Nationals show up early to get some defensive work in

Chris Lingebach
May 15, 2019 - 6:21 pm
Nationals show up early for defensive drills at Nats Park

Greg Fiume/Getty Images

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There's few days off in the grind of a 162-game season, so there's little time in-season to work on fundamentals.

You almost have to go out of your way to get extra work in as a team, and that's exactly what the Nationals are doing. The Nats took the extra step of arriving early to Nationals Park Tuesday, to get some defensive work in before their game against the Mets.

Washington has fallen well short of its stated mandate to improve on fundamentals this spring. The Nationals – by almost every measure – have one of the worst defensive units in Major League Baseball.

Their overall defense ranks 27th in the Majors, according to FanGraphs, which gives them a -7.4 Ultimate Zone Rating (28th). Both fall in line with their -25 Defensive Runs Saved, meaning as a collection of individuals, the Nats defensively amount to being 25 runs below league average, while taking errors, range, outfield arm and double play ability into account. Basically a deeper dive than just fielding percentage.

The Nats are bad in that regard, too. Their 28 errors rank 24th, and their collective .981 fielding percentage ranks 23rd.

Trevor Rosenthal was among those getting some work in at Nats Park Tuesday, although, as GM Mike Rizzo noted earlier, the plan is to have Rosenthal "go multiple innings" and then throw some "back-to-backs" before considering his return to the big leagues. He's pitched two scoreless innings across two outings in his current rehab assignment at Double-A Harrisburg.

"He threw an inning last night," Rizzo told The Sports Junkies. "His velocity was up. He got through his inning and he walked two, I think struck out two and didn't give up a run. He's starting to improve his mechanics. That's his second outing there. We've got a plan in place for him to go multiple innings and them some back-to-backs, and see if we can get him on track to help us in the big leagues soon."

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