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2021 Winding Down; Draft position and Award predictions

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Is this it for Mr. Face of the Franchise? Photo via WashingtonTimes.com

It has been a while since I posted. My work life has heated up considerably, but also … What is there to talk about really? There’s little to play for, no reason to call up anyone else who hasn’t already been called up, and the team (and the sport in general) faces an interesting off-season.

So, what story lines are there for the first week of October?


First things first: 2022 Draft positioning: the team enters its last series with Boston at 65-94. Tied with Miami for the 5th worst record, and with no chance of either team moving any further up or down the 2022 draft board. Washington and Miami will be drafting 5th and 6th next year; this weekend will determine the order.

Last time the Nats drafted this high, they got Anthony Rendon. The list of players drafted 5th overall over the past 20 years or so is pretty promising: it includes the likes of Buster Posey and Ryan Braun. It includes this year’s likely NL Rookie of the Year Jonathan India. And it includes a ton of busts (though most of them were HS blow outs). so we can dream on next year. The 5th or 6th overall pick might net us someone like Kevin Parada, C, Georgia Tech who started for Team USA this past summer. Or maybe another prep phenom like Andruw “Druw” Jones, OF, Wesleyan HS (Ga.), Son of the original Andruw Jones who has his father’s combination of speed and power. we’ll see

Prediction? With the Nats playing Boston (who still might net a WC spot) and the Marlins playing Philadelphia (who were just eliminated), odds are favorable of the Nats locking up the #5 spot in the draft.


Next story line: is this the end of the road for Ryan Zimmerman? He just finished his age 36 season with decent enough numbers for a bench bat: 103 OPS+ figure is just fine for the amount he’s being paid and what he brings to the clubhouse. Why not give it another go? Yes he’s got the personal services contract thing guaranteed … but I feel like there’s a solid chance the DH is put into the next CBA (both sides want it), which would give added life to someone like Zimmerman. Especially if the team decides not to really “try” in 2022 and to kind of stand pat with the existing roster for a season and allow for its gazillion newly acquired prospects to matriculate up.


Speaking of the CBA and the DH … we’ll be talking more in the off-season for sure about the CBA. I’m currently betting on some variation of the following to all occur:

  • work stoppage
  • Universal DH
  • minimum salary cap and continuation of luxury tax cap
  • international draft
  • Flat rate service time (i.e. you’re automatically a FA at age 29)
  • pitch clocks, robot umpires, lefty pickoff elimination, and shift banning.

Not all of these things will be “good” for the sport, but some will be and I hope we don’t see too much of a work stoppage.


We’re seeing some end of season prospect/farm system lists coming out; verdict seems to be that the Nats’ mid-season barrage has moved them from a consensus #30 system to somewhere in the low 20s. That’s not too bad. Unfortunately we’ve seen some variance in the cream of our top prospects’ performance that probably keeps us in that general area. The good and the bad from 2021:

  • top prospects who excelled/impressed: Ruiz, Grey (now graudated from rookie status), Cavalli (Nats pitching prospect of the year and only Futures game representee), House (just named #2 FCL prospect for 2021)
  • top Prospects who kind of treaded water: Antuna (bad first half, decent 2nd half), Lara (young but iffy FCL results),
  • Top Prospects who struggled/faltered: Rutledge, Henry (hurt most of year), Armando Cruz (did not impress in the DSL despite his massive signing bonus), Mendoza (demoted and poor), Romero (yet another inexplicable set of spring training circumstances and never got out of minors), Denaburg (TJ and a wasted 1st round pick), Cate (5+ ERA in AA), Cronin (hurt, then struggled in AA)

Might have to do a season wrap-up to go into these numbers more.


Next up is the Arizona Fall League; the Nats will be sending 7 or so players there. Who will we send? Well generally the Nats send players who fit one of these bills:

  • guys who were injured and need more playing time: clearly that includes Rutledge and Henry.  Maybe Matt Cronin
  • guys who are set to be rule-5 eligible and the team wants see them against better competition.  That includes a TON of 2018 college draftees for our team this year … from this list I could see guys like Canning, Rhinesmith, Cate especially.    Maybe Schaller.  Donovan Casey is rule-5 eligible and in AAA.
  • Oher top prospects who we want to see challenged: maybe Antuna fits here, maybe Jackson Cluff.
  • Extra Catchers: they always need catchers.  So look for someone random like Reetz (who was just DFA’d) or Pineda.

So, my 2021 AFL roster prediction is: Rutledge, Henry, Cronin, Pineda, Canning, Antuna, Cluff.


Lastly, my award predictions. I usually do a massive post on this but I just don’t have time.

  • AL MVP: Ohtani (Vlad Jr 2nd)
  • AL Cy Young: Robbie Ray
  • AL Rookie: Arozarena (only because Franco showed up so late)
  • AL Manager; no idea. I can’t beleive i’m saying this but Tony La Russa might actually win it.
  • NL MVP: Bryce Harper (who yes i think pips Soto and Tatis).
  • NL Cy Young: Corbin Burnes (over Wheeler, Scherzer)
  • NL rookie: Jonathan India
  • NL Manager: Gabe Kaper SF Giants: has to be; a team that wins 100 games that went into the season figuring it was a 3rd or 4th place team?

Written by Todd Boss

October 1st, 2021 at 1:25 pm

Posted in Nats in General

Trade Deadline impact on Farm system depth

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Kiebert Ruiz is our new #1 prospect post trade deadline. Photo WP

The 2021 season may be lost, but the impact to the farm system will be seen (or is currently being seen) pretty quickly. And the first such indicator is the pundit’s farm system ranks. We’re already seeing solid movement northwards from our basement ranking since July 31st.

Just to be clear, every single major ranking bureau had the Nat’s farm system ranked 30th out of 30 last off season. Bleacher Report, Keith Law/The Athletic, Prospects 1500, Baseball America, Kiley McDaniel/ESPN, Baseball Prospectus, and MLBPipeline (if Eric Longenhagen/Fangraphs did an pre-season ranking, I can’t find it). No arguments; across the board suckitude.

However, the trade deadline brought us a great bounty of players. As did the 2021 draft. And so will the 2022 draft, which we’re currently projecting to pick 5th in. Here’s a list of our newly acquired players and their rough ranking in our system upon arrival (rough rankings based on combined input from MLBpipeline, Fangraphs and Baseball America’s updated prospect rankings):

  • Kiebert Ruiz: new #1 or #2 prospect
  • Josiah Grey: new #2-#3 prospect, with Cavalli being in the mix depending on the service
  • Brady House: new #4 prospect
  • Gerardo Carrillo: new #7-#10 prospect
  • Daylen Lile: new #10-12 prospect
  • Aldo Ramirez: new #12-#15 prospect
  • Riley Adams; new #14-15 prospect
  • Mason Thompson: new #16-20 prospect
  • Patrick Murphy: new #20ish prospect
  • Brandon Boissere: new #22-25th prospect
  • Donovan Casey: new mid-20s prospect
  • Drew Millas: new mid-20s prospect
  • Jordy Barly: new late 20s prospect
  • T.J. White: new late 20s prospect

And that leaves out non-rookie status Lane Thomas, who suddenly is outplaying Victor Robles for starts. It also leaves out two additional org-arms we got in High-A starters Seth Shuman and Richard Guasch.

Anyway, the point is, this is a LOT of infused talent, especially in the top 10.

And we’re seeing it in the org rankings. Two shops have done updated system rankings post Trade/draft and the Nats have made great progress:

Baseball America jumped us from #30 to #23, saying “The Skinny: Normally a team with four Top 100 Prospects would rank significantly higher than this, but the gulf between the top prospects in the Nats system and the rest is massive.”

MLBPipeline jumped us from #30 to #20, saying, “A notable jump for the Nats, though this should have been expected. Washington went into sell mode at this year’s Trade Deadline, and nine of the current Top 30 came over in July deals alone, headlined by Ruiz and Gray in a blockbuster with the Dodgers. House — an infielder with plus power potential — was a promising addition as well at No. 11 overall, and Cavalli has looked like a potential 2020 first-round steal as a pitcher who has stayed at or near the top of the Minor League leaderboard in strikeouts all summer. There is still work to be done to make this a system worthy of a rebuild — impact hitting is a particular area of need beyond Ruiz and House — but the arrow is pointing in the right direction.

