I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day. The silver lining in DC.

Today many of us on an off-day feel glum and bummed.  We love this Nats team and many of the players on the team.  The silver lining is that the weak links in the chain have been exposed in both players and coaches.  We now saw who can handle the pressure of pennant level baseball and who folded like that “cheap suit” MNF and Sec3 Theo referred to. “ManassasNatsFan asked why Storen was allowed to fold like a cheap suit. It’s because all the other suits had already been taken to the cleaners.”  We have seen 2 years of this coaching staff and how they have performed under pressure.

This team won’t be a pre-season favorite for the NL East, and rankings as we know mean little as you have to play the games.  The Nats have Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon to build around, and how many teams have 2 legit MVP candidates in their starting line-up?

Let’s have a look at who we know will be back for 2016:


  1. Bryce Harper
  2. Michael A. Taylor
  3. Jayson Werth
  4. Matt den Dekker


  1. Anthony Rendon
  2. Trea Turner
  3. Yunel Escobar *
  4. Danny Espinosa
  5. Ryan Zimmmeran
  6. Clint Robinson
  7. Tyler Moore
  8. Wilmer Difo


  1. Wilson Ramos
  2. José Lobaton
  3. Pedro Severino

Starting Rotation:  

  1. Max Scherzer
  2. Stephen Strasburg
  3. Joe Ross
  4. Gio Gonzalez
  5. Tanner Roark
  6. A.J. Cole
  7. Taylor Jordan
  8. Taylor Hill
  9. Lucas Giolito


  1. Jonathan Papelbon
  2. Felipe Rivero
  3. Blake Treinen
  4. Rafael Martin
  5. Craig Stammen
  6. Matt Grace
  7. Abel De Los Santos
  8. Sammy Solis
  9. Drew Storen *
  10. Aaron Barrett (won’t be available until September 2016)

* Trade bait

The Nats need star players that are ready to play every day at a high level.  They didn’t get that from Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth , Ryan Zimmerman and Denard Span.  Werth and Ryan Zimmerman will be on this 2016 roster no matter what some talking heads try to tell you.  This was part of the weak links exposed in 2015 that Ryan Zimmerman will play around 100 full games in 2015 and Jayson Werth will play less than 90 full games.  Ryan Zimmerman at this point in the season has only 62 games he delivered a hit and Werth only 42 games he delivered a hit.

Perhaps what was exposed even more in year over year trending is the drop in defensive efficiency and Mark Weidemaier who carries the title of Defensive Coordinator and Tony Torasco who positions the outfielders just don’t get it or the fielders just don’t listen to them.  In Little League, you see the coaches when the Big Bopper gets up to bat, move their players back in the outfield because they understand that you don’t want balls hit over their heads, but too often you’d find the Nats poorly positioned with little depth movement in the outfield just lateral movement based on the batter.

MLB tracks  a stat called Defense Efficiency, and the Nats have moved backwards from .693 (15th) in 2014 to .681 (24th) in 2015.  In BABIP against Nats pitching, this is trending in the wrong direction: .296 in 2013, .298 in 2014 and  .309 in 2015.  Remember what BABIP is, this is Batting Average on Balls that stay In-Play.  Werth moved up to 4th to last in LF UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) at a -5.5 but with Clint Robinson playing 208 innings in LF and also a -5.5 UZR the Nats were worse than every team in LF defense except the Red Sox who featured a historically bad Hanley Ramirez.  Keep in mind UZR is a cumulative stat and if CRob played 700+ innings he would have competed for that negative distinction with Hanley.   Then you have Yunel Escobar at a -5.8 and 6th from the bottom in 3rd base UZR.  Ian Desmond ranks last in shortstop UZR at -7.2 due to his error rate and Desi was actually 13th best in shortstop range rating which means only 12 other shortstops do a better job getting to balls than Desi.  Since BABIP doesn’t count errors, Desi isn’t the problem in that stat although he is factored in to the decline in Defensive Efficiency. Ryan Zimmerman ranked 24th in 1st Base UZR at a -2.4 and that was a surprising stat, but the plantar fasciitis most likely had it’s effect but RZim was an improvement over LaRoche who was last in UZR last year at -5.0.   BABIP over a full season takes out much of the luck factor and is affected most by poor range and defensive positioning and also the quality of the batted balls; however, FanGraphs ranks the Nats pitchers 5th best in the Majors in hard hit balls at 27.2% and 13th best at Line Drive % at 20.6%.

All of those stats are a mouthful and what it means in the NL where players have to play defense if they want to play offense have to be a net positive and decisions have to be made on Werth,  Ryan Zimmerman, and Escobar.  Ian Desmond will be gone and decisions will have to be made at who plays shortstop for the Nats in 2016.

This is what the Nats public relations people were doing today, sending to BBWAA members who may vote on the NL MVP some of Bryce Harper’s stats!   2014 NL MVP VOTING and MEMBER BALLOTS


Ok, here’s a cheat sheet of Top Rated Free agents:  http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2015/08/2016-mlb-free-agent-power-rankings-5.html

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