Nats Contract Recoup Tracker: Big Names Still On Track

Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth the Nats players with the biggest contracts seem to be right on track to recoup a quarter way through the season. Ryan Zimmerman, who hasn’t played much at all this season still has a reasonable chance to recoup also.  Desmond has turned his negative WAR around and now looks to have a chance to cover his modest arbitration contract.  So far the following players making over $ 1 million have recouped their contract. Strasburg, Rendon and Blevins.

BTW: Only 4 relievers had a high enough WAR to cover Soriano’s contract value last year and Kimbrel wasn’t one of them

Player Salary WAR Value % Recoup Game
Stammen $1,375,000 0.2 $1,200,000 87% 49
Zimmermann $7,500,000 0.9 $5,400,000 72% 60
Storen $3,450,000 0.4 $2,400,000 70% 62
Gonzalez $8,600,000 0.7 $4,200,000 49% 88
LaRoche $12,000,000 0.7 $4,200,000 35% 123
Werth $20,571,429 1.1 $6,600,000 32% 134
Zimmerman $14,000,000 0.5 $3,000,000 21% 201
Clippard $5,875,000 0.2 $1,200,000 20% 211
Soriano $14,000,000 0.4 $2,400,000 17% 251
Desmond $6,500,000 0.1 $600,000 9% 466
Span $6,500,000 0 $0 0%
Frandsen $900,000 0 $0 0%
Davis $501,400 0 $0 0%
Ohlendorf $1,250,000 0 $0 0%
Purke $1,037,500 0 $0 0%
Ramos $2,095,000 0 $0 0%
Fister $7,200,000 -0.2 -$1,200,000 -17%
Hairston $2,500,000 -0.1 -$600,000 -24%
Harper $2,150,000 -0.2 -$1,200,000 -56%
McLouth $5,000,000 -0.5 -$3,000,000 -60%
Detwiler $3,000,000 -0.3 -$1,800,000 -60%
Souza $500,000 -0.1 -$600,000 -120%

wRC+ Desmond And The Nats Not Looking Good Right Now

How bad is Ian Desmond hitting this season.  Based on his 78 wRC+, which means 22% bellow the average MLB player, not good.  Usually, Shortstops are a light hitting position group, but this year Desmond’s slump is all that more difficult because so many players are having such a good year.  Desmond is ranked 19 of the 24 eligible hitters.  Even Jeter is hitting better than Desmond.  Also, check out the year Tulowitzki’s  is having.  Last year Desmond had a wRC+ of 116 and ranked 3rd in his position group.

# Name Team wRC+
1 Troy Tulowitzki Rockies 224
2 Jhonny Peralta Cardinals 132
3 Alexei Ramirez White Sox 126
4 Brandon Crawford Giants 125
5 Hanley Ramirez Dodgers 121
6 Jed Lowrie Athletics 119
7 Jimmy Rollins Phillies 118
8 Starlin Castro Cubs 109
9 Asdrubal Cabrera Indians 109
10 Alcides Escobar Royals 106
11 Xander Bogaerts Red Sox 105
12 Erick Aybar Angels 103
13 Jonathan Villar Astros 93
14 Andrelton Simmons Braves 90
15 Yunel Escobar Rays 87
16 Adeiny Hechavarria Marlins 87
17 Derek Jeter Yankees 85
18 Elvis Andrus Rangers 81
19 Ian Desmond Nationals 78

Here are the Nats Team numbers so far this year.  Werth and Rendon are the only 2 players hitting above the league average of 100 not on the 15 day DL.

Name wRC+
Ryan Zimmerman 186
Adam LaRoche 160
Jayson Werth 139
Anthony Rendon 115
Bryce Harper 115
Tyler Moore 99
Kevin Frandsen 95
Danny Espinosa 89
Jose Lobaton 84
Ian Desmond 78
Denard Span 70
Sandy Leon 53
Nate McLouth 32

Denard Span Is A Good Player, But He Hasn’t Been a Good Leadoff Hitter

Anchoring:  A cognitive bias that describes the common human tendency to rely too heavily on  the first piece of information offered when decision making.

I don’t understand the leadoff hitter, Denard Span.  I think I have figured out what is going on, and it is an interesting psychological bias.  Span one time played like a leadoff hitter, and was introduced to Nationals fans as a leadoff hitter.  Even if evidence points another way, fans haven’t re-evaluated that assumption. I have always thought that the goal of the leadoff hitter is to get on base, run the bases, and score when the best hitters on the team get base hits with him in scoring position.

Getting  on base:  So far this year there are 35 players who have at least 50 at bats in the lead off position;  Denard Span ranks 28th in OBP at .297.  Virtually every team in baseball has a better leadoff man at getting on base than the Nationals.  Last year, there were 17 players who had at least 400 at bats in the lead off position, Span ranked 15th in OBP at .322.

Base Running:  So far this year Span has 4 stolen bases, which has him tied for 44th in baseball (in other words just a guy.)  Last year he tied for 35th in stolen bases.  He is a decent base stealer, but he isn’t a guy so fast and so dangerous on the bases that he causes havoc the way guys like Ellsbury, Rajai Davis, or Billy Hamilton do.

Base Stealing is fine, but there is more to base running than just swiping a bag. There is also the going first to third on a single and scoring on a double from 1st.  These are the types of things that get overlooked sometimes, but help a team get the extra run.  WAR’s base running component tries to tie all that together.  Last year, Span ranked 66th in base running as judged by WAR. Ian Desmond and believe it or not Ryan Zimmerman scored as better on the base paths than him.

