Nationals Arm Race

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

Nats All-Star review: 2021 and years past

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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 Winner Crowned: Mississippi State wins!

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2021 CWS coverage:

Here’s how the finals played out.

  • Game 1 6/28/21: Vanderbilt jumps all over Miss State starter Christian MacLeod, who gave up 6 runs in the first on 2 walks, 2 HBPs and 2 hits. Vandy co-ace Jack Leiter had all the run support he’d need, going 6 comfortable innings and handing off the lead to one of Vandy’s solid closers for the easy win.
  • Game 2 6/29/21: In a battle of #3 starters, Mississippi State jumped on Vandy’s starter while their staff controlled the Commodores to force a ddcider.
  • Game 3 6/30/21: In his final collegiate start, Kumar Rocker left a sour taste in scout’s collective mouths by dripping runs throughout his start, leaving in the 5th. But the story was Vandy’s Will Bednar, who pitched 6 no-hit innings on three days rest to make a heck of a statement in a decider.

Your 2021 College World Series Champion: Mississippi State, their first ever baseball title after 12 trips to Omaha … and the first NCAA championship EVER for the school in a team sport (a pretty amazing fact).

Commentary: well, I thought getting two starts from Rocker/Leiter would guarantee the title … but I discounted the offensive woes of Vandy, which most pundits pounced on in their predictions. Congrats to a long-suffering team.


This concludes the College Baseball season and our coverage of it for 2021.  I’ll post one more post that covers draftees and signing status for all local-connected players (prep and college) once the draft happens in mid July.

Written by Todd Boss

July 1st, 2021 at 9:09 am

2021 CWS Group Winners and CWS final preview

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Here’s a recap of our CWS coverage so far for 2019


Lets review the CWS group play.  The CWS plays just one or two games a day; a far cry from the first weekend, where 64 teams played hundreds of games over the course of a long weekend.  So this post has been written in one or two sentence increments for a week and a half…

My initial Predictions for the Group stages: Vanderbilt and Tennessee.


In the Top Bracket ( NC State, #9 Stanford, #5 Arizona, #4 Vanderbilt )

  • In the opening games, NC State continued its upset ways and shocked #9 Stanford with ease, while Vanderbilt’s #1 Kumar Rocker gave up 5 runs in 6 innings against a solid-hitting Arizona team, but somehow Vandy rallied to win in extra-innings 7-6 to move on.
  • In the first elimination game, two top programs in #9 Stanford and #5 Arizona battled to stay alive, and Stanford sent home Arizona two and out with a comfortable 14-5 win. Arizona goes 2 and out.
  • In the winner’s bracket game, Vandy’s run in the post season came to a halt despite Jack Leiter‘s best efforts. Leiter went 8 innings, gave up 4 hits, 1 walk and struck out 15. Normally that’d be a winning score line …but one of those 4 hits was a no-doubt blast from NC State’s cleanup hitter, and that’s all it took. Leiter was matched pitch for pitch by NC state 2nd-year freshman Sam Highfill, who shut down Vanderbilt over seven 2-hit innings, handing it over to Richmond-native Evan Justice for the two-inning save. NC State shockingly is in the driver’s seat.
  • In the play-in game, Vanderbilt was down to their last strike in the 9th before rallying and winning on a walk-off wild-pitch from Stanford’s ace Brendan Beck, who had come out of the bullpen to the horror of every draft evaluator this year (he threw 109 pitches on Saturday and another 43 high-leverage pitches last night on 3 days rest). They survive and advance, but have to beat NC State twice to move on. Luckily they have their two aces lined up on decent rest for the task.
  • In the group final, Vanderbilt topped the 13-man NC State team behind Rocker’s solid 7 innings, then got a walk-over into the CWS final. The situation is extraordinary enough to require a separate post coming soon.