So, progress.

Written by Todd Boss

August 26th, 2021 at 1:13 pm

Posted in Nats in General

Post Trade Deadline Nats Status: Playing the Kids and Losing on Purpose

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New Acquisition Josiah Grey has looked pretty solid so far. Photo Washington Post.

The Nats did what they had to do at the trade deadline, flipping away 8 veterans (mostly FAs at the end of the season) and netting a boat load of prospects. This is kind of a clearing house post to talk about what’s transpired since and what to expect.

First off, I read another Nats blog today that talked about how the nats “really have to overperform to get to 87 wins.” Seriously? is there anyone out there that thinks this team is actually TRYING the rest of the way out?

This team is now 3-7 in their last 10, 7-13 in their last 20, and 10-20 in their last 30 games. That’s exactly the kind of production I hope to see the rest of the way out. Any win between now and Oct 1st is a game that sends the team the wrong way in the W/L standings and thus the wrong way in the 2022 draft.

Right now, the team sits in 23rd place amongst all teams, meaning they’d pick 8th in next year’s draft if the season ended now. They should be able to move up and underperform the next two teams below them (Kansas City and Minnesota, both of whom are playing around .500 ball over the past month and are showing signs of life), and may even get underneath Miami (who they “lead” by 3 games)… but that might be the extent of how bad they can get between now and the end of the season. The bottom 4 teams in the league are really, really going for it, and the Nats would have to play 10 games worse than Pittsburgh (who has been tanking all year, not just since July 30th) here on out to get into the top 5 in the draft. Reading the tea leaves, i’d guess the Nats end up with either the 5th or 6th pick in next year’s draft.

Last time they drafted that high? 2011, when they picked 6th overall and had Anthony Rendon fall to them.

It should be operation lose at all costs/play the kids from here on out.

Speaking of playing the Kids, so far the SSS verdicts on our trade returns has been decent:

  • Josiah Grey: 2 starts, 10 innings, 12 Ks. More please.
  • Mason Thompson: 3 clean outings in the bullpen. More please.
  • Riley Adams; well, didn’t think he was going to be in the bigs, but that was a solid dinger.
  • AAA Lane Thomas: nice start
  • AAA Kielbert Ruiz: ugly start
  • AA Gerardo Carrillo: a little more work to do; first start was underwhelming.
  • AA Donovan Casey: great start.
  • High-A: Drew Millas: 4 for 10 with a SB, not bad start for a Catcher.
  • High-A: Seth Shuman: 4 runs on 4 hits, 7 Ks but 2 homers in his first start.
  • High-A: Richard Guasch: a little unlucky in his first start, gave up 3 homers.
  • Low-A: Jordy Barly SS; not a good start; 13 Ks in 23 ABs in low-A start. Yikes.
  • FCL: Aldo Ramirez: yet to appear.

And, in Operation Figure Out If they Have Anything in the majors … so far the return of two very important prospects to the Majors has been fruitful:

  • Carter Kieboom is posting a 113 OPS+ in his 16 games back. And only 3 errors! (sarcasm).
  • Luis Garcia, not so much … same 82 OPS+ he posted last year, thought he is showing some pop with 3 homers since the end of July.

Please keep giving guys like Paolo Espino starts; if he’s an effective starter for MLB min, then don’t try to replace him in the off-season. Thanks to his 2020 opt-out, the team maintains control of Joe Ross for one more year too, at an arb salary figure that won’t be much more than a few million. He isn’t great, but he isn’t awful either so far in 2020.

Lastly, bravo to Gabe Klobotis for making the majors. I mean, the guy was a 36th round draft pick. He was drafted in a round that likely won’t exist anymore after the next CBA caps the draft rounds at 25-30 or so, since teams basically blow off their last 8-10 picks and have for years. It is patently amazing that a 36th rounder even hung out for more than a half a season, let alone earned promotion out of A-Ball, let alone made it to the majors. The Nats can count on one hand the number of guys who they’ve matriculated to the majors from such low draft positions: Brad Peacock (who was a 41st rounder in a different era of Draft-and-follow), maybe Billy Burns (a 32nd rounder in 2011), that’s it.

Lastly, Here’s a fun fact: of the 26 players on the current active roster…

  • 14 were in our Minor Leagues to start the season
  • 2 were in someone elses’ minor leagues (Grey and Thompson)
  • Just 10 were bonafide planned members of the Nats MLB roster to start 2021.

Its a brave new world.

Written by Todd Boss

August 9th, 2021 at 1:02 pm

Posted in Nats in General

Nats 2021 Firesale

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Well, hand it to Mike Rizzo; when he gets the go-ahead to dismantle … you don’t have to tell him twice.

The Nats GM traded almost every single player not nailed down on an expiring contract in the three days leading up to the 7/30/21 deadline, even moving guys who were ineffective, hurt, or with Covid.

Quick analysis/opinion: this was a required tear down, one that became painfully obvious with the sequence of events over the past two weeks (sweep in Baltimore, Strasburg TOS surgery, Covid breakdown, etc). So, kudos for the moves. Every player sent out was no surprise to get traded … with the exceptions of Scherzer and Turner. So lets give a couple moments on that trade.

Scherzer could not have a QO applied to him, so he was set to leave w/o compensation after 2021 anyway. Could he re-sign with us? Sure. But man he really wanted to be on the West Coast, as he made abundantly clear during the trade negotiations. I’m not sure why: he listed his McLean house for sale in 2020 and bought in Jupiter, Fla, both he and his wife are from Missouri, and I see no obvious ties to California. Nonetheless, I suppose he could re-up with the Nats but it seems more likely he’d sign with a competitive team in 2022 since the Nats will be rebuilding.

What do I think of Turner moving? I’m ok with it. We’ve heard a couple rumblings in the past about his rebuffing extension offers, and at this point he’s gotta be valued on a par with Francisco Lindor. Lindor got north of $300M from the Mets. Could Turner command that? I’m not sure, but would the Nats commit $300M to a 30-yr old SS whose primary skills are defensive and speed, two skills that quickly erode in your early 30s? Probably not; I think the Nats made this move when they were presented with the prospect package knowing they’d be saying good bye to him anyway at the trade deadline next year, so why not get what turned out to be a pretty darn good prospect haul.


Here’s a quick list of the players sent out:

  • Brad Hand lhp 7/29/21: traded to Toronto for Riley Adams
  • Kyle Schwarber LF 7/29/21: Traded to Boston for Aldo Ramirez
  • Daniel Hudson rhp 7/29/21: Traded to San Diego for Mason Thompson, Jordy Barley
  • Max Scherzer rhp 7/29/21: Traded to Los Angeles Dodgers for Gray, Carrillo, Ruiz, Casey
  • Trea Turner ss 7/29/21: Traded to Los Angeles Dodgers for Gray, Carrillo, Ruiz, Casey
  • Yan Gomes C 7/30/21: Traded to Oakland for Millas/Shuman/Guasch
  • Josh Harrison Utl 7/30/21: Traded to Oakland for Millas/Shuman/Guasch
  • Jon Lester LHP 7/30/21: Traded to St. Louis for Lane Thomas

And here’s the players acquired with their likely initial assignment:

  • Riley Adams C 7/29/21: acquired from Toronto for Hand: AAA
  • Aldo Ramirez RHP 7/29/21: acquired from Boston for Schwarber. FCL assignment but was in Low-A
  • Mason Thompson RHP 7/29/21: acquired from San Diego for Hudson. AAA
  • Jordy Barley SS 7/29/21: acquired from San Diego for Hudson. Low-A
  • Josiah Gray rhp 7/29/21: acquired from Los Angeles Dodgers for Scherzer/Turner MLB/AAA maybe
  • Gerardo Carrillo rhp 7/29/21: acquired from Los Angeles Dodgers for Scherzer/Turner. AA
  • Keibert Ruiz C 7/29/21: acquired from Los Angeles Dodgers for Scherzer/Turner. AAA
  • Donovan Casey OF 7/29/21: acquired from Los Angeles Dodgers for Scherzer/Turner. AA
  • Drew Millas C 7/30/21: acquired from Oakland for Gomes/Harrison. High-A
  • Seth Shuman RHP 7/30/21: acquired from Oakland for Gomes/Harrison High-A
  • Richard Guasch RHP 7/30/21: acquired from Oakland for Gomes/Harrison. High-A
  • Lane Thomas OF 7/30/21: acquired from St. Louis for Lester. AAA

Who on an expiring was NOT moved? Well, the list is small.

