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Archive for May, 2022

CWS 2022 Field of 64 announced; Local team preview

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Its College Baseball post-season time, something we’ve followed in this space for years. Here’s a quick guide to the CWS 2022 post season.

First off, some resources for you.

Your top 8 seeds and favorites to make Omaha, in order:

  1. Tennessee (RPI = 1)
  2. Stanford (3)
  3. Oregon State (2)
  4. Virginia Tech (5)
  5. Texas A&M (22)
  6. Miami (15)
  7. Oklahoma State (10)
  8. ECU (8)

You can see that the committee stayed pretty true to RPI for the top 4 seeds, then clearly deviated from the RPIs for the rest of the top 8, which is going to leave some of these teams facing really difficult #2 seeds in their regioanls coming up. Here’s the rest of the top 10 by RPI and who they’re facing:

  • 4. UNC: hosting a regional but as the #10 national seed
  • 6. Wake Forest: not even a host, goes to Maryland as that region’s #2 seed
  • 7. Vanderbilt, this high due to #1 Strength of Schedule, goes to Oregon State as that region’s #2 seed.
  • 9. Maryland, who spent most of the season in the top 10 of the rankings, gets dropped to a #15 seed in the tournament and has to face Vanderbilt, who’s actually got a higher RPI.

So, this is going to lead us to some very, very good regionals and a ton of upsets. Here’s some comments on all our DC/MD/VA local teams in the tourney:

  • Virginia Tech: as noted, #4 national seed, has been ranked as high as #3 this year, strong RPI, dominated in the ACC (which was every bit as good as the SEC this year). For their troubles they get a very, very easy regional, with #2 Gonzaga coming west-to-east and only ranked #27 by RPI, the Ivy league champ Columbia, and Wright State. Couldn’t ask for a better regional.
  • Maryland: #15 National seed and given the #6 RPI team in Wake Forest coming out of a far better conference as their #2 seed. Apologies Terps fans; you’re likely losing this regional on home soil. I suppose the recent Lacrosse national championship makes up for it.
  • Liberty gets the #3 regional seed as an at-large in the UFlorida region, an interesting matchup for them since they went to Florida to open the season and won 2 of 3. They have to contend though with Oklahoma first, a very good Big12 team that nearly made a case to host itself. Probably the hardest regional
  • VCU won their conference, and get to head to UNC as that regional’s #3 seed. Uphil climb here, since UNC is better than their #10 national seed indicates.
  • Virginia entered the ACC tourney looking like a top 16 seed/regional host, but got blown out by Louisville to end any chance; that loss dumped their RPI down to #24 and now they’re the #2 seed in East Carolina’s regional. Which isn’t bad: ECU’s got a great RPI (#8) but they’re from a weaker conference and were just 2-7 against top 50 RPI teams all year. UVA has to really like their chances in this regional.

Other local teams who we thought had a chance: Old Dominion was one of the last teams cut, coming in at #40 on the RPI but who really needed to win their weaker conference to get in. The next best team in the area to not make the cut was William & Mary, with an RPI of #84 and who clearly needed to win the Colonial to make it.


Quick predictions for the 16 regionals, ordered by National Seed super Regional matchup

  • #1 Tennessee will get a challenge from ACC’s Georgia Tech, but should advance.
  • #16 Georgia Southern gets Notre Dame, the ACC finalist and a complete snub for hosting, along with tough Big12 team Texas Tech. A dogfight of a regional here.
  • #8 ECU as mentioned has UVA in its region and I think gets upset.
  • #9 Texas gets an intriguing #3 seed in Dallas Baptist but a weaker #2 seed in C-USA champion Louisiana Tech. Texas should advance here.
  • #5 Texas A&M inexplicably gets a #5 national seed despite an RPI in the 20s, but is let off the hook with a weaker regional that includes a TCU team that isn’t as good as its reputation and the Sunbelt champion Louisiana (aka Louisiana-Lafayette).
  • #12 Louisville, who will be a tough out, gets a couple of cold weather teams in its regional and should advance
  • #4 Virginia Tech as discussed above gets a cake-walk of a Regional, all things considered.
  • #13 Florida gets, as discussed, both Liberty and Oklahoma, one of which has beaten them this season and the other which can beat them. Florida went just 11-17 against top 50 opponents this year despite its ranking and RPI, and I think they get beat. A deep regional.
  • #3 Oregon State cannot be happy seeing Vanderbilt in their regional; upset watch here.
  • #14 Auburn will, like nearly every SEC team, have to contend with an ACC team in Florida State but won’t be worried about a weaker Pac12 team in UCLA.
  • #6 Miami will have fun with two perennial powers in Arizona and Ole Miss, but both of these similarly ranked RPI teams probably cancel themselves out
  • #11 Southern Miss gets LSU and a tricky Kennesaw State team. Upset watch here.
  • #7 Oklahoma State had to be happy to see Grand Canyon as its #2, even if a recent national champion Arkansas is in here as #3.
  • #10 UNC gets a relatively easy draw with Georgia and VCU. UNC played top-50 ranked opponents no less than 36 times out of 57 games, good for the #2 hardest schedule this year behind Vandy.
  • #2 Stanford, who went 21-9 in the PAC12 but was just 10-9 against top 50 teams, nonetheless won’t be threatened by its regional but could be in trouble in the supers.
  • #15 Maryland has to deal with Wake Forest and one of the best cold-weather teams in Uconn, and seems like an upset in the making.

Predictions:

  • #1 Tennessee
  • Notre Dame
  • UVA
  • #9 Texas
  • #5 Texas A&M
  • #12 Louisville
  • #4 Virginia Tech
  • Oklahoma
  • Vanderbilt
  • #14 Auburn
  • #6 Miami
  • LSU
  • #7 Oklahoma State
  • #10 UNC
  • #2 Stanford
  • Wake Forest

Super-Early Omaha predictions:

  • #1 Tennessee
  • #9 Texas
  • #12 Louisville
  • Oklahoma
  • #6 Miami
  • #7 Oklahoma State
  • #10 UNC
  • #2 Stanford

Prospect Watch. Who are the top ranked college prospects to look for? Borrowing from the mock drafts and ranking boards, here’s some big names in play for first round action who are in the CWS:

  • Georgia Tech’s C Kevin Parada, who many mock drafters have going to the Nats at #5, is in Tennessee to play (and lose to) the #1 team.
  • Tennessee is led by two OF 1st round talents in Jordan Beck, a mid-1st rounder who is tooled up, has a ton of power and can play CF, and the guy who actually IS playing CF for them in Drew Gilbert, a high-contact hitter who can also pitch.
  • Arizona’s C Daniel Susac is in action but likely goes home early.
  • Virginia Tech is led by top 15 candidate OF Gavin Cross
  • LSU’s top player is a 1st round projection in Jacob Berry, but he’s held back by lack of position and defensive liability.
  • Texas Tech has a winnable #16 seed region with their star player and 1st rounder Jace Jung, whos brother Josh Jung was a top 10 pick in 2019.
  • Florida’s #1 starter at the beginning of the year was LHP Hunter Barco, but he went down with Tommy John and isn’t pitching (but still might be a 1st rounder).
  • Florida’s best hitting prospect is likely OF Sterlin Thompson, who will be a draft-eligible sophomore with a big bat.
  • Oklahoma State’s #1 starter is RHP Justin Campbell, a likely back of the first rounder
  • Gonzaga has a top starter in Gabriel Hughes, with a 33% strikeout rate. Should make for a fun outing in his regional when he goes.

Written by Todd Boss

May 31st, 2022 at 10:07 am

Kiley McDaniel/ESPN Nats 2022 Prospect lists

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We’re a bit deep into the season to do prospect list reviews … but somehow I missed the ESPN Insider Kiley McDaniel‘s prospect list release. That’s directly do to the fact that ESPN.com eliminated their RSS feeds for their writers and make it nearly impossible to keep up with their new content unless (of course) you go to their website daily. Which of course I don’t have time to do.

So, I noticed I was missing a near-annual list from this leading pundit, and went and found it. Released March 23rd, 2022. I’m pretty sure its behind ESPN insider’s paywall, so apologies if you cannot see the above.

McDaniel is definitely an international expert, and he’s definitely heavier on the ceiling than the floor, especially with younger players. So keep that in mind when you see 19yr olds perhaps a bit higher than other, more “sure thing” players.

Here’s his full list:

Kiley RankLast NameFirst NamePosition
1RuizKeibertC
2HouseBradySS/3B
3CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
4HenryColeRHP (Starter)
5LaraAndryRHP (Starter)
6RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
7AdonJoanRHP (Starter)
8LileDaylenOF (CF)
9VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
10CruzArmandoSS
11AntunaYaselSS/OF (Corner)
12CarrilloGerardoRHP (Starter)
13CroninMattLHP (Reliever)
14CateTimLHP (Starter)
15RamirezAldoRHP (Starter)
16ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)
17WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)
18De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
19InfanteSamuelSS
20RomeroSethLHP (Starter)
21SaenzDustinLHP (Starter)
22DenaburgMasonRHP (Starter)
23BoissiereBrandenOF (Corner)
24QuintanaRoismarOF (CF)
25BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)
26FoxLuciusSS
27CluffJacksonSS
28LeeEvanLHP (Starter)
29MillasDrewC
30CaseyDonovanOF (Corner)
31PinedaIsraelC
32BarleyJordySS

Lets talk about the players one by one who are notable for where he had them ranked:

  • Ruiz is “eligible” on his list so he’s #1.
  • McDaniel is one of the few pundits to put House over Cavalli.
  • He remains very high on Rutledge, having him #6 in our system.
  • He’s easily the high man on Daylen Lile, loved him as a prospect last year as one of the best “pure hitters” in the draft. We didn’t see that in last year’s FCL though, so this is definitely a ranking based on faith of the scouting report.
  • He’s dinged Antuna down to #11, which I think is fair. This is the same Antuna who is STILL not hitting (current high-A slash line for 2022: .216/.382/.715. He now has hit 1,000 career pro at bats and has a career slash line of .236/.324/.364. At some point, pundits and front office execs are going to have to acknowledge the facts on him.
  • He’s lower on Carrillo than most, but only a few slots.
  • He’s quite high on T.J. White as compared to other shops, some of whom didn’t even rank him in their top 30 (Baseball America). So far in 2022, as an 18yr old he’s slashing .250/.333/.422 in a league where the pitchers are on average 3.5 years older than him. Wow.
  • He remains somewhat hopeful on Seth Romero, having him ranked 20th.
  • He’s one of the few to rank Dustin Saenz, having him 21st and describing him as “a better-than-the-sum-of-his-parts squatty lefty with an above-average heater and good feel who could travel the Parker path to a backend rotation outcome.
  • He also is one of the few to rate Boissiere, having him ranked 23rd.
  • He’s quite low in comparison on players like Cluff and Casey, perhaps because he views them as org pieces and not stars.

Notable players not in his top 32

  • No Holden Powell … but nobody has him ranked this year with his injuries.
  • no Daniel Marte; most other shops at least had him in their 20s.
  • No Riley Adams, who would have been eligible here if Ruiz was.
  • No Tres Barrera or any other veteran minor league catcher.

conclusion: I like this ranking, a lot. He has House over Cavalli, he has Henry #4 and of Henry says, “Henry is the consensus fourth prospect in this system with a lot of differing opinions beyond that. After an up-and-down time with raw stuff in college, he’s now back to sitting 94-96 mph with an above average-to-plus hook, improving changeup and starter traits. He should be in Double-A this year and is a safer bet for rotation value than Cavalli, but with a little less upside.

Written by Todd Boss

May 26th, 2022 at 8:27 am

Posted in Prospects

Random Thoughts on the Minors Today

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Maybe Tetreault is someone we should be keeping more of an eye on as a potential MLB call-up? Photo Federal Baseball

So, spurred on by an email from a fan, I did some “scouting the stat line” today and came up with the following observations (stats are as of yesterday if quoted; all stats available at milb.com, or if you’d like use my handy “Cheat Sheet” of websites here to directly surf to all the relevant minor league pages.

In AAA Rochester:

  • I’m really wondering why Luis Garcia is still in AAA with an OPS of nearly 1.000 while the MLB team continues to give at-bats to Escobar and Strange-Gordon
  • Glad to see Stevenson actually hitting. But there’s nowhere for him to go. We have no trade-able OFs at the deadline, so Stevenson seems blocked. I would say “trade him” but … MLB teams can read baseball-reference.com and know what he did in the majors.
  • Meneses really powering the ball; too bad he’s 30.  Maybe they call him up to play 1B after they trade Bell at the deadline. He could be the next Yadiel Hernandez for this team.
  • Most effective Starter in AAA? Prospect after-thought Jackson Tetreault, who was not on one single prospect ranking top 30 anywhere for this team this past off-season. The scouting reports on Tetreault explain why he’s not rated: he has mid 90s FB, but fringe-average secondary pitches and historically has struggled with control. However, 2021 and 2022 so far has seen much lower walk rates, so maybe this is found gold.
  • What the heck is going on with Cavalli??
  • Why did the team send down Francisco Perez? Oh because he couldn’t find the plate (6 walks in 4 1/3 innings).
  • Our old friend Tyler Clippard can’t find the plate either: 13 walks in 17 innings. I wonder how long he’ll ride the bus in AAA after so many years in the majors before he pulls a Jayson Werth and walks away.

In AA Harrisburg:

  • The (qualified) team leader in OPS right now is Justin Connell. Another prospect afterthought, he’s only 23 (he turned 23 in March) after being an 11th rounder out of HS (American Heritage … the same baseball factory HS that gave this team Adrien Nieto way back in 2008 and which had had dozens of players drafted in the last 20 years). A 23yr old with an .893 OPS in AA should be notable; he’s a full year younger than the average age in that league. Maybe a diamond in the rough?
  • Dondrei Hubbard has come out of the gate hot, hitting .375 while bouncing around the corner OF spots. He’s 27, has almost no state-side experience, is too old for AA … can he keep this up? He is listed as an infielder but has been doing nothing but outfield; seems like he has some positional flexibility.
  • Can we stretch out Cole Henry, please? Why did he get scratched from his last start? Please don’t say injury please don’t say injury.
  • Evan Lee is living up to his 40-man selection so far.
  • Matt Cronin looks like he’s back. Maybe he’s a bullpen option later this year for the Nats, especially since we can’t seem to keep lefty relievers on the active roster.
  • I like what Alex Troop can do for the team; 9 games, 23 innings, spot starts and effective long relief, good numbers. Maybe he should be getting longer looks, you know, like in the rotation instead of some 27yr old career minor leaguer like Ronald Herrera?

