WAR stats and having fun with the math

You want to get optimistic on your Washington Nationals knowing that Patrick Corbin pitches in the next game with his 8.06 ERA against James Paxton and his miniscule 2.81 ERA. A Nats’ win, and they are back to .500. A Nats loss, and that weekend optimism might get tainted. That is the life of a baseball fan. The Nats today are on a 77-85 pace on the season based on their current .476 winning percentage. Lose tomorrow and the team drops to a 73-89 pace. The baseball season is a marathon. We are 1/8th complete on the season. That is just a furlong in a thoroughbred race.

The national media kind of woke up to the fact that they couldn’t ignore CJ Abrams or Mitchell Parker for the time being. Abrams is tied today with Juan Soto for OPS at 1.034, and we know the media is obsessed with Soto. Also, Abrams has more home runs than Soto. And Parker turned in the top gem yesterday per BBRef.

You go 8-5 against some tough competition, and the Nationals deserve the recognition. The walk-0ff win on Saturday gets extra pub, and then the mind wanders to what general manager Mike Rizzo must be thinking. He holds the special keys to free the prospects. Come on Rizzo, let my people go. Give us a No. 5 pitcher, James Wood for left field, Brady House for third base, and Dylan Crews once he goes en fuego.

Is it too early to call-up your Elly De La Cruz like the Reds did last year? Cincinnati called him up on June 6 last year, and he finished at 7th in ROY voting. The Reds were 27-33 before De La Cruz’s call-up and went 55-47 the rest of the season with him to finish 82-80 and just outside of a Wild Card berth. Can’t Wood be that type of catalyst for the Nats?

The team stats are quite impressive if you go by the WAR values as established by FanGraphs:

That chart would have Abrams, Hunter Harvey, and Trevor Williams as MVP candidates. WHAT?!? Jesse Winker, MacKenzie Gore, Luis Garcia Jr., and Mitchell Parker would be All-Stars with Jake Irvin on the fringe as a “Good Player.” Riley Adams has shown that he is the No. 1 catcher over Keibert Ruiz. The next tier of players is interesting as FanGraphs likes Joey Gallo. They also like Jacob Young who is the team’s havoc wreaker. The rest of the list is fringey at this point as a +0.1 teeters on that edge, and can turn negative quickly with a bad start or two.

As the teacher said, if your name is not on the list, report to the office. Uh oh, who is missing from that list. Yes, Lane Thomas, Joey Meneses, Eddie Rosario, Ruiz, Josiah Gray, and Kyle Finnegan. By the way, BBRef’s WAR has Finnegan as a Top-12 player with a +0.4 WAR. FanGraphs is very process based, and he gets points off because of his FIP stat putting him at -0.3 regardless of his saves.

These WAR stats are compiled by different data points. They should come with a warning label. It gets a little dangerous to rely too heavily on the numbers, unless you’re a player that shows better on BBRef or better on FanGraphs, and you need these numbers to justify your spot on the roster. Maybe you average the two stats, and come up with a more neutralized number.

Whichever set of numbers you use, the eye test seems to align a lot better for me with BBRef as their bottom four is Rosario, Corbin, Gray, and Thomas in that order from worse to worser, if that was a word. That is what needs to get figured out. They have been the true lead weights on this team. If this team was a ship, it might have sunk if you were depending on those four as your crew. Fortunately it is a team sport, and others have kept the ship afloat. Gray and Corbin have been the pitchers of record in five games — all losses. Take those off the ledger, and the team is 10-6 without them. Sorry, it does not work like that. We did give you a stat earlier that the combined ERAs of Parker, Williams, Irvin, and Gore is 2.93.

Even the full staff ERA for the starters is better than the Atlanta Braves. Yes, that stat is accurate, and as you know the Braves are 14-6 and atop the NL East.

Maybe the fingers should be pointed at the Nats’ offense. The Nats are averaging just 3.80 runs per game. The Braves are averaging 6.25 runs per game. They are bashing their way to wins. That doesn’t seem like a sustainable formula, but they’ve been doing it with a power-slumping Ronald Acuna Jr. who only has one home run and five XBH. Ozzie Albies is on the IL with a broken toe, and team is being carried by Marcell Ozuna and his 27 RBIs and 1.117 OPS.

Team balance is everything. If the Nats can find that balance, they will win a lot of games.

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