Tag Archives: Ryan Zimmerman

NL East Division position comparison: first base

The race in the National League East Division should be one of the more compelling during the 2020 Major League Baseball season.

The division has been won by the Atlanta Braves during each of the past two years. The defending World Series champion Washington Nationals also play here. Both the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies are legitimate contenders. And though the Miami Marlins are likely to again bring up the rear, they are an improving ball club with plenty of young talent percolating in their minor league system.

Over the next two weeks, I will be examining the rosters of each team and breaking them down with a position-by-position comparison and ranking. One position each day will be covered, beginning today with the division’s first basemen.

For positions players, I’ll continue working around the infield, then behind the plate, and finally to the outfield. Once the eight starting positions have been covered, I’ll do one piece on each starting pitching rotation as a whole. That will be followed by separate pieces on each bench and bullpen, and finally on the managers.

If it appears as though any particular position is unsettled or that a team may use a platoon situation, any potential starting players will be covered.

Once that process is complete you should have a good picture of where the Phillies, or whichever club is your personal favorite, stands entering spring training.

NL EAST – 2020 FIRST BASE RANKINGS

1) Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves: Freeman plays at age 30 for the entire 2020 campaign. He has been an All-Star in each of the last two seasons, and won a Gold Glove in 2018 and a Silver Slugger in 2019. Freeman slashed .295/.389/.549 a year ago with 38 home runs, 34 doubles, 121 RBIs, and 113 runs scored in what was his 10th big-league campaign. Signed through the 2021 season and due to make $22 million in each of the next two years, it will be interesting to see if the Braves look to extend him beyond that point before their team leader enters the final year of that deal.

2) Pete Alonso, New York Mets: Alonso was the near-unanimous winner of the 2019 National League Rookie of the Year Award. He turned 25 years of age in early December and so will play at that age for the entire 2020 season. Alonso slashed .260/.358/.583 with 53 home runs, 30 doubles, 120 RBIs, and 103 runs scored in his ROY campaign. Even if he can repeat or approximate those big offensive numbers, he cannot hold a candle to Freeman defensively. But at this stage, Alonso clearly has to be considered the number two first baseman in the division.

3) Rhys Hoskins, Philadelphia Phillies: Hoskins was one of the most disappointing players in the entire division a year ago. His inconsistent offensive performances in 2019 were a frequently overlooked piece to the overall disappointing Phillies puzzle. Hoskins will turn 27-years-old on St. Patrick’s Day and play at that age for the entire 2020 season. He slashed .226/.364/.454 with 29 homers, 33 doubles, 85 RBIs, and 86 runs scored in what was his second full MLB season. The Phillies made the right move in bringing him back in from left field to play first base. Though he’ll never win a Gold Glove, he is really not a poor defender at the position. Perhaps no player has more to prove in the division and can be more of a difference-maker should he reach his true potential.

4)Eric Thames, Washington Nationals: First base is one position that could prove a weakness for the defending world champions. The plan at the moment is to go with the 33-year-old veteran Thames, who signed with the Nats as a free agent earlier this month. He slashed .247/.346/.505 with 25 homers, 23 doubles, 61 RBIs, and 67 runs scored last season with the Milwaukee Brewers. A lefty bat who fields right-handed, Thames is likely to cede at least a few games at the position to 36-year-old Howie Kendrick, the utility man who was MVP of the 2019 NLCS. There is also still the possibility that 35-year-old franchise icon Ryan Zimmerman, currently an available free agent, could return to the club.

5) Jesus Aguilar, Miami Marlins: The six-year big-league veteran was selected off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays in early December and will go to arbitration next month on a one-year deal with the Fish. Aguilar appeared to have enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2018 when he blasted 38 home runs for a Milwaukee Brewers team that won the NL Central Division and nearly advanced to the World Series. But a year ago, Aguilar regressed to slash just .236/.325/.389 with 12 homers, 50 RBIs, and 39 runs scored split between the Brewers and Rays. He is not a shoo-in to keep the position, as 29-year-old Garrett Cooper is still here and slugging prospect Lewin Diaz could push his way to Miami during the season.

