nine eight seven games left, this sh*t ain’t over.
This is the FanGraphs Win Probability chart for last night’s game. Strictly speaking, it relays in short order the actual competitiveness of the game played between the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves on August 06, 2013. But, being as it is driven by mere statistics, it fails to capture, well, you know, the little things.
For example, there’s no first inning, first at bat plummet of “here we go again” depression, regardless of how unexpected it wasn’t, when Nick Johnson took a run of the mill baseball swing and managed to injure his neck in the process. And there’s no spike of pure hatred when Everyone’s Favorite Choirboy drove a first pitch fastball out to deep center in the third. You can kind of see that on the brief spike of “Nationals win probability increases beyond a coin flip” but it doesn’t really do justice to the event. How does one graph “DIE IN FIRE!!!” really?
Still, it does the job okay, this little graph thingy. Until the fifth. And the plunking. And Julio Teheran walking off the mound after having plunked His High Holiness of Harpers, directly at him, dead stone faced and daring the boy to take a chance. No graph on the planet can convey the pure, unadulterated joy of that moment. “You want to admire your handy work while marinating in a 13+ game hole, son? Yeah. Let’s talk about that.”
Let there be no mistake. That fastball to the derriere was purely intentional. It was a message sent to young Master Harper in the surest of terms. And it was pure, unadulterated awesomeness. Somebody get Julio a box of Jheri curl. There’s a new sheriff in town!
The awesome subsided for a couple of innings after the Great Plonking, but then ratcheted back up for the 8th and 9th. Again, simple WP% doesn’t tell you much about Jordan Walden and Craig Kimbrel striking out the side, respectively, in those innings. It really doesn’t convey the final at bat, where Bryce Harper stands in against Kimbrel thinking “one swing,” battles to a full count, and then swings through high cheese to end it. No graph could do that.
About the only thing that went wrong for Atlanta last night was Mr. Glass and his Amazing Non-bendy Neck problem. One wants to love that guy for all of his potential and talent and how obviously good-natured and positive a player he is. But then he goes and injures himself swinging a baseball bat. I remember a conversation among Yankees fans, back in 2010, about whether or not Nick Johnson was “injury prone” or just unlucky with a string of injuries. Then he went on the DL for weeks having injured his wrist…swinging a baseball bat. One of the comments that stands out was something to the order of “if you get injured swinging a bat, you’re probably injury prone. Swinging a bat is something a baseball player should be able to do!”
Oh well. We’ll see how fast he comes back. Honestly, the lead is 14.5. There’s no rush. Get Terdo and Todd Cunningham a few more swings. Or see if Success! is ready to get back at it. And order more bubble wrap.
The Braves send Kris Medlen out to face down Jordan Zimmerman in the series finale tonight. That’s a matchup that theoretically favors the Nats, but that would assume the Nats aren’t an offensively morose club spiraling out of control quickly. We shall see.
But enough of that. Let’s go watch the awesome some more instead.