Category Archives: Lists Are Good

15 Surprising Nats Stats From The First Third Of The 2015 Season

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1. Bryce Harper’s OPS+ is 216, the highest since Barry Bonds broke baseball in 2004. This is what happens when you go on the hottest 50-plate appearance streak in MLB history.

2. After posting a .200/.255/.326 slash line in 2013-14, Danny Espinosa is the Nats’ second-best hitter this year. His 2015 slash line is .257/.360/.459, all career highs.

3. Max Scherzer is leading MLB in FIP, which is what you want out of your $210 million pitcher. Cherish the thought of him and Jordan Zimmermann taking the ball in Games 1 and 2 (and 5 and 6).

4. Speaking of, ZNN is averaging a personal-worst 5.9 K/9IP, 21 percent below his career average.

5. Gio Gonzalez’s FIP (3.05) is fine. It’s his ERA (4.57) and WHIP (1.51) that are unseemly, but that fielding-independent number is in line with his three-year average since arriving in D.C. (3.09).

6. Stephen Strasburg’s batting average against is .325. (Bryce Harper is batting .326.)

7. Ian Desmond’s on-base percentage is .286. That’s 32 points below his career average. In a contract year, no less.

8. Ryan Zimmerman is on pace for 97 RBI, his most since 2009, despite a .622 OPS, his worst ever. This is what happens when you bat behind Harper and Yunel Escobar.

9. Speaking of, Escober is batting .325. That’s after batting .256 in 1,542 at-bats the past three seasons. An 89-point BABIP increase will do that for you.

10. Wilson Ramos has played in 79 percent of the games. I probably just jinxed the Buffalo.

11. Denard Span has five home runs, his highest total since ’09. He also has only three steals, 28 less than last season.

12. Blake Treinen and Aaron Barrett’s combined ERA is 4.53. They are the two primary right-handed setup men. I miss Tyler Clippard and even Rafael Soriano.

13. Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendon have 116 at-bats between them. The former is out until August, the latter came back last week.

14. Matt Williams has lost nine of 12 challenges. Nats opponents are 12 for 12 (via D.C. Sports Bog).

15. If the regular season ended today, the Nats’ season would be over. (They’re second place in the NL East, half a game back, and fourth in the Wild Card, 1.5 back.)

17 Reasons I’ve Had It With Randy Wittman

Here with your semi-regular look at the Wiz is Mr. Irrelevant contributing writer Bryan Frantz.

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In my last post, I wrote the following sentence about the Wizards head coach: “Randy Wittman doesn’t necessarily deserve to keep his job, but firing him would be the wrong move, at least during the season.”

Anybody who knows me personally knows I have never been a fan of Wittman, so I felt somewhat dirty writing that sentence. I’ve been trying to go easier on the guy, as he seemed to be improving slightly, plus the Wizards were playing damn good ball for the first 40 or so games, and it’s rarely a good idea to fire a coach in the middle of a winning season.

No more. I’m done with this guy and his inability to manage a game.

I was at the Jan. 21 game against the Thunder, when Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook outscored the Wizards 13-11 in overtime en route to a 105-103 OKC victory. Nobody is going to blame Wittman, or the Wizards, for allowing two of the best scorers in the NBA to dominate — that’s just what they do.

Westbrook scored the go-ahead points on this wide-open layup in part due to botched defense, and Bradley Beal shouldered the blame for the loss.

The Wiz still had a chance to tie or win it, and with 0.8 seconds on the clock, Wittman got to draw up a final play. Ideally, the Wizards would look for a lob toward the hoop or a jumper by Bradley Beal or Paul Pierce. After all, the Wizards had already won a game this season by Andre Miller lobbing an inbounds pass to Beal on a fantastic play call.

So would they run a similar play? No. They ended up with this dumpster fire of a play.

I walked out of the Verizon Center that night ranting and raving to anybody who would listen about Wittman’s play-calling inadequacies. Still, I reasoned that the Wizards were playing well overall (29-14 at the time) and, again, I’m not a big fan of firing a coach midseason.

This past Wednesday night’s game against the Raptors, the Wizards’ finale before the All-Star break, not only broke the camel’s back but took a 2×4 to that poor camel’s legs.

With eight full days off before the Wiz play again, I would love to see Wittman replaced, though I know he’s not going anywhere.

Here is a list of some of the ridiculous shit Wittman pulled in a crucial game against one of the top teams in the East, in no particular order:

1. Drew Gooden, whose playing time has been all over the place, played every second of the fourth quarter. He also played the final 2:53 of the third, meaning he played 14 minutes and 53 seconds without coming out of the game. Wittman’s explanation?

