Monday, September 30, 2013

Washington Nationals Season Recap

Washington Nationals 2013 Season Recap
          
         As a Washington Nationals fan, looking back to this time last year seems like night and day when compared with the sentiments echoing around the confines of Nationals Park as we enter into October baseball. The 2013 season for the Washington Nationals will be remembered as the most disappointing in recent memory. 5 years ago, a second place finish in the National League East and a winning record would have been something to cheer about in the nation’s capital. However, coming off the overwhelming success of the 2012 season, coupled with the off-season acquisitions made by President of Baseball Operations Mike Rizzo, anything short of a National League pennant feels like a failure. What happened to the Nationals last season in Game 5 against the St. Louis Cardinals could be chalked up to inexperience and youth, which many argue was exactly what such a young and talented team needed in order to make the next step in the playoffs. Unfortunately, the team touted as a favorite to make it to the World Series in 2013 took a step in the wrong direction, missing out on the playoffs and leaving fans bewildered and discouraged. So, what went wrong? Well, where to begin….

One of the indelible images from the season, Bryce Harper laid out on the field after crashing into the wall against the Dodgers in L.A. 


            Injuries, underachieving veterans, and poor hitting with runners in scoring position; take your pick. A dark horse MVP candidate entering the season, Bryce Harper flashed his brilliance on numerous occasions, but never was able to stay healthy enough to put up the numbers his team needed. On top of that, with the lack of a verbal leader in the clubhouse, not having Harper out there day in and day out showed as the team appeared uninspired at times. Off-season acquisitions Dan Haren and Denard Span, whom were expected to solidify the lineup and rotation, respectively, had one of their poorest seasons as major leaguers. While Span played Gold Glove-caliber defense in center field, his inability to be a table setter at the top of the lineup through on-base percentage and stolen bases really hurt the Nats offense. His late-season heroics and 29 game hitting streak will really play on Mike Rizzo’s mind as he tries to figure out which Span he will get in 2014. Dan Haren was simply awful. While posting a 9-14* record and a 4.87 ERA* Haren did not provide what Manager Davey Johnson was looking for out of the final rotation spot. Couple Haren’s ineptitude with the loss of Ross Detwiler for the majority of the season, and you can see why the Nationals were so reliant on their big three of Steven Strasburg (7-9, 3.02)*, Gio Gonzalez (11-8, 3.36)*, and Jordan Zimmerman (19-9, 3.25)* to pick up the slack. While each of these young guns pitches quite well, for the majority of the season they simply were not getting the run support they needed. When you look at Strasburg’s 3.02 ERA and then his 7-9 Win-Loss record, it leaves you scratching your head, which brings me to my final point.


            Everyone always says ‘great pitching always beats great hitting’, and based on that premise the Nationals should have been winning games left and right. However, while the Nationals have a fantastic front end of their rotation, even masterful pitchers cannot win when their team cannot score runs. If you look through the typical starting line-up, the statistics* really are not that bad:
Rk
Pos
Age
G
PA
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
SB
CS
BB
SO
BA
OBP
SLG
OPS
1
C
Wilson Ramos
25
78
303
287
29
78
9
0
16
59
0
1
15
42
.272
.307
.470
.777
2
1B
Adam LaRoche
33
152
590
511
70
121
19
3
20
62
4
1
72
131
.237
.332
.403
.735
3
2B
Anthony Rendon
23
98
394
351
40
93
23
1
7
35
1
1
31
69
.265
.329
.396
.725
4
SS
Ian Desmond
27
158
655
600
77
168
38
3
20
80
21
6
43
145
.280
.331
.453
.784
5
3B
Ryan Zimmerman
28
147
633
568
84
156
26
2
26
79
6
0
60
133
.275
.344
.465
.809
6
LF
Bryce Harper
20
118
497
424
71
116
24
3
20
58
11
4
61
94
.274
.368
.486
.854
7
CF
Denard Span
29
153
662
610
75
170
28
11
4
47
20
6
42
77
.279
.327
.380
.707
8
RF
Jayson Werth
34
129
532
462
84
147
24
0
25
82
10
1
60
101
.318
.398
.532
.931

What does stick out here is the lack of RBIs by the team. Nobody had over 82, which is barely over half of what league leader Chris Davis put up (138 RBIs). With the consistency of this line-up, there should be at least 2 players scratching at the 100 RBI plateau, with two or three others up over 75. So, what is the problem here? Poor situational hitting with runners in scoring position and the inability of batters to put balls in play in key situations are the culprits of the Nationals demise. The Nationals finished the season batting .245 with runners in scoring position, which was slightly below the overall team batting average of .251. While this small differential may not seem like much, if you consider the fact that the teams 4 of the 5 teams who placed in the top 5 in this category made the playoffs (and the other plays at a mile above sea level), the statistic stands out rather quickly. The difference between that .006 in batting average meant upwards of 12 hits, which by default would mean at minimum 12 more runs. Considering the amount of games the Nationals lost by one run, it is hard to argue with the logic here.

So, another season in the books, albeit a disappointing one at best. However, DC sports fans should keep their chins up as this team will return for the 2014 season as a World Series favorite once again; hopefully this time the pressure of having a target on their back will be old news. Later on I will provide a 2014 season preview for the Washington Nationals, so stay tuned and enjoy October baseball! Don’t forget to check out mine and Anton Joe’s MLB Playoff articles starting this week and follow me on twitter @SportsGeek02

*All statistics used provided by BaseballReference.com*



3 comments:

  1. Get Harper Healthy and the Nats will be just fine next year but I never had World Series expectations for them.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well then you are smarter then everyone on Baseball Tonight, MLB Network, Baseball Reference, CBS Sports, FOX Sports, etc etc etc lol. They are going to be World Series picks for the next 4 years with that rotation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't blame them for picking the Nats the rotation is Nasty but I just think they are missing that 1 player that puts them over the top. No disrespect to Harper hes awesome but I don't think he is the kind of guy that puts a team over the top to win championships, still missing a piece I feel. I had the Cardinals representing the NL in the world series before the season started.

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...