Tag Archives: Asdrubal Cabrera

End of Season Grades: The Position Players

Yesterday, I gave out NE’s End of Season Grades to the pitchers.  Today, it is the position players’ (and manager’s) turn.  Feel free to argue with me, or agree if you will, in the comments:

Starting Lineup

Denard Span – B  As this season progressed, Span finally started to look like the complete centerfield package the Nats were looking for when they traded for him: defense, speed on the basepaths and, most importantly, table setter at the top of the order.  He even set the single season team record for hits (184) along the way.  Too bad only the first one of those elements showed up for the playoffs.

Anthony Rendon – A  Rendon did it all this year: hit for average, hit for power, stole bases, provided spectacular defense at third base–and proved to be about as model a citizen as you could want on your team.  His 111 runs scored led the league and his 6.5 bWAR led the Nats.  Were you paying attention, Bryce Harper?

Jayson Werth – B-  Werth had a solid (and healthy) season but was spectacularly awful in the playoffs.  Based on that alone, his position at third in the lineup should NOT be inviolable next year.

Adam LaRoche – B  Despite being a streaky hitter and missing a couple of weeks due to injury, LaRoche led the team in home runs and RBIs.  His playoff performance, however, was stone cold.

Ian Desmond – C+   Desmond’s third consecutive 20-20 year was an odd one.  Despite setting personal bests for RBIs and stolen bases, his error and strikeout rates increased and his OPS dropped for the second consecutive season, finishing .102 below his career high set two years ago.

Bryce Harper – B-  Harper missed about two months due to injuries and then looked lost at the plate for weeks after coming off the DL.  Even worse, his defensive bWAR was down in negative figures despite him playing in a corner outfield position and he stole only 2 bases all season.  Then came his lonely heroics in the NLDS–sigh.

Wilson Ramos – C+  Ramos also missed a couple of months due to injury, but looked like he was fully back as the Nats began their surge to the division title.  He faded badly down the stretch, however, with only three extra base hits and his OPS falling to .474 after August 29th.  And in the playoffs, he was even worse.

Asdrubal Cabrera – C  Odd that you would say that the acquisition of a rental player who spent only two months with the team and batted only .229 represented a “good” trade.  But Cabrera’s OPS was a solid .700, and unlike most of his offensive teammates he held his own in the playoffs, oh and the alternative at second base was Danny Espinosa.

Ryan Zimmerman – I  When he was able to play, there was nothing wrong with Ryan’s bat, as he put up a solid .790 OPS despite twice battling back from the DL.  Hopefully, the switch across the diamond will keep him in the lineup all season next year as the the team’s horrendous offensive performance in the NLDS showed just how much they miss him being there every day.

The Reserves:

Kevin Frandsen – D  Picked up off the waiver wire at the start of the season, Frandsen actually showed why the talent-strapped Phillies were willing to dump him as he put up a bWAR of -0.5 for the season.

Jose Lobaton – C+  On the other hand, after being acquired from the Rays in an offseason trade Lobaton was a perfectly adequate backup backstop, sporting a positive season bWAR of 0.5.  He was particularly strong defensively, scoring a 0.8 d/bWAR for the year.

Danny Espinosa – D+  As long as we’re talking bWAR, Espinosa was perfectly replaceable at 0.0.

Nate McLouth – F  You hate to see any player get injured, but McLouth being knocked out for the year in early August had the benefit of opening up opportunities for rookies Michael Taylor and Steven Souza.  The Nats paid McLouth $5 million to put up a -0.7 bWAR, and with one year remaining his signing is easily turning out to be GM Mike Rizzo’s worst free agency move to date.

Scott Hairston – F  He can’t hit anymore (1 lousy home run) and he doesn’t play good defense.  Remind me again why Hairston remained on the team for the entire season despite putting up a putrid bWAR of -0.6.  I would really like to know.

Tyler Moore – D+  Ironically, the Nats gave Moore his fewest number of at bats in a season the very year his bWAR turned positive for the first time in his career (0.4).

Sandy Leon – D  Because of Ramos’s injuries, Leon got way too many at bats with his unsightly .156/.229/.219 slash line.  He did put up a defensive bWAR of 0.3, however.


Matt Williams – B  Many have been excoriating Williams for the Nats’ playoff collapse and some of the shaky moves he made in the series.  My take is that no move he could have made would have made any difference save having a crystal ball tell him before the NLDS that after scuffling at the plate for much of the past two seasons Harper was suddenly going to explode and needed to be moved up to third in the lineup behind Rendon in order to offset the complete collapse by every one of the older veterans in his lineup.  What Williams DID do was take a very talented team that greatly underachieved in 2013 and guide it to the NL’s best record despite another major rash of injuries.


So Which Nats Team is Better Heading Into the Postseason: 2012 or 2014 (Part 2)?

Yesterday, we compared and contrasted the pitching staffs of the 2012 vs the 2014 Nats playoff teams heading INTO the postseason (ignoring actual performance from 2012 as unfair bias).  Today, let’s see how the bats shake out:

Catcher: Kurt Suzuki 2012 vs Wilson Ramos 2014

The early August 2012 trade that brought Kurt Suzuki to the Nats marked the beginning of a career revival for him.  “Zook” hit well those final two months of the 2012 campaign, bashing 5 home runs, driving in 25 and putting up a .725 OPS in 43 games.  Meanwhile, injuries robbed Wilson Ramos of just under half a season this year.  Even so, he still hit 11 home runs and drove in 47, though his OPS was lower that Suzuki’s at .705.  Nevertheless, it would be hard to argue that the Suzuki of 2012 was better than Ramos today either offensively or defensively.

