Nats 2, Braves 1

I was at last night’s game, so if you didn’t see it, take it from me: you know exactly what happened. The Braves got shut out by the starter, then they put together a one-run rally against the first reliever they saw, then they lost because they only scored one run. This is a team that cannot hit to save their lives.

51 thoughts on “Nats 2, Braves 1”

  1. After watching last nights game and college football over the weekend I wanted to gouge my eyes out.

    Is Smitty’s kid ready to start in CF yet?

  2. Kyle Wren struggled in his midseason promotion to AA, but to his credit, he held his own while playing at -1.5 years on the league.

  3. @1

    Very interesting. I’m sure parallel conversations are being had in a hundred different places regarding this ongoing issue with corner outfield WAR. It’s gratifying to see more analysts realize that as you go rightward on the defensive spectrum, the market for defenders becomes less efficient, and thus increasingly full of noise. The noise is further exacerbated in RF and LF by the increased base/run stakes in making or not making a play.

  4. Tonight’s shutout victims:

    Heyward 9
    Bonifacio 8
    Freeman 3
    J. Upton 7
    Johnson 5
    La Stella 4
    Bethancourt 2
    Simmons 6
    Santana 1

    Three OBPs below .300, and of course one of them is batting 2nd. If this looks anything like the team that moves to Cobb County then they are going to want their money back.

  5. @1, last night’s game provided an example of spectacular defense from Heyward where he made an awesome catch on a foul ball with 2 outs and runners on 2nd and 3rd. DRS loves plays like that, way out of zone. If it drops we still had good odds to get out of the inning without a run scoring. Should he get credit for saving two runs there? It’s kinda dubious. The whole defense thing is just too murky for me.

    I feel like WAR, and any other all-encompassing attempt to measure total value, need to be tweaked just a bit so that weightings for defense are less than offense. You get more PAs than chances in the field. And the offense has the ability to hit lots of balls that are 100% indefensible. You can play perfect defense and still lose 10-0. I don’t think the two sides should be split 50/50.

  6. I don’t worship WAR, but it is the best we’ve got.

    There are a couple of questions in here.

    First, is it fair to say that a run prevented is roughly equal to a run scored? If so, then you should be economically indifferent to spending a dollar for a run on defense compared to a dollar for a run on offense. This seems like a stretch, but it’s unclear exactly what adjustment should be applied.

    (Or if it’s fairer to say that they are exactly equal so long as you have a baseline level of one or the other — it is impossible to invest 100% in offense and 0% in defense or pitching, because you’ll never get an out, but perhaps a single point of offense is equal to a single point of defense as long as you have at least a certain amount of both both.)

    Second, what action should be taken by teams in light of the fact that several stellar athletes who have moved to corners and become among the best defenders in baseball — Manny Machado, Jason Heyward, Alex Gordon? Should teams move great shortstops to corners in order to try to take advantage of their possible defensive mismatches, because they’re sure to be able to outfield the Raul Ibanezes and Marlon Byrds of the world even if they can’t outhit them?

    Third, given that the number itself is helping to influence team construction and player development, how should we account for all of this in a single number?

  7. 1. No. Runs prevented are hypothetical. Runs scored are actual. To me there should be a slight negative bias given to runs prevented.

    2. Playing a stellar defender at a corner OF position is poor allocation of resources, unless your CF is already all-world. With the Braves that’s certainly not the case.

    3. I hope dWAR does inflate the free agent market so that the price tag gets too high for the all-glove guys. I don’t want to watch a team full of defenders. Give me some Marlon Byrds.

  8. #7
    Go back & look at the catch. Click on it at the right moment & you’ll see that the ball was actually fair when it hit his glove.

  9. How is CJ still hitting against righties?

    If we’re throwing stuff against the wall in center, I kind of thought Constanza would get a go.

  10. @12, I can’t exactly tell on my low-res replays, but I think you’re right. If it was a foot foul would the defensive metrics reward him any differently?

  11. @15, I do too. Putting him in CF gives us a decent chance to upgrade our offense. Swapping out BJ with Bonifacio doesn’t move the needle at all since neither can hit. Swapping out BJ for Gattis or some other all-hit-no-glove guy might at least be worth a shot.

    In the offseason it should be easier to find a corner OF that can hit than a CF that can hit. At least one would think.

    And we can’t keep running out a 3B that has a .560 OPS against RHP. I have no idea what the heck is going on there.

  12. @16, we lose last night in all dimensions…except for the one where Mike Minor throws a no-no and hits two grand slams. That one is hard to find though – the nav system needs work.

  13. @18 I think we may disagree on the value of him in RF. I think he can be an average CF defensively, but I’m not sure any CF in baseball could top what he does in right. I think he’s extremely technically sound, but CF is about speed.

    I think going forward it’s something to consider, but with our current roster the defense would keep it from being worth it.

  14. Just got back from vacation, and it appears that I did not miss anything good.

    From what I gather from reading the last couple of threads, we need to be looking for an answer at CF, 2nd, and 3rd this winter.

