Monday, October 31, 2011

A Few Good Men: 15 - Bernadina

Well - we are now in week 4 of this series. You know the drill by now. Stats and grades and everything under the sun. Have some fun in the comments sections.

Roger Bernadina - Age 27 - Still under club control

How he became a Nat: Signed as an amateur free agent at age 17.

The Raw Numbers:
Games - 91
ABs - 337
OPS - .664
Injuries - 3
Trips to Syracuse - 3
WAR - 0.8

Key Stat: 17. This is the number of stolen bases that Bernadina had this year, in part time action. He was tied with Espinosa for 3rd on the club; behind Werth and Desmond (all three of which had 300+ more ABs this year than Bernadina).

Best Game: Not a lot of stand-out choices here, but I am going to go with the last week of the season; September 20th vs the Phillies. This was a game that the Nats ended up winning 4-3 on a Zimmerman single in the 10th - not involving Bernadina at all. The other three runs, however, were scored on a 2-out, 3-run bomb by Bernadina in the 7th.

Worst Game: His worst game was just a week after his best, and the Nats second-to last game of the seasons - September 27th. In this game Bernadina went 0-4 while 1) failing to hit a ball out of the infield twice 2) striking out looking and 3) grounding into a double play. The Nats lost this game 3-2, ruining their chances at a +.500 season.

CapBall Grade: C+. Bernadina got a rough shake this year. He was left off the opening day roster for Laynce Nix (who turned out to be a steal), was shipped back and forth between Syracuse and DC like he was Justin Maxwell, and after being assured a starting spot by Davey Johnson was unceremoniously benched less than two weeks later. Despite all that, Bernadina was able to put together a solid 4th OF-type year; .250ish AVG, a little pop, some speed, and some D. 17 steals in just 300 at-bats is pretty impressive, as is his 17:3 SB:CS ratio.

2012 Nats Status: I have a feeling that Bernadina, now out of options, will stay in DC for the entirety of 2012 - as a 4th/5th outfielder. He hasn't yet shown the ability to hit for any average or consistent power in his 10+ years in the minors or majors, which doesn't bode well for his major league future. If he can accept a bench role then I believe he will be a solid defensive replacement/pinch-hitter/pinch-runner for the 2012 Nats.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Few Good Men: 14 - LaRoche

Well it’s the end of week 2 for our groundbreaking 44 part series detailing the minutiae of every player to don a Nats jersey in the calendar year 2011, so take a break from reading about the most amazing World Series game since Joe Carter and the Jays in 1993 (with David Freese playing the part of Joe) and enjoy…

Adam LaRoche – 31 Years Old – 8 Years MLB service

How he became a Nat – Signed as a Free Agent last offseason for 2 Years and 15 million dollars. There is a team option for a third year at 10 million.

The Raw Numbers

Games – 43

AVG - .172

Fielding % - 1.000

RBI – 15

The Key Stat – OPS - .546. The Nationals went out and signed Adam LaRoche this past off season looking for a run producing first baseman. About all Adam did was play first base. His OBP was a paltry .288, but the real eyesore is the .258 slugging percentage. Just 7 extra base hits in 151 Abs. Simply put, he was a nightmare at the plate, completely ineffective in every situation, failing to drive in runners, be it with timely hitting or an extra base hit.

Best Game – Very early in the year, April 7 against the Fish. Otherwise a quiet game for Adam, he hit a 2 run bomb in the top of the 11th that proved to be the deciding blow. He did very little to impact games after this and quickly became an albatross around the neck of an anemic Nats offense early in the year.

Worst Game – So many to choose from. I’m going with May 14th again. Losing 1-0 to the Marlins (who finished in last) while the run producing first baseman you signed in the offseason goes 0-4 with a K. If you want to go with WPA (wins probability added) it was April 30 against the Giants (WPA - -0.401, basically being 40 percent of the reason the Nats lost), another 1 run loss in which he went 0-4 with 1 K and 1 BB.

CapBall Grade – F – Sorry if that seems harsh, and it’s never good to see someone injured but given his abject failure at the plate and Michael Morse’s performance in his stead, but there is really no other grade to be given. Even his stellar fielding was not enough to move this grade upwards, given the limited number of games played, the relative difficulty of his position and the outstanding defenders he played alongside.

