Nationals Notes- July 30th

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Former National Ian Desmond celebrates his walk-off home run on May 2, 2012 that gave the Nationals a 5-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

With the Nationals a comfortable 12.5 games ahead of the Miami Marlins in the National League East on the day before the 2017 trade deadline, here’s a look at a few notes of interest coming out of the past five games.

WELCOME BACK

What is not to like about former National shortstop Ian Desmond?  Desmond plays the game with passion, is beloved by all who have played with him and, by all accounts, is one of the finest people in baseball as well.

Desmond made his return to Nationals Park this weekend as a member of the Colorado Rockies, but unfortunately will not be able to participate in the series due to injury.

The Florida native was a three time Silver Slugger award winner for Washington, and was an integral part of the Nationals’ rise from cellar dwellers to National League East champions.

Probably the best season for Desmond came in 2012, when he hit. .292 with 25 homers, drove in 73 runs and made the National League All-Star squad in Washington’s first division winning season.   The talented infielder was particularly strong at Nationals Park that season, hitting .310 with 16 home runs and posting a .888 OPS.

BANG ZOOM X 10

Brian Goodwin joined the Nats’ double digit home run club by hitting his 10th in the Nationals’ eight home run effort in its 15-2 trouncing of Milwaukee on July 27th.  Goodwin became the sixth Nationals’ player with 10 or more homers in 2017, joining Bryce Harper (27), Ryan Zimmerman (22), Anthony Rendon (21), Daniel Murphy (17) and Michael A. Taylor (12).    The Nationals’ high mark for most players with 10 or more home runs in a season is eight, set in 2015 and equaled last season.  With Jayson Werth and Adam Lind standing at eight round trippers each and with Matt Wieters and Trea Turner both with seven, there’s a decent chance that the 2017 Nationals will be record setters in this category.

BANG ZOOM X 5

There have been 18 instances of a National League team’s hitting five or more home runs in a game this season, and the Nats lead the way with four such games. In addition to the record-setting eight home run performance on Thursday against the Brewers, the Nats clubbed seven in a 23-5 rout of the Mets on April 30th, hit five in a 13-3 win at Oakland on June 2nd and also hit five in their 14-4 win at Cincinnati on July 17th.

Since 2012, Washington’s 13 five plus home run games trails only Colorado’s 15 among National League teams.

MAKE ROOM FOR SOME HARDWARE

Nationals’ players stand at the top of the Wins Above Replacement totals among both National League batters and pitchers.

Among position players, Anthony Rendon’s 4.9 leads the league with teammate Bryce Harper next at 4.7. Harper comfortably leads the league in OPS at 1.075, with Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt a distant second at 1.017.

Max Scherzer’s 5.5 mark easily leads the way among hurlers, with teammate Gio Gonzalez second at 4.6.   Stephen Strasburg is eighth among National League pitchers at 3.2,

In his bid for his third career Cy Young Award, Scherzer is on pace to become only the second pitcher since 2003 to have 300 or more strikeouts in a season. Scherzer has a league leading 201 punch outs in his first 21 starts.

Gonzalez allowed only two runs in seven strong innings on Wednesday night, but got a no decision in Washington’s 8-5 comeback win over Milwaukee.  The lefty has allowed three or fewer earned runs in all 10 of his starts at Nationals Park this season.

ODDS AND ENDS

Infielder Wilmer Difo has eight RBI in his last 40 at bats after driving in seven in his first 110 of the season. In his last ten games, Difo is hitting .300 with ten runs scored and a pair of RBI.

New Nationals’ bench player Howie Kendrick is as consistent a player as they come.  In his 12 year Major League career, he’s hit .293 with a .753 OPS in games played at his home park while hitting .288 with a .751 OPS in games on the road. In the first halves of seasons Kendrick has a .287 average and a .746 OPS, while hitting .295 with a .740 OPS in road contests.   Among the reasons why picking up the veteran to fortify the Nats’ bench was a good idea is his performance against left-handed pitchers so far in 2017. In 38 at bats against southpaws, Kendrick is hitting .342 with a .918 OPS.

