Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Nats vs. Marlins - 2/27/13

USA Today Sports Images
The Nats and Marlins meet again today at Space Coast Stadium.
There are a couple of notable firsts today for the Nationals. Dan Haren makes his first start since joining the organization. Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche, meanwhile, make their first appearances of the spring.

Let's start with Haren. Signed over the winter for $13 million, the veteran right-hander was admittedly a bit amped up for his live batting practice session last week in front of team executives. Hopefully he's worked through the jitters and can focus on the task at hand this afternoon when he faces the Marlins.

Haren will have plenty of regulars behind him, including Werth and LaRoche, who each were given the first four games of the Grapefruit League season off, neither veteran needing a whole lot of at-bats to get into shape. Werth will be joined in the outfield by Denard Span and Bryce Harper (who talked his way into the lineup so he could get some work with both of his new-look outfield mates).

I've actually departed Florida and returned home to D.C. for a little bit. Per CSN's coverage plan, I'll be rejoining the team in Viera on March 13 and will remain there through the rest of the spring. But don't worry, I'll still have plenty of material here over the next two weeks, and I'll have game threads posted each day. So, even though I'm not there anymore to provide updates, please continue the conversation here as always...

Where: Space Coast Stadium, Viera
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EST
TV: None
Radio: WHFS (1580 AM)
Weather: Partly cloudy, 73 degrees, Wind 5 mph out to LF
CF Denard Span
LF Bryce Harper
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
3B Chad Tracy
DH Danny Espinosa
C Kurt Suzuki
2B Steve Lombardozzi
SS Zach Walters
(RHP Dan Haren)

LF Christian Yelich
2B Donovan Solano
3B Matt Downs
1B Joe Mahoney
DH Alfredo Silverio
RF Chris Coghlan
SS Adeiny Hechavarria
C Kyle Skipworth
CF Gorkys Hernandez
(RHP Nathan Eovaldi)


MicheleS said...

Well at least Mark will be in Viera when I am there!

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

It's probably a good time to depart Mark. I know you were going at it 16 hours a day there.

You should think about Deputizing someone like NatsJack who lives there and won't cost Comcast much to help you out! I bet you would only have to pay him minimum wage!

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

CF Chris Coghlan
CF Gorkys Hernandez

You are missing a RF, probably either Coghlan or Gorkys as I guess Stant'n gets the day off.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

MLBTR website has started to add more original content to their site and as Mark Lerner said it's where he learns about many Nats transactions.

They just started interviewing players on how/why they chose their agent. Jay Bruce chose Matt Sosnick who used to rep a few Nats Josh Willingham and Scott Olsen. I don't think he has anyone who will be on the Opening Day roster but still a good read as Jay Bruce switched to them from Boras.

Section 222 said...

This morning's post about Harper inspired me to do the research I've been thinking about for quite some time. He's a great player, and perhaps will be one of the best ever. A big part of that, at least at this stage in his career, is his hustle. Not just because of the excitement factor or how it inspires his teammates to play harder, but because he actually creates runs that otherwise wouldn't have been scored. And that leads to more wins for his team.

We all remember the Colbert play -- stealing home against the Phillies. That's hustle in itself. But how many remember that he was in a position to make that play only because he went first to third on a single to left?

So I thought I'd go back and look at Harper's impact last year and try to assess how his hustle turned into runs. It's taking a long time to do this because there are even more examples than I thought. But I wanted to share some preliminary results.

Harper's first game with the team was on April 28. From then until the end of May, he played in 30 games. I found 8 games where Harper's hustle (stretching a single into a double or a double into a triple, going first to third, scoring from first on a double, stealing home!, etc.) led directly to a run for the Nats. That seems extraordinary. Here they are:

May 2 vs. ARI -- Harper doubles, scores from 2nd on an infield single by Ramos, catcher dropped ball at plate.
(Start watching at 7:13 of the video.)

May 5 vs. PHI – The Colbert game. Harper hit by pitch, goes 1st to 3rd on single to left by Werth, steals home. (HBP starts at 0:39.)

May 9 vs PIT -- Harper walks, goes 1st to 3rd on an infield error. Scores on a soft single to right. (1st to 3rd play starts at 5:56.)

May 13 vs. CIN -- Harper singles to left, goes first to third on soft ground single to center by ALR, scores on sac fly by Flores
(Harper single starts at 1:40.)

