Category Archives: Nationals

ESPN’s ‘Great Analytics Ranking’ Shits All Over The Redskins

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The Worldwide Leader unveiled a rather cool feature yesterday, The Great Analytics Rankings, sorting all 122 NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL teams by “the strength of each franchise’s analytics staff, its buy-in from execs and coaches, its investment in biometric data and how much its approach is predicated on analytics.” I don’t know what biometric data is, but this is interesting nonetheless, at least as it pertains to our favorite teams.

We’ll start with the good. The Nats and O’s are both labeled as “believers,” meaning they rank somewhere in the top half among MLB teams. For the O’s, it’s thanks to “GM Dan Duquette, manager Buck Showalter and pitching coordinator Rick Peterson, all of whom are respected for their analytical thinking,” though “they need a more coherent, holistic approach and a stronger investment to compete with division rivals Tampa Bay, Boston and New York.”

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Making Sense Of The Max Scherzer Deal

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When your team hands out the second largest contract for a pitcher in history, as they did when they signed Max Scherzer to a $210 million deal today, it takes some time to wrap your head around it. Especially when your team already has the best rotation in baseball. And especially especially when what your team desperately needs is more offense.

So, what to make of all this? After consulting Twitter and reading the Internet, here’s my best attempt at figuring it all out.

1) Max Scherzer is Jordan Zimmermann’s replacement

The Nationals knew that Zimmermann only has one more season in Washington. He’s a free agent after this year, and all signs point to him leaving town. Specifically, the two sides being unable to reach a long-term deal before last season, instead settling for a two-year band-aid. So, they signed his replacement a year early to a deal that is likely similar to what ZNN will get on the open market. (And this is to say nothing of the fact that Doug Fister is also a free agent after this season.)

2) Trading Jordan Zimmermann is the ideal scenario

Now that Scherzer has been signed, their best case is to trade Zimmermann and get a bat in return. He’s gone anyway, might as well get something for him. And that sounds great, but that two-year deal he signed is backloaded. The Nats would need to find a trading partner willing to take on the $16.5 million ZNN is owed in 2015 with no guarantee of being able to secure him beyond that.

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Mr. Irrelevant’s Annual D.C. Pro Sports Team Power Rankings

I’m not sure if this is actually an *annual* ranking of the five major D.C. pro sports teams, but it is a nice time of year to do such a thing.

5. Washington Redskins

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As Tom Boswell so kindly points out, the past two Redskins seasons were the franchise’s worst since 1961. Incredible.

But! Short of Dan Snyder selling the team, the best possible thing that could happen just happened: They finally hired a real GM. And a highly regarded one to boot!

Of course, he has a drinking problem, and this is the Redskins. Our enthusiasm is curbed by hopelessness. Continue reading

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.

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Mr. Irrelevant Classic: The Nats’ Opening Night In D.C.

Sometimes we republish stuff on this blog from the first iteration of Mr. Irrelevant, which was hosted by AOL Journals and is no longer available on the Internet. This is one of those cases, as I don’t feel like writing about the Nats’ NLDS loss to the Giants. Instead, let’s remember their first night in D.C. This was originally published April 15, 2005.

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My family has lived in northern Virginia a long time, and my grandfather used to take my dad and his brother to RFK to watch the Senators in the ’60s. They’d sit in the leftfield cheap seats, where Hondo Howard hit ‘em. Those trips to the ballpark almost certainly instilled in them a love for the game that runs through me today. But of course, the only pro baseball I’ve ever known is an hour north in Baltimore. Until last night.

In what (I hope) will become commonplace, I left work early, hopped on the Metro and emerged 15 minutes later outside RFK, just as we had a decade ago for Redskins games. The atmosphere was palpable: protesters shouting, fireworks exploding and fighter jets overhead. People were generally smiling, talking to strangers and happy to be back in the business of baseball.

Once inside, I felt like the kid my dad probably was all those years ago. I had butterflies when Livan Hernandez split the strike zone with his first pitch. As twilight turned to moonlight, we were giddy when the Nats plated their first runs and the RFK box seats bounced like they used to. I even cried a little when Vinny Castilla launched a big fly over the leftfield wall.

My thoughts were with Grampsie, who passed yesterday. He went peacefully, which is not how baseball returned to D.C. Opening night was filled with excitement, good humor, great fortune. It didn’t matter that the stands ran out of ice and hot dogs; Grampsie would have loved it. I know I did. It felt like home.

Nats-Giants NLDS Game 2 Winners & Losers

Handing out labels following the longest game in MLB playoff history, an 18-inning, six hour-and-23 minute 2-1 loss to San Francisco.

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Winners

Jordan Zimmermann — Fresh off of a no-hitter, he came within one out of a shutout in a near-must-win playoff situation. What a stud.

Anthony Rendon — Started off 4-4, driving in the Nats only run. Also stole a base and played sharp at third. Also a stud.

Tyler Clippard, Matt Thornton, Jerry Blevins, Craig Stammen and Rafael Soriano — Combined for seven innings of scoreless relief.

Ryan Zimmerman — Got a pinch-hit basehit.

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Losers

The entire lineup, aside from Rendon — Denard Span, Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond, Bryce Harper, Wilson Ramos and Asdrubal Cabrera went 4-53, by my count. AssCab did double, FWIW, but he also got himself thrown out for arguing balls and strikes — in the playoffs. This team only has three runs through 27 innings.

Drew Storen — I feel bad for him, about as bad as you can feel for someone in a sports context and non-injury situation. But he came in and blew it, like he did two years ago. (For extra sadness, read Barry Svrluga on Storen’s redemption from just a few days ago.)