Final Group standings: Vanderbilt, NC State, Stanford, Arizona


In the Bottom Bracket ( #3 Tennessee, UVA, #7 Mississippi State and #2 Texas)

  • In the opening games, UVA got a huge pitching performance from Halifax County’s Andrew Abbott who shut out #3 Tennessee for 6 innings before UVA’s bat’s exploded for the win. But Abbott’s pitching wasn’t nearly as good as Miss State’s Will Bednar, who struke out 15 in 6 innings against #2 Texas to shut them down and lead his team to victory.
  • In the first elimination game, #2 Texas won a slug-fest against #3 Tennessee in a back-and forth game to send the SEC finalists home 2-and-out.
  • In the winner’s bracket game, UVA faced off against Mississippi State for the CWS winner’s bracket driver’s seat. UVA’s Griff McGarry took a no-hitter into the 8th with a 4-0 lead … and somehow Mississippi State won the game 6-5. Just one thing after another in a nightmare 8th inning for UVA, who went from absolutely controlling this bracket to being dumped to the loser’s bracket inside of about 15 minutes.
  • In the play-in game, UVA sent former ace Mike Vasil to the mound for what likely was his final collegiate appearance, and he shook off some early dust to put in a great line: 7ip, 4h, 1ER, 8/1 K/BB. However, the bullpen couldn’t hold that lead, and Texas’ big middle of the order bats kept pushing and broke through in the 8th and 9th innings to put it away. UVA’s cinderella season is over; Texas moves on.
  • In the group final, Texas clased one back to forced the decider, but then Mississippi State advanced with a walk-off in the final.

Final Group standings: Mississippi State, Texas, Virginia, Tennessee


CWS finals discussion: Vanderbilt given a huge advantage by getting the walk-over and thus not burning Leiter, who will throw in game 1. Mississippi State had to burn both their top starters just to get to the CWS final. A rested full strength Mississippi State lost 2 of 3 in Vanderbilt earlier this year, but did beat Leiter.

Pitching Matchups:

Vandy’s 3 starters look like this:

  • 6/28: Jack Leiter, last pitched Mon 6/21, threw 123 pitches, would be on 6 days rest
  • 6/29: Christian Little, last pitched Wed 6/23, threw 70 pitches, would be on 5 days rest
  • 6/30: Kumar Rocker: last pitched friday 6/25, threw 111 pitches, projected to pitch Wednesday if needed, would be on 4 days rest

So, this would be an entirely different series if Vandy had been forced to burn Leiter to beat NC State a second time … the only potential for damage here is if Rocker comes into game 2, which would be pretty reckless. 123 pitches for Leiter a week ago was … pushing it. But the same coach pulled Rocker in the 7th at 111 pitches, doing the right thing.

Miss State’s 3 starters look like this:

  • 6/28: Christian Macleod, last pitched 6/22, threw just 35 pitches and got knocked out of the 1st. would be on 5 days rest
  • 6/29: Houston Harding, last pitched 6/25, threw 82 pitches, would be on 3 days rest
  • 6/30: Will Bednar, last pitched 6/26, threw 97 pitches, would be on 3 days rest

Bednar is the ace. Macleod has struggled and Harding is more of a swing man. But you see the significant dis-advantage Mississippi State is in; the only way they get their Ace is if it goes 3 and even then he’s on 3 days rest, for a guy who is used to 6 days rest. And their game 2 starters is on 3 days rest regardless … and he’s their 3rd best arm. Meaning its likely a bullpen game.

This situation represents a massive advantage for Vanderbilt in this series. But, on the flip side, Vandy’s offense has been in neutral. I think its enough to make this a pretty close series.

Prediction: Vanderbilt in three.


