Wooden's World of Baseball

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Will The Real Potomac Nationals Please Stand Up?

As we edge towards the quarter-pole, we're starting to see whether the Potomac Nationals that began the season 7-3 will be back, or if the ones that got swept by last-place Wilmington this weekend are the "real" Potomac Nationals. One thing's for sure, this team has to start fielding consistently. The Carolina League doesn't keep team fielding statistics, but to my eye I'm seeing a team that's probably leading the league in both double plays and errors.

That doesn't make sense of course, but that's my perception based on the fourteen games I've seen them play. The good news is that until this past series, the team can absolutely flat-out hit, and they're still leading the CL in both OBP, SLG and AVG (2nd in runs scored). This is something you should expect with five regulars that are 24 or older.

On the flip side, the starting pitching is young: Martis (20), Everts and Lannan (22), Stammen and Martinez (23) while the relievers are all 24 or older except for 23-year-old Adam Carr. Except for Lannan and Morales, the pitching has been poor (though the aforementioned fielding has not helped). Everts can't be excluded from that group, either, despite his 3.43 ERA because a total of 13 runs and 31 baserunners in 21 IP can hardly be considered otherwise.

As posted elsewhere, the marked improvement with Ian Desmond is a joy to see. He's consistently taking the first pitch and he's raised his OPS from .696 to .800 while taking more walks and striking out less. Yes, he has 7 errors, but almost all of them have been mental miscues, the kind where he's thinking about the next play before completing the current one. He's almost made some outstanding throws and seems particularly adept at making the charge on a slow grounder. It's at times like this you need to remember he's 21 years old and won't turn 22 until mid-September.

I also strongly suspect that things will normalize just as soon as the weather does. Last night, the "real feel" temperature was probably below 50 degrees and I have yet to order a soda instead of a hot chocolate. The hitters will cool off a bit, but the pitchers and fielders will get more loose, too. Which is fine by me, because I'd much rather see a 5-3 game with 2-3 errors between the two teams than an 11-6 game with 5 errors like this past Thursday.


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