Matt Williams — I didn’t disagree with him pulling ZNN for Storen at the time, and I won’t question it now. But it was his call, and it didn’t work. Also, that ejection was weird.

Nats fans — I don’t blame folks for leaving early, it was a six-hour game in 40-degree weather after all, but it’s not a good look.

Home plate umpire Vic Carapazza — The Nats didn’t lose because of him, but he did suck. The strike zone was all over the place, and two outs in the ninth inning of a complete game shutout is a hell of a time to start squeezing a guy. Karma’s a bitch. (Update: This is an awesome look at Carapazza squeezing ZNN in the 9th.)

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Tanner Roark — After a great season as the fifth starter, he was kept out of the playoff rotation and was the last man out of the bullpen. Pitched a scoreless 17th before giving up a solo shot in the 18th. Tough breaks, dude.

Game 3 is in San Francisco on Monday, Doug Fister vs. Madison Bumgarner. The Nats must win to stay alive.

Is D.C. a Baseball Town Now?

The guest post parade marches on! Here with a look at which team owns D.C. is Mr. Irrelevant contributing writer Bryan Frantz.

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Is Washington, D.C. a baseball town now? No, not quite.

But D.C. is not nearly the football city it’s historically been. Fans aren’t necessarily shifting away from the Redskins; instead, it seems they’re paying more attention to the other teams.

The Wizards made the playoffs this past season, had a terrific offseason, have a young core to build around for years to come and are still salivating over the fantasy of Kevin Durant coming home to play in D.C. in just two years.

The Capitals missed the playoffs this past season, but they have a new coach and a new GM, they’ve had some degree of recent success (making it to the postseason counts) and they still have Alex Ovechkin.

D.C. United is back near the top of MLS after a terrible 2013, Ben Olsen just signed a contract extension, the team just posted the biggest increase in attendance in the league and America is gradually beginning to appreciate soccer as a whole in the wake of the World Cup.

The Mystics … well, the Mystics aren’t very good.

Then, of course, there are the Nationals.

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Nats Playoff Tickets Are 40% More Expensive Than 2012, Priciest in the NL

This post is provided by our friends at TiqIQ. Remember, you can always buy Nats tickets via Mr. Irrelevant Tickets!

After the heartbreak of 2012, the Nationals are back in the playoffs, and based on the average price for Nationals tickets to the NLDS, fans have higher expectations than two years ago. At an average price of $282 for their three games at Nationals Park, Nats fans are paying more than any other fans in the National League based on secondary market prices. At an average price of $199, the next most expensive tickets belong to the Dodgers. For Nats fans in San Francisco, they’ll be getting a deal, as SF Giants tickets for the NLDS have an average price of $177. The Cardinals are the only team in the NL with an average price below $100, at $93, according to TiqIQ.

Compared to 2012, the consensus is that the Nationals are a better and wiser team. Despite winning two less games this season than in 2012, the 2014 Nationals have playoff experience under their belt and no fear of the unknown. There’s also none of the Strasburg inning-limit nonsense. This season Strasburg has been a horse, pitching 215 innings and striking out 242 batters. Despite just 14 wins, Strasburg is the ace. He’s also arguably got a much better supporting staff behind him than two years ago. Nationals fans seem to be more confident as well, with average prices up almost 40% compared to 2012. Of the three games, today’s game one is by far the cheapest with an average price of $124 with the cheapest ticket going for $54. Saturday’s game has an average price of $183 and a get-in price of $90. At current prices, game three is the most expensive game of the series with an average price of $324. The cheapest ticket for that game is $69.

If prices are a predictor of what teams will go the deepest in the playoffs, the Nationals will be facing off against the Royals in the World Series. While the Nats are the top-priced ticket in the NL, after their 29-year drought, the average price for Royals tickets at Kaufmann stadium is $361 … and rising. At $440, their opening game on Sunday is the most expensive tickets to an LDS game in the last five years. The next highest LDS matchup was a 2011 game in Tampa Bay between the Rays and Rangers. If the Nationals and Giants series goes to a deciding fifth game, the current average price would make it the third most expensive NLDS game over the last three years, behind game three of the 2012 NLDS in Cincinnati and Game one of last years series in Pittsburgh.

The Top 5 Nats and O’s Celebration Vines Taken By Chris Mottram

I was pretty excited to watch both the Nats and O’s possibly clinch their respective division championships last night. What ended up happening, though, is I fell asleep on the couch after putting the kids to bed, and woke up well past the Nats party and just as the O’s party was getting started.

Thankfully, my brother Chris only has one kid, not three, so he was able to stay up and take pictures of his TV. Fun!

1. Bryce came prepared

2. This is how it’s done

3. Another reason to hate Soriano

4. Kevin Frandsen’s most important contribution this year

5. Meanwhile, in Baltimore …

It is only September 17th. Rest up for October.

Jordan Zimmermann, The Quiet Ace In Hand

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I tend to overlook ZNN because he’s been here, and he wasn’t a big draft pick or acquisition to begin with. He has just pitched his ass off ever since arriving for good four years ago.

Aiding the invisibility is the fact that he’s been remarkably consistent along the way …

*ERA 2011-14: 3.18, 2.94, 3.25, 3.00
*WHIP ’11-14: 1.15, 1.17, 1.09, 1.17
*K/BB ’11-14: 4.0, 3.6, 4.0, 5.8

If you look at that last number, this year is actually a bit of a breakout. He’s posting career bests in both strikeout rate (8.3 K/9) and walk rate (1.4 BB/9). Neat trick.

Zimmermann, 28, is a Nat through 2015. I imagine he’ll be overlooked no more.