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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Strasburg officially starting Opening Day

Clickers up!

Not that there was any uncertainty about it, but Davey Johnson made it official nonetheless this morning: Stephen Strasburg will start Opening Day for the Nationals.

“I guess you want me to say it,” the 70-year-old manager said. “He’s going to be my Opening Day starter. You drug it out of me.”

Johnson’s selection of Strasburg is hardly a surprise. The right-hander got the Opening Day nod last season in Chicago, then went 15-6 with a 3.16 ERA and 197 strikeouts before his much-debated shutdown in early September after 159 1/3 innings.

But in a rotation that also boasts a 21-game winner (Gio Gonzalez), a top-10 ERA finisher (Jordan Zimmermann) and a three-time All-Star (Dan Haren), Johnson certainly had other viable options if he chose to go in another direction.

“That’s a great honor,” the manager said. “There’s a lot of great starters in my rotation.”

Repoz Posted: March 14, 2013 at 05:02 AM | 35 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: nats

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: March 14, 2013 at 06:13 AM (#4388110)
Now they can shut him down a week earlier!
   2. Dan Posted: March 14, 2013 at 06:39 AM (#4388116)
Now they can shut him down a week earlier!


He started opening day last season too actually.
   3. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 14, 2013 at 07:33 AM (#4388121)
This time it counts.
   4. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: March 14, 2013 at 08:21 AM (#4388135)
"You drug it out of me."

Just say no!
   5. Honkie Kong Posted: March 14, 2013 at 08:23 AM (#4388136)
Drug it out of him?! That's err..weird language.
But does Davey Johnson realise he is messing with the HoF cases of Zimmermann and Haren?! Opening Day starts are what counts.


Nationals are going to have an awesome rotation however they work it out.
   6. TomH Posted: March 14, 2013 at 09:34 AM (#4388166)
Not only that, but their rotation will look even better than it is, I muse, given how good their team defense is going to be.

General Q: which sites have the data that projects team defense for 2013? I'd like to see some chart that shows a simple table of predicted runs (either earned or total) that the team D should mean to each staff. Would the Nats be close to #1? How did they grade out as a team last year in DEF win shares? Was their b-ref 5.0 def WAA unusally good? In 2012, they used Espinosa at short, Zim/gold glover missed some time at 3rd, and Harper/Bernadina/Ankiel/Werth got a lot of time in CF, whereas they have Span in 2013.



   7. john_halfz Posted: March 14, 2013 at 09:35 AM (#4388167)
You drug it out of me


Isn't this the guy who cried because Earl Weaver threw his computer printouts in the trash? The guy who sold computers for a while? The guy who said things like "favorable chance derivation"?

I guess he wishes he'd been more like Charlie Manuel all along.
   8. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 14, 2013 at 10:10 AM (#4388189)
But he'll be limited to just two innings.
   9. Rants Mulliniks Posted: March 14, 2013 at 10:30 AM (#4388201)
This time it counts.


So he's starting the All-Star game?
   10. Chris Needham Posted: March 14, 2013 at 10:32 AM (#4388204)
[6] Bingo. This is almost certainly the best defensive team in the majors. Their worst defender is probably Jayson Werth -- who's, at the very worst, average. At every other position they probably have a top 5 defender.
   11. Depressoteric feels Royally blue these days Posted: March 14, 2013 at 10:37 AM (#4388208)
Isn't this the guy who cried because Earl Weaver threw his computer printouts in the trash? The guy who sold computers for a while? The guy who said things like "favorable chance derivation"?
He also has a BA in mathematics, and did Masters-level coursework at Johns Hopkins University on math and statistics.

Davey Johnson may talk colloquially, but he ain't no dummy.
   12. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: March 14, 2013 at 10:40 AM (#4388210)
He also has a BA in mathematics, and did Masters-level coursework at Johns Hopkins University on math and statistics.

He needs to get his head out of his nerdboy Analysis texts and watch some baseball.
   13. Spectral Posted: March 14, 2013 at 11:17 AM (#4388240)
The thing I found weird about the article was the attempt to inflate the number of options that Nats would have looked at to start by saying, "three time All-Star Dan Haren". Ah well, I guess that's how things are written.
Their worst defender is probably Jayson Werth -- who's, at the very worst, average.

Werth is going into his age 34 season and his RField has declined each of the last five years, going from +12 at age 28 to -12 at age 33. You don't have to put a ton of stock in BRef defensive stats to guess that he's probably a good bit before average. I think Span and Harper cover enough ground that this is a very good defensive outfield, but I think Werth's days of being a plus defender are well behind him.
   14. DL from MN Posted: March 14, 2013 at 11:23 AM (#4388242)
Do they think he's been shut down long enough? Being shut down for a month wasn't long enough to pitch in the playoffs. Is he going to be safe after being shutdown only an additional 5 months?
   15. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 14, 2013 at 11:32 AM (#4388245)
[6] Bingo. This is almost certainly the best defensive team in the majors. Their worst defender is probably Jayson Werth -- who's, at the very worst, average. At every other position they probably have a top 5 defender.