An unsung performer out of the Nats’ bullpen this year has been veteran Oliver Perez. The lefthander with the funky delivery struck out all three Rockies he faced on Saturday night, giving him 29 strikeouts in 22 innings pitched on the year.  Perez has been scored upon in only two of his last 18 outings, and has given up only six hits in 14 innings pitched during that span.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nationals by the Numbers- July 2nd

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Gio Gonzalez allowed only one run on two hits in seven dominant innings at St. Louis last night, but was a hard luck loser as the Cardinals defeated the Nationals 2-1.

This week, we look at a less than stellar month for the first place Nats, production at home from many of the team’s key hitters, some tough luck for a starting pitcher who might be an All-Star and some team record-setting thievery on the basepaths.

.500

The Nationals finished an up and down month of June with a .500 record, going 14-14.  If the Nationals hold on to win the 2017 National League East crown as most expect them to do, June 2017 will be the second worst month for any division winning squad in Nats’ history.  In May of 2014, the Nats struggled to an 11-15 record but went 69-39 over the season’s final four months to cruise to their second National League East crown.

1.000

An OPS mark of 1.000 or higher is an indicator of top-level offensive production. So far in 2017, the Nationals have a solid group of players who have beaten that mark in games played at Nationals Park.

Rookie Brian Goodwin has posted a 1.117 OPS in home games in 53 at bats, with bench stalwart Adam Lind checking in at 1.088 in 50 at bats at home.  Among regulars, Michael A. Taylor is at 1.030, Anthony Rendon has put up a 1.027 mark, Ryan Zimmerman is at 1.025 and Bryce Harper has a 1.019 home OPS figure.  Prior to suffering a significant knee injury in the season’s first month, outfielder Adam Eaton’s OPS in home games was 1.011.

So far in 2017, Gio Gonzalez has recaptured the form that made him one of the National League’s best pitchers in 2012.  In recent games however, the left-hander has been the victim of some misfortune.

Last night at St. Louis, Gonzalez took the loss in a 2-1 Cards’ win despite allowing only one run on two hits while striking out nine.  This comes on the heels of an outing five days earlier at home against the Cubs, where Gonzalez lost while giving up only a single run in six innings pitched.

The back to back tough luck losses marks only the third time in Nationals history where a pitcher has lost back to back starts despite allowing only one run in each game.   In 2010, Jason Marquis lost 1-0 to Phiadelphia on 8/20/10 and 4-0 to the Cubs on 8/25/10 while allowing only one run in each contest.  In May of 2011, Livan Hernandez dropped a pair of 1-0 games in consecutive starts (May 14th against Florida and May 19th against the Mets).

5.147

Nats’ ace Max Scherzer is the front-runner to start for the National League in this month’s All-Star game, and is on track to be at the top of the list in the Cy Young balloting later this year.  He also may be on the verge of a season for the ages.

Through 16 starts this year, Scherzer has allowed only 5.147 hits per nine innings pitched. Since 1901, no pitcher who qualified for the ERA crown has allowed fewer than 5.26 hits per nine innings. Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan put up the impressive 5.26 mark in 1972 while pitching for the California Angels.

The best mark ever for a Nationals’ pitcher in the category is Scherzer’s 6.5 that he achieved in 2016.

10

Anthony Rendon has a team leading 10 home runs at Nationals Park so far this year.   The Nats’ mark for home runs in games in DC is 24, set by Alfonso Soriano in 2006 while the Nationals played home games at RFK Stadium. At Nationals Park, Bryce Harper’s 23 round trippers in 2015 is the top mark.

13 

With his victory over the Chicago Cubs this past Wednesday, Stephen Strasburg now has victories over 13 of the 14 National League teams who do not play in the Nation’s Capital.  Strasburg will likely get a chance to make it 14 out of 14 later this year when the Nationals play the Brewers at home from July 25th through 27th, and in Milwaukee from August 31st through September 3rd.

The Nats’ righty’s top mark for wins against an opponent is 13 against the Marlins. Among non-National League East squads, Strasburg’s six victories against his hometown Padres is his high mark.

18 

Since the Nationals started playing in DC in 2005, there have been 18 Major League teams with seven or more stolen bases in a single game.

Washington achieved that mark for the first time this past Tuesday in a win over Cubs, as Trea Turner stole four bases, Michael A. Taylor swiped two and Anthony Rendon added one.   The Nats became the second Major League team with at least seven steals in a game in 2017 (the Dodgers stole seven bags in a victory over Milwaukee on June 3rd).