May 16 vs. PIT – Harper hits a hustle triple to right center that hits high off the wall). Goes into 3rd standing up because he didn’t stand at the plate and admire his near home run. Scores on groundout to short by Zim. (Harper triple starts at 0:39.)

May 22 vs. PHI -- Harper hits a triple to right center in CBP. Again, he went in standing up, but again, he didn’t admire the hit, or jog to first thinking it might get out. He then scored on medium deep sac fly to center that not everyone would have tried to score on. (Triple starts at 2:55.)

May 25 vs. ATL – Harper scores from first on base clearing double in left center gap by Zim. Note that Carp initially says that "two runs will score."

May 28 vs. MIA – Harper again scores from first on double by Zim. (Think we'll see that a lot this year?) Only 1 out, but he's off to the races right off the bat.

Continued in next comment...

Section 222 said...

Apparently, there is a 4000 character limit for comments. Who knew?

Anyway, obviously there are some judgment calls involved in this analysis of whether Harper's hustle actually led to runs. I didn't, for example count May 20 vs. BAL when Harper tripled to right, and was able to score on a fielder’s choice later in inning. On that play, once Markakis dropped ball and it went into corner so that wasn't really a hustle triple. Even ALR probably ends up at third on that play. (Start video at 5:29.)

And of course, I didn't count some great hustle plays because they didn't result in a run, like when he tagged up from 1st and from 2nd on sac flies in the same inning, only to be stranded at 3rd. (Start video at 4:00.)

The Nats scored 107 runs more in 2012 than they did in 2011. Lots of players contributed to that: ALR had a great year, so did Desmond, and Harper hit 22 HRs. But it looks like a healthy part of that increase was attributable Harper's hustle. This makes him a very special players, and it's one reason that I think he's going to lead this time to some World Series victories before he's done.

More examples to come.

NCNatsie said...

Sure, Michelle, good for you. But MY visit to Viera is Mar 8-9, and I was really hoping I might get a chance to meet my fellow Northwestern alum. Oh, well. It'll still be great to see the Nats in the Florida sun.

Doc said...

Great work Section 222!


Now if we had all the Nats hustling on all the on-base plays, all the time.....

Tcostant said...

Cross Janier Vazquez off your wish list...

Tcostant said...

Intetesting that Harper is backing 2nd and Haper 3rd.

Knoxville Nat said...

Intetesting that Harper is backing 2nd and Haper 3rd.

Say what?

Tcostant said...

Sec 222 great stuff! I agree hustle matters.

For all those who say stuff about Robinson Cano would be a fit here, I'd be worried that his lazy effort out of the batters box who have a negative effect. As I said before ("The next time he runs hard to 1B will be the first time he runs hard to 1B") - no thanks.

Tcostant said...

Knox - opps Werth 3rd.

I think most are expecting Werth second and then Harper third this year.

JD said...


Maybe because Zim isn't in the lineup yet. I wouldn't read too much into it.

NCNatsie said...

Re Harper and hustle:

Doc, you are of course correct. But I think Harper's presence will upgrade the level of hustle not only on the Nats but across baseball. Not everyone can, or should, attempt everything he does, but I think he will "lead by examaple" nonetheless and bring about an overall increase in effort by existing and, especially, up and coming, players.

Knoxville Nat said...


It was the "Haper" that threw me off....didn't get "Werth" out of that at all. Understand that Werth will most likely bat second most of the time or at least until some sort of significant injury strikes the lineup. God forbid!!

SonnyG10 said...

Sec222, great post. Thanks.

JD said...

Francisco Abad maybe the early front runner for the final roster spot.


Have you seen him pitch? What's your take?

Tcostant said...

If you can only read one thing today, make it this:

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Sec222, great read on Harper. That certainly goes to my morning comment on what doesn't show in WAR. Sure, scoring runs does but he has added WAR to other players who picked up RBIs that otherwise wouldn't have existed without Bryce's hustle.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Espi with a right-handed single to go with his LH 2 K's.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Sect222, good read on Harper. Exactly my point this morning on Harp on what his hustle creates and in many cases it's increased WAR for other players getting prime RBI opportunities that would not exist without Bryce's hustle.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Sect222,..Harper also creates havoc by making the opponents rush throws and that causes errors many times. He's a throwback and I appreciate what he does.

