Nationals Notes- September 18, 2017

Los Angeles Dodgers v Washington Nationals

Ryan Zimmerman’s two home runs and four RBI helped the Nationals defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-1 at Nationals Park on September 17th.

Here’s a four pack of Nats’ notes as the regular season enters its final two weeks and the Nationals prepare for their fourth playoff appearance in the last six seasons.

WHY STOP AT ONE?

Ryan Zimmerman’s two home run game against the Dodgers last night was the 22nd multi-home run game of his career and a team record tying sixth so far in the 2017 season.  The two home run game tied Zimmerman with Adam Dunn, who had six in 2010, for the most in a season in Nats’ history.

The Face of the Franchise’s 22 games with more than one home run is easily the high mark in Nats’ history.  Teammate Bryce Harper is next with 15, including five so far in the 2017 season, with Dunn and Adam LaRoche tied for third with eight each.

Zimmerman’s previous high for multi-homer games in a season was five, set in 2010.  This season and the 2010 campaign are the only years in which Zimmerman has had more than two such games.

WINNING WAYS

Stephen Strasburg won his 14th game on Sunday, moving him within one victory of his career season high of 15, set in 2012 and equaled last season.

Since 2015, only two pitchers have a higher winning percentage than Strasburg’s .727 (40-15 record)  among pitchers with at least 30 decisions.  Both pitchers ahead of Strasburg in this category are also headed to post-season play.   Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers is first with a .763 percentage (45-14), while Arizona’s Zack Greinke is second at .754 (45-16).

Strasburg’s 2017 WAR of 5.8 shatters his previous career high of 3.5 (set in 2014), and his 1.027 WHIP is well below his solid 1.084 career mark in that category.

STARRING IN A PINCH

Since he had a big go ahead home run in the Nationals’ 2017 season opener against Miami, veteran Adam Lind has been a valuable piece of the Nats’ high powered offense.

Last night against the Dodgers, the sweet swinging lefty hit his Nats’ record fourth pinch-hit home run of the season.  Lind’s four pinch-hit blasts ties him with Colorado’s Pat Valaika for the Major League lead this season. Lind’s 1.063 OPS is the top mark in the Majors among pinch-hitters with at least 40 at bats

With 13 pinch-hit RBI so far in 2017, Lind has topped the Nats’ previous season high of 12 set by Tony Batista in 2007.

SEEING DOUBLE 

With 40 two base hits so far this year, Nats’ second baseman Daniel Murphy trails only Colorado’s Nolan Arenado (who has 42) among National Leaguers.  Murphy, who led the National League with 47 doubles in 2016, can be the first Senior Circuit player since Craig Biggio in 1998 and 1999 to lead the league in back to back seasons if he is able to wrest the lead from Arenado.

BIRTHDAY GREETINGS

Happy 38th birthday to 2006 Nationals’ pitcher Billy Traber.  The left-handed Californian went 4–3 with a 6.44 ERA in 43.1 innings pitched for the Nationals in their second season.

Traber’s finest moment as a National came on August 11, 2016 when he allowed only four hits and one run in seven innings pitched to defeat Tom Glavine and the Mets by a 2-1 score.

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Nationals by the Numbers- September 17, 2017

 

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Rookie Victor Robles’ triple against the Atlanta Braves on September 14, 2017 electrified the crowd at Nationals Park.

Think of some of the most exciting things a fan can witness while attending a baseball game.  A booming home run, a walk-off hit, a pitcher striking out the side and a tremendous defensive play are among them but for me, seeing a batter hit a ball into the gap and make it all the way to third for a three bagger is right at the top.  In this edition of Nationals by the Numbers, we look at some details related to triples hit by the Nationals over their 13 years in Washington (thanks to Baseball-reference.com’s Play Index for making finding this information very quick and easy).

2

If a triple is a relatively rare occurrence at a Major League baseball game, a triple hit by a pitcher is more rare than a genial debate these days between Democrats and Republicans.

In the Nats’ history, two pitchers have hit triples.  On September 24, 2005 at RFK Stadium against the New York Mets, Livan Hernandez hit a three bagger against Tom Glavine.  Almost two years later at Shea Stadium on July 28, 2007, Joel Hanrahan did the trick against Mike Pelfrey and the Mets.  The triple was one of two for Hernandez in his 17 year Major League career, and the only one for Hanrahan.

4

Four players have had a Nats’ record two triples in game.