  • Alex Avila; injured and Covid-infected backup catcher who is hitting a stout .167 this year. Probably not surprising.
  • Joe Ross, who has actually been halfway effective this season and is owed around $5 the rest of the way. Surprising he didn’t go somewhere for a low-A prospect.
  • Alcedis Escobar: i’m assuming he’s a MLFA/regular FA at the end of the season. Perhaps teams think his production is a mirage.
  • Jordy Mercer: the currently injured aging 2B/utility guy, probably not a lot of takers.
  • Gerardo Parra: can’t get rid of the Shark!
  • Ryan Zimmerman: well, he wasn’t going to go anywhere regardless.
  • Rene Rivera; well, somebody’s gotta catch tonight.
  • Luis Avilan: not a big market for mid-30s relievers recovering from Tommy John surgery

Man, we still had some moves in us! Just kidding.


Ok. So, like a kid on Christmas morning, lets take a look at what we got back in return. By quick analysis of dynamic Fangraphs and MLBpipeline prospect lists, these trades netted the team the following:

  • its new #1 and #2 prospects in Josiah Grey and Keibert Ruiz. A starter who is MLB ready and a C who is probably also MLB ready right now. Grey should slot right into the Nats rotation, Ruiz probably as well. Both are already on the 40-man.
  • Two other top-10 prospects in Gerardo Carrillo and Aldo Ramirez. Carrillo is a big-arm, young (22), already at AA, lots of Ks per 9, could probably race to the majors as a 100-mph reliever. Ramirez is in Low-A, is also a starter and has immaculate numbers so far for his minor league career.
  • Four more mid-teens prospects in Riley Adams, Mason Thompson, Drew Millas, and Jordy Barley. Adams is a AAA-capable Catcher, one of three we acquired this week, two of which could go straight to the majors and end the MLFA parade going on there. Thompson is a AAA setup guy who could be useful going forward. Millas is a lower-level catching prospect, a High-A guy who will cover for the lack of progress out of Pineda. Lastly Barley is a very young SS IFA prospect who should slot in at LowA.
  • Three non-top30 prospects who give us some depth in Donovan Casey, Seth Shuman, and Richard Guasch. Casey is a AA OF prospect we got from LAD, while Shuman+Guasch were 2/5ths of Oakland’s High-A rotation. Wilmington now has 9-10 starter arms for just 5 spots.
  • The last deal of the day didn’t give us a prospect but a 4th OF type in Lane Thomas, who may go straight to DC or may go to AAA.

I mean, you can’t help but like the fact that we just augmented 7 guys into our farm that rank in teh top 30, pushing out the bottom 7 guys on that ranking previously. Both the two major prospects from the Dodgers are consensus top-50 guys in the industry, certainly better than our top 2 before (Cavalli and Rutledge).

So mission accomplished; we got a lot of prospects for a lost season.

Coincidentally, i’ve got up-to-date all my artifacts:

  • Big Board: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/186nm-v5F-zTCoR2Be7TFYM3e2cZ-gYi2WVqJLEkHdmc/ . By my count we’re down to 37/40 with all these moves on the 40-man but will certainly need 26-man reinforcements stat.
  • Big Board’s 2021 releases populated and all acquisitions put into their approximate places/assignments. May have to edit as they actually get assigned, since the Nats have a habit of taking a guy who was in AA, acquire him, then stick him in High-A.
  • My private roster machinations file and Trade history files.
  • My private Natioanls Prospect XLS, which takes the most time since it was updated with both MLBpipeline and Fangraphs dynamic additions of new prospects. I need to put this artifact online.
  • Oh btw finished off the 2021 draft class data at the Draft Tracker too: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Qd5DS9GlmkQOEh_zGhOvlhHK0EegqY1uJB4mLGmRBaY/ . Busy day.

Still need to clean up options tab; there’s been so many moves since I last updated it in mar 2021.

Written by Todd Boss

July 30th, 2021 at 5:14 pm

Posted in Nats in General

Nats Trade Candidates

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As we get closer to the trade deadline, and it becomes increasingly clear that the 2021 version of the Nats just don’t have what it’s going to take to make a playoff run, GM Mike Rizzo should start working the phones, looking to trade every and all assets.

Starting with pending FAs.

Who are our pending free agent trade candidates? https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1F2ffhCS3Wt8HKiyH7A2Rnsp3tuDw-jOPmvz6-w-fArI/edit

Per the above Cots link, here’s our total FAs after 2021: Scherzer, Hand, Castro, Gomes, Hudson, Avila, Joe Ross (amazingly), Mercer, Avilan (who had TJ), Harrison, Zimmerman. Furthermore, Guys with 2022 options that can be declined include: Schwarber, Lester.

So, that’s a TON of expiring guys who could fetch prospects at the trade deadline if the team bails. Here’s quick categorization of each type of FA and their trade value:

  • Pending FAs who absolutely will fetch solid prospects: Scherzer, Hand, Hudson, Harrison.

Discussion: Parting ways with Scherzer should come with a discussion with him that basically says “go forth and attempt to pitch in the post season and we’ll be calling on Nov 5th.” He’s a 10-and-5 guy, The team should absolutely attempt to get him back for the remainder of his career, since I think he’s still got gas in the tank and I think he becomes the first Curly-W in Cooperstown. Hand = obvious: you don’t need a closer on a 4th place team. Same with Hudson, who just came back from the DL and has been throwing bullets. I love Harrison, I love the energy he brings, and perhaps a reunion after the off-season could be had, but for now, he can give us some prospects.

  • Pending FAs who are useful pieces who can fetch something of value: Lester

Discussion: Well, this list was a lot longer before a slate of injuries (and off-the-field issues) whittled it to just Lester. Lets be honest; all those who criticized the signing in the off-season at the expense of others … well you’re right. He has not been good. A 5.00 ERA in the NL is just bad. Does he actually have any value in trade? Maybe not. Maybe he belongs in the next group.

  • Pending FAs who have been awful or hurt and will barely fetch anything, if at all: Avila, Gomes, Ross, Mercer, Avilan, Schwarber, Castro.

Discussion: of course, given the Nats bad luck, it works out that most of our expiring contracts are sitting on the DL at the trade deadline and are likely worthless in trade. Avilan had TJ and is done. Ross has an oblique and was not quite league average this year. Mercer a replaceable veteran 2B/SS guy who would have to be healthy. Gomes would have been a useful trade piece; hurt. Castro may never play again for obvious reasons. That leaves Schwarber, who may be out for another month and who the team may be looking to re-up anyway.

Pending FAs who won’t be moved for obvious reasons: Zimmerman

Mr National can’t possibly go elsewhere can he?


So, maybe we can net a few assets, especially for Scherzer, who we’d obviously give a qualifying offer to and thus would be expecting a 1st-round calibre prospect in return.

Written by Todd Boss

July 24th, 2021 at 2:17 pm

Posted in Nats in General

Nats 2021 top 10 picks with ranks and thoughts

73 comments

Yes I know, this is the same picture i used yesterday. Might as well; it seems like the team has blown most of its draft pool on him.

Note: I have updated the Draft Tracker for the 2021 draft, both the master board and the 2021 draft notes boards).

I have more details about signing bonus calculus and player notes/twitter accounts on the 2021 worksheet, in case you’re wondering why I separate them.

By now, you’ve probably heard about our picks and read a ton of responses in the commentary. Nonetheless, here’s some thought and insight into our 2021 picks.

Using various pundit draft board rankings (listed at the bottom for reference), here’s how our picks were thought of before the draft.  Along with some commentary from me.

  • 1st Round/#11 overall: Brady House, SS/3B Winder Barrow HS (GA).   Law=11.  MLBPipeline=8.  BA=7.  Fangraphs=9.  ESPN=5. Prospects1500: 6

Thoughts: Discussed in a separate post here. Short version: great pick, great value for a guy who many pundits thought would go top 3-5. Based on where the pundits generally had House ranked, the Nats definitely seemed to get solid value even at the #11 spot in the draft.