So there.

2. Marcin Gortat, the team’s starting center in all 54 games this season, didn’t play a second in the fourth. CSN Washington has more on this.

3. Otto Porter Jr., who started in place of an injured Beal, also did not play in the fourth. He was replaced by Garrett Temple at the same time Gooden replaced Gortat in the third, and that was the last we saw of either starter.

4. Temple also played the rest of the game, excluding the final 13 seconds.

5. John Wall played the most minutes of any Wizard, as he often does, with 37. Pierce was next with 30. Then came Gooden, who played just 46 seconds less than Pierce, followed by Temple with 27. Temple and Gooden played more minutes than three healthy starters.

6. Beal missed the final three games before the break. In the first game, Porter started in his stead and had a solid game while the Wizards cruised to a win. The following game, Wittman inexplicably benched Porter for Temple, who received 26 minutes to Porter’s 11, in another Wizards win. But that’s not all, folks! The very next game, the Raptors game in question, Porter was again named the starter but played just 21 minutes.

7. So to recap, and because I still need to convince myself that it actually happened: Wittman sat two of his starters, who were both having decent games, for the final 14:53, and played Gooden and Temple instead. In the final few minutes of a massive game for the Wizards, Garrett Temple and Drew Gooden were on the court. Let that sink in.

8. I will concede that Gooden had a solid game, with 10 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. But he was terrible in the final minutes, he offers virtually no defense and he can’t dominate the paint like Gortat and Nene did in the first three quarters. Plus, Gortat was having a fine game!

9. Through three quarters, the Wizards outscored the Raptors in the paint 40-24; with Gortat sitting and Nene getting less than seven minutes, the Wizards scored just two points in the paint in the final frame.

10. Speaking of the Brazilian big man, Wittman did his best to stop Nene from taking over the game. He was perhaps the best Wizard through three quarters, having knocked down seven of his eight shots for 14 points to go with four boards, three assists and four steals. In the third quarter alone, Nene made all four of his shots, dished out three assists and added two steals. Of course, Nene and Porter were the first guys subbed out in the second half, because Randy Wittman.

11. So after a straight-up dominant nine minutes in the third, Nene got relegated to the bench for the next eight-plus minutes while Kevin Seraphin went 0-for-2 with a single rebound.

12. Even more perplexing was the timing of the substitutions. This is what happened in the minutes before Gooden and Temple replaced Nene and Porter: The Wizards were down by one, went on a 16-5 run to open a 10-point lead, then called a timeout for reasons that escape me still. It was 73-63 when Wittman took the timeout and made the subs. Toronto went on a 12-3 run to close the period, and the Wiz opened the fourth up by just one.

13. After the game, Wittman complained that his players turned it over too many times during that 12-3 run. He also claimed the Raptors took the timeout, though both ESPN.com and NBA.com attribute the timeout to the Wizards.

14. I’m no coach, and it’s silly for fans to say they could do better, but this is just basic game management. Don’t call timeouts and make substitutions when your team has all of the momentum. Coaching is not an easy thing to do, but he didn’t need to coach at that moment. He just needed to stay quiet and let his team continue doing its thing. Maybe certain players needed a breather, but he can’t disrupt the mojo then blame his players.

15. In the fourth quarter, the Wizards went just 7-for-22 from the field, including 5-for-17 by the bench. The Raptors also slumped, shooting just 7-for-16, so the Wizards had a huge opportunity. They blew that opportunity by allowing Gooden to take more shots in the fourth period (six) than the entire starting lineup combined (five).

16. And finally, speaking of huge opportunities, what the hell was that final sequence? A reporter asked Wittman more or less the same question after the game, and he responded that there were numerous options on the play and a long Wall three just so happened to be what materialized.

17. Forget that Wall was 1-for-5 from distance thus far in the game, not even close to the best shooter on the court at the time, and that the Wizards didn’t even need a three. None of that matters to Wittman. Anecdotally speaking, probably 75 percent of the Wizards’ quarter-ending plays are Wall isolations. Wittman and others argue that just because it ends as a Wall iso does not mean it was drawn up that way, but it seems a bit strange that they always seem to end up that way. That’s not Wall’s game and everybody seems to know it’s coming—and I don’t just mean opposing defenses.

