July 22, 2014

Washington Nationals Game 97 Review: Desmond Leads Nationals Past Rockies

DESMOND GOES 5-FOR-5 AS NATIONALS DEFEAT ROCKIES

At Coors Field against the Colorado Rockies on Monday night to begin their nine game road trip, the Washington Nationals defeated the Rockies 7-2 thanks in large part to a big night from Ian Desmond.

Neither starting pitcher was overpowering, but in 5.2 innings, Doug Fister gave up two runs on nine hits with four strikeouts and two walks. For Colorado, Franklin Morales gave up four runs (three earned) on nine hits with three strikeouts and four walks.

Washington jumped ahead in the fourth inning and didn’t look back. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Minor League and Prospect Report for July 20th

Another week of minor league baseball is in the books. Here are players around the Washington Nationals’ organization that are making headlines. For this week, we’ll go over players that participated in All-Star Games, among others. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals vs Colorado Rockies Preview

After taking 2-for-3 from the Milwaukee Brewers, the Washington Nationals now head out west for a three-game series with the Colorado Rockies. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 96 Review: Werth’s walk-off double helps Nats win series vs Brewers

NATS OVERCOME SORIANO’S BLOWN SAVE TO TOP BREWERS

Jayson Werth hit a walk-off RBI double in the ninth inning to lift the Washington Nationals to a 5-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park Sunday afternoon, taking two of three from the Brewers to start the second half of the MLB season on a high note.

The Nats persevered despite a rocky start from Gio Gonzalez, who lasted just 3 ⅓ innings and, in that time, allowed three runs on four hits and tossed 88 pitches.

Washington got off to an early lead in the bottom of the second after Adam LaRoche singled on a grounder to left and, with one out, Bryce Harper singled, advancing LaRoche to third. As the third time’s the charm, Ian Desmond singled home LaRoche to make it 1-0 Nationals.

But Sunday was never meant to be a shining day for Gonzalez, it seemed.

After striking out Rickie Weeks to start the third, Gonzalez gave up back-to-back walks to Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez. Then, Jonathan Lucroy hit a soft grounder, and Gonzalez botched the play by lobbing the ball to first as Braun scored easily. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 95 Review: Early Jump Powers Nats Past Brewers

After struggling to bring home base runners in Friday night’s loss, the Washington Nationals made applied their lessons learned early in Saturday night’s 8-3 rout of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Brewers starter Matt Garza (L, 6-7) lasted just a third of an inning, marking his shortest Major League start.

Denard Span kicked off the Nats five-run first inning with a lead-off single. Of all batters to retire, Matt Garza was able to force Anthony Rendon to strike out swinging. It would be Garza’s only out of the day, as Jayson Werth doubled deep to right, Adam LaRoche walked and Ryan Zimmerman singled home Span and Werth.

From there, Harper walked, Ian Desmond reached first on an infield single and Ramos singled home Zimmerman and Harper before Marco Estrada relieved Garza.

Perhaps eased by his five-run lead, Nats starter Tanner Roark handed back a run in the second by way of a Jonathan Lucroy double and stolen base. On the play, Ramos committed a throwing error that allowed Lucroy to come home to make it 5-1 Nationals.

The Nats tacked on additional runs in the third and fourth with help from Harper’s double in the third and walks to Werth and LaRoche in the fourth. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 94 Review: Nats Struggle with RISP in Loss to Brewers

The Washington Nationals tallied ten hits against Milwaukee Brewers’ starter Kyle Lohse, but managed to fall 4-2 in the second-half opener at Nationals Park Friday night.

Stephen Strasburg (L, 7-7) was out-pitched, despite the fact he gave up fewer hits than his counterpart. Through seven innings pitched, he allowed seven total hits and four earned runs while walking one and striking out nine. Lohse, on the other hand, allowed 10 hits and managed just three strikeouts, but held the Nats to 1 run through his seven innings of work.

The Brewers earned an early run when, number-2 batter Scooter Gennett hit the first of the Brewers’ two solo homers off Strasburg to make it 1-0.

In the second inning, Khris Davis repeated the feat with a one-out solo shot of his own to give Milwaukee a 2-0 lead.

To double their efforts, the Brewers tried small ball in the third. After Lohse struck out to start the inning, Carlos Gomez grounded to short for the second out. Then, Strasburg handed Gennett a walk before Ryan Braun doubled and Aramis Ramirez singled to plate Gennett and Braun and double the Brewers’ lead.

The Nats didn’t have an answer until the third, and even then, they put up a small fight.

Ryan Zimmerman led off the inning with a double before Ian Desmond brought him home on a one-out double to make it 4-1 Brewers.

