Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham are gone, Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche are in. “That amounts to little change in offense” writes Tom Boswell of the Washington Post “statistically, Werth is Dunn and LaRoche is Willingham.”
Even though Willingham's career .367 wOBA trumps LaRoche's .351, offensively Werth might as well be Dunn (Werth's superior BABIP compensates for his inferior power and walk rate). But what about the rest of the team?
About a week ago we last year's team WAR versus this year's team's predicted WAR and found that there should be a slight improvement this year.
But WAR includes defense and offense; to measure offense we will rely on wOBA, the metric used to quantify offense in WAR analysis.
wOBA stands for weighted on-base average. I find it useful to think of wOBA in similar terms as slugging percentage but instead of weighting each event by the total number of bases awarded as slugging percentage does (The numerator for slugging percentage is 1*1B+2*2B+3*3B+4*HR, where the number multiplying each variable is the total number of bases “gained” by the batter for that event) wOBA weights each event by how many runs the event is expected to be worth. The “expected runs” of each event can be thought of as how many runs on average that event leads after it occurs. wOBA has more variables than slugging—steals, walks, reaching base on error, etc—and far less attractive weights, i.e., they have decimal points. It is also The King of offensive rate statistics.
As in the piece we did last week, I will analyze the team by position rather than by which players have been lost or gained. The former type of analysis lends a more holistic view of the new Nationals offense. Without further ado, here is the list:
C – .315 (Rodriguez/Ramos/Flores)
1B – .350 (LaRoche)
2B – .325 (Espinosa/Gonzalez)
SS – .330 (Desmond/Gonzalez)
3B – .380 (Zimmerman)
OF – .380 (Werth)
OF – .310 (Morgan/Ankiel)
OF – .340 (Bernadina/Morse)
C – .275 (Rodriguez/Nieves)
1B – .380 (Dunn)
2B – .295 (Kennedy, Guzman, Gonzalez, Espinosa)
SS – .310 (Desmond)
3B – .390 (Zimmerman/Gonzalez)
OF – .380 (Willingham)
OF – .285 (Morgan/Maxwell)
OF – .315 (Bernadina/Morse/Harris)
2011 Minus 2010
C – .040
1B – -.030
2B – .030
SS – .020
3B – -.010
OF – 0
OF – .025
OF – .025
- ·Letting Danny Espinosa full-time at second over the Adam Kennedy/Cristian Guzman/Alberto Gonzalez mess of last year is the wOBA-equivalent of having Dunn instead of LaRoche.
- ·Even though Pudge did have a bad year in 2010, giving Jesus Flores and Wilson Ramos significant amounts of time would also be a Dunn-sized improvement at catcher.
- ·Let's hope Ian Desmond improves as predicted.
- ·Despite losing Willingham, if Werth duplicates his recent play, Roger Bernadina improves, Mike Morse gets a moderate amount of playing time, and Nyjer Morgan and Rick Ankiel bounce back the Nationals outfield should be significantly better this year.
- ·The Nationals should be somewhat improved at almost every position. The overall gains are small, however, with a 0.013 (the average of the differences) improvement to the team's wOBA. That change would not have moved the Nationals up even one place in the 2010 National League wOBA rankings.
The bottom-line is that the Nationals are roughly the same offensively as they were last year. As Boswell also wrote, any major differences between the 2011 and 2010 Nationals will come from pitching and defense. I haven't looked at the numbers yet but something tells me those factors might not be enough to lift our boys into contention this year.
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