Hello from the snow-covered DC suburbs! I’ve been digging my way out from under the approximately 34 inches of snow that fell in my area in less than a week. That, of course, is in addition to the 31 or so inches of snow that has fallen here since the weekend before Christmas.The “official” total amount of snow for DC so far this winter season is about 55 inches, which, according to a local TV station’s web site, is more snow than has fallen in Chicago (45.1″), Detroit (27.5″), Minneapolis (38.1″), Boston (30.1″), and Fargo (46.0″). Hell, yes, I’m ready for the start of baseball season!
FYI, I will now be focusing primarily on the Nationals in this blog,
rather than splitting my attention between the Nats and the Yankees.
Let’s face it, there are plenty of Yankees blogs — probably even more
now than there were when the 2009 season ended, thanks to the Yankees’
latest World Series triumph — so the disappearance of the Yankees
portion of this blog won’t exactly be a major loss to the Yankees
blogosphere. I do, however, reserve the right to throw in an occasional
comment (or rant) about the Yankees from time to time, since they
remain my second favorite team.
With that said…Nationals pitchers and catchers report to Viera, FL next Friday, the 19th. Nationals position players report on the 24th, and the first full-squad workout is on the 26th. Split-squad games will take place on March 4th, and the Nationals’ home opener at Space Coast Stadium will be March 6th against the Mets.
There have been quite a few changes for the Nationals since the 2009 season ended…some goodbyes and hellos for 2010. Goodbye to Austin Kearns, Saul Rivera, Ron Villone, and Dmitri Young, among others. Hello to Brian Bruney, Matt Capps, Adam Kennedy, Jason Marquis, and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, among others. Yes, the Nats were in the running for Orlando Hudson, and apparently are very much in the running for Chen Ming Wang. We’ll see how the negotiations for CMW go. In addition to personnel changes, the front office has undergone quite a few changes as well, all designed to change the Washington Nationals from the laughingstock of MLB to actual winners. Time will tell if the changes are successful.
For now…the start of spring training is just a week away…opening day for the Nats is in 53 days…and hope springs eternal!
Per nationals.com — in five AFL regular-season starts, Stephen Strasburg allowed 15 hits and nine earned runs in 19 innings — for an ERA of 4.26 — with seven walks and 23 strikeouts. Aside from one bad start — giving up seven earned runs and eight hits in 2 2/3 innings to the Peoria Javelinas on Oct. 22 — he went 4-0 with a 1.10 ERA.
Another Superman for the Nationals!
By the way, I thought this excerpt from the above linked article was interesting:
Strasburg had just completed essentially his first month as a professional pitcher, and was caught off guard by one question:
How has pitching with a hefty bank account been different?
The tall right-hander gathered himself for an answer.
“That never enters my mind,” said Strasburg, the recipient of a $17 million five-year package from the Nationals. “At San Diego State, I was only concerned with trying to put the team on the map.
“Now, I’m just trying to work as hard as I can to prepare to pitch in as high a level as the Nationals will want me. There will always be pressure no matter where you pitch. You always have to prove yourself and answer expectations.
Good answer, kid! I’m not sure if I believe you…$17 million is a lot of money to ignore…but it was still a good answer!
The Silver Slugger award winners were announced on Thursday, and Ryan Zimmerman has another shiny trophy, winning the award for third basemen. CONGRATULATIONS, RYAN!
The top two contenders for this award among third basemen were Zimmerman and the Giants’ Pablo Sandoval. Here’s a look at their offensive stats:
Player AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO OBP SLG AVG
Zimmerman 610 110 178 37 3 33 106 320 72 119 .364 .525 .292
Sandoval 572 79 189 44 5 25 90 318 52 83 .387 .556 .330
Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Awards are the top offensive honor in
Major League Baseball. Coaches and managers of Major League teams vote
for the players they feel are the best offensive producers at each
position in the field in both the American and National Leagues. They
base their selections on a combination of offensive statistics
including batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage,
as well as the coaches’ and managers’ general impressions of a player’s
overall offensive value.
I love Zimm…he and John Lannan are my favorite Nats players. I’m very happy for Ryan and think it’s great that he won this award, along with his Gold Glove award. But unlike the Gold Glove, this award was not exactly a slam dunk for him. Both Zimm and Sandoval had great offensive seasons, but if you look at the stats above, one could make just as strong a case for Sandoval. Zimm scored more runs, and had more home runs, RBI, and total bases, but Sandoval’s on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and batting average were better. In particular, Sandoval’s batting average was 38 points higher than Zimmerman’s. I’m guessing that what tipped the scale in Ryan’s favor was his 30-game hit streak, which I believe was the longest in the majors this season.