 

MORE RECENT PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES CONTENT:

 

Nationals still hanging around in the NL East race as June arrives

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Too early to count the Nationals out of the 2019 NL East race

The Philadelphia Phillies (37-28) are coming off a successful week in which they took two of three games from both the Padres in San Diego and the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park.

That allowed the Phillies to remain alone on top of the standings in the National League East Division for another week. They have led the division for all but seven days thus far over the first 11 weeks of the 2019 regular season.
Each of the top four clubs in the division have now played 65 games, and we are now just a little more than two weeks away from the season’s halfway mark. The Atlanta Braves sit just one game out, with the New York Mets at five back, and the Washington Nationals seven behind.
It was yet another tough week for the Phillies on the injury front. It was announced at the start of last week that left fielder Andrew McCutchen would miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. He will have surgery as soon as the swelling goes down, and should be ready for spring training next year.
Also, right-hander Seranthony Dominguez came down with elbow trouble that could require Tommy John surgery, knocking him out for the year as well. He becomes the eighth key Phillies reliever on the Injured List.
As always, my NL East Beat report reveals how each of those Phillies divisional rivals fared over the course of the past week: games scores, pivotal performers, key injuries, and other important updates on each team are included.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST DIVISION STANDINGS

EAST DIVISION

    <th aria-label="Win-Loss %" class=" poptip hide_non_quals center" data-filter="1" data-name="Win-Loss %" data-stat="win_loss_perc" data-tip="Win-Loss Percentage
    W / (W + L)
    For players, leaders need one decision for every ten team games.
    For managers, minimum to qualify for leading is 320 games.” scope=”col” style=”background-color: #dadcde; border-color: rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(170, 170, 170); border-image: initial; border-style: solid; border-width: 1px; float: none !important; margin: 0px; opacity: initial; padding: 0px 12.375px; text-align: center;”>W-L%

    <th aria-label="Games Back" class=" poptip sort_default_asc center" data-stat="games_back" data-tip="Games Back of Division/League Leader
    Computed as games over .500 of leader (W-L) minus games over .500 of team divided by two.
    Typically computed at the end of play for a particular day.
    Blank for 1st game of DH.” scope=”col” style=”background-color: #dadcde; border-color: rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(170, 170, 170); border-image: initial; border-style: solid; border-width: 1px; float: none !important; margin: 0px; opacity: initial; padding: 0px 12.375px; text-align: center;”>GB

    East Division
    Team W L
    Philadelphia Phillies 37 28 .569
    Atlanta Braves 36 29 .554 1.0
    New York Mets 32 33 .492 5.0
    Washington Nationals 30 35 .462 7.0
    Miami Marlins 23 40 .365 13.0

    ATLANTA BRAVES (4 – 2)

    Summary: Atlanta dropped their first two games last week at Pittsburgh before storming back to take four in a row. That included the series finale with those Pirates and then a weekend sweep of the Miami Marlins.
    Since falling four games behind the Phillies almost exactly one month ago, the Braves have fought back and continue to pressure the front-runners. The Braves have been lurking within two games of the lead for the entire month of June.
    Key injuries: Center fielder Ender Inciarte remains out with a lumbar strain and is reported to be weeks away from resuming baseball activities. Reliever Darren O’Day has a right forearm strain. He is throwing, but not off a mound, and is at least weeks away.
    Upcoming: The Braves will enjoy home cooking during a 10-game home stand that begins on Monday night. The Pittsburgh Pirates are in Atlanta for a four-game series, followed in by the Phillies for a big series this coming weekend. The home stand ends with three against another division rival, the New York Mets, to open next week.