Verdict: Slight Advantage, Wilson Ramos 2014

First Base: Adam LaRoche 2012 vs Adam LaRoche 2014

Adam LaRoche had a fine 2014, leading the Nats in both home runs (26) and RBIs (91).  Nevertheless, 2012 was his career year as he hit his career high in home runs (33) tied his career high in RBIs (100), led all Nats in OPS (.853) and won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards for his position.

Verdict: Slight Advantage Adam LaRoche 2012

Second Base: Danny Espinosa 2012 vs Asdrubal Cabrera 2014

If it were just a matter of season stats, Danny Espinosa wins this contest going away.  Unfortunately, though we fans were kept in the dark about it at the time, Danny hurt his shoulder in September that year.  After the injury, his slash line crashed to .171/.241/.271 with only a single home run and 4 RBIs in 22 games, in other words the kind of putrid offensive statistics he’s been putting up ever since.  Cabrera has hardly been an All Star at the plate since he was acquired from the Indians, but he looks like Frank Howard compared to the hobbled Danny E of two years ago.  Only Espinosa’s great glove keeps this one close.

Verdict: Slight Advantage, Asdrubal Cabrera 2014

Shortstop: Ian Desmond 2012 vs Ian Desmond 2014

You would think that with 2014 being his third consecutive 20-20 season that a more experienced Ian Desmond would have the advantage.  But Ian’s 2012 breakthrough season was a much better year for the Nats’ shortstop both offensively (.845 OPS vs .743) and defensively (15 errors vs 24).  Ian is obviously still a vital component for this team in both areas, but 2012 was simply a better year for him.

Verdict: Slight Advantage Ian Desmond 2012

Third Base: Ryan Zimmerman 2012 vs Anthony Rendon 2014

This is actually the strongest position for both teams as Zimmerman’s .824 OPS, 25 HRs and 95 RBIs compare quite favorably to Rendon’s .822 OPS, 21 HRs, 81 RBIs and 111 runs scored.  Rendon, however, gets the nod for his team-leading 6.4 overall bWAR vs only 3.9 for Zim two years ago.

Verdict: Slight Advantage, Anthony Rendon 2014

Left Field: Mike Morse 2012 vs Bryce Harper 2014

Both players missed significant time due to injury, each playing around 100 games.  Morse was better offensively (.791 OPS vs .752, 18 HRs vs 13, 62 RBIs vs only 32) while Bryce has a slight advantage defensively (-0.7 d/bWAR vs -1.0).  Bryce also stole only 2 bases all season (the lumbering Morse had zero), which is a real disappointment for a player with his speed.  Surprising as it may seem, Morse was the better player two years ago.

Verdict: Slight Advantage, Mike Morse 2012

Centerfield: Bryce Harper 2012 vs Denard Span 2014

These two are such different players that I’m going to have to resort to their Wins Above Replacement figures to come to a conclusion.  Bryce put up an amazing bWAR of 5.1 in 139 games his rookie year (where oh where has THAT guy been lately?), while Span has a very respectable 3.5 bWAR in 144 games this year.

Verdict: Slight Advantage, Bryce Harper 2012

Right Field: Jayson Werth 2012 vs Jayson Werth 2014

Werth missed half of the 2012 season with a wrist injury that sapped his power when he did return.  Realizing he could help the team better by batting leadoff, Werth selflessly sacrificed RBI opportunities so that his high OBP could set the table for the lineup.  This is another case in which we’ll have to let the WAR decide.  Doubling Werth’s 2012 bWAR of 0.6 in 81 games still gives him only 1.2, while he managed to put up a 3.6 overall score this year.  Statistical bias against leadoff hitters?  Perhaps, but there you go.

Verdict: Slight Advantage, Jayson Werth 2014

Bench Players: Chad Tracy, Tyler Moore, Steve Lombardozzi, Roger Bernadina & Jesus Flores 2012 vs Ryan Zimmerman, Danny Espinosa, Kevin Frandsen, Nate Schierholtz & Jose Lobaton 2014.

The 2012 “Goon Squad” was the best group of offensive bench players the Nats have ever assembled.  The only reason the 2014 group is in the conversation is because of the presence of Ryan Zimmerman as the top pinch hitter who will also likely get a start here and there, moving one of the other starters to the bench.  Of the rest, the 2014 group has a slight edge defensively, but Tracy, Moore and Bernadina all had outstanding seasons at the plate.  Only Lobaton from the this year’s team is a clear upgrade over his counterpart (Flores).

Verdict Slight Advantage, 2012 Nats

Manager: Davey Johnson 2012 vs Matt Williams 2014

Forgetting for a moment the mistakes in bullpen management Davey Johnson would make in the 2012 NLDS, the Nats went into the playoffs that year with a Hall of Fame manager who just guided a team that had never been over .500 in 7 seasons in DC to MLB’s best record.  Williams, on the other hand, took a very talented squad and, after a few growing pains early on, got it to do exactly what was expected of it after an unexpected down year.

Verdict: Slight Advantage, Davey Johnson 2012

Score for Position Players and Manager:

2012 Nats: 6 Slight Advantage = 6 points

2014 Nats: 4 Slight Advantage = 4 points

Total = +2 points 2012 Nats

Pitching Total (from yesterday’s post) = +5 points 2014 Nats

Overall = +3 points 2014 Nats

So there you have it, the 2014 Nats come in slightly better overall than the 2012 squad going into the playoffs.  Most importantly, thanks in large part to the presence of Doug Fister and the emergence of Tanner Roark, this year’s team is significantly better in the most important area and the one that let them down the last time: pitching.

Let the PLAYOFF games begin.