The amount of times the Nats have struckout in the past few games has become a hot topic (I'm surprised I don't see a little "#Whiffsburgh" in the corner of highlights). The why is obvious. Strikeouts are the worst one-out thing that can happen in an offense. Since they don't put the ball in play there can be no positive outcome from the out created. A ball in play of course can become a hit, but even when it doesn't good things can happen. Runners can be driven in or moved over, fielders can commit errors. Force the other team to make the play and maybe they won't. Of course not putting the ball in play does have its advantages, namely no double plays, but I think we can all agree that you'd usually rather see the Nats make the other team work.
So the Nats are looking to correct their strikeout issues. Which is going to probably get them exactly nowhere.
You see, while strikeouts may be a bad thing, not getting on base and not hitting for power is far far worse. If you are looking for reasons a team can't score, those two things are going to be driving the car, strikeouts will be slight breeze gently buffeting the back of the vehicle.
Take a look at how K's correlate with runs scored per game the past few years. (For those not familiar with correlations the closer to 1 the stronger the connection, anything below 0.3 is usually ignorable, and if it's positive they move together. In this example then, a positive number means "More Ks = More runs")
What do you see? A big mess of nothing really. Strikeouts per team had no correlation at all with scoring runs in 2008 and so far in 2012. In 2011 it was moderately correlated in a negative way, but in 2009 and 2010 it was moderately and ignorably correlated in a positive way. Basically - there is no good connection between Ks and scoring runs.
Why is that? Well it's because strikeouts generally go hand in hand with the drivers of offense. If I look at strikeout's correlation with average, yes of course strikeouts are bad for that. They are more outs and more outs = less hits. At the same time if you look at OBP and SLG you don't see that same negative correlation. If you take average out of the equation and look at isoOBP and isoSLG you see a pretty strong historical positive correlation. (I can show you these numbers if you so demand) Again what that means is the same guys that strikeout a lot tend to walk alot and get a lot of XBH. They do these things enough so that the drop in average isn't important, and you score runs anyway.
And here you get to the Nats offensive issues. They don't have guys that can slug and, with Werth out, aren't so great at getting on base, either. Espinosa isn't killing the Nats because he has 39 Ks. He's killing the Nats because he has 4 XBH and his below .200 average kills his OBP. Desmond and Ankiel aren't getting on base. Lombo and Ramos aren't slugging. Nady and Bernie can't hit. Some of this will be solved by guys getting back into the groove (like Zimm), some will be solved by injury recovery, but the solution to the offensive woes is not striking out less, it's getting better hitters in this lineup.