How to evaluate Martinez in 2023

Davey Martinez dugout red

Today is a continuation of evaluating Nationals front office and coaching personnel.

Tuesday was general manager and president of baseball operations Mike Rizzo. Today is manager Davey Martinez.

The easiest way to evaluate a manager’s performance is by the team’s record. In 2022, the Nats posted the worst record in the major leagues and the worst record in club history at 55-107.

The team understood what they were getting themselves into when they started this rebuilding process at the 2021 trade deadline. Expectations were not high for this season.

Were they expecting to be this bad? Probably not. But coming into the year, they probably were not also expecting to trade 24-year-old superstar Juan Soto and Josh Bell in perhaps the biggest deal in the sport’s history.

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Robles misses out on first Gold Glove Award

robles leaps @ CIN blue

When Rawlings announced the finalists for the annual Gold Glove Awards last week, a lot was made about Juan Soto’s inclusion in right field. His advanced metrics showed he was actually one of the worst defensive right fields in all of baseball this year.

Not a lot of attention was given to Victor Robles, however, since his inclusion in center field made more sense. Despite more struggles at the plate this year, the 25-year-old outfielder returned to a high level of defense in center.

But Robles was denied his first Gold Glove in his second time as a finalist for center field in the National League, losing to the Padres’ Trent Grisham last night.

Let’s compare the center fielders.

Robles’ 12 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) led all NL center fielders and ranked behind only the Royals’ Michael A. Taylor and the Guardians’ Myles Straw among all major league center fielders. He also had a 4.8 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), 1.8 arm rating, five outs above average, six runs above average and a 4.1 defensive rating, per FanGraphs. Robles recorded an NL-high seven outfield assists, while also having an NL-high six errors. In 971 ⅔ innings in center field, Robles had 340 putouts with a .983 fielding percentage.

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How to evaluate Rizzo in 2023

Mike Rizzo

The first couple of weeks of the offseason are usually for player evaluations from the season. (If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Mark Zuckerman’s player reviews from the past month.)

Evaluating coaches and front office personnel is harder to do. There are fewer numerical values we can attribute directly to the general manager and manager to determine how much success they had.

After the first full season of the Nationals’ rebuild, it might not be worth the time and effort evaluating Mike Rizzo and Davey Martinez as they try to revamp the organization from the ground up. Also, this past season wasn’t as important in what they accomplished as next season will be, especially considering they finished with the worst record in the majors.

Both Rizzo and Martinez had the options in their respective contracts selected for next year. Rizzo will return for his 14th season as the Nats GM, 10th as president of baseball operations. Martinez will return for his sixth season as the manager, the longest tenured skipper in Nats history (not including Frank Robinson’s time in Montreal).

Their futures with the organization beyond 2023 is to be determined. The questions surrounding the Nationals’ ownership situation, of course, will have a major impact on those decisions.

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Confusion about midseason trades and award season

Silver Slugger Awards generic

It’s award season in Major League Baseball as the World Series gets underway tonight. Some outlets and awards have announced their winners and finalists ahead of the Baseball Writers' Association of America announcing the finalists for their awards after the Fall Classic.

Last week, Rawlings announced the three finalists at each position in both leagues for the Gold Glove Awards. Yesterday, Louisville Slugger announced the finalists for the Silver Slugger Awards.

As it pertains to the Nationals, Victor Robles and Juan Soto are Gold Glove finalists, and Luke Voit, Josh Bell and Soto are Silver Slugger finalists. But for the Gold Gloves, Soto represents both the Nats and Padres, whereas for the Silver Sluggers, Voit represents just the Nats, and Bell and Soto represent just the Padres.

Confusing, right?

Also pertaining to the Nationals this year – and perhaps the next couple of years – is how these awards are credited to players who have been traded during the season, like Soto, Bell and Voit.

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Nats need to add more power next year

Nelson Cruz disappointed gray

It’s no surprise a team that traded its top two power bats at the deadline finished the season as one of the worst power-hitting squads in the major leagues.

When the Nationals traded Juan Soto and Josh Bell to the Padres for six players, including five prospects, they were giving up the majority of the power produced by their lineup.

