1st Annual Poulas League Predictions!
Washington Nationals @ Kansas City Monarchs
- Wild Card Series Preview
June 12, 2006
Washington Times Staff
On Sunday, the Washington Nationals
will visit Municipal Stadium, home of the most feared team in the Union
League. There they will face off against the Kansas City Monarchs
in a first round battle for the LWCS.
In what will come as a surprise to
the casual observer, our beloved Nationals have a surprisingly good
chance to advance to the next round of the playoffs. On the
surface Lou Poulas' squad is clearly outmatched - scoring only a few
more runs than the Monarchs, but yielding an astounding 150 more.
The Monarchs front line rotation of Pedro Martinez, Mordecai Brown, Bob
Gibson, and Martin Dihigo is arguably the best in baseball and will not
easily be scored upon. On the other side of the equation however,
the Monarchs have to deal with highest scoring team in the Union League
- a team that mashed 276 HR's and slugged .472, both figures are tops in
all of baseball.
Interesting to note is that the two
teams have virtually an identical record over the past month, both of
which are among the best in the entire DMB organization. After a
slow team start where the Nationals struggled against all opponents,
they have recently won 3 of 5 from the Monarchs since mid-August and
outscored them 35-23 during that time.
As you can see, the only clear
advantage the Monarchs is when their pitchers come to the plate.
Everywhere else the Nationals either have an edge or at least remain
#1: The slow footed George
Davis gets the nod over Monarch centerfielder Sam Jethroe.
Jethroe's .331 OBP is not idea for a lead-off hitter, but in his favor
he does has 30+ stolen bases although the success rate could stand to be
higher. The shortstop Davis gets on base and has some power.
He's not fast, but the Nationals try not to run as a team concept.
#2: It sounds strange to say,
but Charlie Gehringer has been about as valuable as Mel Ott this year.
Ott is in the midst of a down year batting only .231 with a .434
slugging percentage. Gehringer on the other hand is hitting well
above what a typical second-sacker would do and his raw stats match up
against Ott's quite nicely. Edge: Equal
#3: New drafty Lip Pike has
quietly emerged as a very solid hitting outfielder. While hitting
only 12 home runs, he does have gap power as evidenced by his 35 doubles
and 11 triples - figures that give him the 6th best slugging among
qualified center fielders. Martin Dihigo is an awesome second
basemen who has underperformed since coming over the the Monarchs.
Still, he is a good hitting infielder but not quite as sound as Pike.
#4: Charlie Keller is a masher
who hit 40+ homers out the park this year. Opposite him is the
high average, lower power slick fielding first basement Bill Terry.
Terry is an asset, but the lack of pop hurts him significantly while
matched up head to head with "King Kong". Edge:
#5: Now is a good time to talk
about the Lou Gehrig trade. While realizing that Norm Cash and Gil
Hodges could never equal the output of of the Iron Horse, it is time we
recognize how good these two have been for the Nationals. Their
combined line: .352 OBP, .566 SLG, 49 HR, 122 RBI.
Among qualifying first basemen they have the following DMB
1st - HR
2nd - SLG
2nd - RBI
2nd - OPS
2nd - Runs Created
As good as this is, the KC #5 batter
has just about equaled this productivity. While not hitting as
many home runs, Reuben Jones and his .337 OBP and .585 SLG combine for a
powerful hitter that bears careful consideration when runners are on
base. Edge: Equal
#6: The Nationals catcher, Cal
McVey, and the Monarchs shortstop, Pelayo Chacon, come up next.
Both are low on-base, high batting average type hitters and each are
clearly well above the peers in their respective positions. Chacon
runs a ton, but that is not a good thing when your success rate is just
66%. We'll call this one a toss up. Edge: Equal
#7: Ron Santo (3B) vs. the
Monarch platoon of Deacon White and Buck Ewing. This one isn't
much of a contest as the Monarch teammates combined to slug just .378,
well below what Santo's has been able to do(.458). Santo also has
a higher on base percentage and almost three times as many home runs.