This is a huge overbid.

Desmond has been below average by BRef and Fangraphs every year of his career except '12 FG. Zimmerman has been no better than average the last two years; I would guess his injuries have sapped his range.

Span, Harper and LaRoche are legitimately top-5 defenders, the rest of the IF is much closer to average than top-5.
   16. JJ1986 Posted: March 14, 2013 at 11:35 AM (#4388247)
Span, Harper and LaRoche are legitimately top-5 defenders, the rest of the IF is much closer to average than top-5.


I think Espinosa is probably top-5 on talent, as a legitimate shortstop playing out of position, and Zimmerman is top-5 on range, but horrible at throwing. Behind the plate, Ramos could be top-5, but Suzuki isn't.
   17. Perry Posted: March 14, 2013 at 11:45 AM (#4388251)
Davey Johnson may talk colloquially, but he ain't no dummy.


You can take the boy out of Texas A&M, but you can't take Texas A&M out of the boy.
   18. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 14, 2013 at 11:49 AM (#4388253)
Zimmerman is top-5 on range, but horrible at throwing

I think Zimmerman was legitimately great at 3B, but it looks from the numbers than his D took a huge hit from his injury in 2011.

He was a +10-15 fielder (both systems) in '09-'10, but since then has been slightly below average (both systems).
   19. Depressoteric feels Royally blue these days Posted: March 14, 2013 at 12:08 PM (#4388263)
It will be very interesting to see if Zimmerman's throwing arm has recovered its reliability this season, given the off-season surgery.

I can tell you that, speaking just in terms of watching him play on a daily basis, his range is seemingly undiminished from his defensive peak -- it's only his arm that is problematic.
   20. Depressoteric feels Royally blue these days Posted: March 14, 2013 at 12:10 PM (#4388267)
Behind the plate, Ramos could be top-5, but Suzuki isn't.
I doubt Ramos could ever be a Top 5 defensive catcher. At least, not unless he makes massive improvements from where he was last year, prior to the knee injury. He was awful at throwing base-stealers out (to be fair this was at least as much, if not more, the fault of our pitching staff, which is atrocious at holding runners on). More importantly, he struck me as being very prone to passed balls. It could well be a trick of my memory (would love someone to check the stats), but it seemed like balls were going to the backstop with him nearly every day.
   21. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 14, 2013 at 12:16 PM (#4388276)
I can tell you that, speaking just in terms of watching him play on a daily basis, his range is seemingly undiminished from his defensive peak -- it's only his arm that is problematic.

Interesting. The D numbers don't break it down, though I feel like they used to. FG has an ARM column for UZR, but it's blank.

Am I crazy in thinking they used to show Arm rating broken out?
   22. Spectral Posted: March 14, 2013 at 12:23 PM (#4388279)
I can tell you that, speaking just in terms of watching him play on a daily basis, his range is seemingly undiminished from his defensive peak -- it's only his arm that is problematic.


I agree completely with this analysis. Then again, he's moving towards the wrong side of the age curve, but his reads on the ball and hands really still seem fantastic.

I also agree with whoever it was that asserted that Espinosa's a strong plus defender.
Am I crazy in thinking they used to show Arm rating broken out?

I feel like Arm was shown for outfielders, but I could be wrong.
   23. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 14, 2013 at 12:26 PM (#4388282)
I feel like Arm was shown for outfielders, but I could be wrong.

Yup, OF still have it.

It seems like it would be pretty easy to break out throwing errors for IF; I wonder why they don't?
   24. Austin Posted: March 14, 2013 at 12:36 PM (#4388290)
I've read speculation that Zimmerman's throwing problems are basically just the yips. To those who watch him regularly, does that ring true?
   25. Depressoteric feels Royally blue these days Posted: March 14, 2013 at 01:06 PM (#4388315)
I've read speculation that Zimmerman's throwing problems are basically just the yips. To those who watch him regularly, does that ring true?
Knoblauch-itis, you mean? I don't know if that would be better or worse...

It's possible that the psychological element could have played a role; in fact, I suspect it almost certainly did. However, there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that Zimmerman had big problems with his shoulder during the 2012 season, and that he only turned around his season after receiving a quasi-miraculous cortisone shot on June 23rd. (The before-and-after is as drastic as can be: .218/.285/.305 line before the June 23rd shot, and a .321/.383/.584 line from that point on to the end of the season.) Those shoulder problems (which were on his throwing side) almost certainly affected his arm as well.

What's interesting is that the 'official line' from the team during the 2012 was that Zimmerman's throwing problems WERE purely psychological, and not physical. Only after the season was over did he admit that his shoulder problems might have played a part.
   26. Chris Needham Posted: March 14, 2013 at 01:38 PM (#4388331)
Last year, I think Zimmerman's throwing problems were mostly physical. But I think that his problems in previous seasons were more mental (perhaps, in part, due to some concern over nagging strains/stresses, etc).

