Get To Know A Nat 2014: Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann unleashes the fury. -Photo Credit @AshburnNatsFan

Jordan Zimmermann unleashes the fury. -Photo Credit @AshburnNatsFan

Name: Jordan M. Zimmermann
Nickname(s): JZ, ZNN, J-Zimm
DOB: May 23, 1986
Twitter?: Nope.
From: Auburndale, Wisconsin
Position: Starting Pitcher  Rotation: Third Pitcher
Hand: Righty
With the Nats Since: Drafted in 2007. Debuted in 2009.

Just Who Is This Guy?: Dominant and yet underrated, JZ is the Nats other hard throwing righty.  If you’ve really never heard of the Nats double N, resident cheese-head, visit the 2013 preview first.

What Happened in 2013:  Jordan Zimmermann dominated the first half of baseball in 2013. Seriously, he was a mid-season contender for the Cy Young award. Not that pitching records really mean anything (except to Cy Young voters, I guess) but in the first 81 games he had a record of 12-4 with a 2.58 ERA and .967 WHIP. ZNN was getting 5.28 strikeouts for every walk he issued, and was probably (easily) the best starting pitcher for the Nats in the first half.

The second half was a let down. While his stats weren’t truly awful (7-5, 4.33 ERA , 1.28 WHIP), they were a huge drop off from the first half of the year and represented a disappointment probably for both Jordan personally, and the team (who needed every little bit at the end.)

Overall, tho, 19 Wins (NL Leading, btw) with a 3.25 ERA, 3.36 FIP and a +3.6 fWAR for your third pitcher is nothing to sneeze at. Not by a long shot.  As Baseball Prospectus points out, Zimnn threw 18 more innings, faced 60 more batters, but threw six fewer pitches compared to his 2013 campaign. He played longer by being more efficient, and took a big step towards being the elite pitcher many think he is.

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The Price of Clark Griffith’s Non-Shutdown (The Curse of 1925)

Clark_Griffith_Baseball

Washington Senators Former Owner’s Failure in 1925 Still Haunts Team Today.

(Note: Before you read this, you may want to read this.  Actually you won’t want to read it, but it’s the only way the below will make sense).

The last five games of the Washington Nationals’ 2013 baseball season will be played in the shadow of RGIII’s knee.  That became official on Monday night (who are we kidding, this is a football town.  Lots of folks tuned out in June) when the Nats lost Game 5 of the NLDS a game against the St. Louis Cardinals. 

That, I am told, reduced the Nats not-so-magic number to avoid missing the playoffs to zero (but raises the awkward phrasing rating of this sentence to a 9.5).  Another season (I didn’t watch) gone. Another long season (of the sports I really like) ahead.

And now it can be said, with almost no doubt, that the decision of Clark Griffith in 1925 to turn down an opportunity to call Game 7 of the World Series didn’t just cost them the World Series that year, but this year as well.  Probably in 2012 too.  Also, it looks like they made the World Series in 1933 so let’s throw that one in there too. So at least Four World Series have been lost here.  Because If there is one thing that is clear about the debacle that has been the 2013 Washington Nationals, it is that it was caused by the disaster in 1925.
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New Podcast! S2E8 Andy Feffer is the Dan Haren of the Front Office

Season 2 Episode 8

Frank does an episode with Jared (@SCviaDC) and Stu (@TClippardsSpecs) discussing the Nationals at large in a slightly modified format.  We answer your Twitter questions, talk about what went wrong and right with the Nats so far, Danny Espinosa, whether Andy Feffer was a good thing or bad, as well as a hodge podge of other things.  It’s a near-end of the season primer on what things look like with 6 games left to go, and you’ll want to say you were in on the ground floor!  Give a listen!

Get To Know a Stat: wOBA and wRC (aka Lombo vs. Danny Part 567)

UPDATE:  This quote:

 

Welcome to Get to Know a Stat!  Once a Week (or so) I intend to take an advanced baseball statistic and present it to you in a way that’s understandable.

This week, I want to look at a stat called Weighted On Base Average, something mentioned by Court a few weeks ago in his Holding Court column.  A lot of folks hold on to batting average as the end all/be all of comparing batters despite the fact that there are many other metrics to look at-often giving a more complete picture of what is going on.

To give you a basis for what I’m talking about, allow me to parrot some of the more insane arguments I’ve heard/read to start Steve Lombardozzi over Danny Espionsa at second base.  Note:  [Insert my usual disclaimer of love for Lombo as a utility player even if I disagree with the position he should be a starter].  The case for Steve Lombardozzi goes something like this:

  • He’s just as good a fielder as Danny Espinosa [Not at all true, but we’ll deal with that another day]
  • Danny Espinosa strikes out too much, and Steve Lombardozzi doesn’t strike out nearly as much
  • About a week ago Danny Espinosa was only batting .155 (currently .185) and Lombardozzi was batting .365 (now .235)
  • Danny Espinosa can’t hit with runners in scoring position, and gets no RBIs.  Lombo is “scrappy” and “clutch.”

Now usually, I can go through the whole litany of reasons that is insane.