In High-A Wilmington…

  • Drew Mendoza has been powering the ball lately, with healthy slash lines and a team leading OPS figure among qualified hitters. Would really like to see him doing this in AA. I’m guessing he’ll get another shot at AA soon.
  • Antuna: hitting .217. At what point do we stop making excuses for this guy and free up the 40-man space he’s been sitting on for two years needlessly? Do we have to wait for him to repeat High-A again in 2023 and burn his last option (probably). It seems like every time he gets criticized, someone’s like, “oh but he was really good for 3 weeks last June” or “well he’s switching positions so he’s not as focused.” At some point you admit you made a mistake with a prospect and cut bait (ahem, Seth Romero).
  • Wow: Gage Canning is just 3 for 42 since being demoted. And some people thought he was a prospect?
  • Jordy Barley, hitting just .152. He was the primary prospect trade bounty for Daniel Hudson; would have hoped for a bit more. Yeah he’s fast; can’t steal first base (for now; they’re experimenting with this rule in the Indy leagues).
  • Ok, I’m happy Jake Irvin can look awesome in 3 inning stints; lets get him stretched out.
  • Seth Shuman needs to get bumped up. He’s repeating the level, was good at it last year, is good at it now.
  • Love what i’m seeing from Mitchell Parker. This team has a ton of sneaky good lefty starter prospects.
  • Tyler Yankowsky: 19Ks, zero walks in 16 innings. Can’t get much better than that.

In Low-A Fredericksburg…

  • Brady House is lighting it up … and he’s not even the best hitter on the team right now. That’d be ..
  • Jeremy De La Rosa, who was a top 5 prospect last year for this team until he hit .209 in Low-A as a 19 yr old in 2021. Now he’s a much older 20-yr old, playing exclusive CF and has 6 homers in 32 games to contribute to a .925 OPS. Nice.
  • Sammy Infante leads the team in homers. That’s good to see from a guy who a lot of people criticized upon his drafting. Could use a better BA.
  • Its no wonder this team is in first place; half the team has an OPS of 800 or more. They’re all hitting in the Carolina league.
  • Rodney Theopile: wow. Talk about coming out of nowhere; last year in 22 Low-A starts he had an ERA of 5.56. This year in his first 6 starts he has an ERA of 0.82. 48/5 K/BB.
  • Andrew Alvarez: 35 Ks in 21 innings .. amazing he doesn’t have better peripherals.
  • Jackson Rutledge, aka the guy who some people thought was better than Cavalli … 4IP, 8 hits, 3 walks … and he hasn’t pitched in a week with his start getting skipped over. Not much good here.

In XST/DSL … kind of curious to see the following once they start playing. I believe they start June 6th so we’re close.

  • Daylen Lile; our 2021 2nd rounder who a lot of scouts really liked. But he just had TJ surgery, so I’m not sure if that knocks him out for all of 2022. It probably does.
  • Armando Cruz, our big money 2021 IFA signing. Probably in DSL.
  • Aldo Ramirez, a significant prospect we acquired for Kyle Schwarber. Hurt his elbow this spring, maybe he’ll be ok for short season.
  • Mason Denaburg: does he have anything?
  • Roismar Quintana: this might be a major prospect for us.
  • Cristian Vaquero, our big money 2022 IFA signing, probably heading for DSL.

Written by Todd Boss

May 20th, 2022 at 8:38 am

From Nats to Oblivion; updating for the 2019, 2020, and 2021 seasons

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The FotF hangs em up, and becomes the face of the 2021 Nats to Oblivion class. Photo via WashingtonTimes.com

Note: this is a recurring post, and large chunks of the older material is recycled.  I’ve updated the research for older players as needed. 

I have not done this post for several years … but I always enjoy doing this research.  I was spurred into updating it this year when I read the news of Gerardo Parra retiring; he’s now officially a “Nats to Oblivion” 2021 class member in perpetuity.

See here for the 2018 version,  2017 version,  2015 version,  2014’s version,  2013’s version, and 2012’s version of this post.

Even though I know most of this data is repeated from past years, I still find myself reading the whole way down just for a crazy trip down memory lane each time I do this post.  

Background behind this post: many years ago (November 2010) Mark Zuckerman initially posted a fascinating analysis he titled “From Nats to Oblivion.”  It chronicled the astoundingly high number of players that the early incarnations of the Nats were using who, once the Nats released them, never again appeared in a MLB game.  I thought the analysis was so interesting that I kept up the same data and have been keeping it up-to-date with the whereabouts of Nats-to-Oblivion candidates ever since.  So with apologies to Zuckerman for stealing his original idea, here’s an interesting visit to the Nat’s darker past.

It is nearly impossible for a team to field an entire year’s worth of players who will not fall into this “Oblivion” category.  Every MLB team has guys playing out the string or near retirement, and every MLB team calls up guys through out the season from the minors who eventually show themselves as unable to compete on the MLB level and who never make it back.  So a 0% oblivion measure isn’t a goal.  The best this team has ever done is 4 players (the 2013 team). 

For your reminiscing pleasure, here is the summary data updated to the 2021 season:

  • 2021: 28 position, 32 pitchers: 60 total (!!).  13/60 = 21.6% candidate ratio right now
  • 2020: 20 position, 23 pitchers: 43 total.  12/43 = 27.9% candidate ratio right now.
  • 2019: 21 position, 29 pitchers, 50 total.  7/50 = 14% candidate ratio right now
  • 2018: 23 position, 30 pitchers, 53 total.  6/53 = 11% candidate ratio
  • 2017: 25 position, 24 pitchers, 49 total.  9/49 = 18% never appeared again
  • 2016: 19 position, 24 pitchers, 43 total. 4/43 = 9% never appeared again
  • 2015: 20 position, 24 pitchers, 44 total.  5/44 = 11% never appeared again
  • 2014: 22 position, 18 pitchers, 40 total.  5/40 = 12.5% never appeared again
  • 2013: 23 position, 21 pitchers, 44 total.  3/44 = 6.8% never appeared again
  • 2012: 24 position, 19 pitchers, 43 total.  6/43 = 13.9% never appeared again
  • 2011: 20 position, 24 pitchers, 44 total.  6/44 = 13.6% never appeared again
  • 2010: 20 position, 26 pitchers, 46 total.  12/46 = 26.0% never appeared again
  • 2009: 25 position, 30 pitchers, 55 total.  9/55 = 16.3% never appeared again
  • 2008: 25 position, 25 pitchers, 50 total.  8/50 = 16% never appeared again
  • 2007: 21 position, 26 pitchers, 47 total.  12/47 = 25.5% never appeared again
  • 2006: 28 position, 29 pitchers, 57 total.  20/57 = 35% never appeared again
  • 2005: 30 position, 25 pitchers, 55 total.  16/55 = 29% never appeared again

Look at the 2006 season; 35% of the players who played for the team that year never played another Major League game.  That’s still astounding to me.   Interestingly, the 2017 Nats have a high likelihood of ending up with the largest percentage of oblivion candidates since the bad old days of 2007.  Why?  Because 1) the team shuffled its bench bats a ton after the Adam Eaton injury and 2) the amazing shift in MLB economics basically removing the job market for pretty much every mid-30s veteran hitter irrespective of their hitting ability.  The 2021 team may be another one off eventually, just because of the significant number of players we cycled through after we waived the flag and traded so many players at the trade deadline.

Read on for a detailed look at each year’s roster edge cases.  Note that within each year’s list of players, they’re listed in the order of least to most likely to get off this list … so you’re going to see flat-out retired players at the top and players who seem to me like they’re most likely to get another callup soon at the bottom.


2021 (26 total, 13 real current candidates)

Total players used: 28 position, 32 pitchers.  60 total.  This is the most players the franchise has EVER used in a season.

Oblivion candidates as of May 2022:

  • Ryan Zimmerman, who had a 106 OPS+ in a backup role in 2021, officially announced his retirement in March 2022 after a 16 year career with the team.  He immediately rolls into a front office role as per his contract (a clause now banned by the league), but he seems set to spend the next phase of his career working in Baseball Operations for the team.  The team has already announced that his number will be retired in mid June.  
  • Gerardo Parra: He initially was a 2019 oblivion candidate, when he left to play 2020 in Japan.  but he came back; signing a MLFA/NRI deal in 2021 with the Nats and seemed initially a favorite to make the roster as a fan/clubhouse favorite.  He re-signed again for 2022, and fans thought he would make the team, but got hurt and got released on 5/15/22.  A couple days later, its announced that he was released because he was actually retiring and joining the Nationals front office as a Special Assistant to the GM, which is great for the franchise.  Bravo to the team for making this move and keeping a fan favorite in the fold.
  • Jordy Mercer finished his age 35 season as a utility guy for the 2021 Nats, didn’t get traded away during the purge, and hit free agency in the off-season.  Apparently a 35-yr old middle infield utility guy with an 86 OPS+ doesn’t get many offers; he never signed for 2022 and in April announced his retirement officially.
  • Alex Avila signed on to be a 1-year FA backup catcher for 2021, and after playing out the string he announced in September 2021 that he’d be retiring.  
  • Starlin Castro, who signed a 2-yr FA deal with Washington, was suspended by MLB for a Domestic Violence issue mid 2021, then released by the team as soon as his suspension was over.  In today’s culture, it seems like him ever playing in the majors again is unlikely.
  • Rene Rivera, 37yr old backup catcher, signed for a month in mid 2021, got released in July, and never resigned.  He played Winter Ball in Puerto Rico, but has not signed a pro deal for 2022.  He might be aged out of the league at this point.
  • Cody Wilson was called up in early April 2021 in a very unique move; he was a Covid replacement player, a move that had no 40-man repercussions.  So, he never was on or off the 40-man; he played in one game, got sent back to the minors, and currently sits on the High-A roster as a 25-yr old.  His career BA hovers at the Mendoza line and it seems far fetched he’ll even get to AA at this point, let alone get back to the majors.
  • Jakson Reetz, our 3rd round pick in 2014 and long serving minor leaguer, finally got called up in 2021, played two games, got sent back down and was DFA’d later that year.  He left the system as a 6year MLFA and signed with Milwaukee.  In 2022 he’s in their AA league and is only 25, but he has some work to do to get back to the majors.
  • Hernan Perez made the team out of spring, then was DFA’d 5 weeks later.  He signed literally the day after his release with Milwaukee, played a few weeks there before getting released again, then after a Mexican winter league stint is now with Atlanta’s AAA team for 2022.  He may get another shot, we’ll see.
  • Kyle McGowin was outrighted in November off our 60-day DL, and has yet to resign for 2022.  He wasn’t as effective as you’d want out of a fungible asset like a middle RH reliever, and may struggle to find another job.  I liked McGowin and was kind of surprised the team didn’t pick him back up; he was solid in AAA and gave the team decent innings (certainly better than other options).  
  • Javy Guerra was DFA’d and elected FA in August of 2021, didn’t pick up with a MLB team this off-season, and has signed on to play Mexican league for the 2022 summer season.  He’s now 36 and may be pitching out the string.
  • Sean Nolin was outrighted after the 2021, season, then re-signed to a minor league deal, then released to pursue a job in Korea.  He’s starting right now in the KBO for their 2022 season.  For a 32-yr old 4-A pitcher, this might be his last shot at a pay day, but it’ll be hard to get back into the majors at this point.
  • Ryne Harper was also non-tendered last fall after putting up mediocre bullpen numbers, didn’t pick up a full season affiliate job, and recently signed on with the Atlantic league for indy ball.  He’s going to have to really light it up in Indy ball to get another shot.
  • Wander Suero was (perhaps surprisingly) non-tendered last fall after really struggling in the MLB and AAA pens, and signed a MLFA deal with the Angels.  He’s struggling in 2022 in the Salt Lake pen.
  • Gabe Klobotis was claimed off waivers in early 2022 by Oakland, and has been in their AAA pen in Las Vegas putting up crooked numbers all year.  Still amazing that he made the majors as a 36th round pick in the modern game.
  • Adrian Sanchez: DFA’d and outrighted mid 2021 season, but re-signed with the team and sits in AAA as a utility infielder for 2022.  He’s not starting and not hitting especially well, so the odds of him returning to the MLB seem slim.  
  • Luis Avilan was a FA at the end of 2021 and re-signed with the team on a minor league deal.  But, he got hurt in spring training and is currently sitting on the AA D/L.  
  • Andrew Stevenson found himself the odd-man out of the 4th outfielder competition in 2022 spring training and had no options remaining, so the team DFA’d him and he passed through waivers without claim.  He is now on our AAA roster and would need a spate of injuries to return to the majors with this team at this point.
  • Jefry Rodriguez was added, DFA’d, released, then re-signed all within a few months in 2021.  He is in the AAA rotation as a long-serving Nats farmhand and may get another call this year if we need innings.
  • Alberto Baldonado was outrighted then re-signed this off-season, and is at AAA.  He has been decent, and seems like a good bet to get a call-up at some point.  
  • Prospects and 40-man players who have yet to appear in 2022 as of this writing but who remain in the system and likely to appear in 2022: Stephen Strasburg, Joe Ross, Wil Harris, Carter Kieboom, Luis Garcia, Tres Barrera.  I don’t think any of these players are going to be Oblivion candidates.

Names removed since initial publication in may 2022: none yet.

Outlook for remaining 2021 Oblivion candidates:  I’d say that 8-10 of these guys will be off this list by season’s end.  But there’s a big chunk of guys listed here who have little chance of ever appearing again.  I count 13 likely permanent oblivion candidates, which would be the highest number since the bad old days of 2006.

Favorite Nats to Oblivion Story:  This year has to have two “favorite” stories, because one of them used to be the 2019’s Oblivion candidate story before he returned surprisingly for 2021 (Parra).

Story #1: Ryan Zimmerman; it has to be the Face of the Franchise Ryan Zimmerman.  Our first draft pick, a 16-year player who saw 100+ losses and a World Series title.  Not much else to say; he deservingly will have his number retired by the team and I hope he remains with the franchise for the rest of his career.