    MIAMI MARLINS (2 – 4)

    Summary: The Marlins opened last week with two straight wins in Milwaukee. That gave Miami victories in four straight, seven of nine, and 13 of their previous 18 games. However, the club reverted to losing form by dropping the final four of the week, including a sweep in Atlanta.
    Key injuries: One of baseball’s healthiest teams over the first two months has begun to finally load up the Injured List. Their top starting pitcher, Caleb Smith, went on with left hip inflammation this past week. He joins their most successful hitter, first baseman Neil Walker, six others (mostly fringe players) on the IL.
    Upcoming: The Fish are continuing a home stand this week. The will host the Saint Louis Cardinals before an off-day on Thursday, and then welcome in the Pittsburgh Pirates to South Florida over the weekend.

    NEW YORK METS (4 – 2)

    Summary: The Mets kept pace in the division last week by taking two of three from both the San Francisco Giants and Colorado Rockies. They have now won four of their last five games, outscoring the opposition by a 26-12 cumulative margin.
    Key injuries: Robinson Cano continues to be a huge trade bust. He remains on the IL with quad tightness, and has been largely ineffective when available. Outfielder Brandon Nimmo could return soon, on an advanced rehab assignment after suffering whiplash and a bulging cervical disc. None of the other five players on the IL are due back any time soon.
    Upcoming: It will be an Interleague ‘Subway Series’ to open the week, as the Mets travel for two games at Yankee Stadium. Following a rare Wednesday off-day, the Saint Louis Cardinals come to Citi Field for a four-game long weekend set.

    WASHINGTON NATIONALS (4 – 2)

    Summary: After a horrendous start to their season, the Washington Nationals have begun to right their ship. The Nats swept a two-game series at home against the AL’s Chicago White Sox to open last week, then split a four-gamer with the Padres out in San Diego.
    Key injuries: Their 5th starter, Jeremy Hellickson, has been shut down from throwing after suffering a right shoulder strain. First baseman Ryan Zimmerman remains out battling plantar fasciitis. He is with the team on their current road trip, hitting and fielding grounders. His activation will be based on when he can run again.
    Upcoming: For the second straight week the Nationals will open with a pair of Interleague games against the Chicago White Sox, this time around out in the Windy City. Following an off-day on Wednesday they return home a huge 11-game home stand that could either get them back in the race or bury them. It starts with a four-game long weekend set against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Then next week they welcome in the Phillies for four and the Braves for three games.

    Nationals may finally be starting to heat up as June arrives in NL East

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    It was a good week for Max Scherzer and the Nationals

    This past week of action in Major League Baseball saw us pass Memorial Day and moved into the month of June. While the Philadelphia Phillies (33-26) remain in first place in the National League East Division standings, their lead has grown more tenuous.

    Over this past weekend, I released my first MLB Power Rankings of the 2019 season. Fans of the team might be surprised to find that the Phillies ranked just 15th, exactly in the middle among the 30 teams.
    This wasn’t an effort to be overly critical, provocative, or sensationalist. My Power Rankings are not at all based on my feelings. They are a statistics-based evaluation of where each team stands when factoring in offense, defense, and pitching factors, as well as their win-loss records.
    The Phillies have remained atop their division largely because the other four teams haven’t done much to distinguish themselves this season. My rankings found the Braves as the top statistical team in the division, finishing four places above the Phillies at 12th overall in MLB. Meanwhile, the Mets, Marlins, and Nationals all ranked 22-23-24 in that order.
    That the Phillies only turn out to rank as a middle-of-the-pack ball club should be cause for concern at this point. The team has major holes to fill in the starting rotation and on the bench, and has to find some way to overcome the plethora of injuries which have steadily eroded their bullpen depth.
    And now, thanks to the arrest of their starting center fielder of the last five years on domestic assault charges, an incident that almost certainly has spelled the end of Odubel Herrera‘s time in Philly, the club powers-that-be have a hole in their starting lineup as well.
    Currently in the midst of a four-game losing streak that is their longest of the season, the Phillies are now in San Diego for three games to end a 23-game stretch of the schedule that may be their toughest of the entire year. They are now 10-10 in that hard-fought month, which on balance is nothing of which to be ashamed.
    The Phillies are a first-place baseball team. They have been perched atop the divisional standings for all but seven days in this 2019 regular season. But there remains a long summer ahead. Four months of grueling play. If they don’t address the holes, they will not remain on top for very long.
    As always, my NL East Beat report reveals how each of those Phillies divisional rivals fared over the course of the past week: games scores, pivotal performers, key injuries, and other important updates on each team are included.

    NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST DIVISION STANDINGS

    EAST DIVISION

      <th aria-label="Win-Loss %" class=" poptip hide_non_quals center" data-filter="1" data-name="Win-Loss %" data-stat="win_loss_perc" data-tip="Win-Loss Percentage
      W / (W + L)
      For players, leaders need one decision for every ten team games.
      For managers, minimum to qualify for leading is 320 games.” scope=”col” style=”background-color: #dadcde; border-color: rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(170, 170, 170); border-image: initial; border-style: solid; border-width: 1px; float: none !important; margin: 0px; opacity: initial; padding: 0px 12.375px; text-align: center;”>W-L%

      <th aria-label="Games Back" class=" poptip sort_default_asc center" data-stat="games_back" data-tip="Games Back of Division/League Leader
      Computed as games over .500 of leader (W-L) minus games over .500 of team divided by two.
      Typically computed at the end of play for a particular day.
      Blank for 1st game of DH.” scope=”col” style=”background-color: #dadcde; border-color: rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(170, 170, 170); border-image: initial; border-style: solid; border-width: 1px; float: none !important; margin: 0px; opacity: initial; padding: 0px 12.375px; text-align: center;”>GB

      East Division
      Team W L
      Philadelphia Phillies 33 27 .550
      Atlanta Braves 32 27 .542 0.5
      New York Mets 28 31 .475 4.5
      Washington Nationals 26 33 .441 6.5
      Miami Marlins 21 36 .368 10.5

      ATLANTA BRAVES (2 – 3)

      Summary: The defending NL East champions had a losing week and still picked up a half-game in the standings on the Phillies, moving within one game of the division lead.
      They dropped the first three games of the week, two to the Mets and their series opener with the Detroit Tigers. Their offense then awoke to put 17 runs up on the scoreboard, allowing them to beat down the Tigers and win the final two games.
      Key injuries: Center fielder Ender Inciarte has a lumbar strain and is said to be weeks away from resuming baseball activity. Righty reliever Darren O’Day has missed two months with a forearm strain for two months and has not yet begun throwing.
      Upcoming: Following an off-day on Monday, Atlanta goes on the road this week. They will travel to face the host Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park for three games, and then down to Marlins Park for three over the weekend in Miami.

      MIAMI MARLINS (5 – 2)

      Summary: While the Fish are still in last place, they have played much better baseball of late. They have won 11 of their last 16 games, and now have three American League teams with a worse record than theirs.
      The Marlins took the finale of a four-game wrap-around series with the Washington Nationals on Monday after dropping the previous three last weekend. Then they captured two of three games against both the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants to fashion the NL East’s top record over the week.
      Key injuries: First baseman Neil Walker, who had been the club’s most consistent hitter over the first two months, hit the IL with a right quad strain. He is out for an undetermined length. Righty reliever Drew Steckinrider remains out with a flexor strain in his right forearm and hopes to return at some point after the all-star break.
      Upcoming: Miami is off on Monday, then travels to Milwaukee for a three-game set with the Brewers. After that, the Marlins return home to start a nine-game homestand, beginning with a visit from the Braves over the coming weekend.

