In all of my years of writing about the Washington Nationals, there is no recollection of Mike Rizzo ever stating that having a 90-win team on paper going into Spring Training is a goal. In the past week, Mike Rizzo has mentioned this 90-win goal more than once. It must be mission accomplished because Fangraphs is projecting the Nats at 92-70 for the 2019 season, and the Nationals have been projected to win 90-games every season since 2012. Sometimes you win over 90 and sometimes it is below 90 because in real baseball — stuff happens — good and not so good.
Projections do not get you division crowns or World Series rings because in “real life” you have to play the games. This new generation of teenagers spends their days simulating games on computers, and they play sports wearing virtual reality headsets like they are actually on the field of play. Projections are like virtual reality, and MLB The Show™ 19 with all of their teases of Bryce Harper‘s future cannot predict the future. Mike Rizzo knows that paper wins only count when the game is over, and 90-wins only count when the standings in September actually read 90-wins.
“And 90-wins is always a goal of mine to have a 90-win team on paper going into Spring Training,” Mike Rizzo said. “We believe we have that this year. We have had a lot of changes, and I think we signed nine new players on our twenty-five man roster…We really added to what I think and Davey thinks makes a championship organization tick. Pitching. Defense. Athleticism. Speed. I think we improved in all four of those aspects. It’s a big part of our identity as far as trying to develop a championship caliber club. Our scouting staff is as good as it has ever been. Our analytical staff and department is bigger and better and brighter than it’s ever been. We’re in a good spot. This so-called window is going to remain open for many more years.”
“When the off-season is done and Spring Training starts, we want to think that we have a 90-win type of team on paper. Games aren’t played on paper. I get that. I heard that, and I agree with it. My job is to create a roster analytically, and in the eye of the scouts and with the coaching staff has a chance to win 90-games, and 90-games sometimes — some years means 85, sometimes 82, sometimes means 95 or 98. So depending on luck — happenstance, injuries, health, all that stuff it varies. My job is to put together a 90-win team on paper that can compete in the National League East, and in the National League, and I think we accomplished that this year.”
There you have it NatsTown. You heard it right from the General Manager Mike Rizzo that he has an off-season plan, but he also went on to say he is not done. That gives us something to look forward to because it would help to build depth especially in the starting rotation. With the competitive balance tax, it will be interesting to see what moves Rizzo could make.
No team has added more talent to their 25-man roster than the Nationals this off-season. They have added many All-Stars like Patrick Corbin, Brian Dozier, Trevor Rosenthal, Yan Gomes, and Kurt Suzuki. They also added Kyle Barraclough, Matt Adams, and Anibal Sanchez. All together, the Nationals have committed to those players in salaries and incentives in excess of $200 million if all incentives and bonuses are earned. We will see how this newly rebuilt bullpen looks and life after Harper, and if all of the calculations are correct as we project this will be a dominant pitching staff and could be an explosive offense built on that speed and athleticism that Mr. Rizzo talked about along with a little bit of pop from the middle of that lineup.
The 90-win minimal goal on paper for Rizzo has been met, and Fangraphs is thinking bigger and better for the Nats — and the real season begins on March 28th against the team Fangraphs is projecting for second place in the NL East.