The Nationals aren’t going away
Thanks to a spectacular run of 13 wins in 15 games, the Washington Nationals have seemingly cemented themselves in third place in the grueling National League East. But people still have doubts about whether or not this team is legitimately good. While they are 40-38, it took a great month of baseball for them to even get to .500.
These doubts are understandable, but a couple of things happened in the last few games that make me believe that this team is just as good as we think it is.
1. The Nationals went 7-2 in interleague play. This is a massive achievement for a team that won 5 interleague games all of last season (5-13). They were even able to take two out of three against the Chicago White Sox in the Windy City. Not only is it amazing that they won an interleague series on the road, its even more amazing considering that the White Sox had won all 17 of its previous interleague series.
2. Despite a putrid offense, they still found ways to win. In six games against the White Sox and the Seattle Mariners, the Nationals scored more than two runs twice. In those two games, a 6-5 win over Seattle and a 9-5 win against Chicago in 14 innings, the Nationals scored a grand total of ONE RUN prior to the seventh inning. This means that the Nats went multiple innings without scoring a run all of their last six games. Their record? 5-1. While this can be attributed to great pitching, it can also be pointed out that the Nats got hits when they needed them and capitalized when they had the chance. This shows that they have the ability to win games even when they don’t score runs.
3. The Nationals are an incredible 17-7 in the month of June. This is the most significant statistic to me, because it shows that the Nats haven’t been a one-hit wonder – they’ve been consistently performing at a very high level. And give Ryan Zimmerman his due: ever since the Nats’ star third baseman returned, they are 12-6 and are averaging nearly a full run more per game on offense. That is absolutely unbelievable.
So those are three really good reasons why I think that Nationals are a legitimate threat and not some fluke. And if you need more persuasion, consider this: the Nats have a better winning percentage than such teams as the Cincinnati Reds, the Colorado Rockies, the Minnesota Twins, the Chicago White Sox, and the Los Angeles Dodgers. They also have one fewer win than the St. Louis Cardinals and last season’s A.L. champion Texas Rangers.
If those numbers don’t indicate staying power, I don’t know what does.