Mike Rizzo and the Washington Nationals front office: A mid-season grade

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The chief job of Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo this season has been to accumulate and develop as much future talent as possible.

Entering the season, nobody expected the Nationals to do much in the NL East, and they haven’t. They hit the season’s halfway mark at just 33-48 and solidly in last place in their division. That’s not an indictment of Rizzo; expectations were never high for team that lost 107 games last season.

So how has Rizzo done with the task he was given? Have his deals, signings and promotions improved the Nats’ talent base since the conclusion of the 2022 postseason?

Grading the Washington Nationals at the midway point of the 2023 season

What follows is a mid-term assessment of Rizzo’s personnel decisions since the conclusion of the 2022 World Series with a particular focus on the extent to which those decisions have helped or hindered the team’s performance.

The standard of measurement is Wins Above Average (WAA), a variant of Wins Above Replacement (WAR). For this purpose, WAA is preferable because unlike WAR, it is zero-based. That means the sum of all the decisions made by Rizzo impacting the 2023 team gives at least a good estimate of the number of games those moves have improved (or worsened) the team’s status this season.

A team’s front office impacts that team’s standing in five ways. Those five are:

1.       By the impact of players it acquires from other teams via trade, purchase or waiver claim.

2.       By the impact of players it surrenders to other teams in those same transactions.

3.       By the impact of players it signs at free agency or extends.

4.       By the impact of players it loses to free agency or releases.

5.       By the impact of players it promotes from its own farm system.

Here’s how Rizzo stacks up by those five yardsticks.

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