College CWS tournament references

Written by Todd Boss

June 27th, 2021 at 5:08 pm

Posted in College/CWS

2021 CWS Super Regionals Recap and CWS Field set

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  • #1 Arkansas vs NC State: Arkansas destroyed NC State in game one 21-2. That’s a beat-down. NC State rebounded to force game 3, where they shocked the nation’s #1 team to advance as an unseeded team to Omaha.
  • #8 Texas Tech vs #9 Stanford: Stanford shocked the host Texas Tech team 15-3 in game one, then blanked them in game two 9-0 for a dominant super regional win on the road.
  • #5 Arizona vs #12 Ole Miss: Arizona with relative ease in game one, and Ole Miss trounced them in game two to force the tiebreaker. Arizona rebounded again in game 3, with a 16-3 destruction to punch their ticket to Omaha.
  • #4 Vanderbilt vs #13 East Carolina: Vandy’s two aces dominated ECU, giving up just one run between them, and Vanderbilt advances to the CWS with ease.
  • #3 Tennessee vs LSU: Tennessee held serve in game 1 and handled LSU in game two with ease to move to the finals as a big favorite.
  • Dallas Baptist vs UVA: DBU with the close one in game 1, getting to UVA ace Andrew Abbott and holding on for the win. UVA blanked the Patriots in game two behind 7 2-hit innings from Griff McGarry (who sported an ERA north of 6.00 on the season) to force the Monday tie-breaker. In the breaker, UVA’s freshman Nate Savino struggled early, was replaced by middle reliever Matt Wyatt, who shut down DBU for the rest of the game, setting the stage for a clutch 7th inning Grand Slam from Kyle Teel, their best hitter on the season, to move them to Omaha.
  • #7 Mississippi State vs #10 Notre Dame: Miss State outslugged ND in game one 9-8. Notre Dame blasted the SEC team 9-1 to force the Monday tie-breaker. There, Notre Dame just couldn’t score enough to overcome their own pitching and lost 11-7.
  • #2 Texas vs South Florida: Texas won a close game 1 and blew out the cinderella team in game 2 to advance to Omaha.

Super Regional predictions: Arkansas, Texas Tech, Arizona, Vandy, Tenn, UVA, Notre Dame, Texas.

Super Regional actuals: NC State, Stanford, Arizona, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, UVA, Mississippi State, Texas. Prediction went just 5 for 8 in the super regionals.

CWS field: 

top half: NC State, #9 Stanford, #5 Arizona, #4 Vanderbilt

bottom half: #3 Tennessee, UVA, #7 Mississippi State and #2 Texas

Despite losing the #1 overall seed, Omaha is pretty stacked, with 5 of the best 8 teams in the land, plus #9 Stanford who dominated the #8 seed to move on.  We’re about to see some really good baseball.

Star Power in the CWS:

  • Vanderbilt: Leiter and Rocker, both likely going top 5 of the 2021 draft in a few weeks time, continue to show why Vandy is the team to beat.
  • Texas: Ty Madden, their Ace, continues on and might be in the mix for the Nats pick at #11.
  • UVA: Zach Gelof, Andrew Abbott, Mike Vasil: all likely 2nd day picks.
  • Mississippi State: Wil Bednar, Christian MacLeod, two solid arms.

Predictions? 

  • In the top-half: It is hard not to look at the way Vanderbilt’s two aces can dominate even a top offensive team like ECU and not just pencil them in for wins.  Look for Vanderbilt to win the first two games of their CWS bracket, then wait in the final.  Stanford took 2 of 3 versus Arizona at home in May, but the friday night game was a 13-inning affair that saw both teams’ aces give up runs, so its hard to predict who might come out of the loser’s bracket, but i like Arizona to challenge Vandy but ultimately lose.
  • In the bottom half…#3 Tennessee is my favorite here, despite being the slight underdog to #2 Texas. D1Baseball has Tennessee above Texas in their rankings, and I wonder if Texas will save their ace for game 2 as a result. Tennessee will start with UVA, while Texas will start with Mississippi State. I like the top 2 seeds to move on, with Tennessee eventually advancing out of the group.

This would leave a CWS final of Vandy vs Tennessee, a rematch of a mid-April 3-game series at Tennessee where Vandy won 2 of 3, beating Leiter in the saturday game. Still thinking Vandy takes this.

Written by Todd Boss

June 15th, 2021 at 11:32 am

Posted in College/CWS

Tagged with

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

2021 Draft Coverage: Mock Draft Mania and current draft trends

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Jack Leiter has been in 1-1 consideration forever. Photo via sportsnet

We’re starting to get into draft season!

Here’s my current collection of Mock Drafts from leading pundits.  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.  Thanks to the draft moving back to July/All Star break, we will get a whole new batch as players finish up college seasons and start wood bat leagues/show cases.