They did get Luke Voit in return, the lone veteran in the trade package coming back to Washington, to help supplant some of that power and fill Bell’s position at first base. But his nine home runs and 21 RBIs with the Nats were not enough to lift his new club from the bottom of the power barrel.

But he couldn’t have been expected to do it all by himself. Nor could he have been expected to do it when coupled with CJ Abrams, the speedy contact hitter who didn’t homer and posted a .327 slugging percentage in 159 at-bats for the Nationals.

A lack of power was already an issue for the Nats before Voit and Abrams arrived in Washington, even when they had Soto and Bell. And in this day and age of baseball when we’ve seen more homers hit than ever before (not to mention when Nats pitchers gave up the most home runs in the big leagues), that’s not a great recipe for success.

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With new stadium naming partner in Rochester, will Nationals Park ever change?

Nationals Park exterior

Triple-A Rochester announced yesterday a new naming rights partner for their home stadium. Innovative Solutions, the leading provider of information technology services for growing businesses on Amazon Web Services, and Monroe County agreed to rename Frontier Field, “Innovative Field.”

The renaming coincides with the start of Rochester-based company’s 34th year in business in the Red Wings’ area.

The Red Wings have called Frontier Field, now Innovative Field, home since 1997, one of only six franchises in the history of North American pro sports to have been playing in the same city and league continuously since the 19th century.

With new naming rights in Rochester, it makes one wonder: Will Nationals Park ever bring in a naming rights partner?

Nationals Park has been named as such since it opened on South Capitol Street in 2008.

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Some skippers can't stay away from the game

Davey Martinez dugout red

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

Baseball lifers, obviously, have a hard time leaving the game for good. Even when they step away, sometimes seemingly for the last time, they find their way back.

On Friday, the Rangers announced the hiring of Bruce Bochy as the franchise’s 20th full-time manager before officially introducing him on Monday. Next year will be the future Hall of Famer’s 26th season as a major league skipper after spending 12 years in San Diego and 13 years in San Francisco, where he won three World Series championships with the Giants.

Bochy has been away from a major league dugout since 2019, when he managed the Giants to a 77-85 record in his final season. Three years later, he’s back in the Rangers dugout.

Over recent years, the trend in managerial hires has been picking younger, analytical-thinking coaches from the staffs of successful veteran managers. See Davey Martinez here in Washington. See Brandon Hyde in Baltimore. See Alex Cora in Boston.

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How Juan Soto is a Gold Glove Award finalist


The finalists for the Rawlings Gold Glove Awards were announced Thursday afternoon, and wouldn’t you know it, the Nationals had two representatives.

Well, 1 ½, you could say.

Victor Robles and Juan Soto (who is also representing the Padres) were named finalists in the National League in center field and right field, respectively. It is the second time they have been named finalists, with the former teammates both earning the honor in 2019 (Soto in left field).

Robles’ nomination makes sense. His 12 Defensive Runs Saved led all NL center fielders and he recorded an NL-high seven outfield assists. As discussed on Wednesday, he was by far the best defensive player on a Nats team that struggled in the field.

Soto, on the other hand, raises some eyebrows.

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Nats fans familiar with Harper's postseason heroics

Bryce Harper swing Nats white 2017 NLDS

Nationals fans are seeing something very familiar this October. It just might sting because it’s happening with a National League East rival.

Bryce Harper is once again putting on a show during the postseason. Only this time, he’s doing it with the Phillies in his first trip to the postseason with his new team since signing a then-record 13-year, $330 million deal before the 2019 season.

Finally healthy and with a strong supporting cast around him, Harper helped the Phillies reach their first postseason since 2011. He hit a go-ahead solo home run in Game 2 of the National League Wild Card Series against the Cardinals to seal a sweep over St. Louis and the first playoff series win of his career. He went 8-for-16 in the National League Division Series against the defending world champion Braves, including a home run apiece in Games 3 and 4 at Citizens Bank Park, to help the Phillies advance in four games to their first National League Championship Series since 2010.

Entering Tuesday at the start of NLCS and before the conclusion of the Guardians-Yankees American League Division Series, Harper led this postseason (among players who have played in at least four games) with a 1.437 OPS, .957 slugging percentage, .435 average, 10 hits, six extra-base hits and 22 total bases. He was also tied for first with three doubles and three home runs, second with six RBIs, tied for third with six runs scored, and fourth with a .480 on-base percentage.