    I guess the two big questions will be:

    Will we actually have B.J. Upton on this team at the beginning of next year?

    Will Peraza be given the chance to skip Triple AAA and have a shot come spring training to be our 2nd baseman.

    Bonus question:

    Will there be some internal shakeups in the coaching staff or front office if we miss the playoffs?

  15. I think it’s a good bet that we have a new hitting coach next year regardless of what happens the rest of this year. And I expect this team to tank the rest of this season.

  16. In good news, the Buffalo Bills sold for 1.4 billion dollars today. Maybe Liberty will get in on the sports franchise bubble and sell high.

  17. Last night was an old Western hanging–slow & miserable. Tonight seems to be more of a trip to the guillotine–quick & definitive.

  18. Oh, I’m here. Is there really anything worth saying at this point?

    For the record, my optimism is waning. The last time this happened was after the Dodgers game that we let Avilan blow for no reason. We proceeded to win the next five in a row and seven of the next eight. Might be nice if that would happen again.

  19. Let’s get swept so we can completely put this season in bed. We need upgrades at 2B, 3B and CF….the three positions which we have locked up players with long-term contract. Way to go!!!

  20. While my optimism is waning, I’ve never understood rooting for one’s team to lose. If watching them is making you that miserable, you could just like…not.

  21. I don’t want us to lose, but I think it’s valid to worry about making the play-in game, getting punked, and no changes get made because “we had a good season”.

  22. @1, etc.

    I think the people who question the value of defense here do a better job of making the argument than Mike Newman did in that thread.

    Some (mostly counter-)points in response to him and folks here:

    1. I like WAR right now because it confirms for me that my favorite player is as good as I think he is. So that’s the perspective I’m starting from. Anyway, I agree it’s a perspective to make an argument from and not a final say. I’m much more loyal to Heyward than I am to WAR.

    2. Last night’s catch: Actually, DRS does not appear to have liked it as much as it ought to have. Heyward’s defensive rating over at Fangraphs went down after last night’s game (Lord only knows why) and he now ranks behind Dustin Pedroia in terms of overall defensive value there. His DRS total–listed at billjamesonline and elsewhere, didn’t budge. Sits at 33 Defensive Runs Saved. (I’m obsessive and I have a lot of time on the computer at work. I check Heyward’s pages every day.)

    3. Anyway, (I’m 99% sure) those numbers are blind to the men-on-base situation. That catch is worth just as much with men on as it is with no one on according to the runs saved metric. That is because it is based on outs made, not on runs saved. The runs saved bit is a calculation based on the value of an out relative to the value of a run.

    4. About offense and defense generally. The currency of baseball is not runs, it is outs. Runs are a consequence. If you are on the defensive side of the ball, your primary job is not to prevent runs, it is to turn batted balls into outs. If you are batting, your primary job is not to make an out. Just like hitting a single is no guarantee of scoring a run, or, put another way, only creates runs if people have been on base in front of you or continue to get on base behind you, turning a ball into an out is no guarantee of preventing a run unless there were runners on base beforehand. Bases per out is the secondary responsibility on either side of the ball. Hitting a single in a baseball game is a significant and valuable accomplishment. Turning a batted ball into an out is a significant and valuable accomplishment.

    5. As far as defensive positional adjustments…well, first there was all that nonsense in the Mike Newman twitter thread about Mike Morse and Brandon Crawford. It’s a pretty bogus argument. Mike Morse has been a good hitter and a poor fielder. Brandon Crawford has been an okay fielder and a poor hitter. So what does WAR think of them? Oh…right. Both b-ref and fangraphs like Crawford somewhat better. That is precisely because of the positional adjustments built into the statistics. Otherwise they’d rate pretty similarly. Why? Well, while you’re trying to imagine Mike Morse playing shortstop, try to imagine Brandon Crawford slugging .477 or with an ISO right about .200 . Newman’s right that the shortstop should be more valuable here. And the shortstop is more valuable according the the systems he derides.

    He keeps arguing that the positional adjustments are made on offense, not defense. This is an absurd thing to say as an argument. I like the Fielding Bible’s Total Runs because it lays out the adjustments at the end instead of packing them into one number or the other. It works the same way. Here are Crawford and Morse (numbers=”runs”):

    Crawford: Off: 52… Def: 1… Baserunning: 3… Positional adjustment: 28
    Morse: Off: 64… Def: -9… Baserunning: -1 Positional adjustment: 11

    So without the adjustment for difficulty of defensive position, Crawford would lead 56 runs to 54 runs, which is pretty negligible, and partly accounted for by the fact that he has played 6 more games than Morse. But with the positional adjustment, he leads 84 runs to 65 runs, which is quite significant. Anyway, so in Newman’s go-to example, the system he’s deriding works just the way he wants it to.

