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In the age of analytics, what is Gerardo Parra's value?


In the age of analytics, what is Gerardo Parra's value?

WASHINGTON -- Gerardo Parra zoomed down a concrete hall on an electric scooter Wednesday night. He wore orange-tinted glasses, a backpack and giddiness.

The Nationals’ spirit animal was heading to his temporary home near the ballpark, which has been his residence for about two months. He has a sense for timing since the signing and rolled right into the elevator as it opened Wednesday.

Thursday, he hit second -- a batting order position too lofty for his prior results -- doubling in the fifth and again in the sixth. The latter scored two runs to bump the Nationals in front 5-2 during yet another victory. Thursday’s win pushed Washington four games over .500 for the first time since Aug. 7, 2018. It is 26-10 in the last 36 games.

Parra survived Ryan Zimmerman’s return to the roster because of spunk and reliability. Michael A. Taylor was sent to Double-A Harrisburg in order to keep Parra around despite a .237 average. Parra is happy to just be on a team. There’s never a period where he wonders why he is not playing more. Never a time when he grumbles. 

And, so, Parra represents a modern conundrum: quantifiably, he is a mediocre, or worse, hitter at this point of his career. His defense remains above average despite his age. But, the anchor of his overall value? There’s no math to that. 

“He’s been incredible,” Davey Martinez said. “He brings it every day. He’s full of energy. Has fun.”

Parra pops on music during dreary Sunday mornings in the clubhouse. Syncing devices to get to the song he wants is occasionally a chore. But, something with a Latin flare eventually pulses out, even if few are present to hear it.

He also started the dugout dancing line. Since, Matt Adams has grabbed Parra for a dosey doe and Kurt Suzuki has performed The Floss. Las Vegas would not post prop bet odds on those events occurring since they would be unfathomable two months ago.

Parra is floating through this transition in his career with a smile and focus. His OPS-plus has risen above 100 three times in his 11 big-league years. He’s won two Gold Gloves. In 2013, Parra was a 5.7 WAR player.

Here, he’s in that space where careers are in the midst of a pivot. San Francisco released him. Washington needs him in the field on occasion. Parra is 32 years old. The rest of his time in the major leagues, however long it lasts, will be dedicated to this type of role. Even for him, “I’m happy every day,” he said, it’s an adjustment.

“It's not easy,” Parra said. “It's not easy. But like I said, I never putting nothing negative. I put in this positive when the manager gives me opportunity to play. Okay cheering, running, everything. I'm ready for that, man.”

How does he relate his value if it can’t be framed on Fangraphs?

“Believe it,” Parra said. “Just believe it. Be happy. When you believe in yourself, something happens. I think something happens everyday.”

He’s pushed this idea to be true since joining the Nationals. The math will push back as the season continues. In the end, Washington will end up pleased with the outcome. It needed a jolt during the doldrums. Parra showed up. He hit a grand slam in Los Angeles, pumped the music in the clubhouse and orchestrated the conga line in the dugout, proving, sometimes, value is hard to define.


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Evaluating the state of 2019 MLB awards races: Two weeks left

Evaluating the state of 2019 MLB awards races: Two weeks left

With September more than halfway through, the postseason is mere weeks away in Major League Baseball, and teams have fewer than a dozen games left in the season. With stars like Christian Yelich and Mike Trout hitting the shelf, there may not be too much shuffling ahead.

Let's take a look around baseball to see who should be favored in each of the major races in both leagues.


1. Mike Trout, Angels
2. Alex Bregman, Astros
3. Mookie Betts, Red Sox

Mike Trout is now out for the rest of the season, which stinks to see as a baseball fan. That said, the AL MVP award should probably still be his.

I'd be more worried about Trout (8.3 WAR) losing his grip on this award if his lead in WAR wasn't so substantial. That said, Bregman (7.6 WAR) is doing an admirable job closing the gap, and it wouldn't surprise me to see him grab a few votes.

But the only real change here is Trout's third career MVP likely moving from unanimous, to merely overwhelming. 


1. Cody Bellinger, Dodgers
2. Christian Yelich, Brewers
3. Anthony Rendon, Nationals

With Trout's unfortunate injury, Cody Bellinger now leads baseball in WAR this season, according to Baseball-Reference. His lead was already substantial over Christian Yelich and the rest of the NL field, but Yelich's injury should just about lock this up for Bellinger (if it wasn't certain already).

There's little change in this update, as Rendon continues to enjoy a dominant contract year as well. In any other year, he may have been a better candidate, but Bellinger's coming out part has been historic. 

It is definitely possible a strong finish pushes Rendon past Yelich into second, however.

AL Cy Young

1. Justin Verlander, Astros
2. Gerrit Cole, Astros
3. Charlie Morton, Rays

Is there such a thing as a combined teammate Triple Crown? No, but perhaps there should be for Verlander and Cole. The two aces are, by far, the best pitchers in the American League this season. Each is top-two, in some order, in wins, strikeouts, ERA, and WHIP.