To the surprise of almost no one, the Nationals have selected Jim Riggleman over Bobby Valentine as their manager. I really had no preference for either one, so the choice doesn’t disappoint me. Valentine certainly would have been interesting and entertaining…but I can’t help wondering why other teams didn’t seem to show much interest in him. Ultimately, I think the Nationals made the right choice.
Now it’s time to get to work on filling the many holes in this team. The manager will be irrelevant if the Nats don’t bring in some good starting pitching, a reliable and competent second baseman, and a decent catcher.
I know that Ryan Zimmerman had 17 errors, while Kevin Kouzmanoff had just 3. Yes, 14 errors is a big difference. But there’s more to defensive excellence than just errors and fielding percentage. Basing a fielder’s overall performance on only those two measures is like judging a starting pitcher’s performance on just his W/L record, without looking at his ERA, WHIP, run support, etc.
Below are the basic statistics that are used to compare defensive performance of players — Zimmerman’s and Kouzmanoff’s stats are shown.
Player TEAM POS G GS INN TC PO A E DP RF FPCT
Zimmerman WSH 3B 154 153 1337.2 459 117 325 17 28 2.97 .963
Kouzmanoff SD 3B 139 134 1186.2 311 94 214 3 24 2.34 .990
As you can clearly see, Zimmerman had more total chances, more put-outs, more assists, more double plays, and a better range factor. Kozmanoff has the edge in errors and fielding percentage. Note: Zimmerman lead the majors with his 459 total chances and 325 assists.
Another stat that has been mentioned when comparing Zimmerman and Kouzmanoff is UZR — Ultimate Zone Rating. Zimmerman lead NL third baseman with his 18.1 UZR. According to THIS ARTICLE, Zimmerman also lead NL third baseman in range factor and range factor per game.
I am not a stats geek, in any way, shape or form. I attempted to learn more about UZR by going to FanGraphs.com and reading their UZR Primer (parts 1 and 2), and I came away from it all with a headache. You know how cartoon characters have stars and birds circling their heads when they get hurt? That’s exactly how I felt after trying to figure out UZR.
CONGRATULATIONS TO RYAN ZIMMERMAN, who has won what will surely be just the first of many Gold Glove awards in his career!
Way to go, Ryan…you totally deserve this award. Congratulations!
The 2009 NL Gold Glove Award winners are:
C – Yadier Molina, Cardinals
1B – Adrian Gonzalez, Padres
2B – Orlando Hudson, Dodgers
3B – Ryan Zimmerman, Nats
SS – Jimmy Rollins, Phillies
OF – Michael Bourn, Astros
OF – Matt Kemp, Dodgers
OF – Shane Victorino, Phillies
P – Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
Congratulations to all of the winners!
It’s great to see Zimmerman get the recognition that he deserves, considering the fact that he plays for a team that has lost more that 100 games two years in a row. Zimm did have 17 errors, which was the NL’s third highest total. But many of those errors came early in the season…he worked out his case of the yips, and although he didn’t eliminate all throwing errors, he greatly reduced them for the rest of the season. He made plays that other third basemen couldn’t because they weren’t able to get to as many balls hit in their direction.
Sometimes, the Gold Glove award winners leave me scratching my head, wondering “What the %?$# were the voters thinking?!”. Zimm’s award, however, was very well deserved.
The 2009 AL Gold Glove Award winners are:
C – Joe Mauer, Twins
1B – Mark Teixeira, Yankees
2B – Placido Polanco, Tigers
3B – Evan Longoria, Rays
SS – Derek Jeter, Yankees
OF – Torii Hunter, Angels
OF – Adam Jones, Orioles
OF – Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
P – Mark Buehrle, White Sox
Congratulations to all of the winners…especially Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira!
The NL winners will be announced
tomorrow later today. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.
He certainly had a Gold Glove-worthy season season, leading all NL third basemen in assists, total chances, total outs recorded and games started. He won the 2009 Fielding Bible Award for third baseman:
Ryan Zimmerman has broken out of the pack in my estimation, however, by becoming the Defensive Runs Saved leader at third base over the last three years. His first Fielding Bible Award is well deserved.
Zimm was also named the first ever ESPN Web Gem Champion, after collecting the most web gems (19) and web gem points (61) from ESPN this season.
Ryan’s biggest competition for the Gold Glove seems to be Kevin Kouzmanoff of the Padres, who set a single-season record for NL third basemen with a .990 fielding percentage and made only three errors. The Padres apparently have campaigned pretty hard for him to win; I’m not sure if the Nationals have done the same for Zimm. Overall stats seem to favor Zimm, though, so I’m hopeful that the NL managers and coaches have gotten it right and have voted for Ryan Zimmerman for NL 3B Gold Glove Award!
Good luck, SuperZimm!