Preseason predictions were for the Nats to win their Division. The only National League team with better Las Vegas odds to win the World Series were the Dodgers
So, what’s going on?
Expectations too high for the Nats?
Harper out for a month?
Strasburg not winning?
Failure to win close games like they did last year?
Yours truly, who earlier thought the Nats would not win 98 games and might not even make the playoffs again, has looked at the first half of the season, and here’s what the numbers show.
The Nats’ record at the half way mark of the season is primarily due to poor hitting. They are 13th of 15 teams in the NL, scoring only 295 runs. Only the Marlins (259 runs) and the Dodgers (294) have scored fewer runs. The team BA is .236, and other than Rendon, no position players is hitting close to .300.
Their pitching hasn’t been all that bad. They are 5th in the NL with an ERA of 3.54 and have done about as well as any other team converting 23/31 save opportunities.
And their fielding hasn’t helped at all. They are dead last in the NL and have made 59 errors (only the Dodgers have made more, 60). The Nats have given up 31 unearned runs compared to the Braves 20.
To be a bit more specific, if we look at Runs Scored vs Runs Given Up, The Braves are + 68, the Nats -20, and the Phillies -46.
And, unlike what I predicted, their weak showing has not been particularly a result of losing close games. They are 24-24 in games won or lost by two or less runs (16-13 in one run games). Last year at this time, they were 21-23 in games decided by two or less runs (15-10 in one run games).
Their Division is a tougher, as everyone expected, with the Braves starting off in spectacular fashion, tho they haven’t maintained the pace they had in April (.645).
Certainly not having Harper for the month of June has hurt the Nats, but perhaps not as seriously as some might think. In April and May, when the young phenom was playing, the Nats were 28-27. Without him in June, they were 13-13.
Yes. The season is only half over, but if the Nats don’t start scoring a lot more runs than they give up, all those ‘fans’ who thought a WS playoff was a near certainty, are going to (continue) to be disappointed.