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May 2, 2011 / Nat Anacostia

Nats’ April in review

One month into the season, we can take a look at the team’s record and some of the month’s highlights, leaders, and moments we’d rather forget.

Record:

12–14 (.462) – 4th place – 6 games behind in the NL East

Pythagorean Record:

12–14 (3.77 R/G – 4.15 RA/G) – 4th place – 5 GB

MVP for April:

Jason Marquis (3–0, 2.62 ERA, 5 G, 34-1/3 IP, 9.2 H/9, 0.3 HR/9, 6.3 SO/9, 1.0 rWAR, 1.1 fWAR)

Most valuable position player:

Wilson Ramos (.358/.426/.547, 17 G, 61 PA, 19 H, 4 2B, 2 HR, 9 R, 6 RBI, 166 OPS+, 0.8 rWAR, 0.9 fWAR)

Most valuable relief pitcher:

Tyler Clippard (0–0, 1.56 ERA, 13 G, 17-1/3 IP, 6.8 H/9, 0.5 HR/9, 9.3 SO/9, 9 shutdowns, 0 meltdowns, 0.8 rWAR, 0.5 fWAR)

Best start in the month:

Marquis (April 29, 3–0 win over San Francisco at home, 9 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 SO, Game score of 84)

Worst start:

Liván Hernández (April 23, 7–2 loss at Pittsburgh, 6 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 2 SO, Game score of 30). If this is your worst start in a month, your starting pitchers aren’t doing too badly.

Best shutdown:

I’m going to use “win probability added” from Fangraphs for the next few items. Clippard’s appearance on April 8 against the Mets leads according to this measure. He entered in the bottom of the seventh with a 3–2 lead and runners on second and third with one out. He shut them down by striking out José Reyes and got a ground out from Ángel Pagán (win probability added of .304). The Nats went on to win 6–2.

Worst meltdown:

Sean Burnett on April 27 against the Mets. He entered in the top of the ninth with a 3–2 lead, needing to get three outs. He couldn’t, giving up four runs on four hits and an intentional walk in 2/3 of an inning, putting the Nats behind 6–3 (win probability added of –.812). The Nats lost the game, failing to score in the bottom of the ninth.

Clutch hit:

Adam LaRoche on April 7 against the Marlins. In the top of the eleventh, he hit a two-run homer to put the Nats ahead 5–3, which would be the final score. (Win probability added of .418)

Choke:

LaRoche against the Giants on April 30, struck out with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, with the Nats behind 2–1 (win probability added of –.266).

Clutch baserunning:

On April 15 against the Brewers, Jayson Werth manufactured the winning run in the bottom of the tenth when he advanced to second on an error, stole third, and beat the throw home on LaRoche’s grounder to first, giving the Nats the 4–3 win.

Likely to cool off:

Position player – Ramos – we all know that a catcher who’s struck out in  in 14 of 61 PA isn’t going to keep hitting .358.  His .447 batting average on balls in play is a major warning signal that a big drop off is coming; it wouldn’t be surprising to see him hit .200 next month.  Nevertheless, he’s impressed with his power and his ability to take a walk, so even if he hits .250 over the rest of the season, he’ll be a contributor at a position where offense is often hard to find.

Pitcher – Tom Gorzelanny – This one is scary. Although he’s pitched well in all of his outings so far and carries a decent 3.97 ERA so far, his opponents’ batting average on balls in play is an unsustainable .203. When that regresses to a more reasonable number, he’s going to need to improve his SO/BB ratio or get more ground balls, or else his ERA is likely to get ugly. I wouldn’t bet on him still being part of the rotation by the end of the season.

Likely to warm up:

Position players – LaRoche – His batting average on balls in play of .200 is bound to pick up. Michael Morse will eventually start hitting extra base hits again.

Pitchers – Burnett – His opponents’ batting average on balls in play of .378 will come down.

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