The Nats wRC+ 6 July:

Updated 7/6

Player Now Last Week Change
Bryce Harper 223 218 5
Denard Span 124 123 1
Yunel Escobar 116 123 -7
Clint Robinson 114 106 8
Anthony Rendon 110 110 0
Danny Espinosa 109 105 4
Jose Lobaton 100 102 -2
Wilson Ramos 92 90 2
Dan Uggla 85 98 -13
Michael Taylor 83 85 -2
Tyler Moore 79 72 7
Ryan Zimmerman 66 66 0
Jayson Werth 64 64 0
Ian Desmond 61 72 -11

I keep track of wRC+ or (weighted runs created) on a week to week basis. This is a stat that measures a players offensive contribution compared to the league average (100 = average.
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Nationals Contract Recoup Tracker: July 30

Last Update July 30

Player Performance Value: $1186,200 M

Team on track to recoup by: Recouped

15 players have recouped their contract value this year.

Player Salary WAR Value % Recoup by Game
Taylor $508,900 1.6 $11,200,000
Ross $512,800 1.2 $8,400,000
Harper $3,750,000 6.4 $44,800,000
Barrett $514,200 0.7 $4,900,000
Espinosa $1,800,000 2.1 $14,700,000
Rivero $516,500 0.5 $3,500,000
Robinson $525,000 0.5 $3,500,000
Treinen $512,800 0.3 $2,100,000
Jordan $529,600 0.3 $2,100,000
Escobar $6,500,000 1.5 $10,500,000
Storen $5,700,000 1.3 $9,100,000
Zimmermann $12,000,000 2.6 $18,200,000
Gonzalez $8,400,000 1.8 $12,600,000
Cole $516,500 0.1 $700,000
Scherzer $27,000,000 4.8 $33,600,000
Span $9,000,000 1.4 $9,800,000
Ramos $3,550,000 0.5 $3,500,000 99% 100
Strasburg $7,400,000 0.9 $6,300,000 85% 116
Thornton $3,500,000 0.4 $2,800,000 80% 124
Rendon $1,800,000 0.2 $1,400,000 78% 127
Lobaton $1,200,000 0.1 $700,000 58% 170
Janssen $5,000,000 0.3 $2,100,000 42% 236
Fister $11,400,000 0.3 $2,100,000 18% 537
Grace $516,500 0 $0 0%
McLouth $5,375,000 0 $0 0%
Stammen $2,250,000 0 $0 0%
Desmond $8,750,000 -0.3 -$2,100,000 -24%
Werth $18,000,000 -0.7 -$4,900,000 -27%
Zimmerman $16,666,667 -0.7 -$4,900,000 -29%
Johnson $1,000,000 -0.1 -$700,000 -70%
Carpenter $780,000 -0.1 -$700,000 -90%
Uggla $529,600 -0.1 -$700,000 -132%
Solis $529,600 -0.1 -$700,000 -132%
Hill $529,600 -0.1 -$700,000 -132%
den Dekker $512,972 -0.2 -$1,400,000 -273%
Roark $529,600 -0.4 -$2,800,000 -529%
Moore $518,200 -0.4 -$2,800,000 -540%

Again this year, we decided to keep a running total of the value measured in fWAR  compared to the players current contracts.   The cost per WAR I am using is $7M, the average of free agent contracts. The player salary is either the actual arbitration / CBA salary or the Average Annual Value (AAV) of a long term free agent contract.  For example: Werth is making $21M this year but his AAV for the 7 year contract is $18M.  The Scherzer contract is very strange with deferred payment, so I went with Players Association $189M/7yr current value of the contract

Surprise!!! The Nats Best Hitter This Year Rhymes With Granny Mespinosa wRC+

Who had Danny Espinosa as the Nats best hitter through Week 2.  The crazy thing is, all his hits have been from the left side, traditionally his worst side of the plate.  He is only batting .238 but has a .385 OBP and is hitting HRs at the same pace as Harper. Warning SSS, he has about half the number of at bats as a guy like Harper who who plays every day.  Espi and Uggla have been splitting time at 2nd. So far, Danny looks like a much better option.

Desmond had the biggest one week jump.

Werth has had a tough first week back

Bryce is right on track.

Michael Taylor acquitted himself nicely at the plate…good luck in AAA

Player Now Last Week Change
Danny Espinosa 171
Bryce Harper 158 134 24
Ian Desmond 138 28 110
Michael Taylor 124 112 12
Yunel Escobar 122 130 -8
Clint Robinson 106
Ryan Zimmerman 97 47 50
Wilson Ramos 79
Jayson Werth 22
Dan Uggla 5

I keep track of wRC+ or (weighted runs created) on a week to week basis. This is a stat that measures a players offensive contribution compared to the league average (100 = average.)  In this case, Danny Espinosa is 71% better than the league average and Dan Uggla is 95% worse.  This is different than WAR because it only measures hitting, it is not cumulative and it does not take into account player position.