      NEW YORK METS (2 – 5)

      Summary: The Mets suffered through an unsuccessful week out west, dropping three of four to the Los Angeles Dodgers and then two of three to the Arizona Diamondbacks. In each series, one of their losses came via walk-off fashion.
      Key injuries: Second baseman Robinson Cano missed the entirety of last week with a left quad strain. He is expected back in action this week. Super-utility man and Phillies-killer Jeff McNeil was lost to a hamstring strain and is likely to be out for this week, though he could return on the weekend. Infielder Jed Lowrie has a sprained left knee capsule and Grade 1 hamstring strain and has been moved to the 60-day IL. Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes will miss the rest of the season following right ankle surgery.
      Upcoming: Following a Monday off-day in the schedule the Mets will be home all week at CitiField, hosting the San Francisco Giants and then Colorado Rockies for three games each. It will the the start of 12 straight games in the Big Apple, with the only two “road” tilts coming at Yankee Stadium next week.

      WASHINGTON NATIONALS (4 – 2)

      Summary: The Nationals have appeared to be a sleeping giant, battling numerous key injuries while they got off to perhaps baseball’s most disappointing start to the season. However, the Nats have now won seven of their last nine, and could possibly be righting their ship.
      After dropping last Monday’s tilt to Miami at home, Washington traveled down to Atlanta and back up to Cincinnati. They swept the Braves in two games, then captured two of three in Cincy over the weekend. Now seven games behind the Phillies, it is the closest they have been to the top of the division since May 18.
      Key injuries: First baseman Ryan Zimmerman remains out as he battles plantar fasciitis with no exact timetable for a return. Their 5th starter, Jeremy Hellickson, is out indefinitely with a shoulder strain. The bullpen also remains dinged depth-wise with righties Trevor RosenthalKoda Glover, and Justin Miller all on the IL.
      Upcoming: The Nationals have Monday off and then host the Chicago White Sox for a pair of Interleague games. Washington then heads out on the road for a week. They start it by following the Phillies in to San Diego, where they will take on the Padres in a four-game long weekend series.

      Nationals can prove nothing today – they must win two straight

      Dusty Baker’s Nationals need two wins (photo: Chicago Tribune)

      The Washington Nationals are on the brink of postseason elimination. Stop me if you’ve heard this story before.

      This year’s version of the Nats will take the field on Wednesday afternoon at Wrigley Field in Chicago trailing the host Cubs by 2-1 in a best-of-five NLDS.

      Whether they are willing to admit it or not, the Nationals will face another opponent today as well. That opponent lives inside their own heads and hearts.

      This 2017 MLB postseason marks the fourth time in the last six years that Washington has participated in the National League Division Series. They have been eliminated in each of the previous three opportunities.

      Winning today will not take the pressure off the Nats. Forcing a Game Five back at Nationals Park on Friday would not prove a thing. For the Nationals to show that this year’s team is different from those previous playoff clubs, they must win two straight.

      At the start of this series against the defending World Series champions, Nationals manager Dusty Baker was quoted by Todd Dybas for The Washington Times on prior October failures.

      “I don’t think about what you haven’t done. You think about what you can control, which is the power of now. We’re in it now. I’ve been through a number of these where there a lot of unlikely heroes. Guys that should be heroes aren’t and guys you don’t count on being heroes are. It’s hero time. Guys are born and made during this time.”

      Baker has indeed “been through it”, as both a player and manager. This is his second year with the Nats, so the second time he has taken them this far. He skippered the Cincinnati Reds to the playoffs twice, the Cubs once, and the San Francisco Giants three times, including a tough seven-game loss in the 2002 World Series.

      In last year’s NLDS, his Nationals team held a 2-1 lead on the Los Angeles Dodgers. In Game Four, the Dodgers tied things up with a 6-5 victory. The unlikely Joe Blanton entered to strike out Anthony Rendon with runners on 1st and 3rd and two outs after the Nats had rallied to tie at 5-5.

      Then in the decisive Game Five, it was another 2008 Phillies World Series player who became the unlikely hero. This time it was Carlos Ruiz, whose pinch-hit RBI single put LA on top 2-1 in the top of the 7th inning. The Dodgers went on to a 4-3 victory, eliminating the Nationals.

      This year, down 1-0 in games to the Cubs and facing a 3-1 deficit in Game Two with one out in the bottom of the 8th inning, Baker witnessed that “hero time” that he had been calling for at the start. It came in the form of lightening bolts from two more likely sources.