I’ll keep adding to this list as Mocks come in and re-publish just before the draft with a final prediction.  In the mean time …


Here’s the Mock draft collection.  I’ve generally listed their top-5 and then who they project the Nats to take at #11 (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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • CollegeBaseballDaily May 2021 mock 5/12/21: Rocker, Leiter, Lawlar, Kahlil Wilson, Mayer.
  • 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.

My thoughts on the top of the draft, based on what we’re seeing.

  • Three of the names that have been projected in the top 5 have been there since the beginning (Kumar Rocker, Jack Leiter, Brady House).
  • Very early in the spring HS season, two prep HS short stops in Jordan Lawlar and Marcello Mayer started getting mentioned as top5 guys … and now several mocks are thinking they go 1-2.
  • Rocker and Leiter’s starts are hyper overanalyzed each week; Leiter missed a start and suddenly the next mock dumped him out of the top5.
  • I really like Leiter; if you’ve seen him pitch, he looks like he could be in a MLB rotation right now.  Rocker is impressive, but has been really inconsistent and I could see him slipping.
  • College catchers who can hit go high; see Adley RutschmannHenry Davis fits that boat and is a safe pick for a team that has been burned in the past by either a prep kid or a pitcher.  He’s going to go high.

My current prediction on the top5 (which excludes any bonus money shenanigan picks that we’re hearing Baltimore may pursue) would basically include the 5-6 names just high lighted here, in some order.

What about the Nats at 11?

Well, its pretty notable that a number of the Mock drafts all have the Nats taking the same kid: prep arm Jackson Jobe. Yes, another pitcher. And a HS one at that. Echos of the failure we saw in our ability to capitalize on Lucas Giolito, or the ridiculosly bad luck of the Mason Denaburg pick.

I’ve seen a couple outlier mocks here and there; i’ve seen Ty Madden mentioned (#2 Texas’ friday night starter) and Sam Bachman (Miami of Ohio’s big arm). Both are safer than a prep arm … but both also might be gone by #11 based on these projections. I’d like either honestly; i like college track records.

Notably … nobody has them on a bat. I know this will irritate some who read this (ahem KW), but there’s no point fighting it. If it wasn’t clear by now, this team focuses on pitchers in the draft and then uses them like currency to acquire bats later on. So, be prepared for another pitcher-heavy draft in July.

Written by Todd Boss

June 4th, 2021 at 2:17 pm

Posted in Draft

2021 CWS Field of 64 Review and Predictions

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Wow, it feels good to be back (somewhat) to normal. The 2021 College World Series field of 64 was announced over the weekend, which will feature 16 mini tournaments to determine who advances to the “Super Regionals” next weekend. This is a great, fun weekend of college baseball coming up, and there’s all sorts of local rooting interest and national draft interest in the field.

We had no 2020 event, and in 2019 I didn’t do a ton of coverage, so here we are. Lets review the field of 64, note some of the more interesting matchups, and make some predictions. I’ll list these in the order of their eventual Super Regional matchup (i.e. #1 national seed’s region then #16 national seed region, then #8/#9, etc).

#1 Arkansas, with Nebraska, Northeastern and NJIT. The #1 seed, which did not win its own conference, gets a very difficult #2 seed in Big12 champ Nebraska, who is ranked #42 in RPI. I’m not saying they’re going to lose, but certainly this is one of the more difficult #2 seeds. Prediction: Arkansas

#16: Louisiana Tech, who gets NC State, Alabama and Rider. Alabama as a #3 seed is kind of ridiculous; they played top 25 teams 22 times this year. They’re higher RPI than NC State. La Tech lost its conference championship but rocketed up the RPI rankings into a host, but I don’t think they can beat two solid down-division teams from ACC/SEC. Prediction: Alabama.

#8: Texas Tech, who gets UCLA, UNC and Army. Kind of a tough #2 seed for a national seed in UCLA, who got a number of top-25 wins this year. I smell a slight upset possibility here. Prediction: Texas Tech.

