The Fortnight – 5/21/13

A couple of weeks ago, you the attentive reader, will surely have observed the introduction of our depth charts and standings pages. It was a long time coming, and we remain pretty freaking excited about it. As such, we thought that every two weeks that we’d take a look at some sort of change or happening or goings-on that occurred.

We’re not going to cover every team, because let’s face it, there really is only so many times that one can write a variation of “the Marlins aren’t even trying” without wanting to scrape out your eyebones with a rusty screwdriver. But we’ll still try to pry out an objective look in some way. This week, we’ll take a look at the three biggest movers — one positive and two negative — in terms of ranking of projected full season winning percentage. (One note — the looks here are from last Tuesday, the 14th, to this morning, but in future editions we’ll likely use Monday as the cut-off day for a number of reasons, nearly all of which involve my sanity.)

Chicago White Sox
Projected Full-Season Record: 78-84, .482 (19th)
Last week: 76-86, .472 (25th)

Last week, I wrote that it might be a little too early for us to think about the White Sox selling off. Since, they took a series with the Twins, split one with the Angels and then smacked around Jon Lester last night. Does one of you want to pat me on the back, or should I do it myself? All kidding aside, the White Sox weren’t likely to have the worst offense in the league all season, so it shouldn’t be that surprising that three of their eight best run scoring affairs of the season in the time since.

The team’s nine runs on the 15th and 18th and its six runs last evening have helped bring their runs scored per game up in a big way — from 3.42 on the 14th to 3.72 this morning. That’s easily the biggest jump, and more akin to what we should expect from the team going forward. And Paul Konerko still hasn’t hit his stride. However, with the team playing better, and John Danks set to re-join the starting rotation on Friday, yeah, let’s not bury the White Sox. The projected full season standings for the AL Central as of this morning had Chicago pulled even with the Royals, who were the darlings of baseball not too long ago:

Team W L W% RDif RS/G RA/G
Tigers 93 69 0.575 145 4.95 4.06
Indians 84 78 0.518 22 4.61 4.48
White Sox 78 84 0.482 -26 4.20 4.37
Royals 78 84 0.482 -10 4.34 4.40
Twins 70 92 0.429 -101 4.23 4.86

Baltimore Orioles
Projected Full-Season Record: 80-82, .496 (18th)
Last week: 84-78, .516 (12th)

One spot ahead of the White Sox this week is the Orioles, though it’s not exactly the spot they want to be. A lot has changed for Baltimore in a very short time. The carnage has been most noticeable in the rotation. This month, they have had to shelve Miguel Gonzalez and Wei-Yin Chen with injuries. Gonzalez is set to return tonight, but in the interim the team had to turn to Freddy Garcia and Jair Jurrjens. Which would be fine if everyone else on the staff was performing as expected, but that has not been the case. Jason Hammel has only tossed one game with a game score better than 62, and in six of his nine he has fallen under the 50 points that a pitcher starts with in the first inning. His past two starts — in which he has allowed 13 runs in 8.2 innings pitched — have been particularly cringeworthy.

The keystone hasn’t been any prettier. After the inevitable Brian Roberts injury, the team turned to Ryan Flaherty and Alexi Casilla. Then they remembered that neither player can hit a lick, and sent Flaherty down in favor of Yamaico Navarro, who with a projected .303 wOBA for the remainder of the season, is suddenly the best option the O’s have:

2B Orioles

Alexi Casilla 178 .246 .299 .335 .281 -5.9 0.8 -0.5 0.1
Yamaico Navarro 178 .244 .310 .379 .303 -2.8 -0.3 0.6 0.4
Ryan Flaherty 127 .222 .279 .356 .278 -4.5 -0.2 0.8 0.1
Brian Roberts 25 .255 .318 .376 .305 -0.4 0.0 -0.2 0.0
Total 510 .240 .299 .358 .289 -13.7 0.4 0.7 0.6

Yes, this is the same Navarro who is on his fourth team in three seasons. But at least super closer Jim Johnson is still holding it down in the ninth, right? Damn. Won’t somebody please think of the children?

Washington Nationals
Projected Full-Season Record: 83-79, .512 (14th)
Last week: 86-76, .529 (9th)

It was a rough week in the Beltway, where we find that the outlook hasn’t grown any more bullish since I last looked at them. They are expected to be essentially what they are today — a .500 team that finds itself on the outside of the playoff picture. In fact, the hitting has only gotten worse since I wrote that aforementioned piece. Certainly Wilson Ramos and Jayson Werth on the disabled list didn’t help, but the charade that is Danny Espinosa’s season certainly isn’t helping. His isolated power and slugging percentage are way down, but he hasn’t changed his approach any — he hasn’t drawn a single walk in 56 May plate appearances. At this point it’s hard to see why he should be playing at all.