Story #2:  It has to be Gerardo Parra.  Parra was picked up mid-season in 2019 after getting cut by San Francisco as a bench guy (credit Rizzo’s ongoing Arizona connections: Parra was a Rizzo draftee there in 2004).  He changed his walk-up music to be the infamous kids song “Baby Shark” and he immediately went on a hot streak at the plate.  Soon, the song became a nightly highlight of Nats home games, with the entire crowd getting into the dance and the Shark becoming a frequently seen costume at games.  Parra didn’t light the world on fire at the plate, but he was rightly credited with bringing a fun atmosphere to the Nats dugout at a dark time in the season, and to a man his teammates credit him with being a catalyst for turning the season around.  The team honored the Shark by embedding it into their World Series rings.  Parra signed with a Japanese team after the 2019 season, facing the likelihood that he’d struggle to get a job as a mid-30s mediocre hitter in today’s baseball FA climate, but succeeded in Japan and re-signed with the club for 2021.  Bringin’ the Shark back!  He remained with the club through May 2022 when he officially retired to join the front office.


2020 (12 current candidates)

Just a year past the Covid-shortened season, we do have a slew of Oblivion candidates.

total players used: 20 position, 23 pitchers: 43 total.

  • Howie Kendrick: officially retired after the 2020 season.
  • Emilio Bonifacio played a grand total of 3 games for the 2020 Nats and then was cut loose in early August.  He had not played in the majors for two years prior to that, so the odds of him returning seemed slim.  After playing in the 2021 Dominican Winter League, he sent a “retirement tweet” and is presumably done with the game.
  • Dakota Bacus was DFA’d off the 40-man and outrighted at the end of 2021 spring training.  After a decent 2021 season in the AAA bullpen, he hit MLFA and never resigned for 2022.  While its a bit early to say he’s out of the game, he is the most fungible asset in the game (middle RH reliever) and faces significant competition just to get resigned.
  • Jake Noll was DFA’d off the 40-man and outrighted at the end of 2021 spring training to make room on the roster.  For 2022 he remains in AAA, and is the starting 3B in Rochester, but has not pressed for a recall to this point.  He seems like a prototypical “org guy” from here on out and it seems like a long-shot for him to get back.
  • Seth Romero.  Our 2017 mercurial 1st rounder remains in career limbo.  He didn’t throw a pitch during the 2021 spring training and then threw a grand total of 35 minor league innings.  He disappeared again in 2022 spring training, this time with a Calf Strain that was serious enough to send him to the 60-day D/L (or perhaps was “convenient” enough) to do so).  I continue to be amazed he remains in the employ of the team after so many transgressions (he was in trouble again this past off-season, getting arrested for DWI in January 2022).  Prognosis for returning to the majors?  Probably nil with us, but if he can still throw 90 from the left side someone will give him a shot.
  • Aaron Barrett was outrighted off the active roster after 2020 and declared a MLFA.  He chose to re-up with the only organization he’s ever known for 2021 and bounced around our minors, pitching well in AAA but never earning another callup.  He hit MLFA and signed with Philadelphia for 2022, where he’s in his age 34 season.  He seems like a long-shot to come back up at this point, but he’s still active.
  • Ben Braymer is a draft success story, getting to the majors as an 18th round pick.  After getting some brief 2020 time, he settled into the 2021 rotation in AAA, and got shelled.  It became clear he was not near a mid-season 2021 call-up, so the team DFA’d him.  He remains outrighted and in AAA in 2022, but his performance is getting worse, and he may be closer to a release than a return to the majors.  His return to the MLB may come with another organization at this point.
  • Eric Thames returned to Japan for the 2021 season after coming back from Japan in 2020 to play in Washington.  His 2020 season was a disappointment, and now that he’s been chased to Japan twice it seems a bit farfetched to envision him coming back in his age 35 season in 2022.  But we’ll see.  Indeed, he’s back stateside on a MLFA deal for 2022 with Oakland and is 1B/DH for their AAA team in Las Vegas.
  • James Bourque was outrighted at the end of 2021, then was declared a MLFA.  He signed a minor league deal with Chicago for 2021.  He remains in Chicago’s AAA in 2022, and is pitching decently.
  • Sam Freeman had decent numbers for the Nats in 2020 briefly, but went on the season-ending DL with a flexor strain.  He was cut loose when he refused an outright in the fall of 2020.  This was a curious refusal since his injury led to Tommy John surgery, which cost him all of 2021, and which he did while not having a contract.  He signed a MLFA deal with Kansas City in 2022 and started out strong for their AAA team; it seems likely if he stays healthy he’ll feature in the majors again soon and remove himself from this list.
  • Anibal Sanchez: He bottomed out in his age 36 season in 2020, posting a 6.62 ERA, but turned down multiple MLB offers for the 2021 while waiting out the Covid pandemic.  He returned to the Nats for the 2022 season as a MLFA/NRI, and made the opening day roster … but then got hurt and went onto the DL before appearing (but … guaranteeing his $2m salary!).  So, it remains to be seen what happens; is his 2022 injury season-ending?  For now, he remains on the 2020 Oblivion list but could get removed soon.

Names removed since initial writing in Apr 2021: Wil Crowe got an early season appearance for his new club in Pittsburgh before getting sent down, but is now in their MLB rotation.  Wilmer Difo is getting called up early in 2021 as well.  Thanks to the Nats 2021 Covid scare a number of the 2020 prospects who appeared but did not make 2021 team immediately got off the oblivion list; Carter Kieboom, Luis Garcia, Yadiel Hernandez, and Kyle McGowin all appeared in the first few games in 2021.  Paolo Espino got selected in mid-april 2021 when Strasburg went down, removing him from this list and putting him back on the 40-man.  Ryne Harper appeared in 2021 but may be a 2021 oblivion candidate.  

Outlook for remaining 2020 Oblivion candidates:  At least two are fully retired and a third likely has played his last pro game (Bacus).  All the rest of these oblivion candidates are still playing, and at least one is on a 40-man (Sanchez) and seems likely to get off in 2022.

Favorite Nats to Oblivion Story: Howie Kendrick, who was one of our big 2019 post-season heros, then had a solid 2020 season at age 36, but decided to hang ’em up in stead of moving forward.  A bummer; i think he would have contributed in 2021 and helped keep the connection to the WS-winning 2019 team for the new guys.


2019 (8 current candidates)

total players used: 21 position, 29 pitchers, 50 total.

  • Jeremy Hellickson: a tough 2019 for Hellickson, who goes into the off-season as a 32-yr old soft-tossing control arm coming off an injury and an ERA in the sixes.  Not a good sign.  Word came out in Feb 2020 that he had re-injured his shoulder, which would have required surgery and rehab, and he opted to retire.  The first 2019 official Oblivion candidate for the team.
  • Dan Jennings; signed in April, released in May.  Signed briefly with NYY but they cut him after 2 weeks.  Never re-signed for 2020 and in March accepted the fact that he’s likely retired.
  • Jonny Venters: had a couple of appearances before hitting the DL for another significant injury towards the end of 2019, which led to Shoulder Capsule surgery.  He’s already had three (3!) Tommy John surgeries and this latest setback seemed to be career-ending.  Never signed after 2019 season and is presumably done.
  • Tony Sipp: the veteran loogy was DFA’d in August, refused assignment and did not sign on with any team for 2020.  Likely retired.
  • Michael Blazek: DFA’d and outrighted to AAA mid 2019.  MLFA after season, never signed for 2020 with affiliated ball.  Signed for 2020 briefly with the Maryland Blue Crabs roster in Indy ball, but never appeared.  Likely retired.
  • Austen Williams: one appearance and then a season-long injury; will the team cut bait?  Failed to make 2020 team, then injured his arm late in the 2020 season and had Tommy John surgery.  Despite being a MLFA, the team resigned him for 2021 on a MLFA deal, which was a nice gesture giving him some income and a place to rehab.  Still seems like a long-shot to get back to the majors.  He remains with the team in 2022 and sits in XST.

Interestingly for a World Series winning team, we have a ton of possible candidates for oblivion.  Frankly, of the originally named 13 candidates I only really see a pathway back to the majors for a few of them, and even that might be a stretch.  As of the start of the 2021 season we’re down to 8 candidates … but it wouldn’t surprise me if all 8 never appeared again.

Names removed since initial writing in Apr 2020: James Bourque, who pitched in the 2nd game of the 2020 season.  Brian Dozier, who got called up by the Mets a few days into the 2020 season but was released soon after.  Matt Grace was selected by Arizona on 8/20/20 and removed here.  Matt Adams bounced from NY to Atl and debuted in Aug 2020 for the Braves.  Jake Noll had a cup of coffee at the end of 2020 but was DFA’d in 2021 spring training and will be on the 2020 list.  

Outlook for remaining 2019 Oblivion candidates:  4 are definitely retired, one probably is never coming back, and the remaining three are still with the 2021 system and could get back.

Favorite Nats to Oblivion Story: this was Parra … now i’m not sure who to pick.  We’ll go with Hellickson, who was really good for the 2018 Nats when he was healthy, but struggled badly for the 2019 team before hitting the D/L in mid May, an injury that would send him to the 60-day and end his season.  He was along for the ride for the great come back and WS run, but has to admit to himself he had little to do with it at the end of the day.


2018 (6 candidates)

total players used: 53 (23 position, 30 pitchers): 53 total players.

Oblivion Candidates from the 2018 roster: listed in descending order of the likelihood of ever appearing again (in other words, the higher up, the more likely they’re done).

  • Miguel Montero: DFA’d after just 4 games, refused assignment and then sat out the rest of 2018.  When reached in Dec 2018 he told Jon Heyman that he’s “pretty much retired” and now leads a MLB player representative agency.
  • Koda Glover: the snake-bit reliever missed the entirety of 2019 with a (checks notes) forearm injury, then officially retired from the sport upon the 2019 non-tender deadline.
  • Spencer Kieboom: appeared in 2018 after re-making it to the 40-man, then did not appear in 2019.  Oddly he was outrighted in the middle of the post-season and elected FA.  He then elected to retire soon after the end of the 2019 season.
  • Rafael Bautista: was released then quickly re-signed in mid 2018, then hung on and bounced around our minor league system in 2019, hitting a combined .182 for the 2019 season.  He resigned as a MLFA with Washington and survived the 5/31/20 purge, but was released at the end of 2020.  He eventually re-signed with Washington again for 2021, played a full season in Rochester, but has yet to sign for 2022.  Still active, but not playing.
  • Sammy Solis; unconditionally released in Mar 2019 (he was out of options and was going to have get waived anyway).  Immediately signed ML deal with home-town San Diego, got assigned to t heir AAA team and posted solid numbers … then was released in May 2019 for the purposes of signing in Japan, since he signed there the next day.  He did not play in 2020, but had 25 appearances in the 2021 Mexican League; so he’s still out there.
  • Moises Sierra: got called up after a 4 year gap, hit just 9-54, got DFA’d and outrighted to AAA.  He elected FA after the 2018 season, signed in the Mexican League and played a full season there as a 31-yr old.  He crushed the ball in Mexico, for an OPS of more than 1.000.  He used his 2019 to get a contract in Japan, but by 2021 was back in Mexico.  For 2022 he’s in Indy ball as a 33yr old, so time is running out.

Despite going through THIRTY arms on the year, 29 of them had 2019 appearances and removed them from consideration for this list.

Names removed since Sept 2019 publication: Matt Reynolds, who got called up to KC during the 2020 season.

Outlook for remaining 2018 Oblivion candidates:  Seem slim; just one of the 6 remaining candidates as of spring 2021 is actively still playing and that’s in Japan.

Favorite Nats to Oblivion Story:  I’d probably say Montero.  The team (incredibly) signed him to a $1.3M guaranteed contract ahead of the season.  And then cut bait on him after FOUR GAMES.  Four games, after having him all spring training.  Its worth noting that the 2018 team ended up around $8M over the luxury tax, and you can see how spurious spending like this on Montero and $1M to Benoit to not throw a pitch contributed.


2017(9 leading candidates right now)

Total players used: 25 position players, 24 pitchers, 49 total players.  9/49 = 18.3% candidate ratio right now.

Candidates: They are listed in the order of their odds of staying on this list: highest to lowest odds that they’re done playing.

  • Jeremy Guthrie: famously was “selected” for the 5th starter role ahead of Joe Ross at the beginning of 2017 … then absolutely cratered in his first start, giving up 10 runs in less than an inning.  This resulted in his DFA pretty much before he got out of the shower that game … and a couple months of soul searching later, him announcing his retirement.
  • Stephen Drewannounced his retirement from the game after failing to catch on for 2018.
  • Jayson Werth: amazingly, after finishing off his $126M deal … Werth (like a lot of mid-30s veterans) couldn’t find work for 2018.  He finally signed a MLFA deal with Seattle at the tail-end of Spring Training.  In late May he extended his ML deal, but only hit .202 in Tacoma and on 6/27/18 announced his retirement.
  • Joe Blanton: badly struggled for the team out of the bullpen in 2017, did not sign with anyone for 2018.  In Aug 2018, a story indicating that he had retired and turned to wine making in Napa Valley.
  • Ryan Raburn: resigned a MLFA deal for 2018, but got cut in spring training.  Another in a longish list of corner RH hitters who struggled in 2017 for the Nats and who are struggling to find work in 2018.  Still not signed/playing as of late June 2018.  Upon his release, WP beat reporter Chelsea Janes reported that Raburn would likely retire if he didn’t make the 2018 team (which he didn’t).
  • Grant Green got 3 ABs, appeared in 2 games, then was released in June of 2017.  He bounced around two other AAA orgs, declared MLFA in Nov 2017 and never signed.  Unfortunately the market for bat-only 1B RH hitting types is … well not good.  Signed on to play in the Mexican League May 2018, but was released in July 2018 and did not resign.  No 2019 stats.  Likely retired.
  • Chris Heisey: was released in July of 2017 after a horrid stretch, never signed back on with anyone for the rest of the season.  He signed a MLFA deal with Minnesota for spring 2018, but failed to make the team and was released later in Spring Training.  His 2017 numbers don’t inspire confidence, and he may be getting run out of the game like a lot of veteran RH outfielders.  Never signed for 2018 or 2019: likely retired.
  • Adam Lind: like Werth, Lind couldn’t find major league work and signed a MLFA deal mid-way through ST 2018 with the Yankees.  Released by the Yankees on 5/25/18, then signed on with Boston.  Struggling in AAA all season, does not look any closer to a call-up.  Released again 8/1/18.  Never resigned, likely retired.
  • Alejandro de Aza: gave the Nats some awful OF coverage in 2017, then signed back on to provide 4-A outfield depth for 2018.  Released from the Nats AAA team in mid August 2018.  Signed with Minnesota AAA team mid-2019 and excelled in AAA.  Also played Indy ball in 2019 (and crushed), and winter ball in the Mexican League but did not sign with anyone for 2020 in affiliated.