#9: Stanford, who gets UC Irvine, Nevada and North Dakota State. Stanford had a very solid season, and UC Irvine is the kind of random California team that excels only in baseball and can give the blue bloods fits, but not this year. I like Stanford here.

#5 Arizona, who gets Oklahoma State, UC Santa Barbara and Grand Canyon. Oklahoma State is quite high in RPI, but sports a pretty poor record against top25. This will be an interesting show-me series between two solid teams in the top secondary divisions in the sport. I also like the secondary story of GCU, which is the sole for-profit Division 1 team in the country and who has had spats with other Pac12 members publicly about whether they were even eligible to compete. I like Arizona to move on.

#12 Ole Miss gets Southern Miss, Florida State and Southeast Missouri State. A very talented top 3 here, all with pedigree and top-25 history. I have no reason to doubt the SEC team Ole Miss moves on, especially at home.

#4 Vanderbilt gets Georgia Tech, Indiana State and Presbyterian. I’m still not quite sure how Vandy ever loses, with its two top starters (Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter) both projected to go in the top 5 of the draft and a slew of other talented players in the lineup. They get a gift of a regional, with Ga Tech down in the 40s in terms of RPI.

#13 ECU headlines a local-favorite filled regional that includes Charlotte, Maryland and MEAC champ Norfolk State. ECU isn’t quite as good as they have been in the past but was a top25 regular this year and should move on.

#3 Tennessee gets an interesting draw in ACC champ Duke, local favorite Liberty and Wright State. It isn’t often that the ACC champ isn’t a regional host, but Duke didn’t really merit it during a down year for the ACC. Liberty has done some damage this year locally, but won’t be able to take down the national power Tennessee.

#14 Oregon hosts Gonzaga, LSU and Central Connecticut. LSU was a pre-season favorite to fight for the title before losing their friday starter (Jaden Hill) to TJ surgery. They survived an awful start to the season to qualify and I think they’re a dark horse. I think Oregon is weak this year, and Gonzaga is a geographic-based seed to save on travel dollars. LSU to advance.

#6 TCU gets a tough regional for its troubles, with Oregon State, Dallas Baptist and McNeese State. Dallas Baptist isn’t as good as they have been recently, but did win their conference… as did Lake Charles’ McNeese State, who led the way in a sneaky good baseball conference and could make some noise. Hard to bet against the powerhouse TCU, but this regional may be tough.

#11 ODU, for being a top 10 team this year, somehow doesn’t get the honor to host and has to travel to South Carolina to compete in a regional where they’re the #1 seed. They’re joined by UVA and Jacksonville as perhaps the best #4 seed in the tourney as the Atlantic Sun champ. Tough break for ODU, who I think falls to South Carolina. UVA makes the tournament in a down year, but just doesn’t have the bats to compete.

#7 Mississippi State gets VCU, Campbell and Stamford in a relatively easy regional.

#10 ACC Champ Notre Dame, hardly a baseball power, gets UConn, Michigan and Central Michigan in a regional that seems designed to ensure a cold weather team makes it to next weekend. UConn normally is solid but is down this year, so Notre Dame (who got shellacked in the ACC tournament by UVA) moves on.

#15 Florida gets a very “Florida” regional, with South Alabama, long-time rival Miami and South Florida in their regional. I can see a Florida-Miami winner’s bracket final, but otherwise see no reason to doubt Florida moving on.

#2 Texas, who is overseeded by a handful, nonetheless gets a very easy regional with Arizona State, Fairfield and Southern. Interestingly, Fairfield is the #2 team in the nation in RPI, having gone 37-3 this year, albeit with no games against anyone in the top 50.


So, i’m going mostly chalk, with a couple of upsets. We’ll see how it plays out. Games start friday at Noon!

Written by Todd Boss

June 1st, 2021 at 3:48 pm

Posted in College/CWS

Tagged with ,

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

State of the Minors, Week3

8 comments

First off, here’s the records of our teams after three 6-game series (link to all MiLB standings here)

  • AAA: 4-14 (tied for worst in league)
  • AA: 6-12 (last place in division)
  • High-A: 9-9 (2 games out of 1st)
  • Low-A: 1-17.