    For shits and giggles,

    Heyward: Off: 78… Def: 33… Baserunning: 1… Positional adjustment: 17

    This ties him for 4th in baseball (with Rendon), significantly behind Stanton, and slightly behind Trout and Lucroy. But Trout and Lucroy get significant–24 and 32 respectively–credit right off the bat because of where they play on the diamond. Without positional adjustments, Heyward trails only Stanton among position players and is third overall (Felix Hernandez would be in between–pitchers get virtually no positional adjustment.) So in a sense Heyward’s defense has been so good that it has, depending on how you feel about it, either overcome or exposed the flaws in the positional adjustments of these overall stats.

    5. Again a rebuttal to Newman. No one can play short like Andrelton, but the reason Heyward can’t play short like any major league shortstop is because he throws with his left hand. Simmons can’t play first base, which is way down on the defensive spectrum.

    6. Heyward does lead baseball in defensive runs saved, but he does not lead in b-ref’s defensive WAR rating. He’s behind Lagares and Simmons, and only just ahead of Cozart. Which means, once again, that all that complaining Newman does only shows that he didn’t actually bother to dig into anything.

    7. If Troy Tulowitzki had played 150+ games this year, he’d be the MVP by a mile. Because he’s a shortstop. You agree. I agree. This Newman fellow agrees. WAR agrees. But it’s also because he can hit. Andrelton’s WAR was nuts last year not only because of his great defense, but because he could get to the plate without embarrassing himself. He’s actually a terrible hitter this year. That’s why he’s not more valuable than Heyward. Not because Heyward gets some kind of weird bonus for playing a less difficult position.

    8. The noise. This is the real argument against Heyward’s and Gordon’s defensive ratings in the corners. (Notice how it came up here and not in Newman’s article or his tweets.) There are not as many batted balls as plate appearances. And not nearly as many if you look at the ones that aren’t judged “routine” or “impossible”. So it’s a small sample size if we’re comparing offense to defense. The trouble is, it’s also a realistic sample size. You can’t measure the best defensive player in a season with more defensive events than a season provides. I’d love to see where the noise starts to even out, but I don’t know how that’s possible. (For projection purposes, of course you look at multiple years. But we’re not having a projection discussion, we’re talking about the value of a player in a period of time that has already occurred.)

    too long; didn’t read? Newman is a toolbag, y’all are great, I’m great, Heyward is spectacular.

  23. Thought I would check back to see whats happening with Braves ..looks like I havent missed anything .. football season here and bye bye Braves .. saw where some players were commenting that its not the hitting Coach (Walker) fault that the players are their own hitting coaches and that the coach just suggests things to them .. then why in the hell pay 1 hitting coach much less 2 …. well thats my rant .. back to football .. see ya next year (worst hitting Braves team in a long time ) … maybe BJ and CJ anf the other free swingers will be gone or somehow find themselves … LOL

  24. I was listening to the game while I was typing all that, by the way. So I’m here. Let’s please score Bonifacio here.

  25. Every single player in the Nats starting 8 is slugging better than Heyward. Fix that and Heyward can have all the money. Until then the debate will only get worse as we move into contract talks again.

  26. @40 If this year’s team is not good enough, may as well get a better draft position and have more draft money to spend.

  27. So I watched a couple of non-Braves ballgames on Labor Day this year with my wife. Took two years of marriage to get her interested.

    I kept pointing out players that used to be on the Braves. Most of them got hits that day.

    She asked me why the Braves traded them when our players can’t hit.

    Any help?

  28. I’ve watched 3 or 4 innings since the Labor Day no hit game; at this point I’m ignoring the games and hoping they loose every game from here on out. If I watch, the cognitive dissonance is too annoying. It took a month of David hale and aaron harang farting rainbows for this to be barely a .500 team at this point, so I’m rooting for the reasons kc mentioned @ 46, as well as the hope that a subpar finish will lead to a significant pruning of the roster.

  29. Tanking for draft position in any sport is stupid IMO. The fact that people think it’s a good idea in football and basketball blows my mind, especially in basketball where there’s, like, a lottery and stuff. In baseball, it’s a special kind of stupid, though, given the uncertainty of a single draft pick even making the Major Leagues. History is littered with examples of horrific high draft picks, and I’m pretty sure none of those teams set out to make a horrific draft pick. Every team who tanks seems to think, despite historical precedent, that they know what they’re doing (unlike all those other fools) and they won’t step in the gopher hole of making a bad pick…but history suggets that they very likely will. Just because LeBron James and Peyton Manning and Chipper Jones exist doesn’t make it a good idea. It’s simply not worth crapping all over your fans to get the highest possible pick. And it’s certainly not worth giving up on the season and hoping the team loses, as a fan. Play it out and let the chips fall where they may…especially when you’re still very much alive for a playoff spot.

  30. I just hope the team doesn’t celebrate if they get to clinch the 2nd playoff spot. Getting to the play-in game shouldn’t be considered a playoff appearance. I really don’t see it mattering though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *