Cleaning up the mistakes even in wins must be part of the process

Normally when you make two fielding errors, two base running blunders, and give up three home runs — you lose the game. Saved by 11 runs on offense in the Colorado thin air at altitude, the Washington Nationals faux pas were covered up better than that spackle job to fill those holes punched into the wall in the clubhouse.

The IQ of this team is often in question. So is the coaching. Often at the forefront is Nick Senzel when bad plays are made. His two fielding errors can happen but his base running screw-up on a two-out infield single when he jogged from first to second and kept his pace to third base was unforgivable. Most Little Leaguers wouldn’t make that mistake. Senzel should have been benched since the team has Trey Lipscomb cemented to the pine. Senzel wasn’t. Once again the message is that veteran players like Senzel and Eddie Rosario can get away with inexcusable play on the field.

Speaking of Rosario, he was doing his usual in the batter’s box where he swings at baseballs out of the zone in his refusal to accept walks, because of course he wanted that RBI with a runner on third base with less than two outs. A true ‘team’ player knows you take the walk and move the line.

If that chart (above) represented bullets fired by a police cadet at a target within close range — say 60 feet 6 inches — that cadet would be thrown out of the academy. That is 1½ walks on that chart, and should have been two runners on base with one out. Move the line is how winning teams do it. That is ‘team baseball.’ But not Rosario, he is playing for himself — the name on the back of the jersey. Yet he continues to bat cleanup with his .186 batting average and .576 OPS as if he is the second-coming of Babe Ruth. Every time a right-handed pitcher starts a game, Rosario’s name is penciled in the middle of the lineup. Why?

“Here’s the deal: We’re chasing more with runners in scoring position. We’re not being patient. I always tell the guys: ‘Look, the pitcher is the guy that needs to be worried. Don’t go up to bat, [swinging at] a change-up or a breaking ball when you’re not looking for it.’ That’s where we get ourselves in trouble. We’re making quick outs with guys on base.”

— manager Dave Martinez said that a month ago and yet here we are a month later watching the same guy — a so-called veteran teaching the youngsters bad habits

There has to be a better left-handed batter that general manager Mike Rizzo can find off of waivers or in his minor league system (hint: WOOD, JAMES ) to hit better than Rosario. At least find someone who will hustle, and appreciate the paycheck and set an example for the young players on this team. There used to be a ‘next man up’ philosophy. Martinez has said that Rosario is the type of player who carry an offense — but that has not been the case at all. The team is just 2-5 when Rosario homers, and during his hot streak from May 4 to May 20, the team was a disappointing 5-9 in that span.

Per FanGraphs, a league average jag would get you one more win than Rosario. Yes, he is a -1.0 WAR. Why isn’t Ildemaro Vargas getting more starts ahead of Senzel? Vargas has 23 percent fewer plate appearances than Senzel yet has a higher WAR.

12Ildemaro VargasWSN151 PA0.50.5 WAR
14Nick SenzelWSN1970.40.4

Colorado’s high altitude can often pad a player’s stats. Some find a confidence there that can carry them forward. This Nationals team is obviously good in many respects. However, why is the obvious ignored about speaking about the ‘little things’ and the same mistakes that persist? And there is a pattern of the same players who have their sins swept under the rug. There has to be more accountability. It starts at the top.

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