Again, his hustle doesn't always show up in the stats.

natsfan1a said...

Again, only half-listened while trying to work. Eh, what the Hechavarria. [ding]

natsfan1a said...

[This whole work thing is really interfering with my enjoyment of baseball. Humph. Oh, yeah. It does help to pay the bills and all. Right. Anyhoo, I hope to give a better attention effort for tomorrow evening's game. :-)]

UnkyD said...

222... Thanks SO much!!! It drives me crazy that nobody mentions that 1st to 3rd, on a single to LEFT field!!! I've watched everything I could find on YouTube, and they show the Plunk, followed by the Steal. NOT THE WHOLE STORY!!! I'll never forget that, as long as I live....and I was listening on the radio.....

UnkyD said...

Oh....and horsey's not gonna put up with that kind of long posting...;-)

Section 222 said...

his hustle doesn't always show up in the stats

Truer words never spoken. That's why I wanted to look closely at his performance last year and try to identify runs the Nats scored that they probably wouldn't have scored without his hustle.

By that measure, June started out slowly for Harper. There were a couple of classic hustle plays early in the month, like when he took 2nd on a ground ball ball booted by the Mets' second baseman on June 6. (Start at 1:00 of the video.) But unless you're going to argue that the error itself was caused by Harper hustling down the line toward first, which might be a stretch, the run he ultimately scored when ALR homered can't be attributed to hustle.

And there was a perfect example of what Ghost was talking about on June 9 in Boston when Harper went 1st to 3rd on a single to left by Zim (starts at 3:30). The LF kicked the ball when he saw Harper round the second base bag and head to third. But then Desi hit a ground rule double, so it didn't matter that Harper was on 3rd instead of 2nd. Of course, who knows what impact having Harper on 3rd, just a month after the famous steal of home, might have had on the pitcher.

But even if you don't count those two runs, there were 7 other runs that resulted from his hustle, in the 26 games in which he appeared. Here they are:

June 10 vs. BOS -- Harper sits out this game with back soreness, but comes in to pinch hit for Tyler Moore in the top of the 9th and draws a walk. He then scores the eventual winning run all the way from first on a Bernadina double. Classic call by FP -- there was no way Bo Porter could have stopped him if he had wanted to.

June 11 vs. TOR – Harper singles in a run. Then with Zim batting he’s running on the pitch, and Zim hits a hard shot that is booted by the 1B. Harper keeps running all the way to 3rd, and then scores on a sac fly by Morse, beating the throw by one of the better RF arms in the game, Jose Bautista. (Sequence starts at 1:20.)

June 20 vs. TB – Harper singles in Lombo from 2nd, and takes 2nd on the throw to the plate. Then, perhaps foolishly, he tries to take 3rd on Zim's slow chopper to short, but draws a bad throw by the shortstop, and is waved home by the umpire when the throw ends up in the dugout. A run earned through pure hustle. (The sequence starts at 1:09 and is especially worth watching for the ballet move by Bo Porter to avoid the errant throw.) Zim ends up at 2nd on the play and goes to 3nd on a WP. He scores on a single with two outs. So in this inning, Harper’s hustle leads to 2 runs because if he had simply retreated to second on Zim's grounder, Zim would have been out at first and neither of them would have scored.

June 21 vs. TB -- Espi and Harper draw walks. After a Zim K, they pull off a double steal. Espi scores on a sac fly by Morse, then Harper scores on a ground single to center, both of them taking advantage of the weak arm and lackadaisical attitude of BJ Upton. (The sequence starts at 3:50.)

The final two Harper Hustle Runs of the month follow in my next comment.

Section 222 said...

Two more hustle induced runs for Harper in June:

June 27 vs. COL –- In the top of 1st, Harper strokes a single to center. He takes a big turn, but retreats to first. He then steals second, and when the throw goes into CF, advances to third. Then he scores on a groundout by Zim. So his hit was the only one for the Nats that inning, but they came out of it with a run. (The sequence starts at 0:16.)