Scoring Runs:  Span ranked 61st in runs scored last year with 610 at bats.  Despite having the most at bats on the Nationals he was only 4th in scoring runs.  Jayson Werth scored more runs in 150 fewer at bats because he was actually on base.

Just about any metric you use, Span isn’t particularly good at being a leadoff hitter currently.  I think he is a pretty good Center Fielder and a good all around baseball player. He is actually one of my favorite players on the team. I actually own a #Spanning T-Shirt.

Anchoring Bias

Why do the Nats, and in general the fan base, insist he is still a leadoff hitter? Much of that is because of his career stats.  Span is a .350 OBP over his 6 seasons, but he is trending down. He career numbers are propped by his high walk rate his first few years in the league.  Three of the last 4 years he hasn’t even had an OBP over .333, the level which I would consider the minimum expected of a leadoff hitter.

The answer to this question is partially in anchoring bias.  The team and fans say Span Continue reading “Denard Span Is A Good Player, But He Hasn’t Been a Good Leadoff Hitter”

wRC+ Anthony Rendon is the Best Hitting 3rd Baseman in Baseball This Year

According wRC+ which takes wOBA then adjusts to park factors on a scale of 100 being average, Anthony Rendon is the best hitting 3rd Baseman in baseball.  Nolan Arenado has the batting average, OPS, hit streak, and RBI lead, Pedro Alverez leads in HRs, Trevor Plouffe leads in doubles, Matt Carpenter leads in OBP, but Rendon has the best combination of all of it this year.

Without leading any hitting category, I don’t expect Rendon to get many headlines especially with Arenado putting up such sensational numbers playing on the moon . Once you adjust for the effect of Coors Field, Arenado is only the 6th best this year.  Rendon continue to suffer from the injury prone label that caused him to drop from top overall player in the draft to pick 6 and the Nats; getting hurt right off the bat in the minors didn’t help either.

Another thing to note this year.  Traditional leaders like Longoria and Wright seem to be having down years in the small sample size of April.


# Name Team AVG OBP wOBA wRC+
1 Anthony Rendon Nationals .295 .331 .366 133
2 Yangervis Solarte Yankees .306 .391 .369 132
3 Josh Donaldson Athletics .262 .341 .358 130
4 Juan Uribe Dodgers .313 .345 .354 129
5 Todd Frazier Reds .265 .346 .360 127
6 Nolan Arenado Rockies .324 .346 .377 126
9 Matt Carpenter Cardinals .288 .392 .341 118
11 Evan Longoria Rays .269 .329 .326 110
14 David Wright Mets .277 .322 .299 91

Matt Williams Wants You To Know He Is A Fan Of Bryce Harper

On his weekly spot with the Junkies on 106.7 last Wednesday Matt Williams was in full damage control mode.  He finally realized that, while he might have improved his credibility as a manger by benching Bryce Harper, he did so at the expense of one of the most visible players in baseball.  I think this is all part of his learning to be a good manager.  By benching Bryce and then publicly criticizing and shaming him Williams announced to the world that they had an open season to criticize and write the hatchet jobs they were itching to do (cough Thomas Boswell.)  From that moment on Williams was on a crusade to spin everything Bryce does as positive.  He has realized what some of us figured out when Harper was named the most overrated player in baseball by his peers before the start of the season:  There is a long line of people just waiting to attack Bryce and his manager should not be the guy leading the mob.

Here are the quotes from the interview:

“I would never ever want Bryce to hurt himself”

“He (Bryce) is a very important man on this team”

“We love the fact that Bryce was turning 2nd going to 3rd”

“He is vital part of team and our success”

“I’m a fan (of Bryce) too.  I am a big fan.  I get a chance to see him on an everyday basis away from the media.  All the things he has to deal with, so I’m a big fan too”

“I think he is going to have a long and productive career.  He is so young and so talented that will just happen “

Do You Miss Ryan Zimmerman? Turns Out The Nats Don’t….Yet

Ryan Zimmerman getting hurt and going on the DL was a potential huge blow to the Nats early season attempt to keep pace with the ridiculous Braves.  He was off to fantastic start to the year. In 10 games he was able to post a .5 WAR, which is a Mike Trout type pace,  despite picking up a few errors for erratic defense.  Zim still leads the Nats in wOBA and batting average for guys with over 30 ABs.

The shuffle that occurred when he went on the DL: Rendon moving to 3rd and Espinosa assuming the full time position at 2nd equates to substituting Espi’s bat for Zim’s.  Lets see how that is going.

ZiPs projection system had a pretty good year for Zimmerman, not the torrid pace he was on, but a real solid year.  Below are the numbers Zim was forecasted to get compared to what Espinosa has put up so far this year.

Ryan Zimmerman 597 9.00% 18.80% 0.188 0.305 0.273 0.340 0.461 0.347 3.4
Danny Espinosa 88 4.50% 22.70% 0.200 0.345 0.288 0.341 0.488 0.358 4.7

As you can see, Danny has done  a real good job at replicating Zim’s projected numbers.  Espi walks less and strikes out more, but his higher batting average assisted by his league leading bunt base hits gives them identical OBPs.  When it come to power numbers Espi has a slight advantage.  The biggest upgrade seems to be in the WAR department where, Espinosa’s speed, defense and position combine to a slight upgrade over Zim’s projection.

Long term, it is hard to think that Espinosa will replicate Zim’s offensive production, because one player has consistent track record and one is coming off a year where his was the worst hitter in MLB.  So far this year, the Renaissance of Danny Espinosa has kept the Nats on pace to have the 92+ win year many thought they would.