The VORP blues
While they have seen innings eaten by Simontacchi and Bacsik, the Nationals starting pitching woes are apparent to even the most non-statistics dependent observer. But for us sabr-fencers, here are the top 5 pitcher by VORP for the Nationals, in order: Shawn Hill (13.3), Jesus Colome (13.2), Chad Cordero (11.6), Saul Rivera (10.7), Jason Bergmann (7.8). Remember that VORP is cumulative. This stat is saying that despite the fact that he’s been out since mid-May, Shawn Hill has added more value, contributed more to the team’s total wins, than any other pitcher on the team. Statistically, relievers get much less credit with VORP, SPs are just considered more valuable (sabrmetrics believes an inning is an inning, and since the stat is cumulative and starters throw so many more innings, they’ll get more credit). Which makes me wonder which is more pitiful, the fact that relievers make up 3 of the 5 names, or that a guy who hasn’t pitched in 2 months tops the list. I guess it helps that the bullpen leads the NL in IP by a healthy margin of 8 2/3 innings, are second in the majors by 2/3 of an inning to Texas, and well ahead of the noted bullpen lovers (or needers) the Royals and Yankees. At least Hill should be back in a little less than a month…
Money makes the league go round
As poor as this team has played, they are still seeing fans show up. Their home games drew more than most of their away games have over June and July, barring two or three games, they are outdrawing their competition for home games. This is important for a team that is claiming they will spend money in the offseason – they have to be confident it’s there. If they’re drawing 23/24,000 people at home in a losing season, they can believe that more will come if they actually started winning. It is especially nice seeing the Marlins averaged under 15,000 for the weekend series, with a pitiful 11,438 showing up on Friday. Other than those freezing cold games in April, the Nats haven’t seen a home crowd less than 18,000 strong this season. Management factors these kind of things into their revenue calculations, so hopefully that will allow them to pay top dollar for Buerhle… err… Ichiro… ugh, never mind. Regardless, this is a great sign considering they play in the worst stadium in the league this year (and won’t be there next season), and don’t have any truly big names. By next season if they sign a free agent or two, and if Ryan Zimmerman moves into the ranks of big names (outside of DC, his name is only long, not big), and they have a real honest to goodness baseball stadium, they could be already bumped up to a top 15 drawing team. We’ll see if they can hold up their end of the deal on all that improvement stuff.
Speaking of big names
The Zimmerman is heating up in July. So far he’s hit .341/.408/.500 and his numbers may go unnoticed by the league, but a little more power and those are player-of-the-month kind of stats. If he keeps it up, he might even deserve the award, but he probably won’t get it because who’s going to notice? Meanwhile, Christopher Morrero made Baseball Prospectus’ top 100 list again this week. As usual, he was the only National to make the group, coming in at #93 (in a group that includes some 20 or so current major leaguers) they said about him:
Last year’s first-round pick hit .293/.337/.545 for Low-A Hagerstown before moving up to the Carolina League, and he picked up where he left off there (.286/.368/.464). He’s one of the more impressive teenage bats around.
He will hopefully continue this hitting, but if you want to see him up in the bigs right now, you’re probably going to be disappointed. Tearing up Low and High-A is a good sign of things to come, but shoving an 18 year old into the majors so early is a great way to ruin him forever. Be patient, he’ll be here eventually, and all signs indicate he should hit well.