  • 2nd round/#47 overall: Daylen Lile, OF Trinity HS (KY). Louisville commit. Law > 100.  MLBPipeline=80.  BA=62.  Fangraphs ~80.  ESPN=47. Prospects1500: 70.

Thoughts: MLB’s scouting reports describe him as a gap hitter, but his size (6’0″) makes you wonder if he can develop power. Despite his understated stature, he’s apparently limited to LF because of a lack of arm strength? A curious pick, especially since he was projected more like a 3rd rounder. Is this a value pick to save on bonus money? I can’t imagine so; a HS player in the 2nd round isn’t taking a discount. Also, not for nothing … another prep player. Is Mike Rizzo gearing up for a possible rebuild by going young in the draft? A completely typical Nats pick (Brendan Beck, rhp from Stanford) went just a few picks later, a famous guy who you would have thought was a shoe-in for the Nats. Based on the scouting ratings, it seems across the board that the Nats overpaid for this pick. I thought one scouting report in BA was especially prescient: “Lile’s profile has been one that teams prefer to send to college where he will have a chance to prove his hitting ability.”

  • 3rd Round/#82 overall: Branden Boissiere, an OF/1B from University of Arizona. Law > 100.  MLBPipeline=159.  BA=143.  Fangraphs >100 .  ESPN > 100. Prospects1500: 181

Thoughts: Seems like a slot-saver once again. Boissiere is 1B limited (listed as an OF but that was limited LF exposure early in his career). He can definitely hit though: slash line on the year: .369/.451/.506 but only 5 homers. Sweet swing, not a ton of power, Mark Grace comp. Another odd pick though in the grand scheme of things.

  • 4th round/#112 overall: Dustin Saenz, a LHP from Texas A&M. MLBPipeline=189.  BA=143.  Prospects1500: 136.

Thoughts: The scouting reports list him as TAMU’s swing man for most of his career but was a weekend starter this year. He had decent numbers on the season; in 14 starts a 4.27 ERA, 1.26 whip, 104/23 in 84ip. I like those K/IP numbers a lot, especially since he’s pitching in the SEC. He had a couple of rough outings this season against top SEC teams (Florida, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Arkansas all got to him), but he finished his SEC slate by pitching 8 innings of 2-hit ball against LSU. Scouting reports have him sitting low 90s and being undersized (5’11”). Seems like a bit of a slot saver yet again, but likely a decent lefty matchup reliever arm at the next level with deception. I’m beginning to wonder if the Nats promised Brady House … well, the house.

  • 5th Round/#143 overall: TJ White, a prep OF from Dorman HS (SC). MLBPipeline= n/r.  BA=360.  Prospects1500: 346

Thoughts: Is Mike Rizzo sick today? he’s taken three high school players in his first 5 rounds after taking just a handful of prep players in the top 10 rounds in the last decade. White is somewhat unknown, but is listed as having 70 power at BA, a switch hitter, and is an Indiana recruit. Corner OF limited apparently, making him the third positionally challenged player the team has taken. Is he underslot? Maybe; if he’s ranked in the mid 300s at best, that’s a 10th round player projection. If they offered him anywhere close to slot he may take it.

  • 6th round/#173 overall: Michael Kirian, LHP from Louisville. BA=274.  Prospects1500: 262

Thoughts: Rizzo’s second college arm … and likely his second lefty reliever. He was a reliever for most of his Louisville career, transitioned to the rotation this year and struggled. His 2021 stat line: 4.80 ERA, 1.41 whip, 75/28 K/BB in 69 IP. He seemed to be doing fine in the rotation, but then had 4 straight starts against UVA, Clemson, Duke and UNC where he got shelled each week, then got dumped from the rotation for the rest of the season. He’s huge though: 6’6″ and the scouting reports say he creates deception and odd angles. Great; a loogy. More and more i’m thinking these are all underslot guys to pay House.

  • 7th Round/#203 overall: Jacob Young, OF/2B from UFlorida. BA=354, Prospects1500: 200

Thoughts: A more slight guy (6’0″ and just 175) who played LF this year (to make way for the more “famous” Jud Fabian, but who is clearly a CF and also can play 2B. Listed as a speed guy with a solid hit tool, he started all 60 games for Florida this year and slashed .315/.385/.461 with 5 homers and 13/14 SBs. Not too bad; I mean, at least he had 5 homers. Per BA, he led the Gators in hits (80), doubles (16), runs (56) and stolen bases (13) this spring. Not a bad pick in the 7th round.

  • 8th round/#233 overall: Will Frizzell, 1B from Texas. BA=418, Prospects1500=211.

Thoughts: Well, Frizzell absolutely destroyed at the plate this year; his slash line was .343/.451/.686 with 19 homers in 56 games. Lefty hitting 1B who BA says is a poor defender and may have to DH in pro ball. Well, lets let him hit his way up before we worry about where he’s playing. Despite his power, he’s listed as a plus hitter as well, so maybe the team has someone to push Drew Mendoza now. An excellent senior sign in the 8th round.

  • 9th round/#264 overall: Cole Quintanilla, RHP from Texas. BA=300.

Thoughts: College reliever for Texas, led their staff in ERA on the year with an excellent 1.35 era/0.83 whip. 42/11 K/BB in 40 innings (26 appearances). So he projects as a middle reliever. BA notes “Quintanilla is the typical fastball-slider reliever with a 91-95 mph average fastball and a plus low-80s slider.” TJ surgery in 2018 (wouldn’t be a Nats draft if we didn’t draft someone who had TJ), but no issues reported. Decent senior pick at this juncture, can’t complain especially since he likely signs for a fraction of slot.

  • 10th round/#274 overall: Darren Baker 2B from Cal Berkely. BA=187, Prospect1500=326

Thoughts: well, we drafted him in 2017, likely as a favor to Dusty Baker (who we summarily fired), and now we got him again in 2021. In the interim, he’s moved from SS to 2B. Lets see if its “third time’s a charm” about drafting a second baseman from UC Berkeley; we tried it in 2009 (2nd rounder Jeff Kobernus) and in 2012 (2nd rounder Tony Renda). Baker has almost no power (just 1 homer in 4 years in college) but has a ton of speed (top 10 in the nation in SBs) and is a plus defender at 2B. BA thinks he could play OF, but his arm is limited. Solid hitter (slashed .327/.402/.354). I suppose a 10th round senior sign who fills a spot of need (have you guys seen the 2B depth chart in the minors right now? Its MLFAs, NDFAs and 20th rounders).


top 10 picks Draft summary:

  • 7 hitters, 3 Arms (wow)
  • 3 prep, 7 college (wow)
  • Of the 3 arms, all three likely projecting as relievers
  • Of the 7 bats, two likely 1B, one CF, one 2B, two likely corner OF and House, who likely moves to 3B.

Conjecture on over/under slot needs in top 10 rounds

  • Players who are likely commanding over-slot: House
  • Players who are likely signing for slot: Lile, White, Young
  • Players who are likely under slot: Boissiere, Saenz, Kirian, Frizzell, Quintanilla, Baker.

Draft Board Rankings

Written by Todd Boss

July 13th, 2021 at 12:46 pm

Nats land House in the 1st!

2 comments

House surprisingly falls to Nats at #11

Every year I meticulously follow mock drafts, collect them, analyze them. And then every year the mocks seem to get thrown out the window once the draft starts, resulting in some shocking results. The Nats have been the beneficiaries of this in the past (see the Anthony Rendon draft), but for the past number of years they’ve mostly stayed true to form and picked a player that they were well known to be interested in. This is partly because Mike Rizzo has a very specific draft strategy/player development strategy in the draft (heavily focusing on college pitchers), partly because the Nats are not afraid to deal with players who are tied to Scott Boras as an advisor, and partly because the Nats seem to like “famous” players that suddenly start falling in the draft.

So, 2021 was no different. There were several shocks above the Nats, with players curiously rising (Frank Mozzicato and Sam Bachman) and players curiously falling (Khalil Watson and Ty Madden). And at #11, bucking practically every prediction made this spring, the Nats did NOT draft a pitcher and went with Brady House.

House was, in the early parts of 2020, an early prediction to go 1-1 in the 2021 draft class thanks to his standout performances on the showcase circuit. He’s a Georgia prep kid, an early commit to Tennessee, and he was a nationally known prospect well before he got to his senior season. As often happens with the more “famous” prospects, the shine wore off on House as he had some hiccups in the 2020 summer wood-bat circuits. However, he performed more than adequately in the spring 2021 season.