Despite several opportunities for progress – most of which began with a single – the Nats waited until the ninth to post another run.

With Francisco Rodriguez pitching for Milwaukee, Bryce Harper led off with a 389-foot solo shot to trim the Brewers’ lead in half. The deficit remained intact as Ian Desmond, Wilson Ramos and Kevin Frandsen went down in order.

THE GOOD: The Nationals tallied 11 total hits on the night – more than the Milwaukee Brewers could produce. While the long ball hurt Stephen Strasburg, he still provided a fairly solid outing – the Brewers merely capitalized on his mishaps. Bryce Harper, who has struggled a bit since returning from his injury, went 3-for-4 on the night with one run and one RBI and the solo homer. Denard Span also tallied three hits and Ryan Zimmerman added two and a run.

THE BAD: The Washington Nationals went 1-for-10 with RISP – only Ian Desmond brought home someone on the left side of the diamond

THE UGLY: The first inning featured a brief delay, courtesy of an obstruction call on a play involving Denard Span and Anthony Rendon. Span led off with a single before Rendon hit a grounder to short. Span outran the throw to second and was called safe but second base umpire Angel Campos called Span out for obstruction because of how he rebounded from his slide just in front of Scooter Gennet

THE STATS: 2 R, 11 H, 6 K, 1 HR (Harper), 1-for-10 with RISP, LOB 7

Nats Nightly: Brewers 4-2 over Nats in nation’s capital

Dave Nichols of District Sports Page and Patrick Reddington and “Doghouse” of Federal Baseball discuss the Washington Nationals 4-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers and advocate for Robot Umps.

Check Out Baseball Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with District Sports Page Nats Nightly on BlogTalkRadio

Washington Nationals sign first round pick Erick Fedde

TEAM FAILS TO SIGN SECOND ROUND PICK ANDREW SUAREZ OF U of MIAMI

The Washington Nationals signed first round pick RHP Erick Fedde, just moments before Friday’s 5:00 pm ET deadline, according to multiple reports.

Fedde’s signing bonus is $2,511,100, per Jim Callis.

Fedde, a right-handed starter from UNLV who played on the same high school team as Nats outfielder Bryce Harper, had Tommy John surgery two days before the draft.

The team issued a press release shortly after the deadline.

Suarez, a 21-year-old left-handed starter with a long history of arm problems, will return to the Univeristy of Miami for his senior year, the school announced via Twitter earlier in the afternoon. This marks the second time he’s been drafted without signing a pro contract. Suarez was the 57th overall pick in the draft, and as such, the Nats will receive the 58th pick in the 2015 draft as compensation for failing to sign their draftee.

The Nationals also did not come to terms with ninth round draft pick Austin Byler, a junior first baseman from the University of Nevada.

Washington Nationals vs Milwaukee Brewers Series Preview

As the All-Star break comes to a close, it’s time for the Washington Nationals to get back to work. To open the unofficial second half of the season, they’ll welcome the Milwaukee Brewers to Nationals Park for a three-game homestand. [Read more...]

Statistically Speaking: The Nats Home Run Derby

Taking our cue from Major League Baseball, we’re going take a breather this week and throttle back with the statistically complex discussions and celebrate one of the (somewhat) simpler aspects of the game, or at least one of the more pure and visceral components of baseball—the home run. While we won’t be looking back on the 82 dingers the Nationals have hit so far in 2014 in a manner totally devoid of analysis, we will take a more lighthearted approach to the numbers and focus more on the result more so than the process or the ramifications of the play, for a change. So, without further ado…long balls!

A quick perusal of FanGraphs will tell you that these 82 homers the Nats have hit thus far ranks 14th in MLB and sixth in the National League, well behind the 112 hit by the Colorado Rockies. Seventeen Nats have hit one, with Ian Desmond leading the team with 16 long flys.

Taking those 82 homers, let’s now look at what pitch and pitch location in the strike zone was ‘preferred’ by each Nat with a homer:

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 9.41.08 PMNot a huge surprise, but the hitters like to drive fastballs—here, I’ve collapsed fourseamers, twoseamers, cutters, and sinkers into the ‘FA’ variable—with Adam LaRoche (AL) changing things up and walloping the occasional slider and Ian Desmond (ID) showing himself to be an equal opportunity hitter, with five changeups and three sliders complementing the eight fastball he’s hit out. Here’s how the team level results parse out for pitch type:

 

Pitch n %
CH 8 9.76
CU 3 3.66
FA 56 68.29
FS 2 2.44
SL 13 15.85

 

How about counts—is there a particular point in the at bat that each player has enjoyed more homers in?

