Nationals by the Numbers- May 21st

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Pittsburgh rookie Josh Bell homers against Washington’s Tanner Roark on May 18th at PNC Park to lead the Pirates to a 10-4 victory over the Nationals. The home run was one of ten hit against the Nationals so far on their road trip to Pittsburgh and Atlanta.

A Major League baseball season is full of peaks and valleys for all teams, and the Nats experienced some valleys over the past week. This week’s “Nationals by the Numbers” looks at some of those unsightly results, the work of a Nationals stalwart who is aging well and the top level performance Washington is getting from its best hitter off of the bench.

.170 

The Nationals are 1-4 so far on their road trip, and the team has struggled in many facets of the game.  The poor record on the trip is not hard to understand when one looks at how three important Nationals players have fared at the plate in those games.  Bryce Harper (3-20), Ryan Zimmerman (4-18) and Anthony Rendon (2-15) are hitting a combined .170 in the five contests, with only four extra base hits and four RBI between them.

.354

One Nationals hitter who is not slumping recently is centerfielder Michael A. Taylor. Despite going 0-4 in yesterday’s contest, Taylor is hitting .354 with two doubles, two homers and five RBI over his past 31 at bats.  Taylor is still striking out at a high rate, however.  Among players with fewer than 100 at bats so far this year, Taylor’s 36 strikeouts in 90 at bats is the fourth highest total in the Major Leagues.  Only Tampa’s Rickie Weeks (40 strikeouts/77 at bats),  Matt Davidson of the White Sox (39 strikeouts/98 at bats) and Kansas City’s Brandon Moss (38 strikeouts/96 at bats) have worse results than Taylor in this category.

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Jayson Werth turned 38 on Saturday, but his .869 OPS so far in 2017 shows that he might be getting better as well.   He’s put up a higher OPS figure than that number only three times in his long career.  Werth’s career best was a .931 mark that he had for the Nationals in 2013.  While playing for the Phillies, Werth had a .921 OPS in 2010 and a .879 OPS in 2009.   So far in May, Werth has been red-hot.  He has hit .315 with a .422 on base percentage and a .519 slugging percentage figure for an impressive .940 OPS.

1.04

Weather permitting, Washington’s Stephen Strasburg looks to end the Nats’ skid today against the Braves in Atlanta. If the Nats’ all-star’s last four games in Atlanta are a guide, we very well may see a curly W being put in the books this afternoon.  In those four starts, Strasburg is 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 26 innings pitched.

3

While Harper, Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy have grabbed most of the headlines associated with the Nationals’ hot start at the plate in the 2017 season, the contributions of bench player Adam Lind should not be overlooked.  Lind, with three, is the only player in the Major Leagues with more than one pinch-hit home run so far this year.  He is hitting a robust .333 in 45 at bats, with four doubles and 14 RBI (the seventh highest total on the team) to go along with his three round-trippers.

4

Saturday’s loss was Washington’s fourth in a row, the longest losing streak through the first quarter of the year for the first place Nats.   While some overly nervous fans may be ready to push the panic button, such streaks are common place even among top level teams.  In their 2016 National League East championship year, the Nats had four streaks of four or more losses in a row. Washington dropped four straight at Wrigley Field against the Cubs from May 5th through May 8th last year.  From June 18th through June 25th, the Nats lost a season high seven games in a row on a road swing to San Diego, Los Angeles and Milwaukee.  In August Washington dropped four straight games against Atlanta and Baltimore, and the Nats also finished on the wrong end of the scoreboard four in four straight games in September while facing the Braves and the Marlins.

59 

With 10 home runs allowed in five games on their current road trip, the Nats have allowed more home runs this year than only two National League teams (the Phillies have permitted 62 long balls, with San Diego surrendering 60).  The National League average for home runs allowed this year is 50. The last time Washington was not above league average in home runs permitted in a season was back in 2010, when the Nats permitted 151 home runs against a league average of 150.

68

Their has not been a lot of top level starting pitching on display during the Nats’ road trip, but an exception to that rule came on May 18th in the Pirates 6-1 victory over the Nats.  Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole allowed only one run and three hits in seven dominant innings to pace the Pirates to victory. Cole’s pitching game score of 68 in the contest was the second highest of the year so far against the Nats, trailing only Mike Leake’s 76 from St. Louis’ 6-1 victory over Washington on April 12th.