And because I am a narcissist:

Because the Wiz and the Witt shat the bed for the final 15 minutes of the game, Washington dropped from third to fifth in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors completed the season sweep, winning two of the three games by a combined six points (the other was a blowout), and now have a 3.5-game lead and the tiebreaker over the Wizards.

To put a bow on this sloppy rant, I nominate Avery Johnson to replace Wittman. (For what it’s worth, George Karl had been my choice all season, but he’s no longer on the market.) Some may look at his final three seasons as a coach (2010-12 with the Nets) and see a 60-116 record, but I see a guy that won big with a good team and improved a bad team.

Johnson was named Coach of the Year for the 2005-06 season, when he guided the Mavericks to a 60-22 record, then followed it up by leading them to a ridiculous 67-15 record the next year. He also has a career .577 winning percentage, compared to Wittman’s .390, and is far more entertaining and likeable on the bench.

Enjoy the All-Star Game, and who knows, maybe Wittman will steal another coach’s playbook and lead the Wizards to a championship.

How Many Decent Players Do The Redskins Actually Have?

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This is an inexact tally, but if you care to see what new Redskins GM/recovering alcoholic/personnel guru/light beer drinker Scot McCloughlan has to work with, carry on.

What we’re trying to determine is how many players on the Redskins roster are legitimate NFL starters. In this case, that means they’re at least in the top half of starters at their position in the league. Meaning, if Robert Griffin III is one of the 16 best QBs, then he’s considered to be decent. If he is not, then he’s not. (Spoiler: He’s not.)

To help us figure this out we asked three national NFL writers for their take on the matter. They are Michael David Smith from Pro Football Talk, Bill Barnwell from Grantland and Will Brinson from CBS Sports. We thank them for their time. Here’s what they said …

1. Trent Williams (LT)

“Above average. I’m not as high on him as some people are — I wouldn’t put him in the Top 5 — but he’s certainly in the Top 16 left tackles in the NFL.” — MDS

Top five in the league at his position. — Barnwell

“Easiest guy on the list to say above average for between his talent and the lack of great offensive linemen.” — Brinson

Verdict: Way above average.

2. DeSean Jackson (WR)

“Way, way above average. Elite talent. Not sure I’ve ever seen a WR just keep making big plays no matter who his QB is the way Jackson does. Eagles would’ve been in the playoffs this year if they’d kept him.” — MDS

Above average, at least. — Barnwell

“Surprisingly good year for DeSean considering their terrible season; there aren’t many wideouts like him in the league.” — Brinson

Verdict: Way above average.

3. Ryan Kerrigan (OLB)

“Above average. Sack numbers are a little inflated by one big game against a terrible Jaguars offense, but he’s a good player.” — MDS

Above average. Not quite top five at his position. — Barnwell

“Definitely above average. Winning on the field.” — Brinson

Verdict: Way above average.

4. Tress Way (P)

“There are better people than me to analyze punters but from my observations I’d say average. Kicks it far but too returnable — looks like he sacrifices hang time for length, which makes it harder on his coverage units. I feel like he has the talent to be above average but a better special teams coach needs to get him more in tune with how to kick a less returnable ball.” — MDS

Average to above average. — Barnwell

“Statistically above average!” — Brinson

Verdict: Above average.

5. Alfred Morris (RB)

“Average. Just looked up his Football Outsiders stats. Almost exactly league average DVOA two years in a row. About right with what my eyes tell me.” — MDS

Average to above average, at least. — Barnwell

“Isn’t versatile or dynamic but he’s underrated and consistent. Had 1,000 yards. The 16th leading rusher in the NFL, Russell Wilson, had 849 yards.” — Brinson

Verdict: Average.

6. Pierre Garcon (WR)

“Average. Was overrated in 2013, caught a lot of passes but didn’t make the most of his opportunities.” — MDS

Below average. — Barnwell

“Someone had to suffer after two dudes with 1,300 yards last year joined forces. Feel like he’s an above average WR2.” — Brinson

Verdict: Average.

7. Jordan Reed (TE)

“Average overall. a little above average as a receiver, a little below average as a blocker.” — MDS

Below average. — Barnwell

“Has the talent to be above average, I think it would be close if you broke down the top 16 tight ends.” — Brinson

Verdict: Average.

8. Kory Lichtensteiger (C)

“Above average. Good run blocker. OK pass blocker.” — MDS

Below average. — Barnwell

“Almost definitely maybe above average.” — Brinson

Verdict: Average.

