Matt Williams’s favorite stat: RISP batting average

November 5, 2013

Perhaps the best quote from Matt Williams’s first week on the job with the Nats came when he was talking about advanced analytics.

“If you don’t get with the times, bro, you better step aside,” Williams said at his introductory press conference.

That certainly seemed to put Williams in the new-school camp, or at least, positioned him as a fellow traveler with new schoolers.

“Batting average? [Forget] that! From now on we only use VWOORP and CoRoBoF!” joked someone on the Reddit thread about that quote.

Well, not so fast. Because on the same day as that press conference, ESPN 980′s Steve Czaban asked Williams what his favorite stat was, and the manager’s answer surprised me.

“My favorite stat right now and always has been the stat of hitting with runners in scoring position,” Williams said. “Because batting average and on-base percentage and all of those things are great, but who is doing damage and how can they hit with guys in scoring position? I don’t know if I can help guys with that, but that’s the stat that I’m most concerned with, that I like the most. So do, I care whether a guy’s hitting .250 as opposed to .280? No, I care whether he can drive a run in. And there’s more than one way to do that. Given guys’ talents and what they can do, I’m a proponent of the safety squeeze, I’m a proponent of the squeeze play, I’m a proponent of the double steal and taking advantage of that opportunity if given. Those type of things present themselves during the course of a game.”

In other words, brace yourself for multiple debates about whether clutch hitting exists next spring training. Still, when asked where he ranks on the analytics scale, Williams proclaimed himself middle-of-the-road.

“I think I’m in between,” Williams told Czaban. “I love the old school approach of play the game, let your guys play, give them the freedom to play. Because ultimately they swing the bat, they throw the ball, they catch the ball. Our job as coaches is to give them the information that they can absorb quickly, that means something to them and that can help guide them through that game, that series, that season.”

PHOTO OF THE DAY
Hey, a Dale Earnhardt Jr. Redskins jersey. Via @Moschick85.

(Via @Moschick25)

 

THE LERNERS’ LETTER TO FANS
The Nats’ ownership group published a letter to Nationals fans. It made multiple uses of “Natitude,” if you’re trying to read the tea leaves on that one. Here’s how it closes:

The entire Nationals family is inspired by the intense passion for Major League Baseball and the team that’s growing in the capital area. We believe NATITUDE has made our town an even better community. We look forward to an exciting offseason, and plan to introduce everyone to Matt Williams and show off our talented roster at NatsFest in January. Spring Training won’t be far behind.

Thank you for your support – we believe Opening Day 2014 will be the grandest ever. You won’t want to miss it.

 

RACING PRESIDENTS GO GLOSSY
Two Racing Presidents were featured on the cover of National Journal, which is different from the Nationals Journal. No, Taft didn’t make it. Via @nationaljournal:

 

TIMMY SMITH DANCING
Timmy Smith, one of the heroes of the Redskins’ win over the Broncos in Super Bowl XXII, was at FedEx Field on Sunday. He did the Cabbage Patch with a fan.

 

BOZ LEVELS THE WIZARDS
Between baseball and the Redskins, the great Boz doesn’t have a lot of time for Wizards columns in early November. But if he did, it would go something like this answer, from his weekly Monday chat:

The 2nd half of the home opener was so sickening that I couldn’t believe it. No wonder Randy Wittman looked like a building had fallen on him afterwards. Wittman: “(We’ve) got to respect the game…Over & over & over again…We’re NOT okay…I gotta find out if we’ve got the heart.”

Can’t hold a lead against a 76ers team projected to win 16 games this season. Waiting to lose. They look SAD! Like, what will go wrong next? And they have some good vets with good attitudes. It’s a mystery. But, unless you’re Ted Leonsis, I’m not sure it’s one that’s worth much of your time trying to figure out. And, yes, how Ernie stays employed is beyond me. I’d have said goodbye after he assembled the All-Knucklehead All Stars, then acted like he deserved credit for breaking ‘em up.

Heraclitus said, “Nothing is permanent except change.” He didn’t coach the Wizards. That home opener is the SAME GAME, same loss, for 33 years in a row.

If the situation changes, I promise to take a different tone. That is “IF.”

 

WHAT TO WATCH TONIGHT
The Caps host the Islanders at 7 on Comcast SportsNet. Wednesday it’s the Wizards in primetime, and Thursday it’s the Redskins. All TV and radio listings are here.

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.
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Lindsay Applebaum · November 4, 2013