#8: The platoon of Stan Hack
and Silvio Garcia has been a nice surprise. Their combined on-base
percentage is a very high .378 and we can't help wonder if they would be
a better option out of the #2 slot. Ed Stone of the Nationals has
been a huge disappointment this season, and his poor play has forced a
platoon situation with Wally Berger. Still, to get 30 HR's and a
.458 SLG out of your 8th slot does not give anyone room to complain.
We'll call this one even as well. Edge: Equal
The starting rotation of the Monarchs
is outstanding. All four starters have well below average ERA's
and the top three each have 15 or more wins. In short, this is an
opponents nightmare in a playoff series. For the visitors, Babe
Adams, Ellis Kinder, and Jim Whitney are all very good in their own
right, especially when considered the home run happy park that the
Nationals play in. However, lets not kid ourselves - this is a
clear advantage for the Monarchs and could be the undoing of Poulas'
The bullpen is a bit of a different
story however. Rick Aguilera is an excellent closer and gets the
nod over Masaji Hiramatsu of the Monarchs. Elsewhere, Bob Rush and
Mike Henneman also out-produce their counterparts of Ben McDonald and
The wild card is Kansas City's Lefty
Lamarque who has been dominating this year. However, it is only
over 38 innings and it appears he does not have 100% confidence from his
manager and is used solely in situational roles. Noodles Hahn ERA
is 1.45, but only over 13 innings pitched. The thinking here is
that he gets the post season roster spot because the alternatives such
as Thornton Lee (6.42 ERA), Joe Benz (7.62 ERA) and Shigeru Kobayashi
(5.73 ERA) aren't viable.
Within the Nationals clubhouse
however, is the belief that the starting rotation can certainly be beat
and once they are out of the game the rest of the Monarch pitching staff
ceases to be an asset. For instance, the team closer has been a
revolving door since opening day with no single person obtaining more
than 10 saves, and five different pitchers recording 4 or more.
Also, the best Monarch relievers are the ones with the least experience
which the team thinks can be exploited.
Both teams put very good defensive
players on the field, but the Monarchs do retain an overall advantage:
Monarchs Edge: LF, CF,
SS, 2B, 1B
Nationals Edge: RF, 3B
Equal: C (Ewing arm does
not matter since Nationals do not run)
If the series lasts the full seven
games, a unearned run may be the difference maker but overall should not
be a key factor.
- Below are some of the
matchups that favor the Nationals:
As a team this year, against the
Monarchs the Nationals:
- are batting .290 / .360 / .479,
.839 OPS, 19 HR, 59 RBI in 11 games.
- have put up 23 earned runs in 26
innings (7.96 ERA) vs. the Monarch bullpen
OFF THE FIELD
While the two teams will battle on
the field, we must also recognize that there is no love lost between the
two owners. The quirky Monarch owner who only goes by "Michael"
has taken more than one jab at Poulas during the course of the season,
the latest of which contained the remarks, "you just don't have a clue
why I'm so much higher than you" and "you traded Walter Johnson for a
couple of assclowns." Poulas responded by calling Michael a
"pompous ass" but did go on to say that he was ok with the diatribe.
In a later statement Michael did
admit to being drunk at the time his comments were made, leaving the
media and fans to speculate which was worse - the comment itself or the
public admission of drunkenness. In a later effort to back-up his
owner, National starter Ellis Kinder had this to say:
"I will always appreciate Louie - we
like to call him Louie because he is just one of the guys. Not
that he is a bad owner, well, I wouldn't have traded Walter Johnson for
10 of me, but his heart is in the right place. Then, that Lou
Gehrig fiasco didn't help, but what I mean to say is that he tries very
hard and we all love him for it. I wish he would get some
advisors, I can't wait to see what he does an next seasons draft, Keller
hit 43 homers for us, maybe he's worth a back up catcher or
At that point, thankfully, Cal Mcvey
came along and rescued Kinder from further comment.
The main points:
1 - The core lineup of the Nationals
have proven to be able to hit the big-3 Monarch starters
2 - The Monarch bullpen has had very
little success against the Nationals
3 - Defense matters, but a) both teams are good, and b) the strength of
the Nationals is in HR which can not be defended against by position
4 - Poulas feels he 'owes' it to the
fans by fighting back against the Monarch owner on the field
Nationals win series 4 games to 2.