Observations about the Nats’ offense from Statcast

We do not always get the sample sizes we need to properly analyze the data. But one thing is for sure, that Juan Soto is a legitimate superstar. Red (hot) highlights in the chart (above) is good and blue (cold) is not.

Juan Soto

Soto just needs to join the launch angle revolution (joking) and he would be hitting 50 bombs. His launch angle average of 5° and his pounding balls into the infield grass is all that needs to change along with his outfield arm which is close to noodle arm status. We get it, Soto was told not to air out balls in the field.

Josh Bell

The down and ups on Bell’s year is one of the more frustrating parts of this season as he goes through cold and hot spurts. He is the sole protection for Juan Soto in the lineup and pitchers are just willing to walk Soto when Bell isn’t scolding hot.

A week ago Bell looked like a non-tender who would not be worth $8 million and now he is heating up again and looking like he is worth about $4 to $5 million. He is a physical specimen who mans a premium offensive spot at first base. His true OPS is .774 with an OPS+ of 114. Good but not great. He is back up to a +0.2 WAR which is 25th ranked on this team, and that is where the heartburn is for a thumper who has to consistently scare opposing pitchers into actually pitching to Soto. You don’t pay +0.2 WAR guys at $8 million unless you wrote a bad long-term contract. The jury is still out on Bell.

Ryan Zimmerman

Unfortunately the end of the road is probably here for the greatest player in Nats history and the Face of the Franchise. He has become a two-outcome player of strikeouts and not enough home runs. The team gives him favorable matchups during starts against lefty pitchers and plenty of rest to stay fresh. It worked for a while.

Statcast shows you that even though Zim hits the ball very hard, he hits into predictable patterns and isn’t an unlucky hitter with a .229 expected batting average, and a .411 expected slugging. He has a poor 29.1% K rate and a poor 4.9% walk rate. Zim’s real OBP rate of .274 just shows he has lost the ability to get on-base.

Lane Thomas

Would the real Lane Thomas please stand up? He sure doesn’t look like much in street clothes. I would think golfer or tennis player, not baseball stud. One thing for sure, he is fast, and now the fastest guy on this reconfigured roster. He has a nice swing, and what we don’t know is if he can adjust to MLB pitching when they adjust to him. So far though, so good. He hits the ball hard AND so far Statcast thinks he has been BABIP unlucky if you look at what they think his xBA should be at .226 — because his real season’s BA is .208 (.417 with the Nats). Let’s see how LT does the rest of the season before we anoint him as the 2021 starting centerfielder for the Washington Nationals.

Yadiel Hernandez

He has really turned into a good hitter. The issue is that it took him almost 34 years to show everyone that he is a darn good baseball player. He should certainly be a DH, PH, and spot starter for this team in 2022, and he is still a minimum cost player. This is the type of guy you want to see succeed given the way he left Cuba for the USA.

Riley Adams

His sample size is small, and he hits the ball hard. He has already impressed enough that we hope to see more and more.  His K rate at 31.5% is a little troubling, and he will need to improve his contact rate to really stick. With Keibert Ruiz as the future primary catcher on this team, Adams will need a first baseman’s glove, to convince the Nats’ brass to keep him along with Tres Barrera in a trio of catchers. The DH in the National League should be enough to go in that direction. Again, time will ultimately tell on Adams given that he only has 43 plate appearances with the Nats. Somehow Adams and Jordy Mercer are the only two position players with at least 40 PAs who haven’t hit into doubleplays. I’m sure I just jinxed Adams, but he is more of a flyball hitter than a groundballer.

Carter Kieboom

This new version of Kieboom is a welcomed sight. Statcast thinks he has been unlucky with an xBA of .288 versus a real BA of .253. If he can keep taking those walks, you have to love that .360 OBP for the kid. The former first round pick of the Nats just needs to show a little more power, and he might really earn himself a spot at second base next year. He just is not a third baseman and the team has to move him to second base. The other part that concerns me is that Kieboom is a .247 batter in Hi Lev spots. I really need to see him step up when the stress level is up. If he convinces me he can do that, I will be a believer in this version of Carter Kieboom.

Luis Garcia

He is just 21 years old. What Statcast shows is what we have written about that you will not survive on worm burners. His laugh angle is actually negative which means he is hitting move balls by angle into the ground. He has really cut down on his strikeouts and is making contact but must hit more line drives. His defense has been shaky too. Second base is his spot so we will see what gives in 2022. At one point, I had him as the second baseman of the future, now I’m not totally convinced.

Victor Robles

I’m kind of sick of talking about Robles. He should have been sent to Triple-A to see if the move away would get him set in place like the team did with Andrew Stevenson last week.

The Statcast stats tell you everything you need to know or maybe last night watching Robles get a lead-off hit and then quickly gets caught-stealing is typical of Vic to get on base and quickly get off base.

Maybe Mark Zuckerman on the Nats Chat podcast spoke his truth, “But there’s nothing else you can point to say that he has done that well this year. There just isn’t.” There is no reason Robles should be starting anymore. Zuckerman then is critical of Robles’ for first pitch swinging in the 9th inning and weakly grounding out, and Zuck adds “repeating the same mistakes over and over.” Yep, we have said that dozens of times this year.

Tres Barrera

He has proven to be a good backup catcher as we have seen. It is good to see that he could factor into the mix for 2022. He calls a good game and can hit his weight, and for a backup catcher — that is actually good.

Alcides Escobar

Unless Rizzo plans to sign a stud shortstop of the future in free agency, Esco should be extended now. He is just a solid placeholder until you know what direction the team is going in. He puts balls in play and has the lowest K rate on the team at 14%.


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