If you blinked, you might have missed infielder Bernie Castro’s time with the Nationals in 2006.  The switch-hitter played in 42 games for the Nats that season and hit only .227, but he had two triples in Washington’s 8-5 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on September 16th at RFK Stadium.

With 28 triples as a National, Cristian Guzman has the most in Nats’ history.  On April 7, 2008 at Nationals Park against Florida, Guzman had two triples in Washington’s 10-7 loss to the Marlins.

Speedy Denard Span patrolled centerfield valiantly for the Nationals from 2013 to 2015, and he hit 19 triples while playing in DC.  On May 31, 2013 at Atlanta, Span had two triples in Washington’s 3-2 victory over the Braves.

On August 13, 2016, Ben Revere became the fourth Nats’ player with two triples in a game. Revere’s pair of triples came in a 7-6 victory over the Braves at Nationals Park.

5

There have been five games in Nats’ history where a team record three triples have been hit.

On April 13, 2005 at Atlanta, Jamey Carroll, Jose Vidro and Terrmel Sledge all tripled in Washington’s 11-4 victory.  Later that season, Brad Wilkerson, Preston Wilson and Brandon Watson all tripled but the trio of extra base hits did not prevent Washington from losing 8-4 to Florida.

RFK Stadium’s spacious gaps in both left-center and right-center were lush breeding ground for triples, and the Nats had three there in a September 16, 2006 8-5 win over Milwaukee. The aforementioned Bernie Castro had a pair, with then-rookie Ryan Zimmerman chipping in with the other.

In recent years the Nationals’ offense has often come alive when playing at Miami, and it certainly did on April 14, 2014 in the Nats’ 9-2 victory over the Marlins. In that contest, Bryce Harper, Danny Espinosa and Anthony Rendon all tripled.

In addition to Ben Revere’s pair of triples on August 13, 2016, Trea Turner also had one in the Nats’  7-6 win over the Braves at Nationals Park.

11

Almost as rare as a triple by a pitcher is one by a player who toils behind the plate as a catcher. In Nats’ history, there have been 11 triples hit by catchers. Brian Schneider’s April 25, 2005 triple against Philadelphia at RFK Stadium was the first, and Jose Lobaton’s three bagger at home against Minnesota on April 22, 2016 was the most recent.

Former Nats’ backstop Jesus Flores holds the record for most triples by a catcher in his tenure in Washington with four.

12

If a garden variety triple is among the most exciting plays in baseball, a triple with the bases loaded takes the excitement level up several notches.

The Nats have had 12 bases loaded triples, with Daniel Murphy being the only player with more than one.  Murphy had one on April 7, 2016 in the Nats’ home opening loss to Miami and picked up another this April 25th in Washington’s victory at Colorado.

The 2017 Nats have a team-record three bases loaded triples in a season.  Trea Turner joined Murphy by having on on April 25th at Colorado, and Howie Kendrick drove home three runs with a triple on August 28th against Miami.

27

The 2017 Nats have 27 triples, with Trea Turner (6), Wilmer Difo (4) and Michael A. Taylor (3) leading the way. The team is only two three baggers away from the 2016 team’s total, but a far cry away from the Washington Nationals’ record of 38 set in the otherwise disappointing 103 loss 2009 season.

350

Washington has 350 triples since 2005, with 176 coming at home and 174 being hit on the road.  The Nats have hit 125 triples at Nationals Park since 2008, and hit 51 at RFK Stadium from 2005 through 2007.

On the road, the Nats’ had a team high 27 at Turner Field in Atlanta.  They’ve hit 17 at Marlins Park in Miami and 15 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.  The 12 triples hit by Nats’ players at Chase Field in Arizona is the high mark at non-NL East facilities.

As referenced earlier, Cristian Guzman’s 28 triples is the most for a Nationals’ player. Ian Desmond is next with 21, followed by Ryan Zimmerman (20), Denard Span (19), Bryce Harper (18) and Trea Turner (14).

Nats’ Notes- September 9, 2017

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Michael A. Taylor celebrates his inside the park grand slam home run in the Nationals’ 11-10 victory over the Phillies at Nationals Park on Friday September 8th.

The Nationals stand at 87-54 and 19 games up in the National League East with only 21 games left to play in the 2017 regular season. Here’s a look at a few interesting notes coming out of the Nats’ recent games.

JUST CAN’T WAIT TO GET ON THE ROAD AGAIN

Washington has won a Major League high (tied with Houston) 45 road games this year. With road series’ against the Braves, Mets and Phillies yet to be played, the team is only three wins away from its team best 48 victories in enemy ballparks.  If the Nats go at least 5-4 on the final road trip of the year, they will become only the third National League team since 2000 with at least 50 road victories in a season.  The 2005 St. Louis Cardinals and the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies had 50 road wins each.

