Friday, July 24, 2009

Are the Nationals Better than the Mets?

After watching the Scats take two of three from the New York Mets, I think the answer may be yes, right now, the Mets are worse than the Nationals.

Granted, the Mets have had a ton of injuries--and not like the 2008 Nationals who had guys like Paul Lo Duca and Johnny Estrada get hurt. The Mets have actual good players on the DL.

But forget that for now. Let's look match-ups, position-by-position, NFL-style.

Catcher: Josh Bard v. Brian Schneider
Neither has played much this year, and both are fighting nagging injuries. At first blush, Bard would seem to have the edge based on his 28-point edge in OBP. But that's a mirage--Schneider has him on both walk rate and strikeout rate. When you walk more and get better contact, you're going to get on base more over time. Neither has much power, but Schneider's .167 ISO is a wee bit better. Brian's has an excellent 35% caught-stealing rate, compared to Bard's 24%. Advantage: Mets.

First Base: Nick Johnson v. Daniel Murphy
No contest, Nick in a walk (get it!?). Murphy's OBP is .309, while Johnson's is .415. There's just no overcoming that gap. Both are below-average fielders at this point and neither has much power for a first-bagger. Advantage: Nationals

Second Base: Alberto Gonzalez v. Luis Castillo
Last season, Castillo looked done. A slap-and-run hitter who had lost his wheels and much of his contact ability, not to mention fielding, he was a wildly overpaid, over-the-hill drag on the team. This year, he's had a nice little Indian summer of a year. His K-rate is back down to where it was in his salad days with Florida. His range is Virdo-esque, but he's still better than the rotation of suckitude the Scats send out there. Advantage: Mets.

Third Base: Ryan Zimmerman v. David Wright
Ah, the great debate. I'd take Wright long-term, but Zimmerman has been a bit better this year. Even in a down year, Wright still has the edge at the plate, hitting .316 / .404 / .447 to Zim's .283 / .346 / .465. That 60 points of OBP is huge, but Zimmerman has narrowed the gap offensively. And Zimmerman is so much better with the glove. Even with the throwing errors, his range is just in another world. It's very close, but... Advantage: Nationals.

Shortstop: Cristian Guzman v. Alex Cora
Forget shortstop. Just stop. Oy. Since May 9, Guzman has a .289 OBP. He's been just criminally awful, and now he's moping about batting order. Please. He's not a #2 hitter. He's just #2. But Cora's no better. He has Tony Pena power and poor on-base skills. Neither can catch the ball. Guzman's hot first month still counts, so I'll give him the edge, though you wouldn't have noticed it this week. Lucky for Guzman that the team picked him up after he handed Angel Pagan the triple+E6=inside-the-park HR. Advantage: Nationals.

Left Field: Adam Dunn v. Jeremy Reed/Fernando Tatis
Dunn, by a country mile. Dunn can't catch the ball at all, and I dock him half a point for the Bob Seger, but please. Dunn also is better than Gary Sheffield, though it's closer than you think. Advantage: Nationals.

Center Field: Nyjer Morgan v. Angel Pagan
Morgan is finally showing Nationals fans what a really good fielder in center looks like. You're not hearing much whining about Endy this and Nook that. Because a) Morgan is a far better fielder than those two, a truly special gloveman, and b) Morgan can hit a good bit too. It's time for Fizzleman to dial down the green light every single time Morgan's on base a little, but other than that he's getting on base and changing the game in the field. Pagan has had a nice little run of luck, with a .388 BABIP. But he's 28 and really can't hit. He's average at best in center. Advantage: Nationals

Right Field: Josh Willingham v. Jeff Francoeur
There might have been a debate about Hammer v. Church, but Frenchy's just terrible. He's having a little hot streak, but his OBP for the year is .289. You shouldn't have a starting catcher who does that. Forget right field. Advantage: Nationals

Bench: Willie Harris/Ronnie Belliard/Austin Kearns v. Cory Sullivan/Angel Berroa/Omir Santos
When Sheffield is back, that will push Tatis and Reed to the bench. Will that make the bench any better? Who knows. I'll give it to the Nationals beacuse the only player here who should be actually getting paid to play this game is Harris.

#1 Starting Pitcher: Johan Santana v. John Lannan
We love our Johnny, but he's got a long way to go till he's the best lefty in the NL East. Advantage: Mets.

#2 Starting Pitcher: Jordan Zimmermann v. Mike Pelfrey
Arright, I admit, it's a little home cooking. I started this post before the elbow soreness, and the question posed was whether the Nationals were better than the Mets at that moment, as that series took place. If you think I spin too much positive for the Scats, make sure you tell their PR staff next time you see one of them, cuz they seems to think otherwise. Anyway, Young Hova was on his way to winning rookie of the year. He's got Pelfrey by three-quarters of a run in FIP, and more impressive his K:BB ratio is more than double Pelfrey's. Avantage: Nationals.

#3 Starting Pitcher: Craig Stammen v. Livan Hernandez
Stammen bests Livo in ERA, FIP, groundball rate, and walk rate. Hernandez has a few more Ks, but his K:BB ratio is almost a full K behind. And Craig is so much easier on the eyes. Advantage: Nationals

#4 Starting Pitcher: Garrett Mock v.
Oliver Perez
The Loopy Lefty is walking 8.84 per 9. Seriously. That's worse than Daniel Cabrera. And he's a flyball pitcher. Really, this year he's line-drive pitcher, giving up 25.4% liners on balls in play. But Mock? Kid has one start, and he gave up seven runs in 3.1 innings. Granted, three were unearned. Perez actually has him on ERA, 7.68 to 7.71. Call it a push. Advantage: Hitters.

#5 Starting Pitcher: J.D. Martin v. Fernando Nieve
It's tough to evaluate either of these guys, but the baseball card says Nieve has a 2.45 ERA in 36.2 IP. That'll do. Advantage: Mets.

Closer: Mike MacDougal v. Francisco Rodriguez
Moving right along... Advantage: Mets

Set-up Man: Joe Beimel/Sean Burnett v. Pedro Feliciano/Sean Green
Feliciano has been very good, and Green's been no worse than Beimel. Hard to really have a "set up man" on teams that so rarely win. Advantage: Mets

* * *

So in sum, we have 6 positions where the advantage goes to the Mets. That leave 9 for the Scats and one tie.

Does this prove that the Nationals are a better team? No. It's just food for thought. But it's certainly the case that the Nationals won for real. And if Omar Minaya really think's he's making a run, he needs to just stop talking.


John O'Connor said...

The Nats put a better lineup on the field every game as compared to the Mets. But Santana is so far ahead of anybody else currently playing on either team that the edge still goes to the Mets.

The Nats wouldn't have a high enough winning percentage in the non-Santana games to overcome the huge edge Santana gives the Mets (and we don't have Santana's personal nemesis, Levale Speigner, any more). And, well, the Mets do have help on the way.

Evan said...

I'd be hard pressed to make an argument in favor of the Mets at this point. Still, I can't fathom choosing Zimmerman over Wright to start a game tomorrow or four years from now, even in what has been a bizarre year at the plate for Wright.