-rounded type, but nothing particularly outstanding. The 8 Defense is a bit of a cheat, as I've got to be able to express his arm strength. Not a centerfielder, but effective in right.

CF Ryan Church (a/k/a CHURCH) 6/9/7/7: A very good option for a sixth-place hitter under Treaty of Midlothian rules. Has some contact issues (hence, the 6 Hitting), but the power ability compensates. I think the 7 Defense is fair; you're stretched when the guy's in center, but SNK Stadium plays a bit more fairly in the gaps than RFK Stadium.

C Brian Schneider (a/k/a SCHNDR) 4/3/4/7: Not a zero hitter (or batter), but he's at catcher to ensure the other team doesn't live high on the hog stealing bases. Now, I realize that's not exactly the real-life effect at this point, but we'll work with the it's-the-pitchers excuse for now.

LF Chris Snelling (a/k/a DOYLE) 4/5/4/6: Do I underrate Snelling's offensive abilities? Probably. But there's a point to be made: Sometimes, you'll find a guy in Baseball Stars you become comfortable with for whatever reason, and all of a sudden he's hitting well beyond his skill attributes. Maybe it's because of some extra Prestige and Luck, or maybe it just is what it is. In eighth grade (keep in mind most of this experience is limited to eighth grade or the summer after -- except for one reunion trip I made to his family's home three years ago; that was fun!), Shawn had a guy with the same skill attributes as Snelling's above. He named him GREY; I'll never forget this guy. We were playing Treaty of Midlothian rules, and Grey just dominated. He'd find every gap, take extra bases he shouldn't have, and even pop some homers. Confound him! Actually, the biggest difference in skill in Baseball Stars is probably the 4/5 distinction. With 5 Batting, you can conceivably homer in the right circumstances. With 5 Speed, you can run a little. With 5 Defense, you can field far more positions. The differences become stark between 9s and 11s, but I think 4/5 is the biggest leap from one number to the number following.


UT Robert Fick (a/k/a FICK) 4/4/4/5: Nothing special, obviously, but versatile. I think 5 Defense is enough for a corner outfield spot, though that's stretching it; with 4 Defense, it would be untenable.

OF Michael Restovich (a/k/a RESTOV) 5/7/3/6: Your bench bat -- or, if you're a particularly sophisticated eight-grader, your platoon outfielder. The 7 Power is more to make the other guy sweat a little bit; it's not like Restov could come up and homer on demand.

C Jesus Flores (a/k/a FLORES) 1/7/2/5: No, I didn't name him Jesus, and there's a reason for that. Shawn, a well-meaning child of the Protestant Reformation, thought it an appropriate honor to certain Biblical figures with Baseball Stars names. Let's see . . . there was Moses and Noah and Peter and Paul; Holy and Spirit comprised his double-play combination. I am not joking. I refused to play this team. My rationale: "I can't strike out Jesus. It would be blasphemous!" Anyway, this is not a cultural commentary on naming your children Jesus; it just seem a bit askew to face that team with guys named after the members of Guns 'n Roses or whatever. As for Flores, here's your bite-at-the-apple moment of temptation. Do you choose him to catch, hoping to cash in on that power? If so, you're sacrificing some Hitting and Defense. (Neither age nor Rule 5 status is considered in Baseball Stars, of course.)

IF Josh Wilson (a/k/a/ JOSH) 3/5/4/6: Clearly, a bench player. There's supposed to be some power there (hence the 5 Batting), but I haven't seen it. At 6 Defense, he's got enough to fill in somewhat competently at short, but you're sacrificing a lot there.

IF D'Angelo Jimenez (a/k/a DANGEL) 0/0/7/6: This is the type of guy you'd find on the Question Mark team. You see, you'd create your team in Baseball Stars from the choice of several types: Fast Runners, Good Defense, Good Hitters, Good Power, Veterans (good Luck and Prestige ratings), and ???. The last one was a real wild card, as you'd get absurdly unbalanced combinations. I'm giving D'Angelo 0 Hitting and Batting because he's done nothing for the Nats offensively. But he can run a little and at least look like he plays the middle infield.


SS Cristian Guzman (a/k/a GUUUUZ) 2/3/4/8: I'll give him the 8 Defense just so he can match his current replacement; sort of an accounting move, I guess. You'd hit this guy eighth in Baseball Stars, too.

CF Nook Logan (a/k/a NOOK) 2/0/10/10: But for Treaty of Midlothian rules, this would probably be your shortstop. As it is, he's in the second-most important position in the game, center. He's your one plus-guy in terms of speed, but you'll notice his offensive attributes stink. Shawn could turn this guy into a Baseball Stars legend in a Treaty of Midlothian league. He'd probably be the fastest guy, and Shawn mastered bunting technique. Nook's why you'd want some truly plus-defense at third and catcher, so that you could counteract the speed somehow. I'd say Nook is more valuable in Baseball Stars than in real life.

1B Nick Johnson (a/k/a NICK): Not rated. Batting eye isn't really an attributable skill in Baseball Stars. He'd look like a comparatively middling offensive performer without this skill.

So there we have it. I think this team would struggle even in a Treaty of Midlothian league. Not much power, not much speed (especially with Nook out), defense generally not great. A lot like real-life, actually -- and we haven't even addressed the pitching!

* * * *

*No, they're not going to lose 115.65 games, so hold off on the Chicken Little sign. I mean, you can't lose 0.65 of a game!