I asked Keith Law a question in his chat last week about Fredericksburg, who was 0-15 at the time, asking whether they would ever win and he thought I was exaggerating. He replied as much, posting their team batting and pitching stats in amazement.

Lets do a quick run-through who’s looking good and bad around our minor league affiliates. I use links that i store in a page here: https://www.nationalsarmrace.com/?page_id=16709 so you can use the same shortcuts i’ve collected over the years.

AAA observations:

  • Who’s hot: Palka, Sanchez, and Garcia not half bad at the plate.
  • McFarland in the bullpen is on a hot streak, with 9 Ks in his last 4 innings.
  • Who’s not: Kieboom; just 2-15 last week, still hitting under .200 for the season. WTF.
  • Not ONE of our AAA starters was even halfway decent last week. Braymer is really struggling in particular, concerning since he’s one of our 40-man covering starters.

Who is next to get called up? I don’t see ANYONE really making a statement at AAA demanding a call-up. Nobody. We have seven 40-man guys in AAA (plus two more who are on IL) and there’s no burning reinforcements for the big club.

Who is next to get demoted or released? Carlos Tocci is 1-19 on the season and the team has at least 7 outfielders on the roster … time seems short for this veteran MLFA.


AA Observations

  • Who’s hot at the plate: Jakson Reetz, of all people, 5/14 in the last week with some power.
  • In the rotation: Teel, Cate and Sharp had solid weeks on the mound. Teel isn’t exactly a swing-and-miss guy but he’s getting results.
  • Sanchez has 20/2 K/BB on the season right now.
  • Baldonado: 8Ks, 0BB in 4ip last week. not to shabby.
  • Unfortuantely, Reetz is the team leader in BA for the season at a paltry .237.
  • Did you know there’s not a single 40-man player in our AA team? AA is generally where the best near-MLB ready prospects get sent by most franchises as a finishing school and we don’t have a single prospect in that category.

Who is next to get promoted? I think Klobotis is making a statement: 14/1 K/BB in 8 innings, and has given up just 2 hits on the year. I think Baldonado needs to move up as well; he was in AAA 3 years ago and now is 28 overmatching kids in AA.

Who is next to get demoted or released? I mean, nobody’s hitting on this team but 21MLFA SS/2B Osvaldo Duarte is 8-51 with 21 Ks and just 4 walks in a position that is completely replaceable.


High-A observations

  • Who’s hot: the entire outfield is crushing the ball; Rhinesmith, Connell and Canning lead the team in BA and OPS over the last week, with Rhinesmith just crushing the ball in particular going 11-20 in the last week.
  • Another solid start for Cade Cavalli.
  • What is going on with Rutledge? In 4 starts, he now has an ERA north of 12, he’s given up 17 hits in 10 innings and has a 10/9 K/BB ratio. I’m sorry, but this just isn’t going to cut it. It’s starting to look like he’s out of his element in High-A. And it REALLY is starting to look bad for pundits who thought he is a better prospect than Cavalli.

Who is next to get promoted? Alex Troop; who has a 0.46 whip and 12/0 K/BB in 8 innings in middle relief.

Who is next to get demoted or released? Rutledge. I think he needs to go to Low-A and regroup unless he’s hurt.


Low-A

  • At least they got a win.
  • their BEST hitter by OPS is hitting .219 (Jake Randa)
  • Junior Martina had a nice week.
  • The team did not hit a single home run in the last series.
  • The starting pitching is SO BAD in Low-A that not one single pitcher qualifies for the ERA title.
  • That being said, a couple of starters actually had solid starts: Karlo Seijas: 7ip, 3hits, 8ks, 0 walks. More of that please.

Who is next to get promoted: Nobody. Not one single pitcher is making a case, nor are any of the hitters.

Who is next to get demoted/released? There’s a slew of hitters with really ugly lines right now: Jeremy Ydens is 4-41 on the season, Kevin Strohschein is 8-50 with 13Ks and a walk … and 1 RBI. He’s the 1B. Nothing positive in F-burg.