      First, Bryce Harper delivered a mammoth game-tying two-run homer. Three batters later, Ryan Zimmerman crushed a go-ahead three-run home run to center field. Four outs from a 2-0 series deficit, the Nationals had their heroes, and had tied the series.

      Unfortunately, those offensive heroics did not carry over to Game Three. Washington was held to just three hits by Jose Quintana and three Chicago relievers, eking out a 2-1 victory on Anthony Rizzo’s two-out RBI single in the bottom of the 8th inning.

      The Cubs have not blown out the Nationals. What their pitching has done, aside from a four batter sequence in that Game Two 8th inning, is completely shut down the Washington lineup.

      Trying to stay alive in Game Four, the Nationals will have to find a way to score against Cubs ace Jake Arrieta and a talented Cubs bullpen now rested thanks to Tuesday’s rainout. Baker will send Stephen Strasburg out to start, trying to keep his team’s season alive.

      Strasburg was reported to be ill and unavailable had the game been played as originally scheduled. The one-day delay was apparently enough for him to recover sufficiently to at least give it the old college try for as long as he can remain effective, and then turn it over to the pen.

      The franchise has played in Washington as the Nationals since 2005. Prior to that, there were 36 seasons as the Montreal Expos. In all that time north of the border, there was just one playoff series, a 3-2 loss to the Dodgers in the 1982 NLCS.

      The Nationals still have the talent and firepower to win back-to-back games from the Cubs and capture this series. Now, that is exactly what they must do. Win two straight, or as with all four previous postseason teams over the franchise’ 48 previous years, they will fail to win a playoff series, and will go home disappointed.

      Anthony Rendon deserves NL All-Star ‘Final Vote’

      Nat’s Anthony Rendon deserves NL All-Star Final Vote 
      The Washington Nationals have led the National League East Division for all but three days this season. 
      To the victors traditionally go the spoils, and one of those spoils is that a number of Nationals players have been selected for the NL All-Star team.
      In fan voting, three Washington stars have already been selected. Outfielder Bryce Harper will start in the NL outfield. The 24-year old superstar finished with over 3.6 million votes, more than any other player in Major League Baseball.
      Second baseman Daniel Murphy will be appearing in his second consecutive All-Star Game. It will be the third career all-star honors for last year’s NL MVP runner-up.
      First baseman Ryan Zimmerman is enjoying the best season of his 13-year big league career. He was voted to his second All-Star team. His only previous honor came way back in the 2009.
      The Nationals also had two pitchers named to the NL roster, starters Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.
      Even with that fine representation, there is still one more member of the Nationals lineup also deserving of the honor, third baseman Anthony Rendon.
      Rendon has been named as one of five candidates for what MLB promotes as a “Final Vote” process. Fans can go online and vote for their choice until Thursday, July 6 at 4:00pm EDT.

      A DEVELOPING SUPERSTAR

      Rendon turned 27-years old last month, and is enjoying the best season of his now five-year big league career.
      The sixth overall pick by the Nationals in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft, Rendon is hitting for a .297/398/.549 slash line through the Fourth of July. He also has 16 home runs, 51 RBI, 43 runs scored, and 36 extra-base hits.
      Who would be the choice of the club’s hitting coach, former big leaguer Rick Schu, to step to the plate for the team in the biggest moment? As quoted by Eddie Matz at ESPN, that would be Rendon.
      “He’s my guy. If the World Series is on the line and you need a knock and somebody to grind out an AB, he’s my guy.”
      The other four players on the NL Final Vote ballot are Justin BourKris BryantMark Reynolds, and Justin Turner. When considering Rendon’s defensive excellence and offensive production, he is clearly the most deserving of all the candidates.
      Go to the ballot today, and cast your vote for Rendon to join his Washington Nationals teammates on the National League All-Star roster. The 2017 MLB All-Star Game will take place next Tuesday, July 11 in Miami, Florida.