2012 Nats Status – Adam LaRoche enters spring training as the starting first-baseman just like last year. Although there have been many reports linking Prince Fielder to the Nats, there are simply greater priorities than first base, so LaRoche will be the guy in Viera. That being said, if he struggles and a fourth outfielder emerges, I would not be surprised to see Michael Morse slide back into the first base spot and push Adam to the bench. Spring Training is make-or-break for LaRoche’s career.

More thoughts to share about Adam LaRoche. Or perhaps mad love for David Freese. Leave it!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Case For...

Yesterday, Sean did an admirable job of taking the unpopular stance that the Nats should avoid signing Ryan Zimmerman to an extension. His argument was three-fold and all well-thought out - 1) health 2) Rendon 3) 2014 is a long way away. While these points are all based upon the past it in no way proves to be a harbinger for the future - IE, lacking statistical evidence.

Let's face it - Ryan Zimmerman is, and has been since Draft Day 2005, the Face of the Franchise. He is the first player the team ever had that was identifiable on a National scale, whether it was defensive highlights on Baseball Tonight's Web Gems or walk-off Home Runs on every holiday known to man.

Yes, we have Strasburg and Harper ready to tear through the National League East, but that is still coming. Zimmerman is our past as well as our future. When NatsTown had nothing but an old beat up stadium, there was Zimmerman. When the Nats were busy losing 100+ games for the 2nd straight year, Zimmerman was there to win the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove. But what's more impressive is that he is just about to hit the prime of his career (28-32).

In the six full seasons Zimmerman has played, he has played 140+ games four times - and in the other two seasons he has played at least 100 in each. Yes, he has been DLed for a shoulder injury way back in 2008 - a result of sliding head-first into 2nd base (headfirst slide injuries have been pretty common lately). His other lengthy DL trip (oblique) was this past year, dubbed "The Year of the Oblique", where he injured himself, once again, sliding into 2nd base. Having missed 10 games with an oblique injury at the end of 2010, albeit a different spot, Zimmerman elected to have surgery to prevent the problem from returning.

As far as his throwing motion is concerned, it should be a non-issue. Despite the fact that 8 of his 12 errors were throwing errors this past year, he seemed to really fall into place in the final few months of the season. His throwing motion does look awkward, but after an entire off-season of work plus spring training he should be 100% for next year. A few throwing errors are forgivable for the Best NL 3B (via UZR) over the past 4 seasons.

When he is on, like in 2009 and 2010, he is one of the best players in all of baseball - in fact his total WAR from '09-'10 (14.5) placed 3rd among all MLB hitters (behind some guys named Pujols and Longoria). Both seasons rank as the two best WAR seasons of any Nats player ever - and it's not even close.

In Zimmerman, the Nationals have one of the best 3B in all of baseball, but we do have a top prospect in waiting; Rendon. Nats Brass has said that for now Rendon will be playing 3B. So, my proposal would be to have Zimmerman, who can pick a baseball with the best of them, move over to 1B - while Rendon comes up at 3B. *Yes, I know that we haven't seen Rendon in action yet, this is purely hypothetical* This move would give the Nats an infield with Rendon, Desmond, Espinosa, and Zimmerman - top notch "D" all across the board. It would keep Zimmerman healthier due to the easier mobility necessary at 1B while giving him more of a focus on his offensive game.

Outside of baseball, Zimmerman has never been a person that was interested in earning the biggest possible contract, taking a team friendly 5 year/$45 million extension back in 2009. One would think that with his commitment to the ziMS foundation in DC as well as his personal ties to the area (growing up in nearby VA Beach, Mother and Father close by) I believe that Zimmerman would be happy just to stay in one town his entire career - Michael Young-style. The money shouldn't be an issue anyway, considering that we do have the richest owner in all of baseball, and he is very willing to open up his checkbook for the right piece.

I believe that Rizzo and Lerner should sit down this offseason and try and hammer out an extension that can keep Ryan Zimmerman as the Face of the Franchise for the rest of his career. If you aren't willing to open up the wallet for one of the top 3B in baseball, the Face of your Franchise, and a possible Future Hall-of-Famer who can you open it up for?

Which camp do you fall in? For or Against?