The Nats’ win against the Cubs marked the sixth time in team history where Washington has had more than one player with multiple stolen bases in a single game.  On September 26, 2011, Danny Espinosa and Jayson Werth had a pair of steals each in Washington’s 6 -4 win over Florida.   Ian Desmond, Roger Bernadina and Bryce Harper swiped a pair each on July 8, 2012 in a 4-3 loss to Colorado.   Denard Span and Anthony Rendon had two steals each on June 18, 2014 in a 6-5 victory over Colorado, and Rendon and Werth did the same in Washington’s 6-4 win over the Dodgers on September 1st of the same season. Prior to Tuesday, the most recent game in this category came on April 11, 2016 when Harper and Michael A. Taylor registered two steals each in the Nats’ 6-4 win against Atlanta.

41

Later today Ryan Zimmerman will be selected to his second All-Star game, probably as the National League’s starting first baseman.

Zimmerman leads the Nationals with 41 extra base hits (22 doubles and 19 home runs) so far this year, with Daniel Murphy’s 40 (24 doubles, two triples and 14 home runs) right behind Zim.  Zimmerman’s career high for extra base hits in a season is 73, set in 2009 when he made his first All-Star team.

Washington’s mark for extra-base hits in a season is 89, set by Alfonso Soriano in 2006. Bryce Harper had 81 in 2015, Murphy had 77 in 2016 and Adam Dunn registered 76 in 2010.

 

Nationals by the Numbers- June 25th

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Trea Turner was dynamic out of the leadoff spot in Saturday’s 18-3 Nats’ win over the Cincinnati Reds at Nationals Park. Turner had a career high five hits and scored four runs to pace Washington’s dynamic attack.

In this week’s Nationals by the Numbers, we look at outstanding efforts by a couple of Nationals’ starters, some monumental achievements by key players in lineup and a hot stretch by a potential emerging star.

.395

While 2016 was season to forget for Nationals’ outfielder Michael A. Taylor, he’s making 2017 memorable.   Particularly over the past several weeks, Taylor has shown the skill level that has fascinated team management since the Florida native was drafted in the sixth round of the 2009 MLB draft.

Since June 10th, Taylor has hit .395 in 38 at bats with 12 runs scored, six doubles, four home runs (including his second career multiple home run game on June 24th against Cincinnati), nine RBI and three stolen bases. After posting a feeble 71 OPS+ in 2016, Taylor’s mark stands at a healthy 107 so far this year.

1

There’s no doubt that offensive numbers are up in 2017, and that is especially true for the National League East’s top team.  With their 13th double digit run game of the year on Saturday against the Reds, Washington is one game short of the Nats’ record of 14 10+ run games in a season.

On Saturday, the Nationals became the first National League team since 2010 to have two games with 18 or more runs scored in a season.  In 2010, the Brewers defeated the Pirates 20-0 on April 22nd and thrashed the Cubs 18-1 on August 2nd.

If the Nationals can crack the 18 run mark one more time this year, they’ll be the first National League team in 74 years to do so.  In 1943 the Brooklyn Dodgers scored 18 runs in wins over the Phillies and Cubs in May and June, and then tallied 23 in a rout of the Pirates in July.

Max Scherzer’s outing in Miami on Wednesday ultimately ended in frustration, but there’s no denying that the reigning Cy Young Award winner showed his top level form in the contest. Scherzer fanned 11 Marlins on the game, giving him nine double digit strikeout games so far in 2017.   In his time with the Nationals, Scherzer has 33 such games including 13 last season.

13

Scherzer is not the only Nats’ starter doing special things so far in 2017.

With his seventh win of the year on Tuesday against the Marlins in his hometown of Miami, lefty Gio Gonzalez allowed three or fewer earned runs for the 13th time in his 15 starts on the season.  Gonzalez’s 3.0 WAR is the ninth highest total in the National League this, and the fourth highest among pitchers.  Only teammate Scherzer (3.9), Robbie Ray of Arizona (3.5) and Clayton Kershaw (3.2) lead Gonzalez in that category.

14

Trea Turner had five hits, scored four times and drove in two runs in the Nats’ rout of the Reds on Saturday. The game marked the 14th time a Nationals’ hitter has had five hits in a game.  Only Yunel Escobar (with three, all in 2015), Ian Desmond and Denard Span have had more than one five hit games in their time wearing a curly W.

