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Washington Nationals: Rainy Day Stat-Shots

Who has the better OF arm?  Think twice before you bet lunch on the outcome.
Who has the better OF arm? Think twice before you bet lunch on the outcome.

While we feverishly try to concoct anti-rain dances to ward off any storm clouds that threaten to derail Strastemberfest, I thought I'd take a little stroll through the BB-ref and FG leaderboards and look for nuggets of wisdom (or at least amusement).

Starting with team hitting, the Nats have the fewest PA in the NL, with only 5,251.  That's a combination of having played 1 or 2 fewer games than most other teams and a lot of 1-2-3 innings (the hated Phillies have played two fewer games than the Nats, yet they have 50 more PA).  The Nats are second-worst in the leagues in strikeouts (1,129) and K% (21.5%).  They're also second in HBP (57), so good job on that.  They're 3rd in sacrifice hits (71), and next-to-last in sac flies (27)... remember all of Desi's bunts and runners stranded at third with no outs?  The Nats are 3rd at taking extra bases by BsR (+4.6 runs).  The Nats hit the fewest line drives (17.7%) in the league, although they are 2nd in bunt hits (29).

As a team, the Nats see the second-fewest sliders (14.7%), the fewest curve balls (8.2%), the most cutters (6.4%) and knuckleballs (1.3%), and the second-most splitters (2.2%).  The Nats are 2nd-worst in the league at hitting splitters (-2.76 runs per 100 pitches).

The Nats are the third-least likely to swing at a pitch in the zone (63.8%), as well as the third-least likely to make contact on a pitch in the zone (86.9%).

Nats' pitchers have the fewest strikeouts (889, which corresponds to league-trailing 6.4 K/9), as well as the worst K/BB (1.97).

Interestingly, the Nats have the second-lowest number of players used as fielders this season (39), so at least there's been some consistency of personnel.  Fielding has actually been a relative bright spot.  While the Nats don't stand out on any of the traditional measures (errors, Fld%, assists, etc), the advanced metrics give them top marks.  By Total Zone Runs, they're second in the NL at +31 runs.  Defensive Runs Saved likes them even more, rating them tops in the NL at +33 runs.

I know we seem to be starting off on a bit of dark cloud (like the current weather), but there are plenty of bright spots in the individual statistical achievement categories, which are after the jump.  I pulled stats where the player/team was near the top or the bottom, so if I didn't mention something, it was probably middle-of-the-pack. Stats courtesy baseball-reference and fangraphs through the games of 9/5/11.

  • The Arm: Rick Ankiel is 10th in defensive bWAR, racking up 1.2 wins with the glove.  He has the 2nd-best RF/9 as a CF (2.84) and the 3rd-best FP (.995).  He's 3rd in RF/9 as an OF (3.79), and has the second-best "ARM" of all OF (+7 runs by DRS, +5.5 runs by UZR).
  • [obligatory "beast" reference]: Michael Morse is 5th in AVG (.315), third in SLG (.562) and seventh in OPS (.931).  He's tied for 8th-most doubles (32) and has the 10th-most extra base hits (58).  He also has the 8th-best OPS+ (153) and wRC+ (152).  He's tied for 3rd-most HBP (12).  It takes him the 8th-fewest AB in the NL to hit a dinger (17.1).  Surprisingly for such a big guy, he's actually 3rd in range factor per 9 innings at 1B (9.79)
  • The arm of true outcomes: Jayson Werth is tied for 7th-most walks (68), 5th-most strikeouts (138), and 9th-most HBP (9).  He also manages to be tied for 9th in "power-speed," a composite of dingers and SB (16.9).  Defensively, he's tied for 4th in OF assists (10), and 5th in OF errors (6).  He has the highest RF/9 in RF (2.34), as well as the highest "ARM" rating of all outfielders (+7 runs by DRS, +7.2 runs by UZR).
  • Plus range, plus endurance: Danny Espinosa is tied for 9th-most games played (138).  He has the 4th-most strikeouts (141) and 9th-most outs made (405).  He's tied for most HBP (17).  He's third in assists (403) overall.  As a 2B, he's first in assists, 3rd in POs (258), 2nd in errors (13), 3rd in total zone runs (+4), and 3rd in RF/9 (4.92).
  • Every 5 days: John Lannan is tied for 2nd-most games started (29) and 5th-most walks (68).
  • CHOMP! Roger Bernadina is one of 4 OFs with a perfect FP (1.000).
  • Better than Halladay in two three categories: Livan Hernandez leads the league in sac bunts (15) and pitcher double plays (6), and is tied for 2nd-most games started (29). He's also given up the 4th-most hits (199) and is tied for 4th-most losses (13) and 6th-most ER (87).
  • Plus range: Ian Desmond is tied for 4th-most sac bunts (11), as well as 2nd in being caught stealing (10).  That puts him in a tie for 6th-most outs made (407).  He's 5th in assists (384), but 2nd in errors (22).  As a SS, he's third in PO (192), third in assists, still second in errors, and 5th in RF/9 (4.60).
  • Plus range? Laynce Nix has the 5th-best RF/9 in LF (1.92), sore Achilles and all.
  • Top of the rotation: Jordan Zimmermann is tied with Desi with 4th-most sac bunts (11).  On the pitching side, he has the 10th-lowest WHIP (1.147), 10th-best FIP- (82), 2nd-lowest BB/9 (1.729), and 4th-best K/BB (4.00).  He is one of 10 pitchers with a perfect FP (1.000), and has 3rd-fewest SB allowed (3).
  • Rescuer:  Drew Storen has the 7th-most saves (34).
  • Sure-handedly wild: Henry Rodriguez leads the league in WP (13), and is one of 10 pitchers with a perfect FP (1.000).
  • All-star:  Tyler Clippard is second in WPA (4.5).
  • Number 1 catcher: Wilson Ramos has learned some bad habits from Pudge, being 5th in GDP (18).  He's also learned good ones, being 4th in throwing out baserunners (36.2%), and 5th in Total Zone Runs as a catcher (+5).
  • Remember that he did this in a quarter of a season: Adam LaRoche is 4th in total zone runs at 1B (+8), 2nd in DRS (+4), and 5th in UZR (+3.7).

What have we learned?

The batting is ugly, the pitching needs work, but the defense is coming along.  Werth can throw.  Livan is better than Halladay (um, in some respects).  Danny waited a long time for his day off.  Morse hits the ball hard.  The Nats could use a big bat and maybe a high-strikeout starting pitcher.  Anyone got any leads on where we can find some guys like that?

(Tip o' the Nats cap to dc Roach for Livo's DPs and NN's SB against.)