A Few Good Men: 13 - Strasburg

It's week two of our journey to 44 player reviews covering each and every player that graced NatsTown's presence this past season. We will continue to tweak the process based on your comments, so keep those going.

Stephen Strasburg - Age 23

How he became a Nat: 1st Round pick in the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft

The Raw Numbers:
Games - 5
ERA - 1.50
FIP - 1.28
K/9 - 9.00
WHIP - 0.71
WAR - 1.1

Key Stat: 0.75 and 1.1. In his rehab year after Tommy John Surgery Stephen Strasburg managed to have an absolutely astounding BB/9 ratio of 0.75 - meaning he walked less than a batter per 9 innings. This is almost unheard of after such a strenuous recovery program. I couldn't help but add a second key stat (sue me), 1.1 was Strasburg's WAR for the past year. Consider that Strasburg pitched less than 5 IP/start that is a fantastic WAR for a starter. The 1.1 averaged to a full season (30 starts) would be a 6.6 WAR - placing Strasburg as the 6th best starter in all of baseball; behind Halladay (8.2), Sabathia (7.1), Verlander (7.0), Kershaw (6.8), and Lee (6.7). 31 starts would place him tied with Kershaw, 32 starts would put him tied with Verlander, and 33 starts would be 2nd in all of Baseball. *All purely hypothetical*

Best Game: Is there really any question as to which game was his best? September 28th vs the Marlins, the last game of the season. Strasburg gave all of NatsTown another reason to get excited about next year. He went 6.0 Innings, gave up just a single to Gaby Sanchez, walked 2, and struck out a whopping 10 batters!

Worst Game: That would be the start right before his best game - September 23rd vs the Bravos. Strasburg only went 4 innings, allowed 3 runs (2 earned), and gave up 5 hits. As worst games go - I would take this as the worst any day of the year.

CapBall Grade: A. This was an absolute no-brainer. Strasburg came back from Tommy John Surgery without missing a beat. He is ready to assume his place among the MLB elite in 2012.

2012 Nats Status: Barring a setback or freak injury, I believe that Strasburg will be the Nats #2 starter next year - behind Jordan Zimmermann. His fastball, predictably, dipped 1.5 MPH but his Change and Curve also dipped along with it, which is really all that matters. It should be noted that his fastball hit triple digits in the final game of the season - when he was fileting fish. Expect his velocity to top out around 99-100 next season. It should be a fun year watching him pitch.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Case Against...

In America, every criminal is guaranteed the right to a defense, no matter how heinous he is or horrifying his crime. I am about to advocate for the Charles Manson of Washington Nationals' baseball ideas. Don’t extend Ryan Zimmerman’s contract.


While he is a great talent and core member of a franchise approaching the big time, you have to wonder if, given the cost of his contract and the doors it may close, a long-term extension would really benefit the Nationals that much. The extension would likely make Zimmerman a National for an additional 6-8 years, and cost the Nats as much as 20 million a year (this is based on the Ryan Braun and Troy Tulowitzki extensions, as well as Adam Kilgore’s 8 year $175 million projection). That’s a huge financial commitment to a single player, especially considering the players who are coming behind him. Can the Nats extend Zim, then extend Harper, Strasburg, Zimermann, Rendon, Purke, etc? Probably not. Financially, it would be putting a whole lot of eggs in one basket, when there will be younger, perhaps more talented baskets in a few years.

Speaking of those younger guys, Anthony Rendon. There was a lot of post-draft talk about what position Rendon could move to. Why on earth would you do that? Third base is a premium position and he should play there until its clear he can’t or he shows there would be outstanding value at another position. If Rendon develops in time for the 2014 season, he would be ready to step right in if the team lets Zimmerman walk, at a much cheaper price. If Zimmerman continues his current level of play, there would have to be some drop off (both defensively and offensively), but that’s a big if, plus would that drop off be worth 15-20 million a year? It admittedly sounds drastic to let a stalwart of our current line up walk, but by 2014 I’m sure Rizzo is hoping that Werth, Ramos, Espinosa, Desmond and most importantly Bryce Harper, are making bigger offensive impacts. And if Rendon isn’t ready or has shown he can’t play the position, Ryan Zimmerman is a free agent and can be had for market value, which the Nats will have a better idea of.