HR by countAnthony Rendon likes to jump on the first pitch, while LaRoche has seen a lot of success in 2-2 counts; Desmond and Jayson Werth (JW) show a fairly even spread across all pitch counts, with Werth showing the interesting quirk of doing quite a bit of damage behind in the count (0-1 and 0-2, in particular). Here’s the team breakdown of homers by count:

Count n %
0-0 10 12.20
0-1 12 14.63
0-2 4 4.88
1-0 6 7.32
1-1 8 9.76
1-2 6 7.32
2-0 8 9.76
2-1 6 7.32
2-2 13 15.85
3-0 1 1.22
3-1 3 3.66
3-2 5 6.10

Of note in the above table is the lack of homers in the ultimate hitter’s count—3-0—with the fewest number of Nats homers (just one!) coming on the count you’re most likely to see the most common pitch type hit out for a homer, a fastball.

Homers are great and the further hit, the better; with that in mind, let’s look at home run distances by player:

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 12.22.40 AMLaRoche concomitantly leads the pack and brings up the rear in homer distances, owning the shortest and longest dingers of 2014. A list of the average homer distances by player is displayed below:

Player n Avg., ft.
Zimmerman 4 378.47
Frandsen 1 377.46
Ramos 3 370.81
Desmond 16 368.68
Werth 12 365.78
LaRoche 12 365.73
Rendon 13 364.68
Span 1 357.90
Moore 3 357.70
Harper 2 354.94
Lobaton 2 352.23
Gonzalez 1 351.88
McLouth 1 347.12
Espinosa 6 346.93
Leon 1 343.44
Walters 3 329.64
Hairston 1 319.51

Not surprisingly, Ryan Zimmerman, while lacking in sheer numbers, leads the pack in average homer distance, showing that when healthy and locked in with his swing, still packs a potent punch.

Let’s get fancy. Let’s now look at home run distances across pitch types:

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 11.07.15 PMThe colored lines in the graph above are the average distances (in feet) for a given pitch type; sliders lead the way in distance hit:

Pitch Avg., ft.
CH 362.38
CU 357.30
FA 361.12
FS 365.16
SL 367.34

While the graph’s x-axis (game date) is a bit tough to see, the above graph also shows us that right around mid-May was when the balls started going a tad further, perhaps due to the weather warming up.

…and last, but not least, a table full of player-specific gory homer details, including average pitch velocities, for those so inclined:

Player Pitch n Avg. Speed (MPH) Avg. Distance (ft.)
Desmond CH 5 82.82 356.95
Desmond FA 8 90.94 374.02
Desmond SL 3 85.40 373.98
Espinosa FA 5 92.58 351.16
Espinosa SL 1 77.30 325.76
Frandsen FA 1 90.40 377.46
Gonzalez FA 1 89.80 351.88
Hairston FA 1 87.60 319.51
Harper FA 2 92.10 354.94
LaRoche CH 1 82.40 374.50
LaRoche FA 6 90.97 352.54
LaRoche FS 1 86.80 366.19
LaRoche SL 4 84.05 383.20
Leon FA 1 87.20 343.44
Lobaton FA 2 91.25 352.23
McLouth FA 1 93.80 347.12
Moore CH 1 78.70 404.78
Moore FA 2 88.95 334.16
Ramos FA 3 93.87 370.81
Rendon CH 1 82.20 335.02
Rendon CU 1 74.40 362.43
Rendon FA 10 91.55 366.98
Rendon SL 1 83.40 373.56
Span FA 1 85.70 357.90
Walters FA 2 92.15 332.50
Walters SL 1 87.00 323.93
Werth CU 2 77.95 354.73
Werth FA 7 93.17 370.56
Werth FS 1 83.40 364.12
Werth SL 2 83.25 360.93
Zimmerman FA 3 90.77 379.42
Zimmerman SL 1 88.90 375.63

No matter how you slice or parse it, the home run remains one of the more exciting plays in the game. With our version of the Home Run Derby, Nats fans now have a better idea of when the dinger is coming and how far it’s going. And to at least my surprise, it isn’t on a 3-0 fastball.

***

Data courtesy of Baseball Savant, unless otherwise noted.
__________________

Stuart Wallace is a Contributor to District Sports Page. A neuroscientist by day, the Nevada native also moonlights as an Associate Managing Editor for Beyond the Box Score, stats intern at Baseball Prospectus, and a contributor at Camden Depot. A former pitcher, his brief career is sadly highlighted by giving up a lot of home runs to former National Johnny Estrada. You can follow him on Twitter @TClippardsSpecs.

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