Nationals by the Numbers- Sunday April 30th

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Ryan Zimmerman’s massive 455 blast wasn’t enough to keep the Nationals from falling 5-3 on Saturday to the rival New York Mets. The homer was Zimmerman’s 11th of the season and third in the two games in the series so far.

With April 2017 almost in the books, here’s this week’s version of Nationals by the Numbers.  We’re heavy on the offensive heroics this week following Washington’s bashing of the Colorado Rockies in their four game series in Denver.

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Nats’ veteran lefthander Gio Gonzalez will finish the month of April with a 3-0 mark. Gonzalez’s career winning percentage in April is .615, the third highest percentage in a month in his career.  The good news for fans hoping for continued success for the popular pitcher is that the upcoming month of May has historically been Gonzalez’s best month from a winning percentage perspective.  The Florida native has won 17 of his 25 starts in May to post a .680 mark.

3

The Nationals put up double digit runs in three consecutive games in the Colorado series, scoring 15, 11 and 16 in the final games of the set.  This was only the third time in Nationals’ history where they’ve scored double digit runs in three consecutive games. The 2016 Nats did the trick by scoring 10 to beat Cincinnati on June 5th, and then going to Chicago to beat the White Sox by 10-5 and 11-4 scores on June 6th-7th.  Back in late June of 2012, the Nationals beat the Rockies at Colorado by 12-5 and 11-5 scores before losing 11-10 in the final game of the series.

5

Trea Turner and Bryce Harper each had a four hit game in the series in Colorado, Turner’s coming on April 25th when he hit for the cycle and Harper’s coming one day later in Washington’s 11-4 rout of the Rockies.  Washington has had five four hit performances on the year, the most by a team in the Majors. Harper leads the way with three (giving him five in his career), with Turner and Daniel Murphy also part of the 2017 four hits in a game club.

6.12

Anyone following the Nationals so far this year has noticed the team’s very proficient and explosive lineup.  Through 24 games, Washington’s 6.12 runs scored per game is far and away the top mark in the Major League’s (the New York Yankees with 5.64 runs per contest are next).

The Nationals also lead the Major Leagues in on base percentage at .359, batting average at .284, and OPS at .840.  They are third in walks with 96 and their 36 home runs trails only the 43 put up by the Milwaukee Brewers.

7

Nats’ all-star righthander Stephen Strasburg had his 55th career game with at least seven innings pitched and three or fewer earned runs allowed on Saturday.  Unfortunately Strasburg’s solid effort was not rewarded with a win, as the Nats fell to Michael Conforto and the Mets by a 5-3 score.  The loss was only Strasburg’s seventh time in 41 decisions in the 55 contests.

11

The only thing hotter than the unseasonably warm weather in Washington this weekend has been the bat of Ryan Zimmerman.  The Z man homered twice on Friday and hit a mammoth blast on Saturday against the Mets to give him 11 homers in April.  With one day to go in the month, Zimmerman has tied his career high for most homers in a month (he hit 11 in September 2013).  He stands two short of the Nationals’ record of 13, set by Bryce Harper in May 2015.

One interesting aspect of the Nats’ first baseman’s start to the year has been his ability to produce even when he is behind in the count. On 1-2 counts so far this season, Zimmerman has a Major League leading four home runs and has put up an All-Star level 1.125 OPS.

12

Trea Turner and Daniel Murphy combined for 12 runs driven in during Washington’s 15-12 win at Colorado on April 25th, giving the middle infield combo the highest total of combined RBI by two players in Nationals’ history.  The dozen RBI topped the 10 runs driven in by Josh Willingham (with 8) and either Cristian Guzman or Adam Dunn (each had two RBI) in the Nats’ 14-6 win at Milwaukee on July 27, 2009.

15

The news is not all good in the Nation’s Capital when discussing our boys in red and white.   Friday’s game saw Nats’ spark plug Adam Eaton lost for the season with a knee injury and Saturday’s second straight loss to the Mets featured two more home runs allowed by the Nationals’ bullpen.  Washington’s 15 home runs allowed by relievers so far this year is the second highest total in the National League, trailing only Philadelphia (19) and San Diego (16).  The Nats’ pen’s .855 OPS allowed is the second worst figure in the Major Leagues.

Nationals by the Numbers- April 23, 2017

Gio Gonzalez won again at Citi Field against the Mets on Saturday, moving his all-time record at the Mets’ home to 8-1 as the Nationals won their sixth game in a row. (PHOTO- Anthony Grupposo, USA Today Sports).

