Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

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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

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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

Posted in Nats in General

Nats land House in the 1st!

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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

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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!

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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

2021 CWS Regional Results, Super Regional Pairings

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So, something happened with my blog hosting provider and I believe they lost some prior posts. I can no longer see my 2021 CWS regional prediction piece. I suspect a hosting failure. Nonetheless, here’s a recap of the 16 regionals.


Quick Regional Recaps

We’ll review the 16 regionals in order of the larger bracket.  Bold is the host/seed.

#1 Arkansas regional recap: #1 seed got a scare from Nebraska, got extended to the 7th game but advanced.

#16: Louisiana Tech regional recap: host La Tech scored a lot .. but also let NC State score a lot too and the ACC team advances.

#8: Texas Tech regional recap: Texas Tech managed to beat each of the 3 teams in its region to advance without much fuss.

#9: Stanford regional recap: UC Irvine extended the Cardinal, but Stanford prevailed.

#5 Arizona regional recap: Arizona handled #3 seeded UC Santa Barbara to advance without a loss.

#12 Ole Miss regional recap: Ole Miss got pushed by its in-state rival Southern Miss, but won out the 7th game.

#4 Vanderbilt regional recap: Vandy’s two aces provided the first two wins, and they dug deep to take out Georgia Tech in the regional final.

#13 ECU regional recap: East Carolina held serve over a plucky Maryland team to win.

#3 Tennessee regional recap: Tennessee outlasted local favorite Liberty, who blasted ACC champ Duke en route to the final.

#14 Oregon regional recap: Host Oregon could not stop LSU from fulfilling its destiny; they came out of the loser’s bracket to bash their way to the super regionals.

#6 TCU regional recap: TCU got knocked out by perennial power house Oregon State, but it was regional power Dallas Baptist who advanced.

#11 ODU regional recap: A crazy weather weekend featured the #1 seeded ODU taking out the host South Carolina, but UVA fighting out of the loser’s bracket to force the extra game, which got pushed to Tuesday morning. there, UVA walked off the win in extra innings to advance.

#7 Mississippi State regional recap: cruised to a 3-game regional win.

#10 Notre Dame regional recap: Notre Dame bashed their way to the super regional, scoring 50 (fifty!) runs in 3 games to win what looks like easily the weakest regional.

#15 Florida regional recap: powerhouse program Florida absolutely did not show up at their regional, going 2 and out as a national seed and losing their 2nd game 19-1. South Florida, the #4 seed in the group, takes out upstart South Alabama to advance in a shock.

#2 Texas regional recap: Texas destroyed all three teams in their regioanl, advancing by a combined score of 33-5 to move on.


Predictions versus Actuals:

  • Predicted: Arkansas, Alabama, Texas Tech, Stanford, Arizona, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, ECU, Tennessee, LSU, TCU, UVA, Miss State, Notre Dame, Florida Texas.
  • Actual: Arkansas, NC State, Texas Tech, Stanford, Arizona, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, ECU, Tennessee, LSU, Dallas Baptist, UVA, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, South Florida, Texas

So I got 13 out of 16 right. Missed on Alabama, TCU, Florida.



Summary of Regionals statistically:

  • 11 of 16  hosts advanced. 
  • Just 1 of the 8 national seeds fell (#6 TCU)
  • 4 of the 9-16 seeds fell: La Tech, Oregon, Florida, ODU
  • 11 number one seeds, 1 number two seeds, 3 number three seeds, and 1 number four seeds advance to the super regionals.
  • 4 number of #4 seeds who didn’t finish 4th in their regional; NJIT, South Florida, Central Michigan, North Dakota State
  • 1: number of #4 seeds to get opening wins.  only South Florida
  • Most surprising regional winner: South Florida, obviously. Amazing when a #4 seed advances.
  • # of “extended” regionals: 7 of the 16 went to the last game.

Conference Breakdowns of the teams in the Super Regionals:

  • SEC: Arkansas, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, LSU, Mississippi State,
  • ACC: NC State, Notre Dame, UVA
  • Big12: Texas Tech, Texas,
  • Pac12: Stanford, Arizona
  • Big 10: zero
  • Others: East Carolina (AAC), Dallas Baptist (MVC), South Florida (AAC)

Very top heavy; SEC gets 6 of the 16 super regionalists. The rest of the top baseball conferences each get 2-3 teams as one might expect.


Super Regional Matchups:  the higher ranked team is the host unless otherwise noted.