Names removed since Apr 2018 publication: Andrew StevensonPedro Severino called up early.  Austin Adams called up mid April.  Adrian Sanchez, Rafael Bautista called up 4/24/18.  Erick Fedde removed for his 5/24/18 spot start.  Removed Oliver Perez after the bullpen-needy Indians signed him June 2018 and immediately slotted him in.  Removed Daniel Murphy after he finally debuted for the 2018 nats in June.  Edwin Jackson on 6/25/18 after he opted out of our ML deal, signed with Oakland and was called up to join his MLB record 13th team.  Koda Glover removed in mid August when he finally made it back.  Lastly, we removed both Victor Robles and Joe Ross with Sept call-ups and performance.  Sept 2019: removed Raudy Read as he got some ABs with roster expansion.

Outlook for remaining 2017 Oblivion candidates: Not good.  It seems like 8 of the 9 remaining players were forced into retirement.,  The sole player still playing is de Aza, and he did not sign up with anyone for 2020 and might be done.

Favorite Nats to Oblivion Story: Has to be Guthrie’s meltdown.  I was highly critical of the moves the team engineered so as to give Guthrie that start.  And make no mistake, the 2017 opening day roster jumped through a lot of hoops so as to give Guthrie that start.


2016(4 candidates right now)

Total players used: 19 position players, 24 pitchers, 43 total.  4/43 = 9.3% candidate ratio right now.

Candidates: They are listed in the order of their odds of staying on this list: highest to lowest odds that they’re done playing.

  • Jonathan Papelbon: Initially, it was hard to believe he was on this list.  However, after his release mid-2016, not only did he not sign on for the rest of the season … he never signed on with anyone for 2017 either.  Its possible he mis-calculated the market for his services, instructing his agent to hold out for closing jobs only.  Its also possible his baggage prevented any GMs from voluntarily bringing him into a clubhouse.  Nonetheless, he remains out of the game despite his probably being able to be a 6th/7th inning guy to this day.
  • Clint Robinson: long-time minor league veteran made the team in 2015 and had a break-out season, but struggled badly in 2016, prompting the team to sign Adam Lind to a guaranteed deal, all but eliminating Robinson’s chances from making the roster.  Robinson was waived towards the end of 2017 Spring Training as expected, cleared waivers and played the entire season at Syracuse.  I read a quote from him talking about how his half-MLB salary made it worth him playing out the year, and based on Ryan Zimmerman‘s typical fragility he might have had a good chance of getting called back up.  Unfortunately for Robinson, Zimmerman had his career year in 2017, Robinson played out the string in 2017, then officially retired and took a scouting job with Miami.
  • Sean Burnett: given a quick look late in 2016, signed MLFA deal with Philadelphia for 2017 but failed to make their opening day Roster and was released.  Zero 2017 appearances and looked like he may be done, then signed MLFA deal with Miami for 2018.  Got hit very hard in AAA for 2018, released in mid June by Miami from their New Orleans roster.  Signed with NYM in 2019, got pulverized in April and voluntarily retired 5/26/19.
  • Rafael Martin: Just a handful of Sept 2016 innings after a not-very-impressive 2016 in Syracuse, and was DFA’d early in 2017; he was outrighted, pitched the whole season in Syracuse and is now pitching in the Mexican leagues.  He seems likely to stay there at this point as an age 34 softer-tossing right handed reliever.  He’s finished his third full season in Mexico as of Sept 2019.

Names removed since Apr 2017 publicationEspinosa, Revere, Belisle, Melancon, Rzepczynski, all of whom signed MLB deals and appeared in the first week of 2017 for new teams.  Petit, who made the 2017 Angels as an NRI.  Difo and Taylor for making the Nats 2017 opening day roster and getting appearances.  Mat Latos removed when Toronto added him and called  him up in April 2017, shocking me; I figured Latos was done.  Technically Ross’ first start removed him from this list.  Matt den Dekker got removed when Detroit  recalled him for a few games in June 2017.  Wilson Ramos indeed returned from his injury and began starting for Tampa.  Brian Goodwin not only returned to the majors but got an extended run of starts with Werth’s 2017 foot injury.  Severino got recalled during an outfielder crunch in July 2017.  A.J. Cole got a spot-start in May 2017.  Relievers Gott and Grace both got re-calls, with Grace impressing and Gott not.  Reynaldo Lopez removed upon his 8/11/17 call-up for CWS.  Giolito was called up a week later.  May 2018: Spencer Kieboom got called back up after a year off the 40-man roster; he’s a great example of putting your head down and earning your way back.

Outlook for remaining 2016 Oblivion candidates: 3 clearly retired, one throwing innings in Mexico for the forseeable future.

Favorite Nats to Oblivion StoryJonathan Papelbon.  (ok maybe not “favorite” but certainly most interesting…).  What a whirlwind career he had with the Nats: he was already controversial even before arriving, then essentially ended the productive career of Drew Storen, who he replaced (as a condition of his accepting the trade) as closer upon his arrival.  Two months into his tenure here, he took it upon himself to choke teammate Bryce Harper as Harper and the rest of the team disappointingly played out the string of the 2015 season.  These two buried the hatchet over the off-season, and everyone looked happy entering 2016 … but a 6.00 ERA in June and an even worse ERA in July sealed Papelbon’s fate; the team paid heavily to acquire Mark Melancon for the stretch run and Papelbon was released a couple weeks later.  Quite the Nats tenure for the combustible Papelbon.  Side note: for reasons beyond explanation, the Papelbon’s decided to buy a $2.9M house in Alexandria just after his acquisition …. which was only assessed at half their purchase price.  I wonder if they ever even moved in?


2015: (5 candidates right now):

Total players used: 20 position, 24 pitcher, 44 total.  5/44 = 11.3% candidate ratio right now.

Candidates (these players are listed in the order of their odds of staying on this list: highest to lowest odds that they’re done playing):

  • Dan Uggla: The Nats were probably his last stand chance in the majors; hit just .183 and was given just 17 ABs the last two months of the 2015 season.  Never signed for 2016 and is retired.
  • Reed Johnson: Got picked back up on a MLFA deal by Washington for 2016 season, but did not make the team out of spring and was released on 4/2/16.  He did not pick up with anyone for 2016 and at age 39 is retired.
  • Casey Janssen: Signed a ML deal with San Diego for 2016 but was released in late Spring Training.  Picked up with Boston in June of 2016, pitched a bit for their Short-A and AAA teams then was released in early August 2016.  Did not pick up with a MLB team for 2017.  Signed for a Mexican league team, pitched in 15 games and was released.  Might be the end of the line for the 35-yr old.  Retired.
  • Taylor Jordan: After brief appearances in 2015, started 2016 in AAA but got hurt in June of 2016, he had a second TJ surgery … and then was released by the club on 6/28/16 to correspond to the Giolito contract addition.  Man, that seems kind of cold to release a guy just after surgery, but his odds of making it back to the majors just took a significant hit.  As of 2017 has not re-signed anywhere and seems a long-shot to do so, with little major league track record and two arm injuries.  Likely done.
  • Taylor Hill: Hill was DFA’d to make room for January 2016 signings and was outrighted to AAA, so he faces longer odds to get back to the majors at this point.  If it comes to it, would you rather go with Hill or the likes of Voth or Giolito at this point?  Hill finished out the year for AAA Syracuse with a 4.60 ERA in 27 starts, but I’d have to say he’s just an innings-eater/org guy now.  Still with the team for 2017 but has been passed on the depth chart by several guys (Cole, Voth, Fedde) and faces long odds of a return to the majors with this organization.  Started 2017 badly, demoted to AA.  At the end of 2017, elected MLFA and did not sign a new contract; likely done.

Names removed since initial publicationFister (signed a $7M deal with Houston for 2016).  Thornton (MLFA deal with San Diego and made 25-man roster).  Burriss: signed MLFA with Philly and lead-off against the Nats in their first visit to Philadelphia in the new season.  Added Stammen when he failed to make Cleveland’s 25-man roster in 2016.  Removed Solis when he got called up to cover for injury to Belisle.  Removed Martin when he got called up briefly on 6/27/16.   Removed de los Santos when he got waived, picked up by Cincinnati and appeared for them mid Sept 2016.  Removed all our 2015 prospect-types who all got 2016 call-ups: Turner, Difo, Severino, Grace, Cole.  Stammen removed after he made the 2017 San Diego Padres out of spring training.  Tyler Moore made the 2017 Marlins, and got a crucial hit against the Nats early in 2017 season, but was soon DFA’d.  Sept 2019 Removed Aaron Barrett as he made it back in a great story.  And David Carpenter made it back to Texas after several years out of the majors in 2019.

Note: the one guy DFA’d mid-season 2015 by the Nats (Xavier Cedeno) got purchased by the Dodgers, who then sold him to the Rays 5 days later … and he had 61 appearances with a 2.09 ERA for Tampa Bay this year.  Do you think maybe the team gave up on him too soon?

Favorite Nats to Oblivion StoryDan Uggla.  Uggla was released out of a $13M/year contract from Atlanta and the Nats picked him up for 2015, paying just a MLB minimum on him as middle infield cover/lottery ticket.  Well, Uggla’s luck turned out pretty well as injuries shredded the Nats lineup and Uggla earned a 25-man roster spot.  He played sparingly throughout April but had a massive homer in the epic April 28th come-from-behind 13-12 win over Atlanta, which sparked the Nats (who were just 7-13 at the time) to a 21-6 run.  It was one of just two homers Uggla hit on the year (the other in the last game of the season/his career), and Uggla played less and less as the team got healthier.  For the year he hit just .183, which was in line with what he had hit the prior to years, and he never got picked up after his “last hurrah” season.  Uggla never seemed to recover from two separate concussions he suffered from HBPs (one in July 2012, another in ST 2013), never again hitting even the meager .220 he managed in 2012.

Second favorite story has to be Aaron Barrett.   He had 2015 surgery, then in June of 2016, he had a major set-back in his TJ recovery, fracturing his elbow.  This required another visit to Dr. James Andrews and another surgery.  The Nats outrighted him off the 40-man after the 2016 season and he elected free agency.  He re-signed with the Nats for 2017 and started the  year on the AAA D/L.  He remained in the system in 2018, again starting the year on the D/L, but went to Short-A Auburn and pitched.  In 2019 he went to Harrisburg and pitched out of their bullpen the entire year, earning a call-up with Roster Expansion and a pretty emotional return after 4 years of recovery.


2014 (5 remaining candidates right now):

Total Players used: 22 position, 18 pitchers, 40 total.  5/40 = 12.5% candidate ratio right now

Candidates:

  • Greg Dobbs: FA after 2014, retired in May 2015 when he didn’t catch on with a new club.
  • Nate McLouth, who signed an ill-advised 2-year deal to be our “veteran 4th outfielder” behind Denard Span … but who struggled in 2014 and then missed the entirety of 2015.  The team bought out his 2016 option and as of this writing has not signed with a new team (not even a minor league deal).  May have played his way out of the game.  (Thanks to Karl in the comments for the reminder on McLouth).
  • Jeff Kobernus: Released by the team Mar 2015, played the rest of 2015 with SF’s A+ club in San Jose, MLFA for 2016.  He never signed with anyone in 2016 and may be finished.
  • Scott Hairston: FA after 2014, sat out 2015.  Signed for Chicago White Sox for 2016, but then was cut on 3/29/16.  He did not pick back up with anyone for 2016, and at age 36 could be forced into retirement.
  • Nate Schierholtz: FA after 2014, signed w/ Texas but did not stay with club out of spring training.  Played 2015 in Japan, then signed as a MLFA with Detroit in Dec 2015.  Starting in AAA for Detroit 2016 but not a 40-man player.  Subsequently released on 5/23/16 after hitting .246, did not pick back up for the rest of 2016.  May be done.

Names removed since publicationKevin Frandsen (signed w/ SFG and appeared in 7 games in 2015), Ryan Mattheus (got one game with LAA, waived, then pitched the whole of 2015 in Cincinnati’s bullpen), Rafael Soriano (who finally signed with the Cubs in June but had just 6 appearances before getting released on 9/4/15, and Taylor Hill (who had 12IP across 6 games for the Nats in 2015).  Added Nate McLouth after Karl noticed he was missing in the comments.

Outlook for 2014 Oblivion candidates: after a rough 2016 for all these players, only Schierholz really seems like he may give it another shot, but he never signed for 2017 and this list may be complete.

Favorite Nats-to-Oblivion story: I’ll go with Kobernus at this point, if only because he went to my dad’s Alma Mater (Cal-Berkeley) at a time where the program was threatened with the Axe (eventually donations resurrected the program in 2011).  He’s an example of an odd fascination the Nats seem to have with good field-no hit upper round draft picks from Cal (see also Renda, Tony).


2013 (3 Candidates):

Total Players used: 23 position, 21 pitchers, 44 total.  3/44 = 6.8% candidate ratio right now

Current Candidates

  • Chad Tracy: MLFA signed w/ LA Angels for spring 2014, cut, retired 4/25/14.
  • Yunesky Maya; MLFA with Atlanta AAA for 2014, then went to Korea where he got pounded for two seasons.  Just signed a MLFA deal with Los Angeles Angels for 2016 and is pitching for AAA Salt Lake.  He strained his elbow and missed a big chunk of the 2016 season, which was a missed opportunity for Maya as the Angels had very little SP depth.  Did not sign for 2017.
  • Erik Davis; Nats AAA 2014 60 day D/L Tommy John surgery 2014, still on Nats D/L 2015.  Outrighted off the 40-man in January 2016, assigned to AAA.  Posted a 4.13 ERA in a full year of middle relief for Syracuse, with excellent K/9 ratios, but did not merit a 9/1 call up.  Elected free agency after 2016, signed with Arizona and pitching at AAA Reno for the organization in 2017, posting mediocre numbers but pitching a ton (50+ appearances in 2017).  For 2018, he signed another MLFA deal with Milwaukee, with a ST invite, and currently is toiling for their AAA team in Colorado Springs.

Updates since publication: removed Jhonatan Solano went 1-20 for Miami in 2015 and may be a “Marlins to Oblivion” candidate going forward.  Removed Chris Marrero after he made the 2017 San Francisco Giants team in a shock (four years in the minors between MLB at bats).   Unfortunately he was DFA’d just a few weeks later after struggling to start the season.

Outlook for 2013 Oblivion candidates: The 2 active remaining guys face uphill climbs; none remain with the Nats.  Davis is with a new organization for 2017 while Maya has not signed for 2017 and may be done.

