The Nationals had a strong five player contingent at this year’s Major League All-Star game. The team looks to get the second half of the 2017 season off on the right foot tomorrow night in Cincinnati against the Reds in the first game of a four game series.
Three and a half months down on the 2017 season, two and a half more to go. In this edition of Nationals by the Numbers, we look at some shining results from the team’s star pitchers, impressive offensive production by the team as a whole and several star players in particular, and the first half totals by a Nats’ player who likely thinks there’s no place like home (i.e. Nationals Park).
The Nats’ .811 OPS ranks second in the Major Leagues so far in 2017, trailing only the Houston Astros’ .855 figure. Washington’s impressive mark is far and away the best OPS figure a Nationals team has registered in the first half of any season. The previous high was .757, set in the Nats’ division winning season last year. The 2009 team’s .753 figure was third, followed by the 2006 squad’s .746 mark and the 2010 team’s .733 total.
Speaking of OPS….if history is a guide, Nats’ all-star Ryan Zimmerman will continue his hot-hitting ways over the season’s final 74 games. In his career, Zimmerman has put up an impressive .859 OPS mark v.s. the .765 figure he’s registered in the first halves of seasons.
Zimmerman’s best post-break season came in 2015, when he posted a 1.024 OPS while hitting .311 with 11 homers and 39 RBI. The “face of the franchise” also excelled in the second half of the 2009 (.969 OPS, .297 average, 19 homers and 54 RBI) and 2012 (.945 OPS, .319 average, 17 homers, 55 RBI) seasons.
All the talk of a juiced baseball certainly has not proven to be true when Stephen Strasburg has toed the rubber for the Nats so far this year. Strasburg’s .88 HR/9 rate tops all National League pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched so far in 2017. In 112.2 frames so far this year, Strasburg has allowed only 11 homers. Among Major Leaguers, the veteran righthander trails only Detroit’s Michael Fulmer (.54) and Boston’s Chris Sale (.78) in the category. Strasburg’s teammate and fellow All-Star Max Scherzer is fifth in the Majors at .91.
Any pitcher who posts a pitching game score of 80 or more has thrown a gem. So far in 2017, Washington has six such games. Strasburg and Scherzer posted matching 85 scores in back to back games against San Diego in May, and Scherzer has four other such games so far in 2017. The six 80 plus games equals the team’s mark in the entire 2016 season, and is only two games off of the Nats’ record of eight 80 plus pitching game score contests set in 2012.
In his time in Washington Scherzer has 13 such games, putting him six ahead of Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez who’ve had seven each.
It has been 11 years since a National League East team has had a bigger divisional lead at the break than Washington’s current 9.5 spread over the Atlanta Braves.
Back in 2006, the New York Mets led the division by 12 games at the break over Philadelphia in route to a 97-65 record and a divisional championship. The Mets won a divisional playoff series against the Dodgers that year, before suffering a heartbreaking 4-3 defeat to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship series.
Nats’ catcher Matt Wieters has saved his best for the home crowd so far in 2017, hitting 102 points higher at home (.291) than he has on the road (.189).
Wieters’ road OPS of .536 is the ninth lowest mark among Major Leaguers with at least 100 at bats in road contests this year. Former National Danny Espinosa is the “leader” in this dubious category, putting up a .383 OPS in 115 at bats away from Anaheim.
How cool would it be to have a video of each of Nats’ all-star Daniel Murphy’s regular season hits in his time as a National? If such a video existed, it would show 295 safeties by the sweet swinging Murphy, the fifth highest total in the Major Leagues since 2016. Jose Altuve leads the Majors with 332 hits since the start of 2016, with Boston’s Mookie Betts next in line at 310. Only two National Leaguers have a higher total than Murphy’s 295. Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon has 304 hits over the past year and a half, and teammate D.J. LeMahieu has one more than Murphy at 296.