Moments That Mattered: Birthday Boy Blasts Off, Gio Dominates



Now that’s what I’m talking about. Everything went right for the Nats tonight: great pitching, great offense, great defense. This is the team everyone expected before the season, and the team that everyone should watch out for going forward. What say you now, naysayers? The Nationals scored twice as many runs in this game as they had in the previous four. Meanwhile, the Reds are playing like the Nats were. Seven straight road losses, struggling starting pitcher, no offense, and multiple errors. Hopefully they’ll keep it up for these next three games.

Most Important Nationals Hit: Danny Espinosa‘s double (+12.9%)

As the title suggests, Espinosa had himself a game on today, his 26th birthday. He kicked off the game’s scoring in the second, doubling in Ian Desmond to put the Nats up 1-0. The first run is the most important in Win Probability Added’s eyes, and Espinosa made sure the Nats grabbed it instead of Cincinnati, a stark change from the early deficits the Nats have had recently. As you’ll see later, Espinosa wasn’t done.

Most Important Nationals Pitch: Chris Heisey‘s strikeout (+2.4%)

Apr 25, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez (47) throws a pitch during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Seriously? Yes, seriously. This was the first at-bat of the top of the third, which WPA considered quite important, given that the Reds were now trailing by two. The first outs of an inning are always important, and if you think this example was a fluke, think again: the second and third most important Nationals pitches were the first outs of the second and first innings, respectively. The Reds’ only hit, Joey Votto‘s solo homer, was the fourth most important pitch at -2.1%. Gio Gonzalez‘s dominant performance in throwing eight one-hit innings was sadly under-appreciated by WPA, thanks to the offense quickly putting the game’s outcome out of question.

Champ of the Game: Espinosa takes the cake at +16.5% thanks to WPA’s weighting (and Gonzalez’s -5.4% offensive WPA), although Gonzalez (+14.8%) was the most impressive to behold. Beyond his important double, he had a two-run home run and finished 2-4 with two runs scored and three RBI. This stat is not a mistype: the WPA leader for the Reds was catcher Devin Mesoraco, at -0.4%(negative for the Nats, positive for the Reds). He was one of only three Reds with a positive WPA, which added to a total of 0.9%.

Chump of the Game: Steve Lombardozzi (-5.4%) was 0-5, and one of only two Nats with a negative WPA, along with Jayson Werth (-1.2%). For Cincinnati, Bronson Arroyo (-32.3%) struggled, allowing five runs on nine hits in just six innings.