Our first edition of Nationals by the Numbers for the 2017 season features notes on the Nats’ dominance of former tormentors within their division, long balls hit with the bases full and the consistently good efforts Washington gets from its starting pitching staff.

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Since 2011, Nationals’ wins at Citi Field in Queens, New York have been as common as jets flying over the stadium or Mets’ fans venting their displeasure with boos.

The Nats have won 43 of the 60 games (.716 winning percentage) played at New York since 2011.  Yesterday’s winning pitcher Gio Gonzalez is 8-1 lifetime at Citi Field, and teammate Stephen Strasburg has won five of his six decisions at the park.  Both Anthony Rendon (.889 OPS) and Bryce Harper (.880) have excelled against Mets’ pitching, and Daniel Murphy’s work against his former teammates has caused angst among his one-time supporters.

Despite their overall dominance on the road against the Mets, the Nationals have not swept a series in New York since August 12-14, 2014.  Washington will look to change that behind ace Max Scherzer this evening.

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Their divisional opponents in the Big Apple are not the only former bully who the Nats have turned the tables on.  Since June 21, 2014, Washington has won 49 of the 62 games it has played against the Atlanta Braves.   Washington’s 14 runs scored against Atlanta on April 19th is the most the Nationals have scored at Atlanta, beating the mark of 13 runs set in the Nats’ amazing comeback 13-12 win over the Braves on April 28, 2015.

1

Washington is 12-5 through 17 games in the 2017 campaign, one game behind the team’s best mark through 17 games in its 13 years in DC.   The 2012 and 2016 teams, which both won National League East titles and had 98 and 95 wins respectively, were 13-4 at the 17 game mark.

6

Ryan Zimmerman has started the 2017 season looking like he did in his All-Star years, and he showed that form to the fans at Sun Trust Park in Washington’s 14-4 win on Wednesday.  Zimmerman hit the sixth grand slam home run of his career in the rout, the first since he cleared the bases with a home run against San Diego on August 25, 2015 in Washington.  Bryce Harper also hit a slam in the game, a year after his last four run round tripper on April 19, 2016 at Miami.

9

Bryce Harper’s no doubt home run to right-center in the first inning of Friday night against talented Matt Harvey of the Mets was the ninth of Harper’s career at Citi Field. That total trails only the 66 the Nats’ right fielder has hit at home at the 12 he has blasted at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park.  With two grand slams already, a talented and powerful lineup and 145 games left to play, the Nationals may have a shot at besting the 2009 squad’s Nats’ record of eight in a season.

12

Gio Gonzalez’s 6.1 innings pitched with only one run allowed marked the 12th time in 17 games that the Nationals’ starting pitchers have pitched at least six innings with two or fewer earned runs allowed.  The Nats’ sole lefty starter leads the way with four such efforts, followed by Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer with three each and Tanner Roark with two.

15

It only took fire-balling lefty reliever Enny Romero 15 pitches to record five straight outs in the Nats’ 3-1 win at New York on Saturday.  Included in that effort was a three pitch (all fastballs), see you later strikeout of the good-hitting Asdrubal Cabrera in which Romero’s velocity approached triple digits.

30 

Trea Turner scored his first run of the season in yesterday’s 3-1 victory at New York.  The game continued a trend where good things seem to happen to the Nats when the speedy Turner rounds the bases.  In the 44 games in which Turner has scored at least one run as a National, Washington has won 30 of them.

33

Following Sunday’s prime-time match-up with the Mets, the Nationals head west to Coors Field to take on the Colorado Rockies in a four game series.   Superstar Nolan Arenado has been excellent so far in 2017 (.328, six homers, 12 RBI, 1.087 OPS) and Mark Reyonlds has shown that Ryan Zimmerman isn’t the only former UVA player with a hot bat (.339, five homers 16 RBI) so far, but the real story of the Rockies’ hot start has been their pitching.

A major part of that effort has been the job done by the back end of the Colorado bullpen. Former Kansas City closer Greg Holland has converted all nine of his save attempts this year, and Holland, Adam Ottavino and lefty Mike Dunn have combined to struck out 33 batters in 25 innings pitched this year.

71

Stephen Strasburg’s win over the Braves on Thursday gave him 71 victories in his career, the most for any Nationals’ pitcher since baseball returned to Washington in 2005.  The recent victory game Strasburg one more curly W than former teammates Livan Hernandez and Jordan Zimmermann.