Favorite Nats-to-Oblivion storyYunesky Maya, who was Mike Rizzo‘s first foray into the Cuban exile market.  Signed to a 4yr/$8M deal, he was given several shots at the majors and never could capitalize.  He arrived in the US with a wide arsenal of pitches but not a lot of swing-and-miss talent, and he ended up basically being a AAA starter.   He spent the last three seasons as Syracuse’s lead starter (getting 22, 28 and 24 starts there in-between infrequent call-ups) and ended up with just one career MLB win for his $8M salary (making his one of the worst dollars-per-win contracts ever … even if it was “just” $8M).  This whole paragraph is assuming that Maya never makes it back to the majors … but based on what he’s shown thus far combined with his advancing age, that seems like a likely end-result for the Cuban starter.  As we speak, he has given up on minor league ball and has decamped for Korea, where he’s shown some good stats in limited appearances.


2012 (6 candidates)

Total Players used: 24 position, 19 pitchers, 43 total.  6/43 = 13.9% candidate ratio right now

Candidates

  • Brad Lidge: Retired post 2012.
  • Christian Garcia: got added to the 40-man roster down the stretch of 2012 and provided some electric relief out of the pen, even making the playoff roster.  Got hurt in ST 2013, went to the 60-day D/L, still hurt in 2014, and released in June of that year.  Garcia never had bad stats … just too many injuries that he couldn’t overcome.  (Thanks to commenter Justin for this reminder!)
  • Ryan Perry: Wash AAA/AA 2013, 2014, released by Washington in 2014, signed back with Detroit and played 2014-2015 with their AAA affiliate.  Released mid 2015 by Toledo and never signed on again for 2015 or 2016; may be done.
  • Jesus Flores; signed ML deal with Los Angeles Dodgers for 2013, was with TB, KC for 2014, Miami AAA for 2015, but was released in July 2015 and never re-signed.  Played Winter Ball 2015 never signed for 2016; may be done.
  • Brett Carroll: signed ML deal w/ Pittsburgh for 2013, Tor for 2014.  Never signed for 2015, looks done.
  • Carlos Maldonado: Wash AAA 2013.  Played Venezuelan Winter Ball for a number of years, then after no US-based organized ball for 2 seasons signed a ML deal with Texas in 2015 …and made their AA team as a 37-yr old.  Still plugging away.  In 2016 Maldonado again was assigned to Frisco, but was immediately put on the D/L and never appeared.  In fact, he doesn’t even have a minor league at bat since 2013; is he just on a roster to serve as a bullpen catcher?

Updates since last post: Updates for Maldonado, who I can’t believe is still playing in the bus leagues at age 37.  Added Christian Garcia after commenter Justin noticed he was missing.

Outlook for 2012 Oblivion candidates: Only Maldonado seems like he’s still technically “active,” but as a 38-yr old catcher who hasn’t even had an at-bat since 2013 the odds of him making it back are nil.  The book seems closed on 2012.

Favorite Nats-to-Oblivion storyBrad Lidge, who gave it one last shot and failed and didn’t keep trying.  Sometimes, when you lose your stuff, its gone and gone fast.  I’ll readily admit I thought the signing was a great one when it occurred but it just didn’t work out.  I really hoped that Lidge would be a serviceable 7th inning guy and mentor to Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, being one of the great closers of his day.  It didn’t work out that way: the Nats released him on June 25th and he hung ’em up.


2011 (6 candidates)

Total Players used: 20 position, 24 pitchers, 44 total.  6/44 = 13.6% candidate ratio right now…

Candidates

  • Ivan Rodriguez – retired after 2011; will appear on the 2017 Hall-of-Fame Ballot with 1st ballot stats but a PED cloud over his head.
  • Matt Stairs — retired after 2011.
  • Alex Cora — retired after 2011, now the General Manager of a Puerto Rican Winter League team.
  • Cole Kimball — Nats 60-day DL in 2012, XST in 2013, DFA’d off 40-man roster.  2014 indy, NYY AA team.  Threw 3.2 Innings of 14-ERA ball in the Mexican summer league in 2015.  Does not seem to be on any 2016 rosters; may be done.
  • Brian Broderick — Stl AAA, waived now Nats AAA in 2012, AA in 2013.  Indy ball 2014, Kansas City AAA 2015, where he had a pretty good season.  He elected MLFA … and (oddly?) did not get picked up for 2016.  May be done.
  • Atahualpa Severino — Nats AAA, DFA’d off 40-man in 2012, signed w/ KC for 2013, Atl AAA in 2014, LAA AAA in 2015 but he got cut and ended the year in the Mexican league.  For 2016 he is again in the Mexican League, and had a strong season for Monterrey.  Perhaps he gets another shot some-day.  There’s always people looking for loogies.

Changes since the last post: none other than 2016 assignment updates; nobody’s gotten off this list in a while.

Outlook for 2011 Oblivion candidates: Just one guy still hanging on: Severino continues to throw albeit in his home country’s unaffiliated Mexican league.

Favorite Nats-to-Oblivion storyMatt Stairs: He made the 2011 roster despite having almost no defensive capabilities and, as it soon became evident, almost no remaining abilities at the plate.  He somehow hung onto his roster spot until August 1st despite having just one extra base hit in 74 at-bats on the year.  I remember one game in particular; we were at the stadium going against the hated Phillies and they left Roy Halladay in to attempt to finish a shutout with a 3-0 lead (Game was on 4/13/11).  Nats rally, score 2 runs to make it 3-2.  Stairs comes up pinch hitting for Jerry Hairston with guys on 1st and 2nd with one out; he promptly watches three straight fastballs go right down the middle of the plate without moving his bat.  I’ve never been so p*ssed at a player at the ball-park.  Fellow Nats-to-Oblivion candidate  Ivan Rodriguez then promptly struck out on 3 pitches as well, looking strike 3 into the mitt and then arguing vehemently with the ump over the game-ending call which gave Halladay the complete game victory.  Those were the good ole days.


2010 (12 players)

Total Players used: 20 position, 26 pitchers, 46 total.  12/46 = 26.0% never appeared again

Players:

  • Kevin Mench; retired after 2010
  • Jamie Burke; retired after 2010
  • Luis Atilano: in CIN org, AAA in 2012, never signed for 2013, out of baseball.
  • Scott Olsen; in CWS org, AAA 2012, never signed for 2013, out of baseball.
  • Tyler Walker; indy league 2011, never signed for 2012, out of baseball.
  • Matt Chico; indy league 2012, never signed for 2013, out of baseball.
  • Garrett Mock: Houston AAA 2012, AZ AAA for 2013.  Not signed for 2014
  • Jason Bergmann: indy 2011, Col AAA 2012, Indy again in 2013, KC AA.  Not signed for 2014.
  • Jesse English; indy league 2011, 2012.  Mexican League 2013, Indy ball 2014 but struggled, no 2015 stats.
  • Joe Bisenius; in Mexico 2011-12, Atl AA/AAA 2013, indy/mexican league 2014 but struggled, no 2015 stats.
  • Willy Taveras; played AAA for Col in 2011, retired prior to 2012, back with KC AAA 2013.  Mexican league 2014, 2015, Indy ball in 2015.  He re-signed with Pueblo in the Mexican league for 2016 and played a full season, hitting .325.  He’s still playing in 2017.
  • JD Martin; in MIA org AAA 2012, in TB AAA 2013, in Korea 2014 but struggled, no 2015 stats.  2016 MLFA signing back with the team and re-making himself as a knuckleballer.  However, in 2017 he spent most of the year in XST, got one appearance in the GCL and was released.

Changes since last post: none.

Outlook for 2010 Oblivion candidates: Two active players in the minors; Taveras and Martin.  Martin may have run out of chances in 2017.  Taveras may just be a Mexican leaguer now.

Favorite Nats-to-Oblivion storyJamie Burke: The 2009 Nats were so thin at Catcher by the end of the season that we literally bought a spare catcher in Burke from Seattle so we could have some coverage at the end of the season.  Burke re-signed on for 2010 and appeared in exactly one MLB game.  He was released after the season and retired.


2009 (9 players)

Total Players used: 25 position, 30 pitchers, 55 total.  9/55 = 16.3% never appeared again

Players:

  • Elijah Dukes: released and never picked up for 2010.  Arrested in 2011, 2012, out of baseball.
  • Alex Cintron; playing in Mexico 2012, nothing in 2013
  • Jorge Padilla; in SD org, AAA in 2012, nothing in 2013
  • Ron Villone, AAA all of 2010, 2011 playing indy ball, retired prior to 2012.  He was scheduled to appear on the 2015 Hall of Fame ballot but was removed for some reason.  Remains a pitching coach for the Cubs organization.
  • Julian Tavarez; retired after getting DFA’d in July 2009
  • Mike Hinckley: Tor org in 2011, retired prior to 2012
  • Steven Shell; KC org in 2011, retired prior to 2012
  • Victor Garate; MIL org and Indy ball in 2012, Mexican league 2013, 2014. Went to Japan for 2015 and had a great season.  Back on the continent and pitching in the Mexican League for 2016; had 10 starts for Saltillo and was released.  May be done.
  • Zack Segovia; in Det org AA in 2012, Mexican league/Indy ball 2013, Mexican League 2014.  Picked up with San Diego’s AAA for 2015 but got hit.  Pitching in the Mexican League for 2016 and had decent numbers as a middle reliever, but was released in June.

Changes since last post: none.

Outlook for 2009 Oblivion candidates: Still a couple guys active here, both in the Mexican league.  Not likely to see any changes going forward.

Favorite Nats-to-Oblivion storyRon Villone, who proved that a crafty lefty with a halfway decent fastball can have a long career in this game.  He had 63 appearances at age 39 for the 2009 Nats and got re-signed for 2010.  He didn’t make the team though, labored in Syracuse the whole season and was released.  Despite being 41 years old, he headed to Indy ball for one last shot but washed out after just a few outings in 2011.

It wouldn’t be a retrospective on poor Nats players if we didn’t briefly talk about Elijah Dukes though.  I think its safe to assume that he’s the only guy on this list that has served more time in jail than has played in the minor leagues, attempting to get back to the show.


2008 (8 players)

Total Players used: 25 position, 25 pitchers, 50 total.  8/50 = 16% never appeared again

Players:

  • Kory Casto; 2009 AAA, 2010 in Ariz AA, retired.
  • Dmitri Young: some rehab in low minors 2009, retired.
  • Rob Mackowiak: 2009: some indy, bounced around AAA, that’s it.
  • Johnny Estrada; quit after 2008 mid-season release.
  • Odalis Perez; refused his 2009 contract, never resigned (see below)
  • Levale Speigner; 2009 in Florida’s AA/AAA, then 2010 in Seattle AAA.  done.
  • Ray King; retired after 2008
  • Chris Schroder; 2009, 2010 bounced around AAA with Oakland,Florida (now Miami).

Changes in last 12 months: none.

Outlook for 2008 Oblivion candidates: every remaining candidate is now out of baseball.

Favorite Nats-to-Oblivion story: Odalis Perez, though I’m tempted to say either Mackowiak or Estrada, possibly the two worst FA signings of the whole Jim Bowden era (and that’s saying something).  But nothing beats the Perez story.  He was the Nats Opening Day Starter in 2008, and he was the first guy to get a start in the new Nationals Stadium.  He pitched decently enough; in 30 starts he was 7-12 with a 4.34 ERA and a 99 ERA+ for a god-awful team.  But apparently he got really pissed when the team only offered him a non-guaranteed Minor League deal for 2009.  So he held out, the Nats said “fine with us” and released him, and nobody else picked him up.  And he never played another game.  I’m not sure if that was a sign that he was just that bad (not one team wanted to even give an opening day starter a look the subsequent year?), or if there was some sort of MLB general manager omerta that conspired against him.  Either way, Perez never played again, not even in Winter Leagues as far as I could find.  Sometimes a player has to swallow his pride, and Perez apparently could not.


2007 (12 players)

Total Players used: 21 position, 26 pitchers, 47 total.  12/47 = 25.5% never appeared again

Players:

  • Nook Logan; indy league 2008, 2010.
  • Robert Fick: Cut from the Padres in ST 2008, full year indy league 2009, retired.
  • D’Angelo Jimenez: AAA all of 2008, 2009.  Mexican league and Indy league 2010-2012
  • Tony Batista: Wash AAA 2008, then released
  • Michael Restovich: 2008 in Japan, AAA 2009-2011, retired
  • Brandon Watson: AAA 2008-9, indy league 2011, retired.
  • Mike Bacsik: 2008 AAA, 2011 indy league, now a broadcaster.
  • Jason Simontacchi; 2008 indy league, 2010 again.
  • John Patterson; cut in ST 2008, immediately signed w/ Texas but never played again.
  • Ryan Wagner: AAA 2008-9, released and presumably retired.
  • Arnie Munoz; went to mexican league, retired > 2010
  • Chris Booker: AAA in 2008, then retired/released.

Changes in last 12 months: none

Outlook for 2007 Oblivion candidates: every remaining candidate is now out of baseball.

Favorite Nats-to-Oblivion storyMike Bacsik, who was destined to be a career 4-A guy before Washington picked him up and gave him 20 starts in 2007.  Bacsik was on his 6th minor league organization when he arrived in Syracuse and pitched his way up to the major leagues.  He was overmatched badly; he had a 5.11 ERA and just a 3.4 K/9 rate.  But he did get his moment in the headlines by giving up Barry Bonds‘ 756th career homer one night in San Francisco in August.  Contrary to accusations on the topic, I do not believe Bacsik “served up” the homer.  If you check the play index, Bonds hit the 7th pitch of the at-bat in a 3-2 count for that homer.  Bacsik didn’t purposely give up a homer on the 7th pitch of an at-bat; he just ran out of pitches to show Bonds that weren’t going to get pulverized.

A quick comment though on John Patterson: I remember being absolutely shocked at his release in 2008’s spring training.  He was cut on 3/20/08, right in the middle of Spring Training with no warning and having just thrown his Grapefruit innings.   He was healthy, recovered from surgery, ready to be the ace of that staff and start showing off the potential that he showed in 2005 (you know, when he 4-hit the Dodgers with 13 punch outs and posted the best Game-Score performance in Nats history).  He signed a ML deal with Texas after his release by the Nats, but he couldn’t answer the call and never appeared again, getting released in mid May.  I guess his third arm surgery in 7 years just left him unable to compete at any level and he hung ’em up.