NatsFest 2015 for People Who Don’t Like Lines and Crowds

I went to NatsFest this year and didn’t stand in a single line, pretty much avoided people and had a very good time.  I am genuinely surprised by the number of serious Nationals fans who didn’t attend NatsFest this year.  I know people are busy, but I get the sense from some, especially on Twitter, wouldn’t have gone even if they had the time and happened to be eating a slider at Matchbox on H Street.  I can assure you that NatsFest has something for everybody.

One thing I find interesting is that there is so much going on, no two people will have the same experience.  Some fans love getting photos and autographs.  I couldn’t care less about that aspect of NatsFest.  This year, similar to last year at the Gaylord, the entire event happened in one giant room in the lower level of the Convention Center with areas cordoned off for interview rooms.  This was  big improvement over two years ago when it was held on a couple very crowded floor with not enough food offerings.

One fun aspect of the event is open microphone time the Owner, GM, and Manager held for season ticket holders at the very start of the event; this year didn’t disappoint. The fans that rush to the front of the line to get their thoughts directly to the top three in the organization are a unique breed of Nats fan.  They are solid core of @MASNcommenter

In just about every panel I attended there was a take away or an insight I picked up about the team.

Insight: Rizzo was asked by a fan who was going to play 2nd base next year.  The first answer he gave was a Danny Espinosa platoon.  Anybody who follows the team knows that has always been on the table, but to have Rizzo make it pretty clear that they don’t really plan on having Espi hit from the left side this year is interesting to hear him say.

As the panel was wrapping up, I had a chance to check out some of the photo ops set up around the event.

My favorite part of the NatsFest is the panel discussions they set up in the smaller rooms off the main stage.  This year they added twice as many chairs as last year, which were not used for the first couple of panels, but completely full during Matt Williams event later in the day.  FP, hosting the event used the room setup to mention the other more “popular” sports team in town.

The Minor League Panel was pretty much Souza and Taylor giving their second by second breakdown on the final out of Jordan Zimmermann’s no hitter.  Souza mentioned that he had a poor day in the field game 161 and was pretty surprised he was going to be used as a defensive replacement.  One funny thing he added is that he rarely uses two hands catching a fly ball, but for some reason did for that iconic catch.

Insight:  This may be recency bias, but the Zimmermann no hitter might have actually surpassed the Werth game 4 home run as the most iconic moment in franchise history.  It was all any fan wanted to talk about.  Just about every player was asked to give their take, even Fister and Strasburg.

The 3rd panel I watched was some kind of interview event hosted by Anthony Rendon and Tanner Roark.  As Ryan Zimmerman pointed out, they are two of the most introverted players on the team; throw Strasburg into that mix and it was incredibly awkward from the start.  It was fun to watch them kid each other on stage though.

At that point someone in the crowd asked about pets and every player went into great detail about his pet dog.

I

A Proposal to Change the Baseball Playoffs

Baseball needs to make a significant change in the format of its playoffs.  MLB should consider moving away from the traditional best of five, best of seven games format to round-robin tournament to determine the pennant winner for each league.  Changing the playoff format will likely increase fairness of the playoffs, improve television ratings, increase revenue, and more importantly reward the fans of the game.

The new format, which we can call the “Pennant Chase”, will have each team play a slate of games against all the other teams in the league playoff. The team at the end of the round robin with the best record will be awarded the league pennant and move onto the World Series which will still be the best of seven.  The number of games each team plays could be anywhere from nine to fifteen.  I favor an additional 12 games or three, four game series with two home and away for each team each series.  For example: This year the Nationals would have played the Giants, Cardinals, and Dodgers in three successive four game series.  This eliminates the home field advantage unless you want to reward the best record with an additional home game against the wild card team

The 12 game series allows MLB to wrap up the post season pennant tournament in two weeks with a couple off days thrown in.  That schedule will also have each team match up with the other team’s top 4 pitchers, staff vs. staff.  Basically, we are talking about two solid weeks of the four best teams in each league matching up against each other to determine the World Series matchup

Fairness:

Does the current format result in the “best” team winning or does it hinge on chance?  The more games played, the more likely the best team from each league will make the World Series by creating a larger sample size of games. A longer playoff better resembles the rhythm of the baseball season, where even the best teams only win 3 out of 5 games.   As it stands, half the teams are eliminated after a five game series.  In a league that plays 162 a five game series is similar to a coin toss.  The 2014 World Series was a matchup of the #4 National League and #5 American League Wild Card Teams.  The whole “anybody and win” vibe is interesting, but tends to invalidate a 162 game season when top seeds are bounced early in the playoffs.  The sudden and brutal losses the Tigers and Angels fans felt this year isn’t particularly good for the game as each team was swept in 3 games.