9. Darrel Young (FB)

“Above average. Fullback is a dying position but with the limited stuff an NFL fullback is asked to do these days, he’s better at it than most.” — MDS

Below average. — Barnwell

Verdict: Average.

10. Keenan Robinson (MLB)

“Average in 2014 but trending in the right direction. If he’s healthy I bet he’ll be an above-average player in 2015.” — MDS

Below average. — Barnwell

Verdict: Slightly below average.

11. Chris Baker (DT)

“Average. One of those big guys you need in the middle but doesn’t make many splash plays.” — MDS

Below average. — Barnwell

Verdict: Slightly below average.

12. Bashaud Breeland (CB)

“Below average. I didn’t see anyone playing even average in the Washington secondary this season.” — MDS

Below average. — Barnwell

Verdict: Below average.

That’s it. Only 12 Redskins players even made it into the conversation. Of those 12, only nine came out average or better. Of those nine, excluding punters, only three were clearly above average at their position and only one plays defense.

Who knows what these numbers look like for a good team, or even an average team. All of which is to say, please join us in welcoming Scot McCloughlan.

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Note: We didn’t include Brian Orakpo here, because his contract is up, and we don’t expect him to return. And didn’t include DeAngelo Hall because, well, we forgot about D-Hall. Sorry, dude.

10 Reasons To Be Excited About The Top-10 Terps

Hello there. While we’ve been away, Maryland basketball shockingly ascended to No. 9 in the Coaches Poll. We’re surprised and delighted by this, so here to explain it are Mr. Irrelevant Maryland sports correspondents JP Finlay, Brad Parker and Andy Peden.

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1. Melo!

Ah yes, freshman sensation Melo Trimble. We’ll let Grantland take this one:

“He’s the best player on the best team in the Big Ten.”

2. Interior D!

Defensive bigs Damonte Dodd (sophomore) and Jonathan Graham (senior) protect the rim and rebound.

3. Nickens & Wiley & Pack!

In addition to Trimble, two freshman (Jared Nickens and Dion Wiley) and a senior (Richaud Pack) in the backcourt are averaging a combined 31 PPG.

4. Layman without Dez!

Junior forward Jake Layman has stepped up, averaging over 17 PPG during the seven games Dez Wells missed. Overall, he’s shooting 40% from three and 55% the field.

5. Scoring depth!

It’s been awhile since Maryland could rely on more than one or two guys every night. Now there are about seven who could get hot from deep in any game and can close out games at the line. Speaking of …

6. Free throws!

Free throws are a reliable way to score. If you’re getting to the line 26 times a night that’s huge.

7. Quality wins!

Wins over Iowa St. and Michigan St. and Oklahoma St. and Arizona St. (and any other state) are wins that matter in March.

8. Intangibles!

This team is playing hard and playing together. There’s a toughness that’s been missing.

9. The Future!

There are two non-seniors (Melo and Layman) who might end up in the NBA eventually but aren’t going anywhere next season. Plus they don’t have to rebuild when the four seniors graduate, because they have seven players coming back.

10. March!

There may actually be some meaningful games for Maryland to play this time around.

This Year’s Top Five Bowl Games, According To A Guy Who Loves College Football

Here with a guest post for absolutely nailing his Redskins-Giants prediction is RunsLikeDeer (AKA @JGrat21).

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Greetings all, I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday season. A Redskins win sure does help the Christmas week get that much sweeter, and I look forward to a potential season sweep of Dallas this weekend. I will say I did not see that Eagles win coming at all and I commend the guys on their effort and the fans who ventured to the game.

With the Skins season winding down, I give you this guest post as a little bowl games watch guide. You can take it for what it’s worth, but I love me some college football, and I want to spread my joy and passion about it to all.

I won’t include the Miami Beach Bowl, but that was everything I could have asked for from a game being played in a baseball stadium in Miami on a Monday afternoon. Back and forth all game, double overtime, a 54-yard field goal that would have been good from 64 and a brawl at the end. There’s not much else I need in a game. But I digress … Here are my top five bowl games to watch.

5. Belk Bowl: Dec. 30th, 6:45 p.m., Louisville (9-3) vs. Georgia (9-3)

Probably the most underrated bowl game in my opinion. Two good teams squaring off, but it must be noted that my team plays in the ACC and Georgia is always a team I enjoy watching so this is my only “homer” pick.

4. Cotton Bowl: Jan. 1st, 12:30 p.m., Baylor (11-1) vs. Michgian St. (10-2)

So excited to see how Baylor will play after being left out of the playoffs. Do they show up and take their anger out on Sparty or do they mail it in like Alabama did last year in the Sugar? And who doesn’t like waking up hungover on NYD and having a great game on right away?