We saw this “prospect fatigue” with Kumar Rocker as well; how does he slip from also being a 1-1 candidate all the way to #10? People look for flaws in these famous prospects, not strengths, and when Rocker (for example) wasn’t as dominant as he normally can be in the CWS (pitching on short rest, mind you), suddenly there’s “concerns” and scouting departments end up outsmarting themselves. This is precisely how the Nats got Rendon in 2011 … and now its how we got House in 2021.

House was projected in multiple final mock drafts to go as high as #3. He’s a big kid 6’3″ with incredible power, the defensive chops to start at SS (even if we think he moves to 3B), and can also hit 96 on the mound. A great comp for him might very well be a Nolan Arenado; a guy with an amazing arm, a former SS who has become a perennial gold glover at 3B, and who has prodigious power.

Suffice it to say; I like this pick. Yes he’s a prep kid, meaning he’s of no real immediate help, but based on our 2021 team and the turnover we likely face this coming off-season, we may be entering a rebuilding phase anyway, and House could be part of a crew that helps kick-start the franchise in a few years.

Yes, we drafted a projected 3B when our current #1 prospect (Carter Kieboom) is also a 3B; it does not matter. You do not draft for need in MLB; you draft best player available and deal with positional flexibility later on. If we are somehow faced with the prospect of having both Kieboom and House pushing to product at the MLB level in a few years? We deal with it then, through a position change (3B to 2B, or keep House at SS, or move someone to a corner OF) or a trade.

Verdict: great pick, happy to have nabbed a great talent in the 1st round.

Written by Todd Boss

July 12th, 2021 at 10:19 am

2021 Draft Coverage: Final Mock Draft Wrap-up and Nats Prediction

37 comments

Here’s this year’s Mock Draft collection.  We usually see the first crazy-early mock just after the 2020 drafts, then again after the end of the 2020 season when the draft order is more or less determined, then it really starts to heat up in May.

I’ll keep adding to this list as Mocks come in; they’re generated all the way up to the day of the draft by the major pundits.  If i’m missing a ranking here, please let me know.


Here’s the Mock draft collection.  I’ve generally listed their top-5 and then who they project the Nats to take at #22 (if they project out that far).  this year i’m ordering them Chronologically as rec’d instead of grouping by pundit…. this should let us see kind of an evolution of the top of the draft.  Players are bolded the first time they’re mentioned, not again afterwards.

  • Baseball America (Carlos Collazo) Way too Early 2021 Mock, 6/12/20: Kumar Rocker, Jack Leiter, Brady House, Adrian Del Castillo, Matt McLain
  • BA (Collazo) v1.0 Draft 1/4/21: (missed it)
  • BA (Collazo) v2.0 draft 3/29/21Jordan Lawlar, Rocker, Leiter, Marcello Mayer, Del Castillo.  Nats take House.
  • Prospects365 (Mason McRae) 2021 Mock draft v1.0 6/25/20: Rocker, Leiter, Jud FabianLuke Leto, McLain
  • Prospects365 (Mason McRae) 2021 Mock draft v2.0 9/4/20: Rocker, Fabian, Leiter, Del Castillo, Jaden Hill
  • Prospects365 (Ian Smith) 2021 Mock Draft 1.0 11/9/20: Rocker, Leiter, Jordan Lawlar, Hill, Fabian.  Nats take James Wood, prep OF from IMG Academy in Fla. Not sure this is really credible.
  • MLBPipeline (Callis/Mayo) Apr 2021 mock draft 4/26/21: Leiter, Lawlar, Rocker, Mayer, House.  Nats take Jackson Jobe, RHP, Heritage Hall HS (Okla.).
  • BA (Collazo) v3.0 Mock draft 4/28/21: Leiter, Lawlar, Mayer, Rocker, House.  Nats also take Jobe.
  • MLBpipeline (Callis): May 2021 mock 5/6/21: Lawlar, Leiter, Mayer, Rocker, House.  Nats at 11 take Jobe.
  • ESPN (Kiley McDaniel) May 11 2021 Mock 1.0: Lawlar, Leiter, Mayer, Rocker, Davis. Nats at 11 take Jobe.
  • CollegeBaseballDaily May 2021 mock 5/12/21: Rocker, Leiter, Lawlar, Kahlil Wilson, Mayer. (only a top 5)
  • MLBpipeline (Mayo) May 2021 mock 5/20/21: Mayer, Lawlar, Davis, House, Leiter.  Nats take Ty Madden, RHP Friday night starter from UTexas.
  • BA (Collazo): v4.0 Mock Draft 5/24/21: Lawlar, Mayer, House, Leiter, Davis.  Nats take Jobe.
  • ESPN/McDaniel Mock 1.0 5/25/21: Lawlar, Leiter, Mayer, Rocker, Davis.  Nats take Jobe.
  • Athletic (Keith Law) Mock draft v1.0 5/27/21: Davis, Lawlar, Mayer, Rocker, Harry Ford prep C from GA (cost savings move). Nats take Bachman.
  • MLBpipeline (Callis) 6/10/21 mock: Mayer, Leiter, Jobe (!), Davis,
    Sal Frelick, OF, Boston College (in a cost-saving move). Nats at #11 take Sam Bachman, RHP, Miami (Ohio)
  • ProspectsLive 6/8/21 mock draft: Davis, Watson, Mayer, Leiter,
    Harry Ford, C/2B/OF, North Cobb HS (cost saving move). Has Rocker falling to Nats at #11 … not a credible mock.
  • CBSsports (Mike Axisa) 6/11/21 mock: Davis, Lawlar, Mayer, Leiter,
    Frelick. Nats get Jobe.
  • Fangraphs (Longenhagen & Goldstein) 6/14/21 mock: Mayer, Lawlar, House, Leiter, Davis. Nats get Frelick, though mention that this is likely Rocker’s floor if he slips, and don’t count out Gunnar Hogeland (a top 10 guy who had TJ and has slipped).
  • MLBpipeline (Mayo) 6/16/21 mock draft: Mayer, Watson, Jobe, Leiter, Lawlar. Nats get Bachman.
  • CalltothePen (David Mullen): top 5 mock 6/17/21: Rocker, Leiter, Davis, Lawlar, Mayer. This mock is ridiculous; most pundits have Rocker closer to the Nats at #11 than #1 overall.
  • ESPN (McDaniel) Mock 2.0 6/18/21: Mayer, Davis, House, Leiter, Watson. Nats get Madden, who they take over Bachman, who he doesn’t have in the 1st round. Interesting.
  • MLBpipeline (Callis) 6/23/21 mock: Mayer, Leiter, Jobe, Lawlar, Davis. Nats get Bachman.
  • Athletic (Law): 6/24/21 mock draft v2.0: Mayer, Lawlar, Leiter, Davis, Colton Cowser, OF from Sam Houston State (on a discount). Nats take Jobe.
  • Baseball America (Collazzo): Mock draft v5.0 6/25/21: Mayer, Lawlar, Jobe, Leiter, Watson. Nats take Madden (over Bachman).
  • CBSsports (Axisa) 6/25/21 mock: Mayer, Lawlar, Jobe, Leiter, Davis. Nats take Bachman (though he mentions Hogeland)
  • BleacherReport (Joel Reuter) 6/25/21 mock draft: Lawlar, Mayer, Leiter, Davis, McLain (cost saving move). Nats take Madden over Bachman.
  • MLBPipeline (Mayo) 7/1/21 mock draft: Mayer, Leiter, Jobe, Davis, Watson. Nats take Will Bednar, RHP, Mississippi State. This is a pure reaction to Bednar’s admittedly great CWS performance, but is a massive over-draft based on where Bednar was ranked just a week ago on most boards (early 2nd rounder). Mayo notes that he thinks really they’ll take Bachman, b/c in this scenario Madden already off the board.
  • ProspectsLive Staff Mock draft v6.0: Mayer, Leiter, Jobe, Davis, Watson. Nats take Madden, over Bachman or Bednar.
  • Fangraphs (Longenhagen/Goldstein) Mock draft v2.0 7/6/21: Mayer, Leiter, House, Davis, Cowser (deal-cutting move). Nats take Bachman over Madden/Bednar, also noting this is Rocker’s floor.
  • Atlantic (Keith Law) Mock 3.0 7/9/21: Mayer, Rocker, Leiter, Davis, Watson. Nats land Jobe, likely because of the mock of Rocker so high. Oddly, no Bachman in the 1st round.
  • CBSsports (Axisa) Mock 7/9/21: Mayer, Lawlar, House, Leiter, Davis. Nats take Jobe, and then Bachman goes 2 picks later … and then no Madden in the entire 1st round.
  • Baseball America (Collazzo): Mock draft v6.0 7/9/21: Mayer, Lawlar, Jobe, Leiter, Watson. Nats take Madden over Bachman.
  • MLBPipeline (Callis) Dueling/Final Mock draft 7/10/21: Mayer, Leiter, Jobe, Davis, Watson. Nats take Bednar.
  • MLBPipeline (Mayo) Dueling/Final Mock draft 7/10/21: Mayer, Leiter, House, Davis, Watson. Nats take Madden.
  • Baseball America v7.0 day of: Mayer, Watson, Jobe, Leiter, Lawlar. Nats take Madden, Bachman slides to #18, Bednar to #19.
  • Bleacher Report (Joel Reuter) day of mock draft 7/11/21: Meyer, Lawlar, Jobe, Leiter, Cowser. Nats take Madden. Bednar goes #14, Bachman goes #21.
  • Fangraphs day-of Mock 3.0: Mayer, Leiter, Jobe, DAvis, Lawlar. Nats go Madden. Bednar goes 21, Bachman goes 29 (wow).