Ryan Zimmerman plays the game hard and while he cannot be described as fragile, Cal Ripken Jr. he ain’t. He has twice missed significant parts of season and this past season had surgery on his abdomen which also forced him to drastically overhaul his throwing motion. And he is only getting older. What would be worse than losing Zim to free agency and having Rendon flop as his replacement? Extending Zim, who then endures a series of both nagging and serious injuries that keep him sidelined, and then having Rendon be a flop.

Waiting to resign Zim after his current contract expires would allow the Nats time to see

A. what they have in Rendon,

B. how far Zim can take his talent while limiting injuries and

C. what the make-up of the team will be in 2014.

The boulder on a Zimmerman extension seems to be rolling down the hill at a decent clip at this point. Really the only person who could derail it at this point would be Zim’s agent, and it doesn’t seem likely Zim would let that happen. Ryan Zimmerman is a rare player. He is in a small group of players you can look at and say, if they keep it up for another 10 years, they are headed for Cooperstown.

Am I trying to say don’t try to keep Zim in the organization beyond 2013. Not necessarily. If Zimmerman is lights out the next 2 years and the Nats really do want him to finish his career in D.C., all they would have to do is be serious about it and offer a good contract. During the winter of 2013/2014 the Nats will have a much better idea of what the future looks like for the team and what they need going forward. So when you look at the cost, both the amount of his contract and in the limiting of flexibility of the club to sign other stars down the road, as well as his age, injury history, and the fact that the Nationals just drafted a young third-baseman with high upside and a drastically lower salary than Zimmerman, there should be at least some hesitation for Mike Rizzo when it comes to extending Ryan Zimmerman’s contract too far into the future for too much money.

Do you think I’m an idiot, or at least very misguided? Please tell me.

A Few Good Men: 12 - Wilson Ramos

It's week two of our journey to 44 player reviews covering each and every player that graced NatsTown's presence this past season. We will continue to tweak the process based on your comments, so keep those going.

Wilson Ramos – Age 24 – Under team control until 2016

How he became a Nat: Acquired from the Twins, along with Joe Testa, for reliever Matt Capps

The Raw Numbers:

Games – 113

HR – 15

OPS+ - 113

CS% - 32%

Key Stat: WAR 3.1 Among non-pitchers, it’s basically a toss-up between he and Danny Espinosa as to which rookie contributed more to his team. Catching is infinitely harder and more important than second-base (no offense Espi). Splitting WAR into oWAR and dWAR we see that while his offense was better, his defense is in the positive. Catcher is the single most important fielder, he is in on every play and can change a game with a throw. Solving the catcher situation is way more than 1/9 of making a great team. Just for fun, Pudge’s rookie WAR was 1.0.

Best Game: In terms of stats, its April 26th against the Mets when he went 3-4 with 2 HR and 3 RBIs. But June 21 vs. the Mariners really has to stand out. Ramos punctuated a five run ninth innings with a walk-off three run bomb. What it must be like to hit a walk-off home run to cap the biggest comeback in your team’s history…at age 23.

Worst Game: May 13 against the Marlins. It seems like a whole lot of Nats have had their worst game against the Fish. Wilson went 0-5 with 2ks in an extra inning loss. He also left a runner in scoring position and grounded into a double play.

Capball Grade: A. Given a nebulous pitching staff and being faced with stealing playing time from a Hall-of-Famer as well as a Rule 5 pick, Ramos turned the catching question into a no-contest. Handling pitchers, young and old, like a pro, as well as showing significant promise at the plate has led to Ramos being declared the long-term solution at catcher.

2012 Nats Status: Opening day, your starting catcher, Wilson Ramos. The Nats should plan to have him start 120-130 games. He is young and talented and there is no reason to give him more than 40 games off. If he gets off to a hot start, there is no reason he won’t warrant All-Star consideration. It’s also invaluable that he gets to grow up along-side Strasburg, Zimmermann, Peacock, Milone, Storen, H-rod, etc.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Few Good Men: 11 - Brown

It's week two of our journey to 44 player reviews covering each and every player that graced NatsTown's presence this past season. We will continue to tweak the process based on your comments, so keep those going.