That said, given Verlander's standing ahead of Cole in the rotation and his lead in most categories besides strikeouts, it's hard to envision Cole overtaking the elder statesman. It may very well be Verlander's last chance to win a Cy Young, given his age, though anything he does at this point in his career is thoroughly unsurprising.

NL Cy Young

1. Jacob deGrom, Mets
2. Max Scherzer, Nationals
3. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dodgers

It may not feel like the same level of historic race between deGrom and Scherzer as we saw in 2018, but it is still shaping up to be a photo finish. Ryu's ERA has come back to Earth, but he does still lead the NL in the category. Even so, this feels like another two-man race.

deGrom leads in ERA, though the Nationals' rotation includes numbers two through four in WAR. The Nats' rotation is also the first to see three pitchers each top 222 strikeouts in a season, an impressive feat.

Scherzer is still leading that charge for the Nationals and is thus their pick. He doesn't have as many strikeouts as deGrom, but his K/9 is more than a full strikeout higher. This is going to be a fun final two weeks.

AL Rookie of the Year

1. Yordan Alvarez, Astros
2. John Means, Orioles
3. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays

As much of a lock to take home hardware this awards season as any Astro, Alvarez has blown away the competition in the AL since his debut. His arrival may have come been belated, but his impact (26 home runs, 1.090 OPS) is undeniable. This is an all-time great rookie season that just happens to have been cut short in April and May.

Means and Guerrero Jr. deserve mention still. Means ranks ahead of Guerrero thanks to a 2:1 ratio in WAR, but there's a distant gap between Alvarez and these two.

NL Rookie of the Year

1. Pete Alonso, Mets
2. Mike Soroka, Braves
3. Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres

Alonso leads Major League Baseball with 49 home runs, and will likely finish with more than 50. This is one of the most impressive rookie seasons at the plate in baseball history and is the single biggest lock of any award in 2019. It would have been fascinating to see a true race between Tatis and Alonso, but the chase for 50 has been pretty incredible as well.

AL Manager of the Year

1. Rocco Baldelli, Twins
2. Aaron Boone, Yankees
3. Bob Melvin, Athletics

I can't bring myself to move off Baldelli, just for how much better the Twins' record is compared the expectations entering the season. Having said that, if the Yankees finish the season with the best record in baseball, it wouldn't surprise anyone to see Boone win this award, considering the ridiculous injuries they've suffered in 2019.

Melvin is a new addition, but it's a tight race between the A's manager and the Rays' Kevin Cash. The winner will likely come from whichever team makes the AL Wild Card Game.

NL Manager of the Year

1. Davey Martinez, Nationals
2. Dave Roberts, Dodgers
3. Bruce Bochy, Giants

The Nationals have to make the postseason for Martinez to win this award. There's no way around it. But if they do make it, and I still project them to play in October, then he instantly becomes one of the favorites.

This is one of the trickiest awards to project, even with just two weeks left in the regular season. There's a compelling case to be made for Martinez, but there's also plenty of positives to say about Roberts, Bochy, Brian Snitker in Atlanta, Tony Lovullo in Arizona and Mike Shildt in St. Louis.

For now, we'll stick with Martinez, but this award isn't just a coin-flip; it's a dice roll.


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Nationals Roundup: Nats gear up for Marlins test amidst NL Wild Card Race

Nationals Roundup: Nats gear up for Marlins test amidst NL Wild Card Race

The Washington Nationals will enter their Friday game at the Miami Marlins with eyes on results from the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers as the NL Wild Card race heats up. 

Here are the latest news and updates: 

Player Notes:

Starting pitcher Max Scherzer's five earned runs was the most he has been charged with in 20 starts as Washington fell to the St. Louis Cardinals, 5-1, in the final game of their three-game series.

First baseman Matt Adams likely won't start again for the rest of the regular season, but there's a chance he can come off the bench next week. He sprained his AC joint in his shoulder last week and participated in batting practice for the first time on Wednesday. 


C Spencer Kieboom, elbow, 60-Day-IL, 2020

C Kurt Suzuki, elbow, sidelined, day-to-day

RP Joe Ross, arm, sidelined, day-to-day

RP Roenias Elias, arm, sidelined, day-to-day

RP Austen Williams, arm, 60-Day IL, out indefinitely

1B Matt Adams, shoulder, sidelined, day-to-day

RP John Venters, shoulder, 60-Day IL, 2020

RP Koda Glover, elbow, 60-Day IL, out indefinitely

Coming Up: 

Friday, Sept. 20: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m. at Marlins Park

Saturday, Sept. 21: Nats at Marlins, 6:10 p.m. at Marlins Park

Sunday, Sept. 22: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m. at Marlins Park