Where's my ring? A look at the 2015 Washington Nationals.

We have all been wondering whose fault it is in everything in life when things do not go as planned.  The truth is that often we do not know who is at fault, and in sports the blame changes and evolves and often gets very personal.


The suspects are usually ownership, team president, GM, Manager, Coaches, and players in any combination you can imagine.  In this case ownership gets a pass as they have spent the money in a way that none of us could have imagined prior to 2011.  Stan Kasten is gone so we won’t blame him.  The GM is Mike Rizzo,  and he has some culpability in some of the issues such as the bullpen, and the Manager Matt Williams has some culpability on in-game decisions.  Usually the Coaches get a pass, but there has to be the question that you hire a defensive positioning coordinator and BABIP got worse from 2013 to 2014 and that makes no sense but for now Mark Weidemaier who has a Master’s Degree in Sports Management and Administration from Ohio State University must be smart and will get a pass, and we will give a pass to the medical staff since they’re smart too as who can spell Dr. Wiemi Douoguih without looking it up.

It’s all about the Wins and WAR stands for Wins Above Replacement, and it’s fairly clear that some players have improved and some have not.  Here’s the list (below) of underachievers that was compiled by a CPA that is a consultant to us.


Making heads or tails of the information is difficult because not all players that will be used for replacement are at a 0.0 value, and WAR is cumulative which makes much of this apples to oranges.  Espinosa who replaced Rendon for a good part of the year already has a 2.1 WAR and Michael A. Taylor yesterday had a 2.0 WAR and Joe Ross had a 1.1 WAR and Clint Robinson -0.1  and Tyler Moore -0.8

The pitchers as a group aren’t nearly as good as last year also. Since we relied on FanGraphs data we used Strasburg and not Roark because we didn’t think it was fair due to his role change from primary starter to the bullpen. Fister has also had a role change, and it’s hard to believe Fister’s differential was only -1.4 between last year and this year overall. Fister’s WAR was +1.4 last year and 0.00 this year.

Fangraphs has always undervalued finesse pitchers as the K pitchers control their own destiny and K is a large component in WAR. The team W/L record in Fister starts last year was 18-7 vs. 5-10 this year. That W/L differential in itself, if you believe in pitchers controlling wins in their starts is 100%, which we don’t, is on the pitcher than Fister deserves to somehow be in that graph; however, if you’re relying on FanGraphs solely as the objective stats system then you have to stick with a standard.

This is where we think the discussion starts, and we ask this question: How can you win when you have 4 of your 8 projected 2015 starters in the field with such negative value differentials  from 2014 to 2015?

Just add up the reversal of fortune in the change from Werth, Rendon, Desmond, Span and Strasburg which is almost 19 games lost cumulatively then add back the replacement players at +4 wins and you are at a net loss of about 15 games from last year.  Some would say that Werth was going to regress from 2014 to 2015 which is true, but you have Bryce who progressed.  The Nats won 96 games in 2014.  Is it reasonable to think the -15 would bring you to an 81-81 season is a reasonable assumptiom.There is actually a Twitter handle for “Fire Matt Williams”.

It got retweeted 4 times and 11 favorites so possibly some believe the message.

Here’s the good news.  There is still 40 games to play in the season.  The Nats are 5 games back and anything is possible.

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