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Mike Rizzo has odd ideas about why the Nationals are losing

May 25, 2011, 11:51 AM EDT

Nationals Rizzo Baseball

Ken Rosenthal of wrote a column yesterday about how the Nationals and general manager Mike Rizzo are “not looking for scapegoats” following a 21-27 start.

Much of the article is about how they’ve dealt with lots of injuries to key players and about how Rizzo is “satisfied” with the performance of manager Jim Riggleman and hitting coach Rick Eckstein, but then there’s this piece that caught my eye:

Rizzo says there is only one problem with his club. “We’re playing terrific baseball except for the fact that we’re struggling with runners in scoring position,” Rizzo says. …

“Am I happy with the won-loss record? No. But I think it’s really based on us not hitting with runners in scoring position, getting the big hit. I hope that turns around. We’re played good enough baseball to be way better than our record indicates.”

What an odd thing to focus on.

Washington is hitting .230 with a .663 OPS overall, compared to .228 with a .697 OPS with runners in scoring position. In other words, they’ve actually been slightly better with runners in scoring position. Obviously the Nationals would have more wins if they were hitting, say, .328 with runners in scoring position, but when a team bats .230 overall and .228 with runners in scoring position pointing to that as the problem is silly.

As for the notion that the Nationals should be “way better than our record indicates” … well, that’s off base too. Washington would certainly be better if Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg, and now Adam LaRoche weren’t injured, but their actual performance has been every bit as bad as their record so far. They’ve been outscored by 18 runs in 48 games, which all things being equal projects to a 22-26 record. And they’re 21-27.

  1. housebroken dad - May 25, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    Riggleman has made some stupid moves like the latest with using Storen in a meaningless blowout game and gets his pitch count so high that he can’t be used the next night in a save situation. They go on to lose that one too.

    • paperlions - May 25, 2011 at 12:32 PM

      Well, it isn’t like the Nats are on the verge of competing (essentially, all of their games are meaningless within that context…but they are a great opportunity to get players some experience). I would think that winning particular games should take a back seat at this point to player development, even for the young guys already at the ML level.

  2. uuddlrlrbastart - May 25, 2011 at 6:24 PM

    I always wonder if these are the sorts of things that GMs have to say, since it’s so ridiculous. But this is fun, the Nats are 15th in OBP and 13th in slugging, but 11th in runs scored. So they’re actually playing over their heads, at least offensively.

  3. natstowngreg - May 25, 2011 at 8:54 PM

    OK, so the stats are basically the same. It’s just that failures with runners in scoring position are more obvious, so it appears that’s the problem.

    Bottom line: The Nats’ offense is lousy.

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