June 28 v. COL -- Harper drives in Espi with a single to left. After a flyout by Zim, Morse hits a grounder toward short that the 3B cuts off, but with Harper bearing down on second base, he throws the ball into right field. Harper takes 3rd, and then scores on a SF by LaRoche. (The sequence starts at 9:32)

So in his first two months in the majors, Harper's hustle, not his power (he hit 8 home runs in those two months), was responsible for 15 runs. Truly amazing. He wasn't on base quite as much in July and August, so we'll see if that cuts down his hustle runs. Somehow I doubt it.

Well, this was a good project for being home sick. Hopefully I'll be able to finish it up at some point. It's great to revisit the season through this prism.

NatsLady said...

Did you get the one where he ran on Heyward and the next series Heyward really upped his game?

NatsLady said...

JD agree on Abad in the lead so far but there is a month to go

Grades so far

Nats106 said...

222, thanks for the memory on Harper. He is redefining the game. It used to be almost no one would take a single and successfully stretch it into a double. I saw several games after Harper did it that other players started pushing the envelope as well.

I will enjoy watching Harper in front of me from my perch in 106.

MicheleS said...

Amanda has a good article on Suzuki.. yet another good guy in the fold (can't link on phone)

JD said...


If it has to be a lefty then I think it's just between Bray and Abad but I am not sure it has to be a lefty and Henry and Garcia haven't pitched yet.

Bray is quickly pitching himself out of contention too.

Section 222 said...

NL, I haven't come across that game yet. It might be later in the year. But it also might be in an inning in which the Nats didn't score a run, in which case I wouldn't have looked at it or included it in my comment.

I was amazed to find so many runs directly resulting from Harper's hustle. He reeally is a game changer. The research is way too time consuming to test this theory, but I doubt there's a player in baseball whose hustle (or even smart, aggressive baserunning) resulted in as many runs last year as Harper.

NatsLady said...

here is the game

natsfan1a said...

Michele's link.

Section 222 said...

Ah yes. May 26 vs. the Braves. I did look at that game, of course. Harper had a great game -- he hit a homer and had that hustle double, which was ruled a single and an error on Heyward. Unfortunately, that play didn't result in a run for the Nats.

The only play in a run scoring inning involving Harper that I couldn't review was Zim's grounder to second in the first inning. Harper was on first with a walk. It's possible his hustle prevented a DP, which allowed ALR to come up with one out instead of 2 and hit a sac fly to bring home the game's first run. But for some reason, the MLB Media Center doesn't have a condensed game for May 26. If someone has the necessary subscription to check that in the full length game, feel free, and let me know. That would be a quintessential example of hustle not showing up in the box score.

Incidentally,the Nats won the game 8-4, with Strasburg being credited with the win for his 5 innings of work. The loser? Kris Medlin, who pitched one inning in relief. Just sayin....

Section 222 said...

Nats106, I noticed that too. Zim ev en tagged up from 1st, like Bryce did in the All-Star game. It's like he's showing other players what's possible if you pay attention and give it all you've got on every play.

I firmly believe that if every player ran out every ground ball and popup like Harper does, good things would happen for them. All of them ought ought to be capable of sprinting 90 feet once every 45 minutes or so, right? That's just using your natural ability to the fullest. Then there are the baseball smarts that Harper has in spades, which allows him to take the extra base on so many occasions.

Whynat said...

222 - thanks for those great posts today

NatsJack in Florida said...

Since I sit right next the scouts section it's easy to note when someone comes in the game that piques thete interest.

Today, that guy was Abad. All were takingnotes, charting each pitch and trading radar gun numbers.

JayB said...

Njack....what does Danny look like....2Ks Left Handed correct? Is he still swinging from his heals and chasing breaking balls down and in?

Also 3 hits in 27 outs in a Spring Training game.....seems like an odd outcome. Are they just not trying yet? Dave has them so layed back....Werth and Adam and Zim all took time to get sun burned at the D about some BP too?

NatsLady said...

LOL> NJ & scouts validate my grades and JD!

NatsJack in Florida said...

JayB....first off there was no sun at the Daytona 500. Second, Danny looks lost at the plate but it's a small sample size. And third, there is an art to watching Spring Training games. No bonafide professional ball player is doing anything beyond
putting in there work. It's guys like Brown, Rivero, Perez, Walters and Marrero that need to show something this early in camp. Brown and Rivero look lost while the other 3 have look decent.

Gonat said...

Section 222, great analysis today. It really validated some of the earlier comments on Bryce Harper. Maybe not the best player in the Majors as Rabbit said but certainly getting there.