The National League record for most road wins in a season is 53, last achieved by the Atlanta Braves and San Francisco Giants who won 53 each in the 1993 season.

STERLING STARTS

The Nationals have a Major League high 67 games this season in which their starting pitchers have thrown at least six innings and allowed two or fewer runs.   The Cleveland Indians are next in this category seven games behind the Nats at 60, and no other team is closer than 12 games away from the Nats’ mark (Arizona and the Los Angeles Dodgers have 55 such games each).

Cy Young Award candidates Gio Gonzalez (17), Max Scherzer (16) and Stephen Strasburg (13) have the most six innings plus, two or fewer runs allowed game for the National League East leaders. Tanner Roark is next with nine games, followed by Joe Ross and Edwin Jackson with five each and A.J. Cole with two.

NATS’ BATS

The Nationals have not only been superb at preventing runs from scoring in 2017, they’ve also been great at scoring.

Last night’s 11-10 victory over the Phillies gave the Nats a Major League high 21 games in 2017 where they’ve scored 10 or more runs.  Cleveland and Texas are next with 17 such games each.  Colorado, with 15, is second in the National League.

The Nationals’ 21 10 plus runs scored contests has shattered the team mark of 14 such games, set in the 2016 season.  The only other seasons in which Washington has had at least 10 games with runs scored in double figures are 2015 (11 games), 2012 (11), 2009 (10) and 2008 (10).

MILESTONES IN REACH 

Nats’ first baseman Ryan Zimmerman hit his team leading 30th and 31st home runs of the season this week, putting him only two round trippers behind his personal best the  33  he hit in 2009.   Zimmerman also has 95 RBI, and he appears primed to post the third 100 plus RBI season of his career.  Zimmerman’s best RBI mark was 110 set in his rookie year of 2006. He drove in 106 runs in the 2009 season.

The notoriously streaky hitter has also shown signs that September might be a month to remember for him. In 27 at bats so far this month, Zimmerman has hit .370 with two homers and seven runs driven in.

HOME RUN HIGHLIGHTS

Trea Turner’s ninth home run of the year against the Phils on Friday puts him one blast away from joining the Nats’ 2017 ten plus home run club. Seven Nationals (Zimmerman with 31, Bryce Harper with 29, Anthony Rendon with 23, Daniel Murphy with 22, Michael A. Taylor with a career high 15, Brian Goodwin with 13 and Adam Lind with 11) have already put up double digit numbers in home runs.

Turner, Matt Wieters and Jayson Werth have all hit nine round trippers so far this year. If at least two of the three get to 10 or more home runs on the year, the Nats will set a record for the most double digit home run hitters in team history. The 2015 and 2016 squads both had eight players with 10 or more homers.

Michael A. Taylor’s inside the park grand slam home run on Friday was the fifth in Nats’ history, and the first with runners aboard.   Austin Kearns (May 12, 2007 against Florida), Willie Harris (September 24, 2010 against Atlanta), Zimmerman (May 15, 2016 against Miami) and Stephen Drew (May 31, 2016 at Philadelphia) are the other Nationals who have hit inside the park homers.

LEADING BY A LOT

If the Nationals hold or improve on their current lead in the Nationals League East, they will become the first team since the 2008 Los Angeles Angels to win its division by at least 19 games.  The 2008 Angels won their division by 21 games in that season.

11 teams have won their divisions by at least 15 games since the current divisional format was adopted.  A word of caution for those thinking a big lead a team will be playing until the week of Halloween; before the Chicago Cubs won the World Series last year, the six previous teams (including the 2014 Nats) who won their division by such a margin all lost in the Divisional Playoff round).