Corey Brown - Age 25

How he became a Nat: He came over with Henry Rodriguez in the trade that sent Josh Willingham to Oakland.

The Raw Numbers:
Games - 3
ABs - 3
AVG - .000
K - 2
WAR - -0.1

Key Stat: 0.0 Innings. This is the amount of innings that Corey Brown played in the field this past year. Awesome.

Best Game: This is without-a-doubt been my favorite write-up of the series thus far, and part of the sheer ridiculousness of this series. Corey Brown had just 3 at-bats this year for the Nats before sitting out the last two weeks of the season with a staph infection; he struck out in two of the three at-bats. That being said, his best game of the season was his Major League debut, September 6th against the LA Dodgers - he flied out with the bases loaded in his lone at-bat.

Worst Game: Picking from his other two games, I would say that his worst game was September 11th against Houston - he struck out looking with two-on.

CapBall Grade: D. I have a feeling that we would've seen Brown get his first MLB hit and seen his first field action had he not been sidelined for the 2nd half of September with a Staph Infection. I declined to give him an F solely because the guy made his MLB Debut and that's worth celebrating.

2012 Nats Status: Corey Brown is on a one-way ticket to Syracuse. Since he crushed AA pitching in 2009-10 while in the A's system (.298/.387/.496) he has been abysmal at the dish at the AAA level with a slash line of .224/.308/.395. He won't make it back to the Majors before he learns how to hit MLB-ready pitching. I also could see Brown being a carbon copy of Bernadina, with the back-and-forth between DC and Syracuse.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Few Good Men: 10 - Milone

And now we are in Week Three of our epic journey to recap every player that graced the ballfield for the hometown team. We are enjoying the give-and-take in the comments section, so feel free to share your thoughts and stats with us.

Tom Milone – Age 24 – Under team control until at least 2014

How He Became A Nat: Drafted by Washington in the 10th round of the 2008 Amateur Draft.

The Raw Numbers:

Games with the big club: 5

WHIP: 1.231

BAbip: .310

K/BB at Harrisburg in 2010: 155/23

K/BB at Syracuse in 2011: 155/15

Key Stat: Age – 24. 5 big league games is a small sample size, so we are going conceptual. Tom Milone, with Jordan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg, and Brad Peacock represent a core of young starting pitching poised to breakout for the Nats over the course of the next year or two. He has shown impeccable command over the past 2 years, cut his walks by a third against better competition in the second year, without a dip in K’s. Great pitching staffs aren’t usually made up of 4 power arms or 4 finesse guys, it takes a mix, and Tom Milone could be the perfect complement to the power arms listed above.

Best Game: Sept 20 vs. the Phillies. Over 6 innings Tom held the vaunted Phils lineup to no runs on just 4 hits, striking out 2 and walking no one. Milone claimed, “It was actually pretty easy” to move the ball in and out. Against the prohibitive National League favorite. On the road. Freak boy. (Yes we realize he didn’t face Utley, Howard or Rollins. Tom Milone still pitches for the Nationals. The team he faced was still the Phillies.)

Worst Game: Sept 26 vs. the Fish. In his very next start he did exactly what you can’t do. Go four and a third against the last place team in your division. Granted he was victimized by some bad luck, any starter in your rotation needs to go at least 5 against a last place team, if you expect to compete in the MLB, let alone the National League’s East Division. (Ok, the Marlins’ lineup is no joke and last place jabs aside, the Nats pitchers need to spend some serious time looking at tape of Babe Stanton, LoMo and Gaby or they will continue to be dominated by the “Miami Marlins”).

CapBall Grade: B+ - In his cup of coffee Milone showed flashes of being a polished Major League pitcher. In a very small sample size, Milone had 15ks and 4bb and while the 1.231 WHIP is not ideal, the BAbip shows that pehaps some luck was involved in a least some of those 28 hits over 26 innings. The grade is mostly given based on the overwhelming sense of progress his arrival, along with Peacock, signaled for a Nats fan base hungry for relevance.

2012 Nats Status: He will start 10+ games for the 2012 Washington Nationals, whether he is in the rotation when camp breaks, or is first or second up from Syracuse when the eventual need for a starter arises. Write it down, take a picture…we don’t care.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Few Good Men: 9 - Hernandez

It's week two of our journey to 44 player reviews covering each and every player that graced NatsTown's presence this past season. We will continue to tweak the process based on your comments, so keep those going.