I also believe that his intangibles and plays that don't show up in the stat book.

Teddy Rochlis said...

I actually believe that there is a stat mad up by the sabr guys that measures the number of runs produced based on the speed/hustle of the player. It also measures a lot of 1st to 3rd, 2nd to home, sac flys etc. Although i do not think it is exact as yours. More importanly though, it not only measures the runs produced by your hustle, but also accounts for the runs lost by a player overextending and getting out when he didn't need to be. I believe when these numbers are put together for Harper it came out to a total of 0.4 runs produced, don't hate on me, this is all from memory.

baseballswami said...

Thanks to you NI posters. I am seriously out of the loop right now. I know I can hop on here and get up to speed quickly!

Section 222 said...

That's really interesting Teddy. If you find more detail on that stat, I'd be interested in seeing it. In my review of the games from April-June, I did notice two times that Harper was thrown out trying to take an extra base. It's possible there were more because I wasn't specifically looking for that kind of play. Of course, there's no way of knowing whether the team would have scored if he had been more conservative, whereas in alot of the 15 cases I found I think it's pretty clear the team wouldn't have scored without his hustle.

Thanks for the all the shoutouts folks. Happy to be of service, and I hope some of you actually had time to watch some of the videos. That was some pretty great baseball he was playing last year. I can only imagine what's ahead.

Teddy Rochlis said...

I looked at Bryce Harper's fangraphs page closely and came up with two stats that measure his run production well while on the basepaths. There is UBR (Ultimate Base Running) which is the one i remembered, where Bryce had a UBR of -0.4, 0 being average. 1 thing to keep in my mind about UBR it does not account for stolen bases nor caught stealing, but it does cover all the parameters of baserunning associated with "hustle". It is also included in fangraphs version of WAR
For more information on it :
The other is wRC+ which stands for weighed runs created. This stat takes in to account the player's wOBA (weighed on base average) to determine whether the player when on base created more or less runs per average. This is not a specific statistic per say, but instead bases it off of the # of runs scored by Bryce compared to the # of chances (good or bad) to actually score. Here is where it is interesting. Bryce's wRC+ was 121 (100 being league average) meaning that when given the oppurtunity Bryce was 21% more likely to score then a league average players. wRC+ also accounts for park factors and different eras in baseball. Both can be used and looked at in different ways. I think the one you are more looking for is UBR but just in case here is the link for more information on wRC+ hope i was able to help and (lol) clear things up for you.

Teddy Rochlis said...

Also to put into context the UBR thing (which I think is the relevant stat here) 6 is considered amazing. Mike Trout had a 5 UBR.

Rating UBR
Excellent +6
Great +4
Above Average +1.5
Average 0
Below Average -1.5
Poor -4
Awful -6

Scooter said...

Teddy, I believe wRC+ is a batting stat. It's about runs "created" with the bat. It may or may not include base running, but it's certainly not just running. Take another look at the glossary page you linked to. Nice work on UBR, though.

And 222, I love that you did that research. I hope it was fun.

Anonymous said...

Sec. 222 @ 6:24: I pulled up the May 26 game and watched the first inning a couple of times. As you would expect, Harper hustled from first to second on the Zimmerman slow roller between first and second. The Braves announcers said "only one possible play" (to first). However, the Z-man hit the ball slowly enough that I didn't see an opportunity for a double play even with a slower runner. So give Harper partial credit on that, at best.


Teddy Rochlis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Teddy Rochlis said...

I was at the may 26th game and that was awesome, the way the fans all started cheering and harper never slowing down.

You are correct Scooter i misinterperated it thank you for pointing that out. But, yes section 222 what you were looking for was indeed UBR.

Although my misguided conception of wRC+ can actually make a good stat for it. % likelyness of scoring based on what the situation is compared to other players in the leauge.

Scooter said...

That is an interesting idea, Teddy, yes.

ehay2k said...

Thanks sec 222 for the research and resultant posts. Job well done! I think we Nats fans all knew Bryce's hustle had an impact, but that was a great illustration.

Bryce definitely seems to rattle defenders, who know they have to make a quick throw to get him out. If only there were an advanced stat like ECBH (Errors Caused By Hustle) or HIBB (Hustle Induced Booted Balls)!

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