2006 (20 players)

Total Players used: 28 position, 29 pitchers, 57 total.  20/57 = 35% never appeared again

  • Damian Jackson; dnp 2007, indy league 2008-9
  • Bernie Castro: AAA all of 2007, 8 then retired.
  • Alex Escobar: Wash minors 2007-8, then retired.
  • Brandon Harper: Wash AAA all of 2007, then released/retired.
  • Wiki Gonzalez: CWS AAA all of 2007, indy league 2008, retired.
  • Henry Mateo: AAA or Indy league 2007-2009, Mexican league from 2010-2013
  • George Lombard: AAA 2007-9, some indy league, retired.
  • Mike Vento: 2007 Wash AAA, indy league 2008, back with Syracuse 2009, retired.
  • Melvin Dorta; various minor leagues 2007-2010, indy league 2011, retired.
  • Luis Matos: AAA 2007, Mexican League 2008-2012.  ? 2013 and done.
  • Pedro Astacio; retired after 2006
  • Felix Rodriguez: dnp 2007, indy league 2008-9, retired.
  • Zach Day: AAA 2007, briefly A+ 2008, retired.
  • Beltran Perez; wash minors AA/AAA 2007-8, released and never played again.
  • Joey Eischen; released off of Washington and retired.
  • Travis Hughes; AAA in 2007, played in Japan 2008, indy leagues 2009, 2011.
  • Ryan Drese: various minor leagues 2007-8, indy league 2009-2010, Baltimore AAA 2011, released/retired.
  • Kevin Gryboski: AAA 2007-2008, retired/released.
  • Brett Campbell: Wash AA 2007, released/retired.
  • Santiago Ramirez: Japan in 2007, Mexican league 2008, indy 2009, retired.

Changes in last 12 months: none

Outlook for 2006 Oblivion candidates: every remaining candidate is now out of baseball.

Favorite Nats-to-Oblivion storyJoey Eischen, who bounced around the league in his 20s before settling in Montreal and moving south with the team.  He was known to be a “character” in the clubhouse and to give good quotes to reporters (google “Joey Eischen quotes” and you’ll find some of his classics).   By 2006 though the years had taken their toll on his shoulder; he had 19 walks in 14 2/3 innings through the end of May had blown his rotator cuff.  The team put him on the 60 day D/L and called up Virginia-native Bill Bray.   Eischen never got off that D/L; he was released in the off-season and never played again. He has been a pitching coach in the Colorado system since 2010.


2005 (16 players)

Total Players used: 30 position, 25 pitchers, 55 total.  16/55 = 29% never appeared again

Players:

  • Carlos Baerga; retired after 2005
  • Junior Spivey: bounced around AAA 2006-7, indy ball in 2009, retired.
  • Wil Cordero; released mid 2005, signed on with the NY Mets but never made it out of AAA.  Retired after 2005.
  • Deivi Cruz; released after 2005, cut from St. Louis 2006 ST, played indy ball, retired.
  • Jeffrey Hammonds; retired in June 2005 mid-season.
  • J.J. Davis: Traded to Colorado as part of the Preston Wilson deal, sent to Colorado’s AAA, then released after the season and never played again.
  • Rick Short; Granted FA after the 2005 season to play in Japan, played there til 2009.
  • Kenny Kelly; AAA in 2006 and 2007, released and retired.
  • Keith Osik; a backup catcher, got 4 ABs in 2005, released and retired.
  • Tyrell Godwin; after just three MLB at-bats in 2005, spent all of 2006 and 2007 in AAA, released and retired.
  • T.J. Tucker; released after 2005, tried one year of indy ball in 2008, retired.
  • Joe Horgan; released after 2005, played one year of AAA with Florida, released, retired.
  • Matt White; AAA in 2006-7, Japan 2007-8, tried indy ball in 2010, hung ’em up.
  • C.J. Nitkowski; AAA in 2006, then went to Japan 2007-8, Korea 2009-10, back with the Mets AAA team in July 2012.  Not signed for 2013.  Was a blow-hard “I’m an ex baseball player and know more than you” Podcast host for Fox Sports with Rob Neyer until their cancellation.  Made news in 2015 for his article on the Bryce Harper/Jonathan Papelbon where he quoted a number of anonymous MLBers who said that (paraphrasing) “Harper had it coming.”
  • Antonio Osuna: dnp in 2006, Mexican league 2007-9.
  • Tony Blanco; Nats minor leagues 2006-7, Colorado AA in 2008, in Japan from 2009-present.  Hit 41 homers in 2013 for Yokohama but struggled in 2015, but got picked up by Orix and is on their 2016 roster.  Not signed for 2017, may be done.

Changes in last 12 months: none

Outlook for 2005 Oblivion candidates: Tony Blanco is still playing in Japan, entering his 8th pro season there in 2016.  But he has no 2017 assignment.

Favorite Nats-to-Oblivion story: Rick Short, who got his MLB debut at the age of 32, after 11 very long seasons in the minors with many different teams.  He got a couple of call-ups in June and July to provide cover, and then played out the string after a Sept 1 roster expansion call-up.  In that off-season, he returned to Japan (where he’d played one full season prior), and played four more years in the Japanese League and retired in 2009.

Though it merits talking about a couple other guys here. Tony Blanco; he was a rule-5 draftee who the Nats carried the whole of 2005 so they could keep his rights.  He was awful; he had a .177 batting average as the 25th guy off the bench.  In 2006 he couldn’t even cut it in AA and played most of the year in High-A.  After 2007 the Nats summarily released him from their minor league organization altogether.   He found his calling though; he signed on in Japan in 2009 at age 27 and continues to play there today.  You have to wonder if he may very well earn another MLB shot.

Jeffrey Hammonds was well known to Washington baseball fans by virtue of his pedigree with our northern neighbors in Baltimore; he was a 1st round draft pick in 1992 out of Stanford, broke in with the MLB team the following year and was a role player on the powerhouse Baltimore teams of the mid 1990s.   He bounced around the league afterwards though, signing on with the newly relocated Washington franchise for the 2005 debut season but he hung ’em up after a slow start here.  He was only 34 when he retired.

Written by Todd Boss

May 18th, 2022 at 10:41 am

Posted in Nats in General

Too Old for the level Revisited

one comment

Brady House is certainly NOT too old for his level. Photo via primetimesportstalk.com

One of the key points in evaluating minor league prospects (or any amateur prospect really) is the consideration of their age in relation to their level. We constantly see added on to the evaluation of a player’s stellar performance at a certain level the caveat of, ” … but he’s old for the level.”

I did a deep dive on this back in 2011, trying to compare the rules of thumb advertised by expert minor league evaluator John Sickels versus our own observations. Now, 10 years on, with evolutions of player development, minor league consolidation, the removal of an entire Short-A level, and the compressing of the lower ranks of the minors, I thought i’d revisit it.

My working guesses before going in and looking at the data are:

  • The compression of the minors will mean that there will be an older skew of players now in Low-A.
  • Hitters will generally be younger than Pitchers, since we have such a prevalence of injuries in the sport which delays pitcher development.
  • the lost Covid year will add at least a half a season or more, especially to pitchers who got hurt at the wrong time (see Irvin, Jake below)

My methodology was to grab the entire list of players with non-trivial stats (meant to remove rehab assignments that would skew the average ages) from the four main full season levels, and grab average ages. Unfortunately fangraphs only lists the “age” and not the birthday for minor leaguers, so this is a bit of an estimate (and thus I couldn’t get meaningful quartile/median figures). I wasn’t willing to scrape dozens of rosters from milb.com to get actual birthdays … so this will have to do. I also only grabbed the leagues where Nats have affiliates; otherwise this would have been 3x the spreadsheet work. I think its a safe assumption that the average age of the players in the Eastern AA league is roughly the same as the Southern AA league.

To start, here was the old Sickels “rules of thumb” for age expectations in the four full season leagues:

  • AAA: Typical Age range is 23-24.  Age 25 depends.  26+ is old
  • AA: 22-23.  24 depends.  25+ is old
  • High-A: 20-22.  23 depends.  24+ is old
  • Low-A: 19-21.  22 depends.  23+ is old

This already seems way low, especially in AAA, where we now know that teams store tons of 4-A 40-man roster guys who will press the issue. But we’ll get to that.


Here’s 2021 full season average age analysis for Hitters with > 30Abs for the year:

  • AAA Hitter Avg Age:  26.53801
  • AA Hitter Avg Age:  24.11027
  • High-A Hitter Avg Age:  22.92832
  • Low-A Hitter Avg Age:  21.40741

and here’s fy2022 so far for hitters with > 30ABs this season:

  • AAA Hitter Avg Age:  26.599
  • AA Hitter Avg Age:  24.169
  • High-A Hitter Avg Age:  22.705
  • Low-A Hitter Avg Age:  20.975

And here’s a bit of a deeper dive into the 2022 hitter data, with quartiles shown:

 MeanYoungest0.25Median0.75Oldest
Low-A Hitter Avg Age: 20.9751552795031820212225
High-A Hitter Avg Age: 22.7046979865771922232427
AA Hitter Avg Age: 24.1689189189192023242533
AAA Hitter Avg Age: 26.5985130111522225262834

So, what are we seeing in Hitters?

  • In Low-A for Hitters, we’re seeing a bit of an inflation of ages from the old rule of thumb, with the 25%-75% quartile range going from 20-22, whereas before it was 19-21.
  • There’s nobody in Low-A right now younger than 18 and you can count on one hand those who are 18. Washington’s T.J. White is one of them. Makes sense; you draft a HS kid and they’re going to generally start in the complex league, and only if they’re stellar will they make the next year’s low-A team … and White was really young for his class out of HS.
  • The average age for high-A hitters jumps more than a year and a half from the Low-A average. interesting. Does this imply that it’s going to take kids a year and a half to get out of low-A now? This would seem to support the argument that we could really use another level (you know, something like Short-A?)
  • The Average age for AA hitters jumps up another year and a half from High-A, showing that the old rules of thumb are now completely antiquated. The average age in AA for hitters is now north of 24.
  • AAA average age is pretty useless in aggregate because of its status as a “spare parts” league. If you’re a prospect rising the ranks (like Cade Cavalli) there’s some analytical value to seeing just how young someone is as compared to the average age, but otherwise the prospects generally are in AA or below.

Lets look at pitchers.

Here’s 2021 full season average age analysis for Pitchers with > 20IP for the year:

  • AAA Pitcher Avg Age:  26.90933
  • AA Pitcher Avg Age:  24.76211
  • High-A Pitcher Avg Age:  23.28326
  • Low-A pitcher Avg Age:  21.93048

and here’s fy2022 so far for Pitchers with > 10IP so far this season:

  • AAA Pitcher Avg Age:  27.33068
  • AA Pitcher Avg Age:  24.5873
  • High-A Pitcher Avg Age:  23.23485
  • Low-A pitcher Avg Age:  22.03472

And here’s a bit of a deeper dive into the 2022 Pitcher data, with quartiles shown:

 AverageYoungest0.25Median0.75Oldest
Low-A pitcher Avg Age: 22.0347222222221921222329
High-A Pitcher Avg Age: 23.2348484848482022232426
AA Pitcher Avg Age: 24.587301587302212324.52530
AAA Pitcher Avg Age: 27.3306772908372225272937

So, what are we seeing in Pitchers, as compared to Hitters?

  • Right now, the fy2022 data on just a few weeks is almost identical to the full season fy2021 data, which shows that teams have already made consistent adjustments to the loss of Short-A.
  • Low-A pitchers are on average a full year older than the hitters at the level, and the 25%-75% quartile range is also a full year older.
  • The age difference is less pronounced in High-A and AA: high-A pitchers are on average a half a year older, while AA pitchers are on average 3-4 months older than the pitchers.
  • AAA goes back to half a year older between hitters and pitchers, but again these numbers are greatly skewed (especially on the pitcher side) by the large number of veteran arms in their late 20s/early 30s giving it one more shot (our own AAA team has more than a few).

So, what’s our new “rules of thumb” for being “too old for the level?” I think it has to adjust from the old days.

  • AAA: Typical Age range is 25-28.  A prospect at the age of 26 is iffy. 27+ is considered old for the level (with all the above AAA caveats). However, if you’re 27 and in AAA, you’re already passed through rule-5 draft, you’re probably pretty close to a 6-year MLFA and you’re not a “prospect” any more anyway. So these rules of thumb really don’t apply to AAA.
  • AA: typical age range is 23-25.  A prospect at 25 is iffy. 26+ is old for the level.
  • High-A: 22-24.  24 depends.  25+ is old
  • Low-A Hitters: 20-22 range, 23 depends, 24+ is old
  • Low-A Pitchers: 21-23 range, 24 depends, 24+ is old

Now, looking at our new rules of thumb, lets do a quick run-through of our notable prospects per team, and comment as to their relative age. This is not a comprehensive list of every player on the roster; just those “top players” who have appeared on prospect ranking lists lately.