Livan Hernandez - Age 36

How he became a Nat: Signed as a free agent back in August of 2009.

The Raw Numbers:
Record - 8-13
ERA - 4.39
FIP - 4.38
WHIP - 1.44
K/9 - 5.56 (his highest since 2004)
WAR - 1.9

Key Stat: 66.4 MPH. This is the average speed of Livo's curveball from this past year - shockingly not the slowest of his career. It was however the slowest pitch of any type in all of Major League Baseball. Livo's cartoonish eephus pitch kept even the most feared hitter guessing.

Best Game: Without question - June 15th vs the Cardinals - also one of the Nats best games of the year. Livan Hernandez went the distance of a Nats 10-0 win against the future NL Champions, allowing only three hits on the night. He struck out 6 batters and didn't walk a soul.

Worst Game: August 6th at Coors Field. Livan didn't even make it to the end of the 4th inning, pulled after 3.2 IP. He allowed 9 hits and 7 earned runs in a game the Nats lost 15-7. It was both his shortest outing of the year and his most runs allowed of the year.

CapBall Grade: B. This is probably a generous grade for a pitcher with a +4 ERA, but Livan helped the team in more ways than just his on the field performance; let it be known though that he had the 2nd highest pitching WAR of anyone on the team. In September, Livo stepped aside for the good of the team, giving management a chance to see Milone and Peacock in some live MLB-Action. In my mind that deserves some extra credit.

2012 Nats Status: Strangely, Livan has some sort of attachment to the city of Washington and he is on record saying that he would come back to the Nats as a reliever if that's the only way he could come back - specifically saying that he wouldn't give that offer to any other team. I have flipped back and forth of my own opinion as to whether or not I would like to see him back in a curly-W, but despite what my own opinion is I don't see him back next year. Rizzo wanting to keep the team younger coupled with the emergence of Craig Stammen as a solid long-relief option will leave Livan as the odd man out.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Few Good Men: 8 - Wang

It's week two along our journey to 44 player reviews covering each and every player that graced NatsTown's presence this past season. We will continue to tweak the process based on your comments, so keep those going.

Chien-Ming Wang – Age 31 – 6 Years MLB service

How He Became A Nat: Re-signed with the Nats for 1 year, 1 million dollars, with sizeable performance based bonuses.

The Raw Numbers:

IP – 62.1

ERA – 4.04

WHIP – 1.28

GB/FB - 1.12

Key Stat: 0. As in games missed once he made his season debut July 29. Good or bad, he went out every time it was his turn and showed no sign of setbacks. This is a huge sign moving forward for his career as well as the Nats rotation.

Best Game: Easily August 9th against the Cubbies at Wrigley. Wang went 6 shutout innings, allowing a single hit while walking 2 and hitting another. He induced 12 ground balls including a double play. Tempting as it may be to pick his final game of the season, his first MLB hit and RBI are not enough to overcome a solo shot given up and a 9/8 GB/FB ratio.

Worst Game: Understandably, his first game back in the Major Leagues in 2 years, July 29th against the Mets. In just 4 innings, Wang used 60 pitches to give up 6 runs (4 earned) on 8 hits and a walk. His GB/FB was 8/9. It was a tough spot and no one really expected a quality start, so it was basically a throw away game.

CapBall Grade: B-. Wang completed an exhausting and inspiring rehab by making 11 starts for the Nationals this year, compiling a record of 4-3. Besides being an accomplished veteran with incredible natural ball movement, he earns some extra credit for peripherals. Penetration into the baseball hungry Taiwanese market could be very lucrative for the Nationals.