Here’s a look at the 11 teams who cruised to a divisional win, with a list of what  happened to them in the post-season:

1995 Atlanta Braves  Won NL East by 21 games-  Won World Series

1995 Cleveland Indians Won AL Central by 30 games- Lost World Series to Atlanta

1998 Atlanta Braves  Won NL East by 18 games-  Lost in NLCS to San Diego

1998 New York Yankees Won AL East by 22 games- Won World Series

1999 Cleveland Indians  Won AL Central by 21.5 games- Lost in the ALDS

2002 Atlanta Braves  Won NL East by 19 games-  Lost in the NLDS

2003 San Francisco Giants  Won NL West by 15.5 games- Lost in NLDS

2008 Los Angeles Angels Won AL West by 21 games- Lost in ALDS

2011 Detroit Tigers  Won AL Central by 15 games- Lost in ALDS

2014 Washington Nationals Won NL East by 17 games- Lost in NLDS

2016 Chicago Cubs  Won NL Central by 17.5 games- Won World Series

This Day in Nationals History- An Unexpected Gem

ortizlaborday

Pitcher Ramon Ortiz celebrates the first and only home run of his twelve year Major League career on September 4, 2006 in Washington’s 4-1 victory over St. Louis at RFK Stadium.

Former Major League player and announcer Joe Garagiola once called baseball a “drama with an endless run and an ever-changing cast”.   On September 4, 2006 at RFK Stadium, the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals played an drama-filled game that saw a player more used to being an understudy emerge as the leading man.

In his 12 year Major League career, pitcher Ramon Ortiz won 87 games and lost 86.   He was durable, he threw hard and he got the most out of his relatively tiny frame, but he was hardly the type of pitcher one would expect to steal the show.  Eleven years ago today, he did just that.

Unlike this year’s Washington Nationals team that is playing in September with an eye toward post-season play, the 2006 Nats were simply playing out the string by the time Labor Day arrived.   The Nats had exciting Alfonso Soriano, emerging star Ryan Zimmerman and productive Nick Johnson in their lineup, but Washington’s pitching (particularly from its starting staff) was abysmal.

Ortiz took the mound for the holiday contest sporting a 9-12 record and having come off a three game stretch against divisional foes where he had allowed 15 runs in 12.2 innings pitched.  His opponents from St. Louis had won seven of their last nine games and were on their way to a National League Central title.

The Nats’ righty started out strong, striking out two (including Cards’ star Albert Pujols) in the first inning.  Ortiz walked two Cardinals in the second, but ended the threat by retiring 2005 Nats’ backup catcher Gary Bennett on a fly ball to right.

Ortiz settled in nicely from innings three through seven, retiring 15 of the 16 batters he faced in those frames. The problem for Ortiz and the Nats was that St. Louis starter Jason Marquis had kept Washington off of the scoreboard,  working out of several jams in the process.

In the bottom of the seventh, Washington finally got to Marquis.  The always patient Johnson led off the frame with a walk and Austin Kearns followed with a two run home run to give the Nats the lead.

With only six outs to go to earn a no-hitter, Ortiz retired Ronnie Belliard on a ground out, Bennett on a deep fly ball to left center and Scott Spiezio on a pop up to send the 31,000 plus at RFK Stadium into a frenzy.

In the bottom of the inning, Ortiz did damage with his bat as he led off the inning with the first and only home run of his career off of Cards’ reliever Jorge Sosa to boost the Nats’ lead to 3-0.  The Nationals added another run to their tally later in the inning when Zimmerman doubled off of Sosa and Johnson followed with a RBI two bagger off of Randy Flores.

With RFK Stadium rocking in a fashion usually reserved only for Cowboys-Redskins matchups in the fall, Ortiz took the hill with three outs to go to become part of history.  The bid for a no-hitter ended suddenly, with pesky Aaron Miles hitting a clean single to center to start the frame.  Chris Duncan then hit a bullet down the first base line, but Johnson snagged the rocket shot and doubled Miles off of first to put the Nats one out away from victory.  Ortiz then lost his shutout when Pujols, who was en route to 49 home run season, blasted a solo round tripper to put St. Louis on the board.  With his starter obviously out of gas,  Nationals’ manager Frank Robinson called on Chad Cordero to close things out.  The Chief did just that, striking out Scott Rolen to end the game and give Washington a 4-1 win.

Ortiz would finish the 2006 season (his only one in Washington) with an 11 wins, a National League high 16 losses, a 5.57 ERA and 31 home runs allowed.   It would be eight years later that a much more accomplished hurler, Jordan Zimmermann, registered the first no-hitter in Nats’ history in a late September white-washing of Miami at Nationals Park.

 

 

The Five Biggest Pleasant Surprises for the 2017 Washington Nationals

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Washington Nationals

Gio Gonzalez’s re-emergence as a All-Star level starting pitcher has helped the Nationals solidify their position atop the National League East.

When a team has practically clinched its divisional title and we’re still 20 or so hours from Labor Day, a lot of things have gone right for that squad.  Going into the 2017 season, the Nationals knew that they could count on Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg to be top of the rotation starters and Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon to be offensive forces.  Those players have not disappointed, as Scherzer, Strasburg, Harper and Murphy made the All-Star team and Rendon deserved to be there as well.