Draft Rankings: these are prospect ranking lists, NOT mock drafts.


Todd Boss’ Mock draft top-5 prediction?

My top 5 prediction: Mayer, Leiter, House, Davis, Watson.

Who are the Nats going to take in the 1st round?

Ty Madden. More and More we’re seeing Bachman falling and Madden staying put. If Madden is not there for some reason, I see the Nats taking either Bachman or Bednar.


MLB.com Draft Tracker

ACTUAL TOP 5 DRAFT Results (added after the draft): Davis, Leiter, Jobe, Mayer, Cowser.

Pirates go way off script and pick the college Catcher Davis 1-1. Its probably the safest possible pick for Pittsburgh, which has picked 1-1 in the past and… well their track record is not great. Leiter goes #2 as frequently predicted, and the Tigers indeed take Jobe. Mayer, who is pretty much considered the #1 player in the draft, drops to an ecstatic Boston team at #4, while the Baltimore Orioles indeed go for the “draft deal” with Cowser, meaning they’ll pursue overslot prep players in the supplimental first and early second round.

It also means that there will be talent available that perhaps wouldn’t have been there later on.

Actual Nats 1st round Pick (added after the draft): Brady House!


Written by Todd Boss

July 11th, 2021 at 7:57 am

Posted in Nats in General

Nats All-Star review: 2021 and years past

5 comments

Here’s my annual Nationals All Star selection post. I realized today as I went to write this that … i forgot to do it in 2020. Perhaps its because the league cancelled the game because of Covid-19. However, they still named an “unofficial” all-star team, so I’ll fill in the details for 2020 just below the 2021 writing.

Nats All Star Game Trivia:

  • All-time leader in Nats all-star appearances: Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer, both with 6 appearances with the Nats.  Scherzer has been named 8 times but some pre-dated his time here.
  • All-time leader in All-Star Game starts: Harper, who had 5 starts.
  • Total number of Starters in the history of the Franchise: Now is 11; Harper 5 times, Scherzer 3x, and one each for Soriano, Murphy, Zimmerman.
  • Most all-star players named in a single year: 5 in both 2016 and 2017.
  • Least all-star game players named in a single year: 1 in multiple years during the “dark years” of 2006 through 2011.
  • Most unlikely All-Star: Probably Dmitry Young or Cristian Guzman, both being the “someone has to make the all star team” nominations in our 100 loss period in the late 2000s.

(* == All-Star game starter)


2021

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Trea Turner, Juan Soto, Kyle Schwarber, Max Scherzer* (substitute addition)
  • Possible Snubs: none
  • Narrative: The Nats scuffle into the all-star week on fumes thanks to losing 7 of 9 against NL West teams and suffering perhaps one too many injuries. Scherzer was not initially named, which I immediately listed as a huge snub. But then not only was he added as a replacement player … he was then named the damn starter. How is that possible? Anyway, among our other named players Schwarber’s injury prevents him from playing, but Soto gets into the HR derby, where he upsets #1 seed Shohei Ohtani before losing in the next round.

2020

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: None
  • Possible Snubs: Juan Soto
  • Narrative: Covid-19 forced the cancellation of the ASG and the shortening of the season from 162 to 60 games. Nonetheless, the season that Juan Soto put up should have been recognized, even un-officially. He hit .351/.490/.695 in 47 games for an astounding 221 OPS+ figure, the 33rd best ever season posted by this figure. But, since Soto got hit with Covid and had to miss the first two weeks … he did not qualify for batting titles and was left out of the ASG and MVP conversations.

2019

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Max Scherzer, Anthony Rendon
  • Possible Snubs: Juan Soto, Stephen Strasburg, Howie Kendrick, Trevor Rosenthal (just kidding)
  • Narrative: Rendon finally is named to an all-star team, having played in the shadows of other more well-known NL third basemen for  years.  Arbitrary Endpoints: Rendon is 7th in baseball among hitters in total fWAR since 2014.  7th.  In the entire league.  And this is his first ASG.  Meanwhile Scherzer is the obvious pick, though i’m not sure he gets the start this year.  Scherzer leads the NL in bWAR … but Hyun-Jin Ryu is having an amazing season and could get the nod (indeed, he has).  Soto’s numbers are solid, as good as his rookie campaign, but he started slow and the story-line surrounding the Nats this season has overshadowed his production.  Strasburg actually has more bWAR than Rendon … but his numbers are solid, not all-star good.  Kendrick would never have gotten a nod, but he should be a shoe-in for comeback player of the year for the season he’s having.  Others of note: Sean Doolittle was amazing for most of the first half but has tired and his numbers slipped.  Patrick Corbin‘s debut season has been solid, not flashy, and he has the same issues as Strasburg had.

Post publishing update: neither of our two representatives are actually going to Cleveland.  Rendon staying home to rehab a nagging quad injury, and Scherzer is traveling but will not pitch b/c he threw a start just ahead of the game.  Both players were replaced by non-Nats … which was a shame b/c a like-for-like with Strasburg for Scherzer seemed like the right thing to do.


2018

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Bryce Harper*, Max Scherzer*, Sean Doolittle
  • Possible Snubs: Juan Soto, Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon
  • Narrative: For the home-town All Star Game, Harper gets the starting nod from the fans despite his abhorrent season at the plate (his slash line on 7/8/18: .219/.371/.475).  However, by making the ASG, Harper now keeps his promise to participate in the Home Run Derby one last time before hitting free agency.   There’s no real “snubs” on this Nationals team; The #2 player on the team in terms of seasonal bWAR is Trea Turner but he’s not exactly having a head-turning season.  He was named to the “last 5 ballot” but was a huge long-shot to make it (update; he didn’t: the very deserving Jesus Aguilar did).  Anthony Rendon is having his typical under-rated season and got no love from the voters over the more famous Nolan Arenado (a common refrain when it comes to Gold Gloves/Silver Sluggers too).  None of our starters besides Scherzer are really deserving; Stephen Strasburg was having a decent but not spectacular season but missed a month and is on the D/L.  Nor is any of the bullpen past Doolittle.  Its an odd-season where a team-wide malaise is contributing to the team hovering at .500 at the All Star Break.  Only Juan Soto really is deserving … but he was never going to make the ASG (not when recent more spectacular rookies failed to make it) and thanks to his missing all of April and most of May he wasn’t on any ballots and may struggle to win the RoY over guys who have played longer this season.  Scherzer is named to the team on 7/8/18 was named the  NL starter for the 2nd year running on 7/16/18.