  • #1 Arkansas vs NC State
  • #8 Texas Tech vs #9 Stanford
  • #5 Arizona vs #12 Ole Miss
  • #4 Vanderbilt vs #13 East Carolina
  • #3 Tennessee vs LSU
  • Dallas Baptist vs UVA
  • #7 Mississippi State vs #10 Notre Dame
  • #2 Texas vs South Florida

Super Regional Thoughts/Predictions

  • #1 Arkansas vs NC State; Arkansas is just too powerful and won’t be stopped.
  • #8 Texas Tech vs #9 Stanford: I think Texas Tech is the favorite here.
  • #5 Arizona vs #12 Ole Miss; a tough one to predict; Arizona looked a bit better in their regional.
  • #4 Vanderbilt vs #13 East Carolina; Vandy not getting stopped in a super regional where they have the clear pitching advantage.
  • #3 Tennessee vs LSU; LSU was swept at Tennessee earlier this year; it seems like that may happen again. LSU’s cinderella season ends.
  • Dallas Baptist vs UVA: So, neither team put in a bid to host, so neither team could get a home field advantage; the Super Regional is being played on the campus of South Carolina, as was the ODU regional earlier. I think UVA has the advantage here.
  • #7 Mississippi State vs #10 Notre Dame; I like what Notre Dame does at the plate and pick them to advance.
  • #2 Texas vs South Florida: Texas looks way too strong.

CWS field predictions: Arkansas, TT, AZ, Vandy, Tenn, UVA, Notre Dame, Texas.


CWS Predictions: Early CWS final prediction:  I like Arkansas over Vanderbilt and have for a while. But both are projecting to the same bracket in Omaha. So i’m going with Vandy vs Texas with Vandy winning.


Star Power at Super Regionals

Here’s a quick glance at the top draft picks that are still alive in the Super Regionals:

  • Vanderbilt: Leiter and Rocker, both likely going top 5
  • Texas: Ty Madden, their Ace
  • Ole Miss: Gunnar Hogeland, their Ace
  • NC State: Luca Tresh, a likely 2nd round Catcher, Jose Torres their SS.
  • UVA: Zach Gelof, Andrew Abbott, Mike Vasil: all likely 2nd day picks.
  • Mississippi State: Wil Bednar, Christian MacLeod, two solid arms.
  • Arkansas: Christian Franklin, OF.
  • East Carolina: Gavin Williams, RHP
  • LSU: Landon Marceaux their new ace, but Jaden Hill was their friday night guy who went down with TJ and may still go first round.

College CWS tournament references:

Written by Todd Boss

June 8th, 2021 at 1:22 pm

Posted in Nats in General

Big Board operations for 2021

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FYI, I’m trying a couple of things new this year on the Big Board, which stems from my decade-long attempts to track (primarily pitcher) movement through the system.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/186nm-v5F-zTCoR2Be7TFYM3e2cZ-gYi2WVqJLEkHdmc/

This is the Big Board link, fyi. Here’s some things to look for this year:

  • I’m going to track promotions and demotions of players to try to show on the board who is really making a move up or down. In the Position field I’m color coding Green for promotions and Red for demotions. I’m not counting the opening day rosters; this is day 1 forward moves.
  • I will periodically look at position player box scores to try to ascertain who is the “starter” at each position, but won’t really try too hard for the lower minors. That’s because they use the DH, and if someone is DHing on the day i don’t want to list them as not being the starter.
  • I have the Rotations set, and they’re all synced up right now so that across the board (from MLB on down) all the pitchers set to go on (say) Tuesday are listed in the same row on the sheet. All our systems are using 5-man rotations, and even low-A seems to be sticking with it despite doing lots of tandem starting before.
  • I’ve also tried to put the relievers somewhat into their roles; Closer, Setup, middle relief, lefty relievers and long relievers. This is, of course, kind of impossible to be right on perpetually, and pitchers frequently throw multi-inning stints despite being called “the closer” or a “setup guy.” Furthermore, loogies are a thing of the past, so it may not really be that accurate to classify a guy as “just” a lefty reliever. But it looks good so far.
  • At the very far right there’s an “Extended Spring Training” column to hold players who don’t seem to be assigned anywhere right now. As always, sometimes players sit there for quite a while before suddenly reappearing. And, since Milb.com doesn’t always get a press release when someone has been released, its possible there are players listed as active who have gotten cut.
  • GCL and DSL rosters are the hardest to keep track of; they’re all placeholders for now until we get to the opening day for both. Honestly, i hate attempting to track DSL since the information is spotty and huge percentages of players in the DSL never even get to a domestic league, but we’ll try.

