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Entries in Washington Nationals (19)

Tuesday
Nov132012

Harper, Trout Polar Opposites on the First Pitch

Bryce Harper and Mike Trout turned in epic seasons while taking home Rookie of the Year Honors. In addition to their swift defense and base running savvy, Harper (whose 22 HR trailed only Tony Conigliaro among all teenage hitters) and Trout (whose 171 OPS+ was highest ever for a player qualifying for the batting title during his age-20 season) were historically dangerous in the batter's box. But the two stars destined to be compared to each other for decades to come began their at-bats in markedly different ways. Harper was ultra-aggressive on the first pitch. Trout, by contrast, rarely took the lumber off his shoulder in 0-0 counts.

Check out Harper and Trout's swing rates by pitch location in 0-0 counts:

Harper's first-pitch swing rate by pitch location

 

Trout' first-pitch swing rate by pitch location

Harper took one of his hellacious cuts about 41% of the time in first-pitch counts, dwarfing the 26% major league average. The only qualified hitters with a higher first-pitch swing rate were Josh Hamilton, Ian Desmond, B.J. Upton, Freddie Freeman, Yadier Molina, Delmon Young, Danny Espinosa and Chris Davis. Harper's aggression paid off, as he slugged .659 on the first pitch (.579 MLB average).

Trout swung just under 10% of the time in first-pitch situations. Kevin Youkilis, Martin Prado, Joe Mauer, Dustin Pedroia and J.J. Hardy were the only batters with a more passive approach on the first pitch. While Harper chased 24% of pitches thrown out of the strike zone in 0-0 counts, Trout showed Zen-like patience by going after only 5% of first-pitch offerings (14% MLB average).

Two all-time great rookies, two totally different (and effective) ways of beginning ABs. Harper embraced his inner Josh Hamilton, lunging at first pitches and tallying lots of extra-base knocks. Trout channeled Rickey Henderson, laying off would-be balls and later doing damage in hitter's counts. Sorry, pitchers: whether these guys swing at the first pitch or not, you really don't stand a chance.

Monday
Sep102012

Strasburg's season comes to an end...and not a moment too soon

Stephen Strasburg is done for the year and his Washington Nationals teammates will presumably progress to the postseason without him, the only question now is how long will they continue to play?

Strasburg is 15-6 record this season with a 3.16 earned run average, striking out 197 in 159.1 innings. Those numbers only tell part of the story that has two sub-sections.

Strasburg made 28 starts this season and it is worth looking at his first 14 starts versus his last 14 starts.

Here are Strasburg's first 14 starts April 5, 2012 to June 20, 2012 versus Strasburg's second 14 starts June 25, 2012 to Sept 7, 2012:

 

First 14 starts

Second 14 starts

Team result

12-2

7-7

Strasburg result

9-1

6-5

ERA

2.46

3.94

 

 

 

Innings pitched

84.0

75.1

Batters faced

332

321

Pitches thrown

1332

1275

 

 

 

Hits

65

71

Walks

22

26

Strikeouts

110

87

 

 

 

Runs

26

36

Earned runs

23

33

Home runs

6

9

BA against

.214

.247

OBP

.274

.308

Slugging

.313

.408

OPS

.586

.716

 

Here is the graphic look at Strasburg's first 14 games:

Here is the graphic look at Strasburg's second 14 games: 

And as you can see there is a significant difference in Strasburg's effectiveness as the season has progressed.

It got worse in his last five starts:

In his last five starts he had a 4.50 ERA to go along with his 1.346 WHIP

Here is Rick Peterson, director of pitching development for the Baltimore Orioles, with the great Ed Randall of WFAN on September 8 explaining the rationale behind shutting down Strasburg at this point. Peterson has contended that had the Nationals started Strasburg's season on April 28 and this would not have been such a controversy.

After all is said and done, I wish the Nationals well and I have to feel this was a smart decision for the long-term Strasburg investment particularly when you realize that in the short-term it may not have been that bad a baseball decision.

Thursday
Sep062012

Back-to-Back six homer games for the Nationals

Washington tied a franchise record with six home runs set Tuesday night as they went multiple deep routing the Cubs, 9-1.

Last night, Bryce Harper hit two homers, Roger BernadinaAdam LaRocheIan Desmond, and Danny Espinosa hit one each.

Tuesday night, LaRoche hit two, Desmond, Jesus FloresTyler Moore, and Ryan Zimmerman each hit one.

Here are the Expo/National games in which they hit at least six homers:

RkDateTmOppRsltHR
1 2012-09-05 WSN CHC W 9-1 6
2 2012-09-04 WSN CHC W 11-5 6
3 2011-05-20 WSN BAL W 17-5 6
4 2002-08-21 MON COL W 13-5 6
5 1997-08-23 MON CHC W 9-5 6
6 1997-05-04 MON SDP W 9-3 6
7 1978-07-30 MON ATL W 19-0 8
Provided by Baseball-Reference.comView Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/6/2012.

Here are the games in which a team has hit at least six homers this season:

RkDateTmOppRsltHR
1 2012-09-05 WSN CHC W 9-1 6
2 2012-09-04 WSN CHC W 11-5 6
3 2012-06-20 ARI SEA W 14-10 6
4 2012-06-19 TOR MIL W 10-9 6
5 2012-04-17 TEX BOS W 18-3 6
Provided by Baseball-Reference.comView Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/6/2012.
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