2017

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Bryce Harper*, Daniel Murphy*, Ryan Zimmerman*, Max Scherzer*, Stephen Strasburg
  • Snubs: Anthony Rendon, Gio Gonzalez
  • Narrative: For the second  year in a row, the Nats are well and properly represented in the All Star Game.  We have three starters named in the field, including Zimmerman who beats out a slew of 1B sluggers in the NL to not only make the team but get his first start.  Its also likely i’ll be editing this post and adding in Scherzer as an additional starter; he is the obvious choice to start the game for the NL given his first half production (7/10/17 update: yes indeed we did).  Rendon is having a very quiet solid season and is in the “last 5” popular vote, but he seems unlikely to win given that last year’s MVP Kris Bryant is also in the voting (Update: neither guy got in).  Gonzalez misses out despite having a better first half than Strasburg by nearly any statistic; he’s having a career year but seems unlikely to get rewarded with his 3rd ASG appearance.  There’s no other real snub from our 2017 team; certainly there’s nobody in the bullpen meriting a spot, and Trea Turner‘s torrid 2016 2nd half did not translate into the 2017 season (not to mention, he’s had two separate D/L trips).  Once again i’m slightly perturbed that Harper continues to refuse to participate in the HR derby; why the reticence?  Its a fun event that is quickly becoming better than the actual game itself and practically every other slugger is participating.  Is he afraid to lose?  On a larger scale, i’m really happy to see (finally) that deserving rookies are named: Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger are both named and are both on the inside track for ROY awards; too many times in the past we see deserving rookies unnamed.  On July 10th, the fourth Nat starter was named: Scherzer got the starting pitcher nod, a first for the Nats.  August Update: Rendon’s omission is looking even more ridiculous; he’s top 5 in the league in bWAR.

2016

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Bryce Harper*, Stephen Strasburg, Daniel Murphy, Wilson Ramos, Max Scherzer (named as replacement for Strasburg on 7/8/16),
  • Possible Snubs: Danny EspinosaTanner Roark
  • Narrative: The four obvious candidates from the Nats this year were all initially correctly selected, though voting shenanigans out of Chicago elected Ben Zobrist over Daniel Murphy by a scant 500 votes.   I thought perhaps Strasburg would have a chance to start the game, given his 12-0 record, but it seems the team pre-empted any such thought when Scherzer’s naming occurred.  For the first time writing this post, I can’t really name any “snubs” and the team has (finally?) earned the proper respect it deserves in terms of naming its players properly.  Espinosa had a week for the ages just prior to the end of voting but really stood little chance of selection in the grand scheme of things.  He’s not really a “snub” but is worthy of mention based on his resurgent year.  At the break, Espinosa ranked 3rd in NL fWAR but 7th or 8th in bWAR thanks to differing defensive value metrics, so maybe/maybe not on him being a “snub.”  As pointed out in the comments, even I missed the sneaky good season Roark is having; he’s 12th in the NL in bWAR at the break and 9th in fWAR but was left off in favor of any number of starters that stand below him in value rankings.  Unfortunately for fans (and for Harper’s “Make Baseball Fun again” campaign, he opted to skip the Home Run Derby again.  I guess its kind of like the NBA superstars skipping the dunk contest; the Union should really do a better job of helping out in this regard.  The new format is fantastic and makes the event watchable again; is it ego keeping him from getting beat by someone like Giancarlo Stanton?

2015

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Bryce Harper*, Max Scherzer
  • Possible Snubs: Yunel Escobar, Drew Storen
  • Narrative: Harper not only made it in as a starter for the 2nd time, he led the NL in votes, setting a MLB record for total votes received.  This is no surprise; Harper’s easily in the MVP lead for the NL thanks to his amazing first half (his split at the half-way point of the season: .347/.474/.722 with 25 homers and an astounding 225 OPS+).  I guess he won’t be earning the “Most overrated player” award next year.  That Harper is electing to skip the Home run derby in a disappointment; his father is nursing an arm injury can cannot throw to him in the event.  In a weird year for the Nats, the only other regular worth mentioning is newly acquired Escobar, who is hitting above .300 and filling in ably at multiple positions that, prior to this year, he had never played.  Storen is having another excellent regular season … but at a time when mandatory members from each team often leads to other closers being selected (there are 5 NL closers and 7 AL relievers), the odds of him making the All-Star team were always going to be slim.  Scherzer deservedly makes the team and probably would have been the NL starter; he’s got sub 2.00 ERA and FIP and leads all NL pitchers in WAR at the mid-way point of the season.  But his turn came up in the final game of the first half, making him ineligible for the game and forcing his replacement on the roster.

As a side note, the 2015 All-Star game will go down as the “Ballot-Gate” game thanks to MLB’s short-sighted plan to allow 30+ online ballots per email address.  This led to severe “ballot stuffing” by the Kansas City Royals fans, led to MLB  having to eliminate 60 million+ fraudulent ballots, but still led to several Royals being elected starters over more deserving candidates.


2014

  • Nationals All-Star representative: Jordan Zimmermann (Update post-publishing: Zimmermann strained a bicep, and had to withdraw from the ASG.  For a bit it looked like the Nats wouldn’t even have a representative, until Tyler Clippard was named on 7/13/14).
  • Possible Snubs: Adam LaRoche, Anthony Rendon, Rafael Soriano, Drew Storen
  • Narrative: Zimmermann’s been the best SP on the best pitching staff in the majors this year, and thus earns his spot.  I find it somewhat odd that a first place team (or near to it) gets just one representative on the team (as discussed above).  Rendon tried to make the team via the “last man in” voting, but historically Nationals have not fared well in this competition (especially when better known players from large markets are in the competition, aka Anthony Rizzo from the Chicago Cubs), and indeed Rendon finished 4th in the last-man voting.  LaRoche is having a very good season, almost single handedly carrying the Nats offense while major parts were out injured, but he’s never going to beat out the slew of great NL first basemen (Joey Votto couldn’t even get into this game).  Soriano has quietly put together one of the best seasons of any closer in the game; at the time of this writing he has a 1.03 ERA and a .829 whip; those are Dennis Eckersley numbers.  But, the farce that is the all-star game selection criteria (having to select one player from each team) means that teams need a representative, and deserving guys like Soriano get squeezed.  Then, Soriano indignantly said he wouldn’t even go if named as a replacement … likely leading to Clippard’s replacement selection.  The same goes for non-closer Storen, who sports a sub 2.00 ERA on the year.  Advanced stats columnists (Keith Law) also think that Stephen Strasburg is a snub but I’m not entirely sure: he may lead the NL in K’s right now and have far better advanced numbers than “traditional,” but its hard to make an argument that a guy with a 7-6 record and a 3.50+ ERA is all-star worthy.

2013

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Bryce Harper*, Jordan Zimmermann
  • Snubs: Stephen Strasburg, Ian Desmond
  • Narrative: Harper comes in 3rd in the NL outfielder voting, ahead of some big-time names, to become only the second Nationals position player elected as an All-Star starter.  He was 4th in the final pre-selection vote, so a big last minute push got him the starter spot.   Harper also becomes the first National to participate in the Home Run Derby.   Zimmermann was 12-3 heading into the game and was on mid-season Cy Young short lists in July in a breakout season.  Strasburg’s advanced stats are all better than Zimmermann’s, but his W/L record (4-6 as the ASG) means he’s not an all-star.  It also probably doesn’t help that he missed a few weeks.  Desmond loses out to Troy TulowitzkiEverth Cabrera and Jean Segura.  Tulowitzki was having a very solid year and was a deserving elected starter, while Cabrera and Segura are both having breakout seasons.  Desmond was on the “Final vote” roster, but my vote (and most others’ I’m guessing) would be for Yasiel Puig there ([Editor Update: Desmond and Puig lost out to Freddie Freeman: I still wished that Puig finds a way onto the roster but ultimately he did not and I believe the ASG was diminished because of it).   Gio GonzalezRyan Zimmerman, and Rafael Soriano are all having solid but unspectacular years and miss out behind those having great seasons.

2012

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Ian Desmond, Bryce Harper
  • Possible Snubs: Adam LaRocheCraig Stammen
  • Narrative: The two SPs Strasburg and Gonzalez were the obvious candidates, and my personal prediction was that they’d be the only two candidates selected.  Gonzalez’ first half was a prelude to his 21-win, 3rd place Cy Young season.  The inclusion of Desmond is a surprise, but also a testament to how far he’s come as a player in 2012.  Harper was a last-minute injury replacement, but had earned his spot by virtue of his fast start as one of the youngest players in the league.  Of the “snubs,” LaRoche has had a fantastic come back season in 2012 but fared little shot against better, more well-known NL first basemen.  Stammen was our best bullpen arm, but like LaRoche fared little chance of getting selected during a year when the Nats had two deserving pitchers selected.