I’ve cleared out the NRI color coding at this point, since it was making readability nearly impossible. I did not track Luke’s watchlist players this year either for the same reason. We do still track 40-man roster players in grey and original Nats signees/draftees in blue.

Hope you’re well. As always, if there are any mistakes in the board please let me know.

Written by Todd Boss

May 27th, 2021 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Nats in General

Reactions and Observations of Full Season Rosters (hitters)

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After washing through dozens of names shifting around on the Big Board (and hopefully not making any cut and paste errors), here’s my non-pitcher related observations to the rosters and movement of players around the system


AAA Rochester: The roster lists 5 catchers, which is kind of odd but clearly to me Brandon Snyder is the starting 1B here, despite being listed suddenly for the first time in 2021 as a catcher.

The hitters are very MLFA heavy: 9 of the 16 non-pitchers in AAA were MLFA acquisitions, including two that happened just in the last couple of weeks in Daniel Palka and Ramon Flores. Both project to be backup outfielders to the presumed starting OF of three other MLFAs in Yasmany Tomas, Carlos Tocci and a hopefully healthy Gerardo Parra.

The infield features two very important former prospects in Luis Garcia and Carter Kieboom, both of whom were signed/drafted in 2016 and both of whom really need to have a successful 2021 at the plate. Kieboom more so than Garcia.

I’m kind of surprised the team signed two veteran MLFAs instead of promoting up some of its long-serving minor league guys, players like Rhett Wisemann and Nick Banks.


AA Harrisburg: Not a lot of defense on this team, with several guys who primarily play 1B on the roster (Corredor, Mendoza, Sagdal and Harrison. Only 3 OFs listed, meaning likely that these 1B guys are covering in a corner. We see both Wisemann and Banks showing up here; they should be the starting corner OFers, but based on a lack of promotion to AAA they may be org-guys waiting to get cut. This is where we see Cluff arrive.

Pretty surprised not to see Antuna here. Why wouldn’t you put him at AA? we’ll see where he shakes out.

Not a very compelling AA roster from a player perspective…Is the best hitting prospect Drew Mendoza? Also, there’s only 26 players listed … out of a roster size of 30?


High A Wilmington: The high-A roster is populated with a weird combination of decent prospects (Antuna and Gage Canning) as well as a slew of what seems like org-guys (20th+ rounders and 7th or 8th year IFAs). Cavalli’s personal catcher Brad Lindsly is here as a 3rd catcher on a limited roster. I don’t see an obvious choice to play 1B on the existing roster, making me wonder if we’ll see a couple more bats added soon. Also, some oddities going on with the rosters: the Wilmington press release listed Jack Dunn on the roster, but transactions list Cole Daily on the roster … which would make sense since he’s a 1B that could play there; but the milb.com site doesn’t have Dunn, who does not appear in the player archives anywhere. I’ll chalk it up to data oddities with thousands of players moving around on the day the leagues launch.


Low A Fredericksburg‘s roster of out-field players looks really weak; I don’t see a single top-30 prospect among any of the hitters listed. Not one. And we have a really crummy farm system. We do have a bunch of younger prospects who are listed, but who clearly aren’t ready for low-A, guys like Jeremy De La Rosa, Daniel Marte and Viandel Pena. There’s also some interesting names left in the far right XST column post assignment, guys like Telmito Augustin.

Fangraphs/Longenhagen Nats top prospect list drops

22 comments

Rutledge gets the #1 nod from Fangraphs. Photo via BA

The last of the “major” pundits has released their Nats prospect ranking lists for the 2021 season, with Fangraph’s lead prospect writer Eric Longenhagen teaming with Tess Taruskin to release their top 22 Nats prospects for 2021.

Why 22 prospects, instead of 10 or 20 or some other round number? Fangraphs drives their rankings via a “Future Value” metric, so the deeper your system is, the more prospects you will have on their list. The cutoff is a “35+ FV,” which projects as something between a 4-A career guy and a bench role player. Yes, you may immediately draw some conclusions about the depth of our system by the number who reached that plateau; by way of comparison a “good” farm system in Tampa had no fewer than 62 players make their 2021 fangraphs list by using the same 35+ cutoff.

So, yeah, we have some work to do… but we already knew that since every macro ranking of our system done this year has us dead last as a system.