However it takes more than five stars to create a team with championship potential, and Washington has benefited from having other players step up and be major contributors when perhaps they were only expected to be role players.  Here’s a look at my five top most pleasant surprises for the 2015 Nats.

#5- WELCOME BACK

Young starter Joe Ross saw his season ended early by injury, leaving a void for the Nats in the fifth starter position of their talented rotation.  Into the breech stepped a figure from the past, who has stepped in and solved what could have been a major problem.

In 2012, Edwin Jackson won 10 games for a division winning Nats’ squad.  He had some great games, including a complete game two hitter to beat Cincinnati 4-1 on April 14th, but had some duds (nine runs allowed in 1.1 innings pitched at St. Louis on September 28th) as well.

The 2017 version of Jackson has been consistent, as he’s thrown at least five innings in all eight of his starts for Washington while allowing no more than four earned runs in any of his starts.

#4- TYING UP LOOSE ENDS

If we were to go back in time to mid-July and listen in to virtually any programming related to Major League Baseball, discussions of the Nationals’ bullpen woes would be prominent.  Six weeks later, the Nats remain firmly entrenched as one of baseball’s top teams and their reshaped bullpen appears to be equipped to do the job into October.

The surprise here is not that veterans Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler have had success in DC, but rather that Washington GM Mike Rizzo was able to resolve what may have been a fatal defect without giving up any of the team’s prized prospects.  The Nats’ three headed monster at the back of the bullpen has been dominant, and the acquisition of those hurlers has allowed Matt Albers and Oliver Perez to thrive in lesser roles.

#3- YOUTH IS SERVED

The 2017 Nationals have been one of baseball’s best teams despite their having more than their share of crucial injuries.  A big reason for that has been the play of a trio of young players who have contributed more than expected this year.

Following the 2016 season in which he struggled mightily, Michael A. Taylor’s career with the Nationals seemed in jeopardy.  An early season injury to starting centerfielder Adam Eaton gave Taylor another opportunity to play, and he has not disappointed this time.  Taylor has hit .269 with 13 home runs and 39 RBI and has provided top level defense in the middle of the Nationals’ outfield.

Another young outfielder also stepped up and contributed mightily for the Nats this year. Left-handed swinging Brian Goodwin suffered an injury of his own about a month ago but before that, the powerful first year player had 13 homers in 251 at bats and showed an ability to play all three positions in the outfield.

Wilmer Difo’s emergence has been a shot in the arm for a Nats’ team that battled through injuries to starting shortstop Trea Turner. The energetic Difo has hit .289 with a .341 on base percentage,  has hit five home runs, stolen eight bases and played solid defense at a variety of positions.

#2-  STILL THE FACE OF THE FRANCHISE

The toll of suffering numerous injuries took Ryan Zimmerman from being an All-Star level player to one who to some seemed incapable of recapturing his old form.  In 2017, Zimmerman has gone a long way toward showing his skeptics the errors of their ways.

A blistering start to the season has helped Zimmerman put up vintage Zim-like numbers (.300 average, 29 homers, 89 RBI through games of Sept. 2nd)  that have given Washington’s opponents another bat to worry about when facing the Nats’ powerful lineup.  Zimmerman has also done a sterling job in the field at first base, showing an ability to deal with wild throws and turn potential errors for his teammates into outs.

#1- AN ACE AGAIN

From 2014 through 2016, Nats’ lefty Gio Gonzalez had a combined WAR of 5.9. So far in his amazing 2017 campaign, Gonzalez WAR is at 6.5.

Gonzalez has won 13 of his 19 decisions with a 2.58 ERA and a career best 1.139 WHIP so far this year.  With both Scherzer and Strasburg missing time with injuries, Gonzalez has been the anchor for a Nats’ rotation that is among baseball’s best.

Game 107 Review- Nats 4 Cubs 2

Nationals_Cubs_Baseball_88290

Daniel Murphy’s two home runs off of Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks led Washington to a 4-2 win over Chicago at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon in the first game of a three game series between probable 2017 post-season opponents.