Over the first two games in the NLCS against the Padres, he has gone 3-for-8 with a go-ahead home run in Game 1 and a multi-hit game with a double in Game 2. He has also scored a run in each game.

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How can Nats improve defensively in 2023?

CJ Abrams Luis Garcia gray celebrate

Davey Martinez knew what he was getting into during the 2022 season, his fifth as manager of the Nationals. In the first full year of the Nats’ rebuild, he wouldn’t have the most talented roster in the major leagues and they wouldn’t win a lot of games. But he at least expected his players to give their best efforts and make fundamental plays every night.

The effort was always there. The same cannot be said about the fundamentals.

It was a roster filled with inexperienced players and journeyman veterans during a season in which development was the focus. Still, it seemed like the Nationals too often had difficulty with even the most basic plays, especially on defense and on the basepaths. Common signs of a rebuilding team.

The Nationals finished the season with a -39 defensive rating and -47 defensive runs saved as a team, both second-worst in the majors per FanGraphs. However, they did fare slightly better in ultimate zone rating, another widely used defensive metric, at -8.8, which ranked 21st in the majors.

So how can the Nats improve defensively in 2023? Aside from the obvious solutions of practicing in spring training, making routine plays, acquiring better defenders to fill out the roster and perhaps even pitching better, they could benefit simply by players playing in their proper positions for the majority of the season.

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Looking back on a disappointing yet memorable Nats season


While speaking to reporters in New York a few days ago to wrap up the 2022 regular season, general manager Mike Rizzo said this year was a “disappointment” for the Nationals.

That should be a given after the Nats finished with the worst record in the major leagues at 55-107, setting a new club record for the most losses in a single season.

When we look back on the 2022 Nationals season, we probably won’t do so fondly. There was a lot of bad. But there was also some good. Put them both together and you get a memorable season for better or worse.

Looking at some of the final results, it is mostly bad. As bad as we’ve ever seen in Washington baseball.

At no point during the regular season did the Nationals reach the .500 mark. Their longest winning streak was only three games, which they accomplished five times. Their longest losing streak was nine games from July 7-16. They never swept a series and were swept 12 times. They were shut out 12 times and only shut out their opponents four times. They were walked off five times and only walked off twice, both not coming until September. And they by far had the worst run differential in the majors at -252.

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Is the expanded playoff bracket more beneficial for lower seeds?


Major League Baseball’s expanded postseason bracket takes center stage for the first time this October. Even without the Nationals involved for the third straight season, it should be an interesting month of playoff baseball.

Instead of two teams playing in each of the Wild Card Games that were used in nine of the last 10 seasons (the shortened 2020 season had eight teams each from the National and American leagues make the playoffs), there are now three wild card teams in each league to complete in the 12-team field.

The 12 teams are placed in a bracket similar to the National Football League’s old 12-team playoff field, with the top two seeds in each league receiving a first-round bye while the Wild Card Series are played. The difference being there is no reseeding after the first round.

Without reseeding in the Division Series, the matchups in the first round are the No. 3 seed hosting the No. 6 seed (winner to play the No. 2 seed) and the No. 4 seed hosting the No. 5 seed (winner to play the No. 1 seed). This is so the No. 3 seed, the third division winner, cannot match up with the No. 1 seed, the league’s best record, in the second round.

But is this format more beneficial for the lower seeds?

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Who will Nats fans root for this October?

juan soto josh padres

It’s always tough for a fan base to see their favorite team miss out on the postseason.

For Nationals fans, this is the third straight year without playoff baseball in the District since the team won its first World Series championship back in 2019.

With that being the case, an important question must be asked: Who will Nats fans root for this October?

It’s not a simple question to answer if you’re going to continue being a baseball fan over the next month. Do you root for whole teams or just individual players? Do you root for league or divisional pride, or for anything but that?

The 2022 Major League Baseball postseason is set. In the first year of the new expanded format, six teams each from the American League and National League qualified (three division winners and three wild cards), with the top two seeds earning a first-round bye as the Wild Card Series starts this weekend.