His throwing isn't a problem when he has to gun it (generally). It's when he has a few extra beats to make a throw that his footwork gets out of sync. And then the throws tend to sail on him.

There was about a month stretch, right after his cortisone shot, that he was playing third as great as he played it when he first came up. The thing with him that's fun to see is that when he's feeling well, more than any other third baseman I've ever seen, he guns the throw for the lead runner. That's a small thing, in some ways, but in others, it's huge. It keeps DPs in order...and makes it so that a single doesn't score a run.

As far as the assessments above about the value of the other players... No matter what the stats say, Desmond is a plus fielder at short. He has very good range, certainly above average. His bugaboo has been errors, but he cut those way down. The majority of his errors came on bad throws -- and the majority of those were just bad decisions. He learned to eat the ball, or to make the easier throw, and not try to go for the highlights every time. He's not Ozzie over there, but he's an overall plus defender at short. Werth, sure. He's not what he was. But he's not a -15 fielder, or whatever the number was. That's probably partially because he stretched to fill in at center, where he's clearly not an asset. Most likely he's a 0 to -5 kind of fielder. But either way... he's the weakest link. Every other position is very good to excllent.
   27. The Yankee Clapper Posted: March 14, 2013 at 01:47 PM (#4388337)
I've read speculation that Zimmerman's throwing problems are basically just the yips. To those who watch him regularly, does that ring true?

He needed offseason surgery and was limited in his throwing at the start of spring training, so there seems to have been a legitimate injury. Perhaps the difficulty throwing with an altered delivery had a mental aspect as well, but reports have him now pain-free and throwing as good as ever.
   28. valuearbitrageur Posted: March 14, 2013 at 02:14 PM (#4388351)
Haven't read any comments, but has anyone pointed out yet that the Nats shutdown Strasburg last year, and how terrible that was.
   29. GuyM Posted: March 14, 2013 at 02:33 PM (#4388364)
Haven't read any comments, but has anyone pointed out yet that the Nats shutdown Strasburg last year, and how terrible that was.

Not only that, but they had no valid basis for making the decision. It was completely CRAAAZZZY! And it cost them a virtually certain world championship. Worst. Decision. Ever.

   30. Depressoteric feels Royally blue these days Posted: March 14, 2013 at 02:36 PM (#4388367)
Not only that, but they had no valid basis for making the decision. It was completely CRAAAZZZY! And it cost them a virtually certain world championship. Worst. Decision. Ever.
Why, I think it's a travesty that Mike Rizzo hasn't been fired yet for his inexcusable decision.
   31. GuyM Posted: March 14, 2013 at 02:52 PM (#4388379)
Why, I think it's a travesty that Mike Rizzo hasn't been fired yet for his inexcusable decision

Fired? I think a public flogging, followed by tar and feathers, would only barely begin to right the scales of baseball justice.....
   32. Jim Wisinski Posted: March 14, 2013 at 02:57 PM (#4388384)
His throwing isn't a problem when he has to gun it (generally). It's when he has a few extra beats to make a throw that his footwork gets out of sync. And then the throws tend to sail on him.


That sounds like my tennis game. My footwork is atrocious when setting up to hit the ball so I play far better when on the run and having to react quickly.
   33. Spectral Posted: March 14, 2013 at 03:00 PM (#4388388)
Agree regarding Zimmerman throwing much more poorly when he had time to set up. When he was charging in on the ball and throwing from a drop down sidearm motion, he looked comfortable and confident. When fielding a ball cleanly and having to set up his footwork a bit more, he would have a much higher arm slot, from which he looked thoroughly uncomfortable. I do wonder how much of that was the shoulder, how much in his head, and how much the intersection of the two.
   34. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 14, 2013 at 03:37 PM (#4388415)
Haven't read any comments, but has anyone pointed out yet that the Nats shutdown Strasburg last year, and how terrible that was.


Not only that, but they had no valid basis for making the decision. It was completely CRAAAZZZY! And it cost them a virtually certain world championship. Worst. Decision. Ever.


Why, I think it's a travesty that Mike Rizzo hasn't been fired yet for his inexcusable decision


Fired? I think a public flogging, followed by tar and feathers, would only barely begin to right the scales of baseball justice.....

Tar and feathers is for sissies. I think Rizzo should be forced to run in an Alabama Republican primary with his illegal alien wife at his side, and then be replaced in the GM position by Mike Shanahan.
   35. WillYoung Posted: March 14, 2013 at 05:07 PM (#4388480)
[6] Bingo. This is almost certainly the best defensive team in the majors. Their worst defender is probably Jayson Werth -- who's, at the very worst, average. At every other position they probably have a top 5 defender.


There is no way Span is a top 5 centerfielder. He's perfectly decent, but nothing special.

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