  • Frederick’s Low-A Hitter Prospects: House (19), Infante (21), De La Rosa (20), White (18), Boissiere (22): they’re all within the appropriate range right now. Nobody is “too old” here. House and especially White are really young for the league. Boissiere is the oldest prospect here, and he’s repeating the level after struggling in his draft year/age 21 season. Nothing to worry about yet. We do have a couple of “too old” for the level players in Martina and Millas, but they just promoted Millas up as I was writing this draft.
  • Frederick’s Low-A Pitcher Prospects: Lara (19), Rutledge (23), Saenz (23): Lara obviously is young, while Rutledge is pushing the range of acceptability, especially for such a high draft pick and his highly visible failings so far. Saenz is also 23, along with some newer additions like Glavine and Schoff, both senior signs in their first full year of pro ball. While we’re all concerned about the fact that Rutledge can’t find the plate, the rest of these guys are not yet in the “too old” category, but are a little concerning.
  • Wilmington’s High-A Hitter prospects: Antuna (22), Pineda (22), Barley (22), Mendoza (24). So, despite our continual angst about Antuna’s progress, he’s still within the 75% quartile range for age in the league at age 22. He won’t turn 23 until October. His bigger problem is that the team put him on the 40-man way, way too early, and now he’s burned 2 options. Mendoza is in the “depends” category and we all know why: he failed at AA, got demoted last year, and has zero homers through 25 games in 2022 despite basically being a DH at this point.
  • Wilmington’s High-A Pitcher prospects: Parker (22), Brzycky (22), Shuman (24), Irvin (25). So, Parker and NDFA Brzycky are both actually young for High-A. Shuman is in the iffy range; he was excellent for Oakland’s High-A team, then was awful for us in 2021, earning himself a return trip to Wilmington in 2022 … but he’s been pretty solid so far. My guess is that he earns a promotion soon. Meanwhile, we now know that Irvin is way too old for High-A, but we also know why: he missed two full years of throwing with Covid and TJ. He’s also been basically unhittable in High-A in five starts and likely gets promoted within a few weeks.
  • Harrisburg’s AA Hitter prospects: Cluff (25), Alu (25), Harrison (25). We don’t have a lot of hitter prospects in AA; even these three guys are challenging the definition of “prospect.” Cluff is really the only guy who gets any industry-wide speculation. All three are 25, putting them all in the “iffy” category anyway. Cluff and Harrison are really struggling this year. Alu just turned 25 last month, and is hitting well in 2022, but has little prospect buzz.
  • Harrisburg’s AA Pitcher prospects: Henry (22), Carrillo (23), Cronin (24), Cate (24), Evan Lee (25). So, Henry is quite young for AA and is lighting it up, a great sign. Cronin and Cate are still “ok” for the level at this point, even if Cate struggled so badly last year. Lee is already “iffy” even though he just got put on the 40-man, but his AA performance so far has been stellar and he should get pushed up soon. Nobody “too old” here who’s a prospect. We do have several arms in AA who are way too old to be there (Herrera, Brill, Andrew Lee)
  • Rochester AAA Hitter prospects: Casey (26), Barrera (27). We don’t have a lot of prospects in AAA right now. Casey is “iffy” as a prospect based on age, but he’s a banner child for the Covid effect; he lost 2020 after earning a promotion to AA in 2019 at age 23; then he loses his age 24 season, solves AA at age 25 but has struggled in AAA ever since. So, its possible this is his peak. Meanwhile, we know Barrera is too old for AAA, and probably too old to be a “prospect” at this point, but he’s also a catcher on the 40-man roster and is next in line if Ruiz/Adams gets hurt. So he falls into the “AAA as spare parts” league category.
  • Rochester AAA Pitcher prospects: Cavalli (23), Seth Romero (26). As with hitters … our AAA is not really a place where we bring up our prospects. Cavalli at 23 is one of the youngest pitchers in AAA right now (only 7 arms in the International League are 23 or younger, most of them major prospects whose names you already know). Romero at 26 is “iffy” as a prospect, which makes me laugh to write since he’s been “iffy” as a prospect since the moment he was kicked off his college team. I still can’t quite believe he’s in the employ of the team, and it should make you sick that he was called up to then be put on the major league 60-day DL, thus meaning he’s earning MLB salary this year.

Conclusions? the Nats are generally keeping their prospects in the appropriate level, and the “too old for the level” iffy considerations all have easy-to-see explanations.

Written by Todd Boss

May 12th, 2022 at 9:45 am

Best Baseball movie of all time?

9 comments

I have not done a Baseball Movie themed post in years. I’ve thought about it … since we’ve had a couple of random baseball movies released since the origins of this blog 10+ years ago and i’ve seen some baseball-movie themed blog posts here and there, but never pulled the trigger.

But today, lo and behold, in my inbox from MLB was a link to vote in a crowd-sourced baseball movie bracket, and I just had to post it, and turn it into a blog post since i’m on a deathly conference call that I only have to pay attention to for a few minutes…

https://www.mlb.com/brackets/mlb-bleacher-features

I’m going to play through the entire bracket, talk about movie snubs, and arrive at the best baseball movie.

First off, here’s the baseball movies of note that I’m aware of from the pantheon that did not make the top 16 below. I’ve listed them in rough order of their own quality … and in the rough order that you may argue to replace ones from below.

  • Pride of the Yankees, with Gary Cooper playing Lou Gehrig. Probably more famous for its depiction of his retirement than of his playing ability, since reportedly Cooper was so unathletic they couldn’t even show him playing the sport.
  • Bang the Drum Slowly: Great movie, not exactly rewatchable as a story about a catcher slowly dying, but full of significant, Oscar-pedigree actors.
  • Damn Yankees: well, if you wanted to see a musical about Baseball, with balding middle aged actors singing in the locker room instead of playing the sport, this is your movie.
  • 61*: Billy Crystal‘s tribute to the 1961 season and Roger Maris‘ pursuit of Babe Ruth‘s record. Barry Pepper and Thomas Jane as Maris and Mickey Mantle are great, and the movie is well done.
  • Sugar, an inspirational story about a Dominican kid who washes out of the minors and struggles to find himself in America. Well regarded.
  • The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings: little known Baseball comedies that do not rate and that i’ve never seen.
  • Soul of the Game: Despite its topic, i’ve never seen it. But it does not fare well with the critics, which is too bad b/c a great movie about the Negro Leagues would be awesome to re-watch.
  • Million Dollar Arm; Jon Hamm travels to India to recruit cricket players to play baseball. The only problem with this plot? Top Cricket players in India are paid millions of dollars a year.
  • Cobb: Tommy Lee Jones plays a great turn-of-the-century racist bastard of a player in a movie that wasn’t really that re-watchable.
  • Mr. Baseball: a movie that wouldn’t be made today, Tom Selleck faces culture shock playing in Japan. has not aged well, nor did Selleck’s baseball playing ability.
  • Mr. 3000: Bernie Mac as a showman attempting a comeback with an unbelievable plot of a showy retired slugger having exactly one career hit over turned, leaving him with just 2,999 for his career.
  • The Babe: Do you remember John Goodman‘s depiction of Babe Ruth fondly? I don’t.
  • The Scout: Brendan Frasier was not terribly believable as a baseball player in a forgettable movie.
  • Hustle: did you even know they made a movie about Pete Rose? I’ve never seen it.
  • Fever Pitch, Summer Catch: just no.
  • Little Big League, Air Bud: 7th Inning Fetch: formulaic Disney kids movies, barely behind the other formulaic Disney kids movies that did make the cut below.
  • Major League II, Major League III, Bad News Bears sequels?: sequels never work, but Major League III was an abomination.
  • The Benchwarmers, Hardball: awful, awful and more awful.

I’m sure i’m missing some; feel free to comment and tell me what baseball movies i’ve missed.

Of the above, I’d have probably replaced several of the below with the top movies from above … but nobody alive today is really rewatching Pride of the Yankees or any of the others listed, so maybe the snubs aren’t really snubs.

Ok lets get to it.

Methodology: I have none. What makes for a “great baseball movie?” Is it great baseball action? Is it the movie itself, whether or not the baseball scenes work? Is it a believable plotline? Is it the Acting? Is it rewatchability? For me, its some nebulous combination of all of the above, which is why I knock out the movie with the most Oscar nominations in the first round. Everything below is IMHO, your opinions may vary.

Here’s the MLB Movie knockout round of 16 with my comments.

  • #1 Field of Dreams vs #16 Angels in the Outfield: #1 v #16 seed is never going to be an upset, though Angels in the Outfield (despite some of Danny Glover‘s best work outside of the Lethal Weapon franchise) was never going to press it. Field of Dreams is solid, but has its flaws; we’ll be getting to them soon, but it moves on here. Winner: Field of Dreams.
  • #9 The Natural vs #8 For the Love of the Game: See, right away we get a heavy weight matchup, and what more would you expect form the #8 vs #9 seed. For me, despite Kevin Costner‘s really amazing athletic performance as an aging MLB pitcher in For the Love of the Game, the movie is absolutely crippled by the crap “love story” that keeps interrupting the baseball story. Every scene with Kelly Preston is fast-forward material. Oh, and John C. Reilly as the catcher is so completely unbelievable that it distracts even from Costner’s performance. Meanwhile, there’s nothing more iconic than Roy Hobbs, and the Natural was never going to lose here. Winner: The Natural.
  • #5 The Sandlot vs #12 The Perfect Game: legendary baseball film versus a feel-good story starring the same guy who was made famous for smoking Ganga on film; how do you choose here? The Sandlot transcends culture, with its famous lines like “You’re killing me Smalls” and its legendary scenes. Perhaps a movie starting Cheech will age better, but the Sandlot has to move on. Winner: The Sandlot.
  • #4 The Bad News Bears vs #13 Rookie of the Year: I see what they’re doing here: all the little leaguers are in one quadrant, to ensure that a movie about kids is in the semis. Ok, fair enough. So, despite the Bad News Bears (which I HAVE to believe refers to the Walter Matthau version and not the 1995 remake with Billy Bob Thornton) not really aging that well (some of it is absolutely cringe worthy today), Rookie of the Year is awful. I mean … ok, suspend disbelief about the plot involving a kid who can suddenly throw 110mph for a bit; the ending is ridiculous. Bears move on. Winner: Bad News Bears
  • #3 League of their Own vs #14 The Rookie: tough matchup here; Lets just say from the get-go that League is going to be tough to beat. I’ll give props to Dennis Quaid for his believable performance as Jim Morris (here’s his baseball-reference page, btw, MLB debut at 35), but the movie itself was typical Disney fluff (it was rated G). We’ll cover League in a moment; it clearly moves on here. Winner: League of their Own.
  • #6 Eight Men Out vs #11 42: tough one here; I can see some people arguing with me. Eight Men Out was not only a fantastic baseball movie with well done baseball action scenes, it was a fabulous period piece about the 1919 Black Sox and the culture that led to their scandal. Technically “42” was also a period piece … a throwback to a transitional time in baseball’s history, and the actors involved reportedly struggled greatly to curse at Chadwick Boseman (who was amazing as a young Jackie Robinson before he became the superstar actor he eventually became). I’ll never forget the one scene in Cincinnati, where Pee Wee Reese comes up to Robinson and puts his arm around him… but Harrison Ford‘s awful acting performance and the lack of real rewatch ability (it is really difficult to watch a movie where they so freely use the n-word over and over) crushes “42” for me in the end. Winner: Eight Men Out
  • #7 Major League vs #10 Trouble with the Curve: this is a blowout for me: Trouble with the Curve was an awful movie full of bad cliches and unbelievable scenes related to the way scouting and drafting occurs. It depended on hit-you-over-the-head racist tropes related to the discounting of the Latino hurler at the end. Amy Adams‘ performance was annoying throughout. Winner: Major League.
  • #2 Moneyball vs #15 Bull Durham: I’m sorry, but this seeding is whack. This is a semi-final caliber matchup between two movies that are attempting to accomplish two drastically different things. You just cannot compare a legendary comedy versus a well-executed drama. That being said … despite Moneyball getting six Oscar nominations … it’s story (as written by author Michael Lewis) was a flawed retelling of the famous 2002 Oakland Athletics (baseball reference link here: https://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/OAK/2002.shtml), spending almost zero time on the fact that the Athletics had three ace starters that year in Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito (who won the Cy Young), nor that the team’s lineup was anchored by Eric Chavez and Miguel Tejada (who won the MVP). Not to mention, the entire Jonah Hill character was made up, thanks to Paul DePodesta not wanting to appear in the film. Oh, and making Art Howe look like a stiff (both in the book and in the movie) was ridiculous. Moneyball may be the better “movie,” but baseball fans know it focuses on the wrong things that made the 2002 Oakland team winners. Winner: Bull Durham.

Quarter finals

  • #1 Field of Dreams vs #9 The Natural. I’m already going for the upset here. Field of Dreams was a solid movie, which makes me cry at the end every time when Kevin Costner gets a catch with his dad. But the movie has huge plot issues, not the least of which is the fact that the amount of corn he plows over to make the field absolutely will not send his farm under. A baseball field takes somewhere between 3-5 acres to make, and one acre of corn fields produces less than 200 bushels of corn a year, and corn sells for about $5 a bushel. Do the math. Corn farmers in Iowa have thousands of acres, have million-dollar harvesters … and losing a couple of acres of land directly next to the house isn’t making that big of a difference. The story is fine, the period piece baseball is great, but the whole hidden voice as the plot driver makes no sense based on where the Costner character goes and ends up. Oh, and by the way, the James Earl Jones character is absolutely reacting if he’s sitting in Fenway Park and hears a damn voice. Winner: The Natural
  • #5 The Sandlot vs #4 The Bad News Bears. Even though Bears has not aged well, I recently re-watched The Sandlot, and, well, it just isn’t that good. Its a fun piece about a bunch of neighborhood friends that’s less about baseball and more about just growing up and getting into hijinks. They barely play any actual baseball, and the step-dad’s actions are completely unbelievable (if you’re a baseball fan, and your non-athletic kid asks to play catch … that’s every dad’s DREAM; you drop what you’re doing and help, you don’t hem-and-haw about how you have a bunch of work). Oh, and some random neighbor just happens to have a baseball signed by the entire 1927 Yankees team sitting around and is willing to give it up to some punk kid who broke into his property?? Even in 1962, that would have been a priceless piece of memorabilia, let alone what its value would be now. Yeah right. Winner: Bad news Bears
  • #3 League of their Own vs #6 Eight Men Out: two period pieces, one of which is pretty unique in sports history, that being the AAGPBL. Bill Simmons just did a rewatchable deep dive into this movie on his podcast called, fittingly, The Rewatchables, and its hard to find too much fault here. Eight Men Out, despite its excellent baseball scenes and reenactment of the 1919 scandal, does not match up and drags at times. Its an important movie of course, and D.B. Sweeney‘s baseball prowess is pretty impressive (he learned how to hit left-handed and look believable in order to play Shoeless Joe Jackson). Winner: League of their Own
  • #7 Major League vs #15 Bull Durham: You see, again, this is a semi-finals matchup of quality. And, I see again what they’re doing here; putting all the major baseball comedies into one quadrant so that the final four basically has just one comedy. Fair enough. As much as I love both of these movies, there’s parts of Bull Durham that detract from the re-watchability. Its hard to watch some of the dramatic scenes that they put in between the baseball scenes. Tim Robbins is pretty darn good, as is Costner of course. But, Major League all-in-all is funnier. It’s a raunchier watch, more laugh out loud moments, and the first 30 minutes are just absolute gold, one liner after one liner. Winner: Major League

Semis:

  • #9 The Natural versus #4 The Bad News Bears: This is no contest; the acting, the storyline, and the baseball performances in the Natural, especially out of Robert Redford as an aging slugger, are second to none. There’s some weird plot holes, and I struggle with the ending just a little bit (they couldn’t find a kid to play his son who couldn’t throw the ball like an actual baseball player??), but the run of aging-poorly scenes and themes from the 1976 Bad News Bears causes its demise. Coach freely cursing in front of his team? Sharing his beer with a minor? Kids Smoking cigarettes? A father slapping his son across the face in broad daylight? Yeah; just one of a few of the things that make this “kids movie” unshowable to your, you know, actual kids. Winner: The Natural
  • #3 League of their Own vs #7 Major League. wow. Tough on here. I like both movies. I have yet to comment on Tom Hanks‘ amazing rendition of Jimmy Foxx in this movie, nor the great one-liners he gets in that transcend culture (There’s no crying in baseball.”). Nor have we talked about the pretty solid performances of Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna and Lori Petty and especially Geena Davis as players. From a comedy perspective though, it can’t hold a candle to the raw in-your-face antics of Major League. League is a better ‘story’ and has as good of baseball action as they could muster, given that actresses don’t actually play baseball at any point in their lives. But Major League wins. Winner: Major League

Final:

#9 The Natural v #7 Major League. In some ways, this is impossible to gauge, because we’re talking about the best ever baseball Drama versus the best ever baseball comedy. But we’ll try:

  • The Natural pros: great baseball action, great story, easily weaves in a number of solid dramatic actors with a completely believable set of baseball players. Amazing, transcendent ending, with the filmmaking to go with it.
  • The Natural cons: Hobbs would have healed from his wound in a couple years tops; where the heck has he been for a decade and a half? And the girlfriend never went looking for him, ever? Even when she had his kid all those years? Really? He struck out Babe Ruth in front of a leading sportswriter for a national paper … and then nothing ever came of it? The Hollywood ending differs from the book; does that matter?
  • Major League pros: Charlie Sheen could actually throw in the mid 80s. The baseball players were mostly believable. Pedro Ceranno‘s lines are amazing, as are the quotes from this movie (“that ball wouldn’t have been out of a lot of ball parks…”). As I’ve said before, the premise of the movie is hilarious and the first part of the movie, from the recruitment of players to spring training, is just gold.
  • Major League cons: Tom Berenger is the lead, and he’s not a good actor, and he’s not a believable baseball player. Explain to me again why his ex-gf dumps her fiancee and her new life to return to him? What exactly did he do to win her back?