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While creating their own playoff atmosphere, Nats want to play spoiler

Davey Martinez dugout red

The Nationals were never really in contention for the postseason this year. They were officially eliminated from playoff contention earlier this month, sealing their third straight season without playing in October since the 2019 World Series championship.

But they have been able to play a role in the upcoming postseason by playing against teams still fighting for a division crown or wild card spot.

Twenty-five of the Nationals’ last 31 games to end the season would have come against playoff-hopeful teams by the end of the three-game series against the Mets that starts at Citi Field tonight. Of those 25 games, 19 are going to be against National League East rivals.

The Braves and Mets have been locked in a close battle for the NL East title and the No. 2 seed in the National League, which includes a bye of the Wild Card Series. The team that finishes in second will host the three-game Wild Card Series starting Friday.

The Mets just suffered a three-game sweep in Atlanta at the hands of the Braves, relinquishing their once 10 1/2-game lead in the division. The Braves now have a two-game lead in the NL East and a magic number of one to clinch the division crown for the fifth straight year. That means any combination of a Braves win or a Nationals win this week would ensure a wild card spot for the Mets, who are still looking for their first division championship since 2015.

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Corbin ends season in rare company as Nats lose finale to Phillies (updated)

patrick corbin red

Patrick Corbin’s 2022 season came to a close this afternoon. It was another one with less-than-satisfactory results for the presumptive “ace” of this Nationals staff.

The day started with some confusion and uncertainty. With this game meaning a lot to the Phillies, who entered with a 1/2 game lead over the Brewers for the final National League wild card spot, and bad weather forecasted for most of the day, there was concern that we could be in for a long day at the ballpark.

The Nationals, Phillies and Major League Baseball discussed this morning all possible scenarios, including the idea of starting the game either an hour or 30 minutes earlier than the scheduled 1:35 p.m. start time.

But the weather cleared up enough for Corbin’s first pitch to be thrown as planned. The next question was if they could finish without any delays. They could not, with a rain delay that lasted one hour and 28 minutes before the final result of an 8-1 loss for the Nationals in six innings in front of an announced crowd of 32,789 on a cold and rainy afternoon on South Capitol Street.

“There was like a chance, I think, of a 12:30 p.m. start and then they said we're on time," Corbin said after the game. "It is what it is. Nothing you can really do about it. They tell you the game is going, and you go out there and try to do your best.”

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Nats and Phillies trying to start and finish series finale on time

nationals rain

The Nationals, Phillies and Major League Baseball had multiple meetings this morning to discuss the situation and forecast surrounding today’s series finale.

This game is important to the Phillies, who currently own a one-game lead over the Brewers for the final National League wild card. The Brewers are wrapping up a home series against the Marlins today before welcoming the Diamondbacks for three games. The Phillies head to Houston to play the Astros for three games after finishing here, whenever that is.

With rain forecasted all day, there was talk of possibly moving the start time of this game up to 12:30 p.m. and then 1:05 p.m. from the scheduled 1:35 p.m. start, hoping to find a window to play in before the weather gets worse.

There was a light rain at Nationals Park earlier this morning that they could have played through. But then steady rain and strong winds made conditions unplayable on South Capitol Street for a while.

The tarp is being rolled up and players are starting to loosen up in the outfield, so it looks like they are going to try to start on time. Davey Martinez did not speak with the media before the game as he was still in discussions with the Phillies and the league office.

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Game 159 lineups: Nats vs. Phillies

patrick corbin blue

The Nationals and Phillies have been able to play three games so far this weekend. They have one more scheduled today to wrap up this four-game series and the home portion of the 2022 regular season at Nats Park.

The forecast isn’t great for today, but it looks like it’s mostly light rain this afternoon, which they might be able to play through. If not, we could either be here for a long time or back on Thursday if the National League wild card isn’t settled. 

Patrick Corbin makes his last start of the season today and fourth against the Phillies, who have been really good against him. The left-hander is 0-3 with a 10.97 ERA, 2.625 WHIP and six home runs allowed in 10 ⅓ innings against the Phils.

Zack Wheeler makes his second start against the Nationals this year. He held them to one run over seven innings in a win at Nats Park on June 16. He’s 9-14 with a 4.44 ERA in 27 career starts against the Nats.