25 

The Nats lost two out of three games in Miami last week, but they still have a National League high (tied with Colorado) 25 victories on the road so far in 2017.

The Nats’ road winning percentage stands at .625 on the year. If Washington can maintain that pace, the 2017 squad will shatter the 2012 team’s .593 percentage (48-33 record) in games played away from home.

38

If you blinked while watching Friday night’s Nats’ win over the Reds, you may have missed Daniel Murphy’s laser shot home run in the sixth inning of that contest.

The home run was the 100th of Murphy’s career, and the 38th in 802 at bats as a National.  In his time in Washington, Murphy has hit a home run every 21 at bats. In 3,354 career at bats as a Met, the sweet swinging second baseman averaged a home run every 54 at bats.

78 

Washington’s recent trip to New York was a smashing success, as the Nats won three out of four games to reaffirm their dominance against their divisional rivals to the north.

The Mets were able to win the finale of the series, but it took a sterling effort by starting pitcher Jacob deGrom to do so. deGrom allowed three hits and one unearned run in eight strong innings to beat Washington 5-1, posting a 78 pitching game score in the process.  deGrom’s gem gave him the highest pitching game score by any Nationals’ opponent so far this season.

451

Anthony Rendon is a five tool player, and he’s having a top level season so far in 2017.  The smooth swinging infielder has hit .296 with 14 homers, 47 RBI and a .948 OPS so far.  On Friday, Rendon took his power to another level with a career long 451 foot home run blast to left center field in Washington’s 6-5 win over the Reds.  Only Ryan Zimmerman, with a 455 foot round tripper on April 29, 2017 at Nationals Park against the Mets, has hit one farther so far this year.

June 4th In Nationals History

during a game at Nationals Park on June 4, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Adam LaRoche celebrates scoring the winning run on Steve Lombardozzi’s sacrifice fly in Washington’s 3-2 comeback victory over the New York Mets on June 4, 2013 at Nationals Park.  

Coming off an amazing 2012 season in which the Nationals shocked the baseball world by winning 98 games to capture the National League East title, hopes were high in Washington as the 2013 season began. The Nationals had fortified an already strong roster by trading for lead off man and centerfielder Denard Span, had added a veteran closer in Rafael Soriano and brought in solid starter Dan Haren to add to a young starting rotation that was already one of baseball’s bests.

Things did not start out well for the Nats in Davey Johnson’s final year at the helm of the team. Washington stumbled out of the gate and stood at 28-29 entering play on June 4, 2013, seven games behind the first place Atlanta Braves.

Facing the Nats this day four years ago was a New  York Mets team that had also experienced problems in the early part of the 2013 season. The Mets came to Washington for a two game set sporting an unimpressive 22-32 record after having just been swept in a three game trip to Miami, being outscored by the Marlins 24-8 in the process.

On the mound for Washington in the game was Jordan Zimmermann, who was en route to his perhaps his finest season in a Nats’ uniform. The stoic righty finished 2013 with a 19-9 record and a 3.25 ERA, tying St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright for the most wins in the National League. Zimmermann’s effort earned him a fifth place finish in National League Cy Young Award voting that year.

Zimmermann did not disappoint on this evening,  going eight innings and giving up only four hits while striking out four Mets.  Unfortunately he left the game trailing 2-1, as errors by Zimmermann and Adam LaRoche gave the Mets two unearned runs in the top of the fifth.

With Mets closer Bobby Parnell looking to end the Mets’ three game losing skid, the heart of the Nats’ lineup ensured that the New Yorkers’ nightmare was far from over.  Ryan Zimmerman led off the bottom of the ninth with a double, and advanced to third on a wild pitch. LaRoche atoned for his fifth inning error with a single to drive in Zimmerman, and the score was tied at 2-2.  Ian Desmond, who had homered in the bottom of the second, continued the rally with a double to move LaRoche to third.  With their options limited, the Mets chose to walk Roger Bernadina to set up a force at any base.   Steve Lombardozzi was next up for Washington, and the scrappy infielder battled Parnell to a 2-2 count before hitting a liner to left field that was deep enough to score LaRoche with the winning run in a thrilling victory for the home team.

The 2013 Nats would never gain traction until the season’s final months in which they played .630 ball in winning 34 of their final 54 games.  Washington finished 10 games behind Atlanta in the East, in large measure due to the Nats’ losing 13 of the 19 games played between the teams.