In other Nationals injury news, Ross Detwiler joined Dan Haren in the bad back club, which forced the team to turn to Zach Duke in the rotation. When he took the ball last night, Duke had only thrown 105.1 innings since the start of 2011, and he hadn’t started since July 20, 2011. Plan B didn’t even make it through the fourth inning, and the Nats were whitewashed by the Giants, 8-0. It’s supposedly just a spot start, as Detwiler isn’t expected to miss much more time, but this probably won’t be the last time the Nats need an extra starter. That that extra starter is — for the moment — Duke certainly doesn’t bode well for their future. But hey, at least they didn’t ruin Stephen Strasburg’s career by letting him pitch last fall.

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Paul Swydan is the co-managing editor of The Hardball Times, a writer and editor for FanGraphs and a writer for ESPN Insider. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan.

21 Responses to “The Fortnight – 5/21/13”

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  1. The Flaming FIPs says:

    “But hey, at least they didn’t ruin Stephen Strasburg’s career by letting him pitch last fall.”

    Great closing line.

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    • Televators says:

      Eh, I don’t know, I thought it was a cheap shot that missed the mark.

      The Nats are in the last 2 or 3 positions in almost all NL offensive rankings and yet still above .500 and in second place in the East. I’m guessing they are happy about having pitching right now.

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      • Rob says:

        I think you and the author may be looking at different marks. The point here appears to be that trips to the postseason shouldn’t be expected to happen every year, so you’ve got to take your shots when you have them.

        Speaking of having things, I think the point was to point out that the Nationals DON’T have pitching (although your other points on their offense and position in the standings are certainly valid).

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        • cass says:

          Actually, the Fangraphs standings page has the Nationals projected to have the 5th best starting pitching this year.

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        • Televators says:

          I don’t know about looking at different marks. Paul is writing about projections. He’s emphasizing the Nats’ outlook not being as good as many suspected. Then he throws in a line criticizing past decisions that have quite possibly positively affected the Nats’ current outlook.

          I understand the logic around all the different opinions on Strasburg’s shutdown and the playoffs. My point is: get over it, especially when it’s out of place in an article about the future that’s supposed to be objective.

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        • Brandon says:

          You are misunderstanding what the author meant. Rob hit the nail on the head – he was referring to the fact that their decision could be interpreted partly that they planned on being in the postseason quite often and would have other opportunities. And quite honestly, decisions like that are going to be second guessed forever. There is no getting over it.

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      • Dan Ugglas Forearm says:

        The Nats are above .500, yes. But the margin between the Nats and Braves is probably going to get bigger. The Braves have finished the toughest part of their schedule, and like the Nats, still have key hitters that are struggling. Badly. If they continue to play the same baseball they have over the first quarter, the schedule alone should yield significantly more wins. The Nats were not expected to hit well, and they’re not hitting well. That their pitching has unexpectedly suffered, means they aren’t the team they hoped they would be.

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        • The Nationals ALSO just finished by far the hardest part of their schedule.

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        • Clifford says:

          with Span, LaRoche, Espinosa, Desmond, Zimmerman, Harper, Werth, etc., im fairly certain that the Nats were, in fact, expected to hit fairly well. they essentially improved their team, which happened to finish 5th in the NL in runs scored last year, and 4th in OPS.

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  2. cass says:

    Strasburg wouldn’t have helped one bit in the playoffs. His replacement, Ross Detwiler, pitched very well. If they had saved some of Strasburg’s innings for the playoffs, they might not have even made the playoffs, or at least might have been forced into the WC game.

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    • Chief Keef says:

      Perfect example of deductive reasoning.

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    • Bryan says:

      “His replacement, Ross Detwiler, pitched very well.” Process, not results. The decision should be judged at the time it was made – before you know the outcome – on its potential to succeed.

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      • KDL says:

        Except the last line of the article, which inspired this response does the same but of process, not results thinking.

        You can’t say shutting down Strasburg was bad because the Nats are off to a bad start this year. It’s the same results based analysis that you’re against.

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    • Clifford says:

      hindsight is always 20/20

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  3. All Balls No Brains says:

    Silly point, but in the Standings with Projected Full Season (and rest of season), the wins column and losses column don’t add up to equal the same thing. 2429 to 2431. Either humanity as a whole takes two losses to our new alien overlords or Miami gets two loss penalty for mismanagement or, least likely, is just rounding decisions. But just in case it is the former, let me know so I can prepare the supplications.

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  4. Televators says:

    Love the depth charts. I’m curious, though: what’s the process for determining what prospects get place on the depth chart?

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  5. Colm says:

    What are these eyebone thingies?

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