  • You can start with the fact that Lombo hasn’t nearly had the plate appearances Espinosa has had (so it’s likely that his average will drop-which it did recently).
  • You can point out that while Lombo doesn’t strikeout as much as Espinosa, he doesn’t draw walks (he has only one) which indicates maybe he doesn’t have a great eye, but just makes contact outside the zone (bad contact that leads to ground outs).
  • You can also take a look at Total bases which is the total number of bases a player gets per hit (a HR is 4, Triple 3, Doubles 2, Singles 1).  Espinosa’s total bases double that of Lombardozzi’s- meaning he’s getting much bigger hits than Lombo, who hits a lot of dribbler singles that squeak through.

You can do all that, and I can do all that, but it might be better to look at something come up with by Tom Tango called Weighted On Base Average (wOBA).

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Holding Court: An Ode To Sabermetrics

Welcome to “Holding Court.”  Written by Court Swift (@RCourtSwift) one of the most knowledgeable Nationals (and everything) fans I know.  He’ll be writing a columns for us that not only get you up to speed on some baseball things, but also offering his sage like opinion on those same topics.
 
THE JOURNEY FROM IGNORANCE TO BLISS (An Ode To Sabermetrics)

“…There’s no singular way to watch and analyze baseball, and far too many people want to treat the sport like one giant math equation.” – Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

“Fight it if you like, but baseball has become too complicated to solve without science. … WAR represents a chance to respond to the complexity of baseball with something more than ideology or despair.” – Sam Miller, ESPN

Back in February, These two competing articles got Court thinking about his baseball fandom and how he went from an Old School to a Newer School baseball fan. 

When the Montreal Expos relocated to the District, I was single, living in Cleveland Park, and a Reds fan. I was a baseball purist who hated the DH, loved stolen bases and loathed strikeouts. The Moneyball phenomenon, to me, glorified the American League game – the Earl Weaver game of waiting for a big homer while emphasizing walks and ignoring strikeouts.

By the time Ryan Zimmerman’s walk-off home run won the first Opening Night in Nats Park in 2008, I had left the Reds behind, moved to Columbia Heights, and engaged to the love of my life (who I met at a Nats game). I was also a convert to the world of sabermetrics.

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Review-Preview: Fish-Sandwhich, Har-Vey’s Bet-Ter and The Return of PeteF@*!!Kozma

@Natsaholic sends a sneaky photo of how close he is to @WashingNats

@Natsaholic went to the Mets series this weekend.  He tweeted  a sneaky photo of how close he is to MLB Beat writer, Bill Ladson aka @WashingNats

There are a million places to go get a recap and preview of every game, but here at Nationals 101 we prefer to take a slightly bigger slice of the pie.  The Review-Preview will take place between series and give a quick recap of the previous series (including anything we think you can learn from the series) and what you can look forward to in the next series coming up.

Normally a 3-3 road trip is a cause to celebrate.  When expectations are high (and the talent you play allegedly low) it comes away feeling a little flat.  Still, in the span the Nats split their 6 games, the Braves managed only two wins, which gives them a game up…in April, with 140+ games left to play.  So while all games are weighted equal, it is still the case that the overwhelming majority of games haven’t been counted yet. 

The Nats took the first series from the Marlins two games to one.  They blew out the Fish in the opener 10-2, dropped the second game with three starters missing 8-2, but bounced back in the finale to take the series with a 6-1 score.

The Nats dropped their opener against the Mets as Matt Harvey out-pitched Stephen Strasburg (and just about everyone else I’ve seen this year), losing 7-1.  The second day also featured seriously shaky starting pitching, with Gio Gonzalez having a meltdown in the fourth inning to lose a three run lead.  Still, the bats were alive with four home runs (two from Bryce Harper) and they won a game on offense 7-6.  Sunday’s game featured the debut of top prospect Anthony Rendon much to the delight of many a fan looking forward to his debut.  Unfortunately and 0-4 and error later for Rendon seemed like piling on after the Nats dropped the finale in a sloppy 2-0 loss.

So What Happened?  For the most part, the same thing that’s been happening all Month.  The Nationals have been winning games handily, or losing them because of sloppy play.  Dan Haren has yet to do anything to convince anyone he’s going to be a good pitcher, and Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez seem to be taking too many pitches to get anyone out at all.  Even when three errors don’t directly cost runs (as on Sunday) that makes Jordan Zimmermann throw more pitches than he needs to.  Letting the Mets of the hook by swinging at a 3-0 pitch with the bases loaded and no outs (ahem Jayson Werth) also cuts a huge break to a guy like Dillon Gee who had been averaging more than 8 runs a game before the start Sunday.

Our constant refrain of “It’s Only April” isn’t actually meant to excuse the sloppy play of the Nationals, or some how make you feel like a lunatic for thinking the Nats are playing poorly.  The Nats are indeed playing very poorly at times so far this month.  The reason to keep in mind that it is April is to remind you they have plenty of time to play well (and they will play well). 

It’s a trick of the mind:  When the Nats have played less than 20 games, those 7 or 8 bad games are a big percentage of the pie.  It’s important to remember that the pie isn’t 20 games big though-it’s 162 games big.  What’s 20 bad games out 162?  or 30? or 40?  or even 50?  Not a lot, that’s what.