Due to the structure of the MLB schedule, even teams in the same league only have one home and away series over the course of the season.  The best teams in the league rarely face off against each other unless they share a division.  A twelve game slate allows the each team to match up head to head to determine the class of the league.  By the end of the two weeks, there is no way any team can feel like they got cheated out of an opportunity.

Fan Interest:

Baseball popularity is very different from many of the other major sports.  Individual teams have intense local followings.  We see this with 24 team’s attendance topping 2 million and 11 team’s local television ratings leading their markets in viewership.    National ratings tell us a different story, fewer and fewer of the intense local fans care about teams that play in other markets.  If they did we would see a doubling of viewership as teams were eliminated.  Many fans “check out” on the sport after their team loses.  Ensuring that all four teams get an additional 2 weeks of games, the “Pennant Chase” also ensures that MLB doesn’t lose top markets like Los Angeles or Washington/Baltimore in the first three or four days of the playoffs like happened this year.

Under the current format, game times and schedule are decided well after the tickets are sold.  Fans purchase tickets for all playoff games not knowing if a game 5 or 7 will even be played or if they can attend the game.  If a series ends early, teams have extended off days and playoffs lose momentum.  A full slate of games will provide a more predictable schedule for fans and a gradual build to the climatic games.

Financial:

The “Pennant Chase” format would also ensure a guarantee of playoff games for each team. In the current format each league plays a maximum of 18 games assuming that each series goes the maximum distance.  Each team would be guaranteed 6 home playoff games, a number that doesn’t dilute the value of the ticket, but will still allow teams to charge a premium price.

This year, the NL only had 14 total games and the AL had the minimum number, 11.  Under the new format, each league would likely have 25 total games in the above 12 game 4×3 format; each game is television commercials/content sold.  Assuming each game broadcast is four hours, this results an increase of 28 hours of broadcast content and 50 hour increase over this year.

A slate of playoff games would also ensure that the more and the biggest markets will stay active in the playoffs for its duration.  More markets, more interest, higher ratings.  Teams like the Red Sox and Yankees or even the Cubs have huge national fan bases that automatically increase the profile in ratings of any series they are in.

Problems

So what are the problems with this new proposal?  This is a very different way to look at Continue reading “A Proposal to Change the Baseball Playoffs”

Nats Contract Recoup Tracker

With the Nats clinching the NL East Title I would not expect these numbers to change much for the rest of the year.

Only players not to recoup their contracts Zim (injury) LaRoche (mild surprise) Soriano (no chance from the start) and Fister (Although Baseball Reference has him at 3.8 WAR)

Value based on the 2014 free agent value per WAR $6 Million

Player Salary WAR Value % Recoup
Rendon $2,700,000 6.6 $39,600,000 1467%
Zimmermann $7,500,000 5.2 $31,200,000 416%
Werth $20,571,429 4.8 $28,800,000 140%
Strasburg $3,975,000 3.9 $25,800,000 649%
Span $6,500,000 3.9 $23,400,000 360%
Desmond $6,500,000 3.9 $23,400,000 360%
Roark $506,100 3.0 $18,000,000 3557%
Gonzalez $8,600,000 3.1 $18,600,000 174%
Ramos $2,095,000 2.0 $12,000,000 573%
Clippard $5,875,000 1.5 $9,000,000 153%
LaRoche $12,000,000 1.6 $9,600,000 80%
Zimmerman $14,000,000 1.2 $7,200,000 51%
Harper $2,150,000 1.4 $8,400,000 391%
Fister $7,200,000 1.3 $7,800,000 108%
Storen $3,450,000 0.9 $5,400,000 157%
Stammen $1,375,000 0.6 $3,600,000 262%
Soriano $14,000,000 0.7 $4,200,000 30%
Barrett $500,000 0.6 $3,600,000 720%
Espinosa $540,850 0.6 $3,600,000 666%
Cabrera 0 0.5 $3,000,000 Infinity
Blevins $1,675,000 0.7 $4,200,000 179%
Lobaton $950,000 0.6 $3,600,000 316%
Treinen $500,000 0.6 $3,600,000 480%
Moore $507,900 0.3 $1,800,000 354%
Leon $501,000 0.1 $600,000 120%
Frandsen $900,000 -0.1 $-600,000 0%
Detwiler $3,000,000 -0.2 -$1,200,000 -40%
Hairston $2,500,000 -0.5 -$3,000,000 -120%
McLouth $5,000,000 -0.6 -$3,600,000 -72%