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 The Fan,
Weather: Rain, 57 degrees, wind 13 mph in from left-center field 

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Nats and Phillies postponed again, doubleheader rescheduled for Saturday


We have to give them credit for trying, but the Nationals and Phillies will not be able to play tonight’s doubleheader nightcap.

The remnants of Hurricane Ian are moving into our area, so tonight’s game has been rescheduled to 7:05 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, Oct. 1. All tickets for tonight’s 7:05 p.m. game will now be honored for tomorrow night’s game.

Tomorrow’s originally scheduled 1:05 p.m. game is still scheduled to be played at that time. But the Nats’ press release announcing the latest schedule change did include the phrase “at this time,” implying that game could be in jeopardy as well. 

This now means the two teams will, in fact, try to play a doubleheader on Saturday as was originally scheduled before the second game was moved to this afternoon, a game the Phillies won 5-1. The original doubleheader was scheduled for tomorrow to make up one of the two games lost between these teams when the first week of the regular season was canceled due to the offseason lockout.

For now, the Nats are planning on starting Aníbal Sánchez in Game 1 tomorrow and Tommy Romero in Game 2.

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Game 157 lineups: Nats vs. Phillies

Luke Voit swing cherry blossom

One down, three to go. Hopefully, this is the last time this season the Nationals will play a doubleheader as they try to get tonight’s nightcap in before the remnants of Hurricane Ian hit our area. Unfortunately, the forecast doesn’t look good, even though I’m furiously knocking on wood.

The Nationals have been dreadful against National League East opponents, which may play into the Phillies’ advantage this weekend. The Nats are now 2-14 against the Phils this season after this afternoon’s 5-1 loss. The Phillies are clinging onto a one-game lead over the Brewers for the National League’s final wild card spot.

If we are able to play baseball tonight, Tommy Romero will make his Nationals debut after being claimed off waivers from the Rays on Aug. 25. He was brought up as the Nats’ 29th man for the doubleheader, and although technically available for both games, is scheduled to start the nightcap. The 25-year-old right-hander went 1-0 with a 7.71 ERA and 1.714 WHIP in 4 ⅔ innings over three appearances (one start) with the Rays. He posted a 2.33 ERA and 1.138 WHIP in six games (two starts) with Triple-A Rochester.

Noah Syndergaard will make his 10th appearance, ninth start, for the Phillies tonight. Since arriving in a trade with the Angels, the right-hander is 4-2 with a 4.59 ERA and 1.388 WHIP over 49 innings. His last outing was just his second relief appearance of his career (and first since 2016) as he pitched two scoreless innings against the Blue Jays.

Syndergaard has struggled against the Nats in his two starts against them this year, giving up 11 hits and four runs in five innings on Aug. 4 and eight hits and three runs in six innings on Sept. 9. Both of those games were at Citizens Bank Park and the Phillies won each. 

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Prospects at instructional league visited Nats in Miami


As the major league regular season enters its last week, the lower level of the minor leagues have already wrapped up their 2022 campaigns.

In the Nationals system, only Triple-A Rochester is still playing games with their season finale coming tomorrow afternoon. Double-A Harrisburg, High-A Wilmington, Single-A Fredericksburg and the Rookie-level Florida Complex League are done playing games and now see some of their top players come together for the instructional league camp at the Nationals’ facility in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Robert Hassell III, Elijah Green, James Wood, Jarlin Susana and Jackson Rutledge are among some of the top prospects taking part in instructs. A lot of the future faces of this franchise are all together for their first camp since many of them came to the franchise via this summer’s draft and trade deadline moves.

Just an hour away in West Palm, the group of players made a trip down to visit the Nationals over the weekend in Miami. General manager Mike Rizzo, director of player development De Jon Watson and manager Davey Martinez were among some of the heads in the organization to address the young players.

“Yeah, I spoke to them all and I talked to them for a little while,” Martinez said. “It was good to actually get in front of them and see some of those guys. Some of the guys I've seen before but congratulate them for being there. I mean, when you get to instructional league, it's kind of like the guys are handpicked to be there and get some more instruction. And I told them to keep working hard and kind of be the cream of the crop, really. And keep working. I mean, the door's wide open right now for you guys and we're looking at players and keep pushing. Be the best and keep putting up the numbers and have fun.”

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