The Natural, at the end of the day, is the best combination of Movie and Baseball; it’s the winner.

Winner: The Natural


By the way, If I was re-seeding this draw …. i’d seed it as follows:

  1. The Natural (#9 here)
  2. Major League (#7)
  3. Bull Durham (#15)
  4. Moneyball (#2)
  5. League of Their Own (#3)
  6. Field of Dreams (#1)
  7. Eight Men Out (#6)
  8. 42 (#11)
  9. Bad news Bears (#4)
  10. The Sandlot (#5)
  11. For the Love of the Game (#8)
  12. the Perfect Game (#12)
  13. The Rookie (#14)
  14. Trouble with the Curve (#10)
  15. Rookie of the Year (#13)
  16. Angels in the Outfield (#16)

So, I’ve got some serious problems with their rankings. If the seedings had gone this way, We’d have Moneyball in the semis.

Written by Todd Boss

May 5th, 2022 at 9:22 am

Quick thoughts on the MLB and MiLB rotations one month in

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Cade Cavalli not yet ready for the big-dance. Photo via Lookout Landing blog

Every year i’m excited to start tracking our minor league pitching, and rotations in particular … and a month in, here’s some quick, random, small sample sized, perhaps not fully backed by statistics or sabremetrics thoughts on our rotations of the four minor league full season affiliates. And just for good measure, i’ll throw in thoughts on the debacle of the MLB rotation as well.

For reference, as always here’s the Big Board, which has the rotations in their pitching order lined up on the same day as the corresponding MLB pitcher, along with the rest of the staffs and their approximate roles. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/186nm-v5F-zTCoR2Be7TFYM3e2cZ-gYi2WVqJLEkHdmc/

Note: this was written on Monday 5/2/22 during an off-day so any moves that have happened since are not accounted for.


MLB Rotation

https://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/WSN/2022.shtml

  • Grey: after a scuffling start, has put in a couple of really sterling outings and is starting to look like the headlining prospect we gave up Scherzer and Turner for. FIP is a bit higher than his ERA, which is indicative of his high walk rate, but he’s mowing them down to the tune of 10.7 K/9.
  • Adon: a 7.33 ERA and equally ugly whips and fips show that, as i’ve maintained for most of the last year and a half, he’s overpromoted. One September start against Boston seems to have blinded fan-boys across the Natmosphere into where Adon really is. He’s 23, which is generally the age of our current high-A rotation, and you can count the number of starts he’s had above AA on two hands. I think he needs to be in AAA.
  • Corbin, who is making $23M this year and is under contract through the 2024 season (and its balloon gift payment of a $35M payroll figure that year) continues to dumbfound observers; how could someone be so effective two years ago and fall apart so comprehensively? He’s now posting an 8.69 ERA, a whip north of 2.0, and a 43 ERA+ this season. His only saving grace right now is his obscenely high BABIP of .443, which leads to a normal looking FIP of 3.69 … better than Grey’s amazingly. So, maybe he’s just had a very unlucky April in terms of balls finding their way into the outfield. Either way, he’s not going anywhere, not when he comprises such a large percentage of the payroll and there’s nobody really pushing from AAA for a promotion.
  • Fedde, the guy who I was convinced would get non-tendered this off season (given that he was out of options and pitched horribly in 2021), instead is tendered a contract and given $2.1M guaranteed dollars to be our 5th starter … and has been pitching like it. 6.00 ERA, 1.55 whip, mediocre FIP. He’s yet another example of a guy who, if he had been a 15th rounder and gotten $125K as a signing bonus would have LONG ago been DFA’d and buried in AAA, but because of the “investment” made in him in terms of signing bonus so many years ago, continues to throw MLB innings that virtually ensure losses.
  • Aaron Sanchez at one point was a Fantasy stud, a phenomenal starter for Toronto. Now he’s back in the majors and probably has a pretty extended shot at sticking around. His first two starts were meh, but his peripherals don’t look too bad yet. Now that he’s back in the majors though, he’s got enough service time to refuse a demotion, so he’ll either stick or get DFA’d. My guess is that if he shows any promise whatsoever, he’ll stick in the rotation at the expense of someone else, and the team will look to flip him at the deadline.
  • Josh Rogers was the guy who i thought merited a rotation spot from the get go, not some hail-mary chance at MLFA/NRI/washout Anibel Sanchez. But hey, old habits die hard right?
  • Speaking of Sanchez, he managed to hit the DL pretty much the MOMENT his $2M salary was guaranteed … and it remains to be seen when we’ll see him again. Nice move! His official DL reason was “Nerve impingment in neck.” Anyone want to bet how many starts we get out of him this year?

Hitting the 60-day DL before the season even started were our $35M albatross Stephen Strasburg, who the team still says expects to throw “20-25 starts” this year. I’ll take the under. Joe Ross is earning $2.4M this year to probably sit on the DL for several months with his elbow bone ship removal surgery just done. And of course who can forget our favorite 1st round draft pick Seth Romero, who was recalled and dumped onto the 60-day DL with what was called a “calf strain,” this after suffering a ‘stiff back’ during spring training, and this after suffering a “rib injury” that cost him half of 2021. At what point can he suffer a “DFA injury?”

Next to get demoted/released? I can’t imagine Adon will be allowed to pitch like this the rest of the way and will eventually get pushed back to AAA. Fedde may get the dump if/when one of the DL starters is ready to return … but more likely Rogers (who has options) gets moved since the team has “less invested” in him of course.

What do I think happens next? No changes until Strasburg/Sanchez/Ross is ready to come off the DL.


AAA rotation:

https://www.milb.com/rochester/stats/pitching/games-started?playerPool=ALL

  • Sanchez: promoted and with good reason: 3 starts, 3.60 ERA is best of the AAA rotation, even if his peripherals were not that great (10/5 k/bb in 15 innings, 1.47 whip).
  • Verrett: I think he’s meant more to be a reliever but has 2 starts and 7 IP.  Maybe they put Braymer back in rotation.
  • Tetreault: 1.54 whip, 5.56 ERA but his fip is going to be lower b/c his BAA is decent.
  • Cavalli: interestingly on 13 Ks in 15 innings right now, ugly era 6.23, but his whip is not bad 1.27 and he’s only got a .234 BAA.
  • Reyes: an offseason MLFA who now has a 14.18 ERA … seems like he’s getting ready to get released.
  • Jrodriguez: weird numbers: 8.31 ERA but only a .184 BAA. .. oh its b/c he has 10 walks in 13 innings.  Another guy who seems to be just holding down a rotation spot til they’re ready to promote someone from AA.
  • Sharp: put in a spot start in place of the now departed Sanchez and wasn’t half bad (5ip, 4hits 2 runs), and should probably go into the rotation.

Next to get promoted? Nobody is earning it anytime soon; maybe someone like Sharp if they need a spot starter in the majors, but the Nats already has a couple guys in the bullpen who can do that (Espino, Voth).

Next to get demoted/released? Reyes seems to be out of here soon. JRodriguez may not be far behind.

What do I think happens next? Reyes gets released, the team promotes two guys from AA, Verrett and Sharp go back to the pen and we run with Tetreault, Cavalli, JRodriguez and two guys we’re about to cover in the next section…


AA Rotation:

https://www.milb.com/harrisburg/stats/pitching?playerPool=ALL&sortState=asc

  • Fuentes: 4 competent starts so far; no surprise from someone who should be in AAA. Whip is a little high, should be doing more against AA pitchers.
  • Gausch: Decent numbers, 3.66 era, 1.27 whip, really nice BAA of .194. Pretty good for his first time facing AA hitters. Probably needs to do this for most of the season before promotion.
  • Henry: uh… 13 ip, just 3 hits given up to go with 4 walks. So that’s around 1/2 a baserunner per inning. It goes without saying his era is 0.00 and his BAA is a miniscule 0.073. But, the team is only throwing him 3-4 innings an outing. Obviously, a month in the guy is looking like a sure fire promotion but he’s gotta get his endurance up.
  • Herrera: ERA ugly, but peripherals not bad. He’s too old for the level and either needs to move up or out.
  • Lee: about what we’re expecting; lots of Ks and lots of walks (14/10 in 14 innings). ERA belies some bad peripherals and he’s likely to see that rise soon. Needs more time.

Next to get promoted? Henry and Fuentes.

Next to get demoted/released? Herrera.

What do I think happens next? We probably don’t see much change here for another month, then we see Henry and perhaps Fuentes moved up. Who takes their place? Well, not for nothing but two of our more advanced SP prospects (Cate and Carrillo) are on the AA DL right now; Cate is doing rehab starts and is back soon, Carrillo’s shoulder barked and he may be out for a bit, but it’d make sense for these two to slide in before considering a High-A promotion. They also have an excellent long reliever/spot starter in Alex Troop who is having a fine season who could slot into the rotation soon. There’s nobody really pressing in the immediate from High-A for now, so solutions may come from within. See Next section.


High-A

https://www.milb.com/wilmington/stats/pitching?playerPool=ALL&sortState=asc

  • Cuevas: solid. 2.79 ERA, 1.09 whip, .179 BAA. That’s not bad for a 23rd rounder who hasn’t turned 21 yet. We may have a find on our hands here.
  • Irvin: 4 starts after two lost seasons and things are looking promising; miniscule 0.69 ERA, similarly small whip, great k/bb 13/2 in 13 innings. Like Henry above him, Irvin is being eased back into starts, just going 3 or 4 at a time, but we’re starting to remember why we drafted him.
  • Merrill: strugging; a walk an inning. a 5.00 ERA that might be higher in FIP. Might make sense to put in the pen.
  • Parker: is continuing the great performance we saw last year in Low-A so far; 2.08 ERA, a .111 BAA. 25 Ks in 17 innings is amazing … but 14 walks in 17 innings is not.
  • Shuman: repeating the level and posting a 5.27 ERA, though his peripherals indicate that’s unlucky. He’s one-thrid of trade bounty we got from Oakland in the Gomes/Harrison deal last trade deadline, so the team doesn’t have a ton invested.

Next to get promoted? Cuevas and Irvin, but no time soon.

Next to get demoted/released? Shuman.

What do I think happens next? Irvin isn’t moving up until he’s doing 6ip a night, same as Henry, so maybe both their fates are tied to each other. Cuevas is lower profile and young, so he might not be moving up anytime soon either. Two of the long relievers here (Knowles and Pena) are having solid seasons and could move into the rotation if need be. There’s not a lot of pressure in Low-A pushing up right now, so we may see this unit intact until the July (see next).


Low-A

https://www.milb.com/fredericksburg/stats/pitching/games-started?playerPool=ALL

  • Lara: 6.75 ERA, but a nice K/BB 21/6 in 14 innings. He’s punching a ton of guys out, but letting in a ton of contact. He’s only 19, 3-4 years younger than anyone else in this rotation, so we should be patient here.
  • Saenz: a nice line of 3.74 ERA, 1.34 whip, 26/6 K/BB in 21 innings. This is a solid line and should he continue it he should be in line to move up later this season.
  • Theophile: Crushing it so far in a huge turnaround from last year in the same level: 0.86 ERA through 4 starts, and a great 30/5 K/BB in 21 innings. Love that line. I’d like to see this continue for a while though, since he got shelled for the same team last year (5.56 ERA in 22 starts)
  • Alvarez; 5.93 ERA, decent K/9 numbers, 1.46 whip. Probably needs to step it up a bit.
  • Caceres is the only guy here who didn’t end last year on this staff and it shows: ERA north of 7 but an interesting 20/3 k/bb ratio in 14 innings.
  • Collins: the 2021 17th rounder ended last year in the Low-A rotation but now is getting stretched out a bit and the early returns are good: 20/3 K/BB in 12 innings, 3.55 ERA, 1.11 whip. I like that.

Its hard to tell if Low-A is doing a 6-man rotation or is throwing a 6th spot starter in all over the place. They also have Seijas in the pen who is throwing almost starter innings in relief (though not that effectively).

Next to get promoted? Theophile

Next to get demoted/released? Caceres.

What do I think happens next? there’s a couple guys sitting in XST who might profile here (Dyson, AHernandez, Stoeckinger if he’s still with the club at this point). But more likely the team shuffles around its long relievers to fill rotation spots if they need them until we start seeing the FCL team start to play and the 2022 draft take shape. We may end up with an SEC starter in the upper rounds who could go straight to low-A mid-season once the deck chairs start to shuffle. Until then, I can’t see anyone getting promoted, even Theophile, for another month at least.

Written by Todd Boss

May 3rd, 2022 at 10:40 am