3. Sugar Bowl: Jan. 1st, 8:30 p.m., Bama (12-1) vs. Ohio State (12-1)

Was ready to put this game higher in my rankings but just turn on eSECpn and they will take care of that for you. I think Bama has got this, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Urban get B1G on Bama and shake some things up.

2. Peach Bowl: Dec. 31st, 12:30 p.m., TCU (11-1) vs. Ole Miss (9-3)

Continue reading This Year’s Top Five Bowl Games, According To A Guy Who Loves College Football

10 Reasons To Celebrate This Year’s Wizards

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1. They’re kinda good!

The Wiz won 44 games and made it to the second round of the playoffs last season, making them only the second Washington team do so since 1979. That is so sad, but still: Rejoice!

2. They’re off to a hot start!

It’s kind of hard to believe the Wizards are 6-2. They just don’t do that. Last year they started 2-6. The year before that 0-8. Same with the year before that. You have to go back to 2006 for a season in which they got off to a winning start. And they’re doing this without budding star Bradley Beal.

3. Budding star Bradley Beal!

Remember him? The kid who went for 19.2 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 4.5 APG and .415 3P% in the playoffs? At age 20? Yeah, he should be back within a month. (And they’re not trading him for Kobe.) Continue reading 10 Reasons To Celebrate This Year’s Wizards

Ranking All 40 of the 2014 Washington Nationals

We were going to do a Winners & Losers-style post for the NL East champs, but I think this is a little more inclusive. There’s not much rhyme or reason to it, other than ranking the players based on who made the most positive impact this year. Enjoy.

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40. Taylor Jordan — Was a member of the Opening Day rotation (filling in for Doug Fister), then went 0-3 with a 5.61 ERA in five starts before going down to the minors and then getting shut down because of an elbow injury. Also gave up Albert Pujols’ 500th HR. Tough year.

39. Jeff Kobernus — Didn’t hit much in the minors and went hitless in six at-bats for the Nats. Not sure what he was doing up there.

38. Greg Dobbs — I’ll be honest, I do not remember Greg Dobbs. Apparently he was a pinch-hitter in May and June.

37. Taylor Hill — Again, I don’t recall the Taylor Hill experience. Looks like he pitched well at AAA, though.

36. Xavier Cedeno — September call-up saw some middle-relief action. Was somewhat dominant at AAA Syracuse (13 K/nine innings).

35. Sandy Leon — This was his third year as a backup/third-string catcher for the Nats, and he’s only 25 years old. I would’ve guessed 35.

34. Nate McLouth — After two decent years in Baltimore, batted .173 without power in 139 at-bats. The Nats owe him another $5 million in 2015. Ouch.

Continue reading Ranking All 40 of the 2014 Washington Nationals

Explaining The Votes For Favorite Redskins Player

Whenever a fan-favorite player leaves the Redskins or gets put on IR or whatever, it immediately becomes time to properly identify that person’s place in the Best Redskins Of [Time Period] list. Which is why the news that Chris Cooley’s season was over led directly to a  “Favorite Redskins Player Of The 2000’s” poll over on Hogs Haven; the image above gives the standings as of whenever I took that screenshot.

Without taking anything away from these players, all of whom deserve accolades and have earned the support of fans, here’s how I interpret each of these results:

Continue reading Explaining The Votes For Favorite Redskins Player

Clinton Portis And The Top 10 Favorite Redskins From Dan Snyder Era

Upon hearing the news that Clinton Portis is parting ways with the Redskins, I tweeted that he is my favorite player of the Dan Snyder Era. I immediately realized that this may not be saying much. Who would be my other favorites from the wealth of superior football players that have worn burgundy and gold during Snyder’s tenure?

Jamie and I discussed, and amazingly, we were able to come up with 10 names of our favorite Redskins from 1999 through today. Obviously the word “favorite” is inherently subjective and certainly takes into consideration far more than just on-field performance. Ranked in order:

1. Clinton Portis

2. Chris Cooley

3. Sean Taylor

4. London Fletcher

5. Santana Moss

6. Mike Sellers

7. Fred Smoot

8. Chris Samuels

9. Jon Jansen

10. Jason Campbell*

Other names that came out of our mouths, for better or worse: Todd Collins, Champ Bailey, LaRon Landry, Mark Brunell.

*We didn’t include him just to piss people off. Well, maybe a little.