2012 Nats Status: The Nats patience over the past 2 years could payoff in a big way. Wang seems to be wide open to giving the Nats a “hometown” discount of sorts for their handling of his situation. With the off-season and a full spring training, Wang could return to his once dominant form. And despite the lengthy rehab, he has only thrown 733 innings for his career, and as a sinker-baller, might have a better chance at returning to a high level. I see the Nats and Wang signing a deal, before the winter meetings. Wang will head to Viera as the presumptive 3rd or 4th starter.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Few Good Men: 7 - Zimmermann

It's week two along our journey to 44 player reviews covering each and every player that graced NatsTown's presence this past season. We will continue to tweak the process based on your comments, so keep those going.
Jordan Zimmermann - Age 25
How he became a Nat: Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2007 MLB First Year Player Draft.
The Raw Numbers:
IP - 161.1
ERA - 3.18
FIP - 3.16
WHIP - 1.15
K/9 - 6.92
WAR - 3.4
Key Stat: BB/9 - 1.73. In his first full year back after Tommy John Surgery Jordan Zimmermann exhibited far better command than in any of his previous Major League seasons. His BB/9 was so good that it ranked 8th best in all of baseball (among starters), ahead of such names as Cole Hamels, Clayton Kershaw, and Justin Verlander.

Best Game: After such a fantastic year, it was tough to narrow down just which game was Zimmermann's most dominant - but we've settled on June 12th against the Friars of San Diego (founded by the Germans). In this game Jordan went 7 innings, gave up just 4 hits, gave up 0 runs, walked just 1, and struck out a whopping 10 batters - with an incredible 14 swing-and-miss strikes.

Worst Game: July 19th against Houston - a 7-6 Nats loss. Jordan went just 5 innings against one of the worst teams in baseball. His line for the day was 5 IP. 7 hits, 6 ER, 0 BB, and 5 K.
CapBall Grade: A. What more can you ask for coming off of Tommy John Surgery? Zimmermann was easily the Nats best pitcher - not just this year, but his 3.4 WAR was the Nats highest for a SP since the 2005 season when Esteban Loaiza and John Patterson posted a 4.6 and 3.9 WAR respectively. I'm not sure if the Nationals will be limiting Jordan Zimmermann's innings next year, but it looked like he had a bit more left in the tank at the end of this season.

2012 Nats Status: Jordan Zimmermann will be the Nats Opening Day starter - you heard it here first. The Organization will try to keep the pressure off of Strasburg as much as possible, so JZimm will most likely be given the nod due to his veteran status and stellar 2011 comeback. Also, he is arbitration eligible for the first time this year so he should be getting a raise to about $1.8 million (per MLBTR).

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Few Good Men: 6 - Cora

It's week two along our journey to 44 player reviews covering each and every player that graced NatsTown's presence this past season. We will continue to tweak the process based on your comments, so keep those going.

Alex Cora - 35 this past season, but today is his 36th birthday!

How he became a Nat: Signed a minor league contract with the Nats in January.

The Raw Numbers:

Games: 91

Positions played: 4, all of the infield positions at least 5 times

AVG: .224

Pinch Hits: 6

The key stat: dWAR 0.3. Put all these stats together and you can see the Nats got more than they needed from Alex Cora in the beginning of the season. With Zim out of the lineup and a first base situation that became nebulous for a while, Cora stepped in a ate up some big innings in the field, at all the infield positions, with no precipitous defensive drop off.

Best Game: Without a doubt May 11th, a 7-3 come-from-behind victory over Atlanta. Cora tied the game in the ninth with a bases loaded single off of vaunted rookie closer Craig Kimbrel, stayed in to play third and eventually scored in the 11th on an Ian Desmond double. He was 2 for 2 with a run and 2 RBI.

Worst Game: We are going to combine two games here, May 13 and 14. Over the course of those two games, one start and one as a defensive replacement, he went 0-5 as the Nats lost an extra inning heart-breaker and were on the losing end of a 1-0 gem from Anibal Sanchez. These are the moments veterans get paid for, and he didn’t show up.

Capball Grade: B-. Very Nixian season for Cora, as he carried the Nats at third with Zim out and was more valuable than we are likely ever to know for Desi and Espi’s development. He basically disappeared the second half of the season, especially once Steven Lombardozzi joined the team and took up the mantle of back-up infielder. He is a veteran’s veteran and has hopefully imparted wisdom to better Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa and Steven Lombardozzi.

Future with the Nats: Bleak. I think Mike Rizzo had an eye on getting Cora into the organization as a manager following this season, but Cora has stated publicly he plans to be on the field as a player next year and beyond. It’s the same situation as Laynce Nix; good guy, helps the team, but the Nats are simply moving in a different direction.