Game 107

Nationals 4 Cubs 2

Nats’ Record 64-43, first place in the NL East, 13 games ahead of Miami 

WP- Roark (9-7)  LP- Hendricks (4-4)  SV- Doolittle (8)

HR- Murphy Was 2 (19),  Baez, Chc (15)

If the Nationals and Cubs end up meeting in the 2017 post-season and play games like the one played at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon, the series will be a great one.  On a day where temperatures in the Windy City were more suitable for October than for August, the Nats got solid pitching and clutch hitting by Cubs-killer Daniel Murphy to pull out a 4-2 victory over Chicago.  Washington is now eight games ahead of the Cubs in the loss column in the battle for the second seed (with resulting home field advantage) in the National League playoffs.

Here’s a look at some of the highlights from the game.

STARS OF THE GAME

Daniel Murphy went 3 for 4 with a pair of homers and three runs driven in to extend his dominance of the Cubs in games played at Wrigley Field.  Among opponents with at least 80 at bats at Wrigley since 1913, only Hall of Famer Eddie Murray (with a 1.111 mark) has a higher OPS than Murphy’s 1.098.    Murphy got the Nats off to a strong start with a booming two run home run to right center in the first inning, and expanded Washington’s lead to 3-0 with an opposite field solo shot in the sixth.

Pitching in his home state of Illinois, Tanner Roark won his ninth game of the year with 6.1 solid innings pitched.  Roark shut the Cubs out through six innings before being removed after giving up Javier Baez’s two run home run in the seventh.  In his last four starts, Roark has allowed eight earned runs in 24 innings pitched while posting a 3-1 record.

Nats’ relievers Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle showed why the revamped Nationals’ bullpen may make the team’s relief pitching a strength down the stretch. The trio recorded the last eight outs of the game, allowing only one hit and striking out three batters in the process.

STRONG IN DEFEAT

Lanky Chicago starter Kyle Hendricks had a magical 2016 season, leading the National League in ERA with a 2.13 mark while winning 16 of his 24 decisions in the Cubs’ championship season.  Things have been tougher for the Ivy League product in 2017, but he showed signs of getting his mojo back yesterday as he allowed only five hits and three runs in seven innings pitched.

NATS NOTES

Murphy’s two home run game marked the 18th time a Nationals’ player has had a multiple home run game so far in 2017.  That total leads the National League.  Murphy’s two round tripper game was his second of the year.  Bryce Harper leads the Nats with five multi-homer games this year with five.   With 55 games still left to play, the Nationals’ 18 instances of multiple home run games this year is the most the team has had in a single season since baseball returned to Washington in 2005. Prior to this season,  Washington’s high mark for instances of multiple home run games in a season was 15, set in 2010.   Ryan Zimmerman’s 20 multiple home run games in his career is the Nats’ high mark, with Harper (15), Adam LaRoche (8), Adam Dunn (8) and Jayson Werth (6) rounding out the top five.

Madson struck out two Cubs in yesterday’s game, including talented Anthony Rizzo and young slugger Kyle Schwarber, to keep the Cubs at bay in the crucial eighth inning.  On the year, Madson has been equally impressive against both lefthanded and righthanded hitters.   Lefties are hitting only .188 with a .266 OPS against the veteran reliever, and righthanders have a .180 average with a .258 OPS.

Washington’s win was its 35th road victory of the year, the second most in the Major Leagues behind Houston’s 38.   The Nats have a .625 winning percentage (35-21 record) on the road so far this year, and are primed to best Washington’s team best .593 winning percentage in road games from the 2012 season.

UP NEXT

If the wind is blowing out at Wrigley Field this afternoon, fans in the bleachers would be smart to bring their baseball gloves with them to the ballpark as both of today’s starting pitchers have had difficulty with the long ball so far in 2017.

Chicago’s John Lackey has surrendered 26 round trippers in 114.2 innings pitched this year.  Only Atlanta’s Julio Teheran, with 27, has given up more among National League hurlers.  Lackey has also shown a difficulty controlling the running game this year, allowing ten steals in 11 attempts.  Look for Adam Lind to be patrolling left field for the Nats today. In 43 career at bats against Lackey, Lind has a .419 average with seven RBI.  Lackey has had success against Bryce Harper, holding the Nats’ star to one hit in 11 career at bats.

Nats’ starter Edwin Jackson has allowed five home runs in his 19 innings pitched for Washington this year.   Anthony Rizzo has four hits in five career at bats against Jackson but the Nats’ righty has had success against Chicago’s Ben Zobrist, holding the versatile veteran to three hits in 15 at bats with five strikeouts.

Nationals by the Numbers- July 13th

natsallstars

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).

.811

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.

.859

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.

.88 

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.

6

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.

11 

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.

 102

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.

295

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.