Spring training is two-thirds over
Outside here in Virginia, the piles of snow are slowly melting away, a sign that spring finally is just around the corner. (I think Mr. Groundhog fooled us on February 2!) Down in Florida and Arizona, baseball's spring training (which ought to be called winter training) has been underway for nearly a month, with only two weeks left to go. The game scores during the preseason mean very little, of course, but for what it's worth, the Washington Nationals are 7-8, in the middle of the National League pack.
The team's pitchers have had a few shaky starts, but that's nothing to worry about. Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Jordan Zimmermann have proven themselves before. Among the batters, Bryce Harper is red-hot, with a .444 average. Close behind him is future prospect Anthony Rendon, batting .375. Nats manager Davey Johnson had previously insisted that Rendon was too young to considered for inclusion on the Opening Day roster -- just like Bryce Harper last year! Rendon went 4 for 5 and hit the game-winning home run the Nats' 9-7 win over the Astros in a split-squad game on Wednesday. See MLB.com. Rendon plays third base, so where would he fit? Might he play second base instead of Danny Espinosa (shoulder problems), or should Ryan Zimmerman play at second? That is a disconcerting scenario to contemplate.
Most teams would be jealous of having such an overload of talent. It's not a guarantee of success, but barring any major injuries, it's hard to see how the Nationals can be beat this year. At a minimum they ought to win the National League East again, and anything less than a trip to the League Championship Series would be a disappointment. With the character-building tribulations of last October, the Nats ought to be able to overcome just about any impediment to victory this year.
Gio: drug tests negative
Apparently, there was nothing to the earlier news that Gio Gonzalez was implicated in a sports doping ring led by Anthony Bosch. He told reporters that he took blood and urine tests, and says the results were negative. See MLB.com. That's a big relief.
Nationals' head-to-head matchups
While taking a look back at the Nationals' historic 2012 season, I went about figuring the win-loss records against each team. What stands out is the Nats' lopsided winning margins over the Cubs (6-1), Reds (5-2), Astros (7-1), and especially the World Champion Giants (5-1). In interleague play, the Nats swept the Red Sox and Blue Jays (3-0), and got swept in turn by the Yankees (0-3); the Orioles beat them in four of six games. Among their divisional rivals, the Nationals dominated the Mets (14-4), edged the Braves (10-8), and tied both the Phillies and Marlins (9-9).
Including postseason games, the Nationals were tied with the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-6.
Eventually I'll do similar compilations for all years going back to 2005. I know it wouldn't be hard to find such data on some of the big-league baseball statistics Web sites, but I've got most of the raw data in a spreadsheet already, so it shouldn't be too much trouble.
RFK Stadium minor tweak
I recently made a rather minor adjustment to the RFK Stadium diagrams, showing the structural members which protrude from the back side of the roof perimeter [for the first time]. Also, the outer ramps are about three feet wider than before, making the total diameter six feet bigger, but nothing changed further inward.
Perhaps more importantly, that page now shows a more complete set of stadium data. Seating rows in each deck, the overhang/shade percent for the upper and lower decks, fair and foul territory, and fence height. On January 19 I began including fence height and seating row data. Once I'm sure that's the best way to present such data, I'll go ahead and do all the stadium pages the same way.