I think a lot of fans who are the most worried tuned into the team sometime after the Capitals bounced out of the playoffs, or even later.  August maybe?  July?  It’s easier to stomach losses when you are already watching an established winner-particularly with no serious expectations on them (externally, anyway).  It’s much tougher to come into the season at the begnning season with triple the expectations and have to learn, from the start, just what a winning season looks like top to bottom.

“It’s Only April” doesn’t make you feel better in the moment, it only illuminates that it is only one moment in many.  In July, April will not matter nearly as much as you thought it did.

Lost In The Shuffle

  • The Nats haven’t had to do a lot of “over coming” so far this year.  They won games they were tied late in the game for, they’ve held on to leads despite furious comebacks-but the 7-6 Mets win on Saturday was the first time they actually battled back to win a game from behind.  (Note: I’m not counting the two times they were down 1-0 to the White Sox after the first inning).  I’m likely adding narrative to where there isn’t actually one, but it looked like the Nats had some fight in them for the first time this year.  Last year, I didn’t count them out of any game-up until Saturday, I had been a few times.
  • Bryce Harper had the flu and went 3-4 in Miami.  Seriously.
  • Miami beat the Reds, and took them to 14 innings the next day. Also the Braves lost twice to the Pirates.  Hopefully fans can stop worrying about who loses to who and who beats who in April and taking it as a harbinger of the whole season…soon.  My head would appreciate it.
  • Ryan Zimmerman had a tender calf in game one of the Marlins series before being pulled.  Thanks to how rules work, you can retroactively put someone on DL so long as they haven’t played since they were pulled and his 15 day stint started Thursday instead of Sunday when they announced it.  Wilson Ramos also is on the DL, though he’s a week in already.
  • Steve Lombardozzi filled in admirably this week, going 7 for 21 in 6 starts against the Braves, Marlins and Mets.  He did get owned by Matt Harvey going 0-4, just like most everyone else did on the Nats Friday night.
  • 0-4 and an error for Anthony Rendon.  Not an auspicious start, and it might be something Davey has stuck in his craw when it’s time to decide if he stays up or goes down.  That said, just as if he went 4-4 and helped turn two double plays-it would still only be one game out of about 12 he’ll play before the Nats have to figure that out.  Plenty of time for him to make his case either way.

St. Louis Cardinals

Let go of your anger and don’t expect and easy revenge match for the Nationals.  The Cardinals are a no joke team.  They post the same 10-8 record as the Washington Nationals, and also look up at division rivals they know they can catch and beat.  The Cards have also beaten teams handily when they win, and lost games inexplicably when they haven’t.  

Many fans will be familiar with the virtues the Cards boast:  Yadier Molina is a hitter nearly impossibly to strike out, and Carlos Beltran is a 30+ HR guy.

The Nats will send Dan Haren to the mound Monday night.  He might need to seriously get a good game in if he doesn’t want everyone in DC to completely hate him.  The Cardinals will send Shelby Miller to the mound for his first apperance against the Nationals ever.  He’s more or less a three pitch pitcher (Fastball, Curveball Change-up) but he has thrown a few cut fastballs this year as well.  He’ll be a riddle the Nats will want to solve quickly given the limited data they will have on the newcomer.

The Nats then send their best pitcher thus far, Ross Detwiler to face former Cy Young candidate Adam Wainwright.  The Nats have done well against Wainwright, particularly at Nats Park (1-2, 7.24 ERA and 2.2ish WHIP), but he’s still a dangerous pitcher when he’s on.  Given the uncertainty around him on the mound, the Nats need to get after Wainwright and make the most of Detwiler if he has another great start.

The Wed afternoon finale will feature Stephen Strasburg  and  Jamie Garcia.  Garcia is a solid pitcher, averaging about 3.5 runs given up per game and 1.3 hits per inning pitched.  The Nats clobbered him last year for 6 runs on 9 hits in 5.1 innings pitched.  

What To Hope For

Not to look ahead, but the NL Central leading Reds come in after the Cards for a four game tilt over the long “revenge” week this seems to have shaped up to be.  The Nats will likely be looking to show they can beat good teams and get some of these error/pitching monkeys off their back.  Over 7 games, 5 wins at home seems to be what the Nationals should feel like they should get.  Four is acceptable, 6 or 7 would be special.  With the Reds being just as tough ast the Cardinals (maybe tougher) the Nats would do well to get 2 of 3 from the Redbirds, heading into the extended weekend series looking to win 3 out of 4.

A Collection of Unscientific Nationals Prediction Like Things

We Kid Because We...Love?

We Kid Because We…Love?

All week we’ve been talking about how predictions work and how you can, pretty accurately, take a stab at just how well a team might do (if, of course, you can figure out how many runs they’ll score/give up).

What follows flies completely in the face of al of that.  While I don’t think I can get away with talking about predictions all week and not stick my own neck out there, I can forewarn you that this is a totally unscientific, gut-checking style of prediction.  There are no stone-cold lead pipe locks, bold predictions when we get back from commercial.  These really are just a bunch of thoughts I have for the season this year.

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