Anyway, here’s the Fangraphs list, with some commentary about how these rankings fare side-by-side with other pundits.

Fangraphs 2021 rankLast NameFirst NamePositionAcquisition
1RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)2019 1st
2CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)2020 1st
3AntunaYaselSS2016 IFA
4LaraAndryRHP (Starter)2019 IFA
5De La RosaJeremyOF (corner)2018 IFA
6RomeroSethLHP (Starter)2017 1st
7CroninMattLHP (reliever)2019 4th
8HenryColeRHP (Starter)2020 2nd
9PinedaIsraelC2016 IFA
10CateTimLHP (Starter)2018 2nd
11InfanteSamuelSS2020 2nd supp
12CruzArmandoSS2020 IFA
13AdonJoanRHP (Starter)2016 IFA
14MendozaDrew3B2019 3rd
15DenaburgMasonRHP (Starter)2018 1st
16QuintanaRoismarOF (CF)2019 IFA
17CluffJacksonSS2019 6th
18PowellHoldenRHP (Reliever)2020 3rd
19BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)2020 NDFA
20BarreraTresC2016 6th
21SchallerReidRHP (Starter)2018 3rd
22PetersonToddRHP (starter)2019 7th

Commentary in rough order of list:

  • FG went with Rutledge over Cavalli for #1. At the end of the prospect season, these two basically split the #1 overall spot among major pundits, with FG, ESPN, and BleacherReport going with Rutledge #1, while BA, Keith Law, and MLBpipeline all went with Cavalli.
  • They’re now high rankers on De La Rosa, putting him at #5 in the system. It sounds like the projection for him is basically a lesser version of Juan Soto; lefty power hitting corner outfielder.
  • They have Romero still high, at #6, but added no intelligence as to why he did not appear in spring training 2021. Still projects two 60-grade pitches, but his fastball has fallen out of favor and they have him with 40-command. That’s a reliever, and not necessarily a good one, at best.
  • One of the reasons FG is high man on both De La Rosa and Romero is because they’re well lower on Cole Henry than anyone else, having him 8th. It sounds to me like they think he’s heading into relief, much like the guy ranked just above him Matt Cronin.
  • They’re well above anyone else on Israel Pineda, and i’m not really sure why. In the middle of last season, the same evaluator ranked him #16. What’s substantively changed since August?
  • He’s pumping the brakes on Armando Cruz, ranking him at #12 where a number of the major evaluators already have him 5-7 range.
  • He’s put Denaburg all the way down to #15, noting that his pro career/injury record now puts him nearly below non-prospects. Great 1st rounder guys!
  • He’s got Zach Brzykcy, a NDFA $20k signing from last summer, in the top 20 of our system. I suppose that does say something about our system depth, but Longenhagen does note that Bryzcky is one of a handful of NDFAs who have impressed and would have been legitimate draft picks with a longer draft. 2-pitch, pure reliever.
  • Last man in the rankings is Todd Peterson, mr coming out of nowhere for this team, who hung around Spring Training longer than most of our 1st round multi-million dollar prospects. He’s projecting as middle relief, with 2 good pitches, decent velocity and excellent deception in his delivery.

Nowhere in this list are a handful of characters that are well regarded on other lists. That includes Daniel Marte, Tyler Dyson, Jake Irvin (likely b/c he’s missing all of 2021 with a TJ), Ben Braymer, Viandel Pena ….

And of course Steven Fuentes is missing … who only just got a call-up…. to the majors … which is kind of the whole damn point of being a prospect? It does make me question what these guys are really looking for … if you project some 2-pitch guy as a possible middle reliever in the major leagues, then flat out don’t rank a starter who actually DOES make the majors … at age 23 … then what are we ranking/evaluating on? I’m not discounting prospect evaluation work entirely by any means (to head off some of my frequent commenters who are bound to pick up on this and disclaim all prospect rankers), but I do sense there’s a specific blind side in these evaluators when it comes to certain kinds of players. Fuentes (and Ben Braymer) fit right into that gap; a starter who doesn’t project as a stud, guys who get by on command/control instead of velocity. Maybe that’s the point; maybe guys like Fuentes/Braymer are such a “dime a dozen” kind of 4-A players that they specifically never get ranked … but if you have a prospect catcher ranked in the teens who does not ever project to make the majors, wouldn’t by definition you have a guy who IS capable of making the majors (whether its as a long-man, or a middle reliever, or the backup 2nd baseman) ranked higher? A theoretical question.