2011

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Tyler Clippard
  • Possible Snubs: Danny EspinosaMichael MorseDrew StorenJordan Zimmermann
  • Narrative: While Clippard was (arguably) the Nats best and most important reliever, I think Zimmermann was a more rightful choice.  He was 10th in the league in ERA at the time of the selections and has put in a series of dominant performances.  Meanwhile Espinosa was on pace for a 28-homer season and almost a certain Rookie-of-the-Year award (though a precipitous fall-off in the 2nd half cost him any realistic shot at the ROY), and perhaps both players are just too young to be known around the league.  Lastly Morse is certainly known and he merited a spot in the “last man in” vote sponsored by MLB (though he fared little chance against popular players in this last-man-in voting).

2010

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Matt Capps
  • Possible Snubs: Adam DunnJosh WillinghamRyan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg
  • Narrative: Capps was clearly deserving, having a breakout season as a closer after his off-season non-tender from the Pirates.  The 3-4-5 hitters Zimmerman-Dunn-Willingham all had dominant offensive seasons as the team improved markedly from its 103-loss season.  But perhaps the surprise non-inclusion was Strasburg, who despite only having a few starts as of the all-star break was already the talk of baseball.  I think MLB missed a great PR opportunity to name him to the team to give him the exposure that the rest of the national media expected.  But in the end, Capps was a deserving candidate and I can’t argue that our hitters did anything special enough to merit inclusion.

2009

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Ryan Zimmerman
  • Possible Snubs: Adam Dunn
  • Narrative: The addition of Dunn and Willingham to the lineup gave Zimmerman the protection he never had, and he produced with his career-best season.  His first and deserved all-star appearance en-route to a 33 homer season.  Dunn continued his monster homer totals with little all-star recognition.

2008

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Cristian Guzman
  • Possible Snubs: Jon Rauch
  • Narrative: The first of two “hitting rock-bottom” seasons for the team; no one really merited selection.  Zimmerman was coming off of hamate-bone surgery in November 2007 and the team was more or less awful across the board.  Rauch performed ably after Cordero went down with season-ending (and basically career-ending) shoulder surgery.   Guzman’s selection a great example of why one-per-team rules don’t make any sense.  Guzman ended up playing far longer than he deserved in the game itself by virtue of the 15-inning affair.

2007

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Dmitri Young
  • Possible Snubs: Ryan Zimmerman, Shawn Hill (though I wouldn’t argue for either)
  • Narrative: Young gets a deserved all-star appearance en route to comeback player of the year.  Zimmerman played a full season but didn’t dominate.  Our 2007 staff gave starts to 13 different players, most of whom were out of the league within the next year or two.  Not a good team.

2006

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Alfonso Soriano*
  • Possible Snubs: Nick JohnsonRyan Zimmerman, Chad Cordero
  • Narrative: Soriano made the team as an elected starter, the first time the Nats have had such an honor.  Our pitching staff took massive steps backwards and no starter came even close to meriting a spot.  Cordero was good but not lights out as he had been in 2005.  Soriano’s 40-40 season is a poster child for “contract year” production and he has failed to come close to such production since.  The team was poor and getting worse.  Johnson had a career year but got overshadowed by bigger, better first basemen in the league (a recurring theme for our first basemen over the years).

2005

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Livan HernandezChad Cordero
  • Possible Snubs: Nick JohnsonJohn Patterson.
  • Narrative: The Nats went into the All Star break surprisingly in first place, having run to a 50-31 record by the halfway point.  Should a first place team have gotten more than just two representatives?  Perhaps.  But the team was filled with non-stars and played far over its head to go 50-31 (as evidenced by the reverse 31-50 record the rest of the way).

Written by Todd Boss

July 10th, 2021 at 5:46 pm

Posted in Nats in General

2021 Home Run Derby w/ Soto!

12 comments

Soto just the 3rd ever Nat in the HR derby. Source NYPost

So, it isn’t too often a member of the Nationals is in the Home Run Derby.

In fact, it has happened only twice before, in the history of the event.

  • in 2013, Bryce Harper made the finals before losing to home-town hero Yoenis Cespedes.
  • in 2018, Harper won the event on home-soil in a 19-18 memorable slugfest against now-Nat Kyle Schwarber

But 2021 we get our star slugger Juan Soto in the derby, representing the franchise for just the 3rd time ever.

Only Eight players are selected, then they’re seeded. Here’s how the seedings are for this event:

  • #1 Shohei Ohtani
  • #8 Juan Soto
  • #5 Pete Alonso
  • #4 Salvador Perez
  • #3 Matt Olson
  • #6 Trey Mancini
  • #7 Trevor Story
  • #2 Joey Gallo

So, Unfortunately Soto heads against the #1 seed in Ohtani in the first round, so he may be one and done. But its a derby so who knows: the winner of these competitions is often the Batting-Practice god, not necessarily the guy who can translate BP power to the game. My initial guess as to who wins this is Gallo over Alonso in the final, but who knows if Ohtani can overcome.

My bigger point in this is to list just how deficient this field is. There’s just so many sluggers in the league who are not here who i’d rather see than (with all due respect) someone like Salvador Perez or even home-town hero Story.

So, Who would I have rather seen in this derby? Lets look at it two ways.

  1. Here’s the list of current HR leaders in the league: Ohtani, Fernando Tatis, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Kyle Schwarber, Ronald Acuna, Gallo, Jared Walsh, Adolis Garcia, Marcus Semien, Javier Baez, Rafael Devers, and Olson. So just three of your current top 10 HR leaders are in the field.
  2. If you sort the 2021 hitters by ISO or by HR/FB percentage in fangraphs, you get almost an identical list to the above list of HR leaders. You also add in a couple of additional names like Max Muncy, Brandon Crawford, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton to the mix. Bryce Harper even shows up in the 20-25 range in both figures, along with a few other three-true-outcome types.
  3. then, based on a custom Fangraphs dashboard over the past few seasons, here’s a few more guys who are among the league leaders in HR per PA: Mike Trout (a prolific HR hitter who people often forget has significant power), Nelson Cruz, Miguel Sano, Gary Sanchez, and JD Martinez.

So, out of ALL of these names … who are the top 8 sluggers I’d really want to see in a HR derby? We’ll leave out both Trout and Schwarber (since they’re hurt) for the purposes of this and rank the sluggers in order of my perfect case HR derby.

  • #1 Giancarlo Stanton: I just don’t see how there’s anyone else out there who isn’t the prototype for a HR hitter. he’s my #1 seed. 59 Homers in 2017. Sells out for power every swing.
  • #2 Aaron Judge: 52 homers as a rookie but hasn’t been healthy since. No matter; all I need is for him to be healthy for a couple hours next sunday.
  • #3 Shohei Ohtani: the next coming of Babe Ruth, on pace for 60 homers this season and leading the league. A deserving #1 seed in the real event.
  • #4 Pete Alonso: Broke Judge’s rookie record with 53 homers in his rookie season, the defending champ. Maybe he should be #1 seed both this year and in my fake derby as the defending champ.
  • #5 Joey Gallo: the second coming of Dave Kingman: 40 homer power and a Mendoza-line BA. The perfect guy for my home run derby.
  • #6 Bryce Harper: 80-grade power by the time he was a junior high player, his 502-foot homer as a 16yr old is still amazing. Past champion of the event.
  • #7 Vladimir Guerrero Jr; after a slow pro career start, he’s now posting MVP numbers (.341/.439/.679 so far in 2021 and on pace for 55 homers; i mean, that’s a better slash line than Willie Mays ever put up, and is right in line with the best season Mickey Mantle ever had).
  • #8 Fernando Tatis; Leads the NL right now in both Homers and Stolen Bases, on track for a 50/40 season, which is something that no one has ever even come close to doing.

Imagine this field. Did I forget anyone obvious?

Anyway; love the HR derby, its my favorite thing to watch during the AS break. This year, we’ll get the draft though, so that’ll be fun too.

Written by Todd Boss

July 9th, 2021 at 12:34 pm