What can I say? It's not like the Nats are going to beat the Tigers. If I had remembered to do so I would have predicted a Tiger 2-game sweep. They are the better team at home. (followed by winning 2 out of 3 over the Brewers). But you WANT them to beat the Tigers away because that would kind of prove that the Nats aren't an also-ran but a contender and thus these games still are frustrating.
Last night's talk was mostly of Strasburg's one bad pitch, which really wasn't one bad pitch, he had to load the bases somehow, but it was something to take the onus away from the terrible hitting which was once again terrible.
In July the Nats have basically had their core team playing. Bryce came back on the 1st. Ramos only July 4th. How is this team doing in July? At first it doesn't look bad. They are 6th in R/G in the NL. 6th in OPS. Not great but a lot like last year overall. If the pitching was elite (which it's not) then the Nats could make a move. But the ranking hides a truth.
3rd 4.85 R/G
5th 4.16 R/G
6th 4.04 R/G
8th 3.93 R/G
13th 3.52 R/G
The Nats are closer to 8th place than to 5th. They are closer to 13th than 3rd. This isn't a noticeably above average offense which you might think seeing the 6th place ranking. They have everyone back. All cylinders are firing and they are... average.
An average-ish team in one aspect can still be carried by an elite group in the other aspect (see : Giants, SF 2010) but the Nats don't have elite pitching this year.
Also the Nats offensive numbers are skewed by the team's strange distribution of runs. We've talked about this before but the Nats either don't score or score a bunch.
Only the Marlins have scored 2 runs or fewer more times than the Nats (53 to 49, Padres are next at 44). On the other hand, the Nats have scored 5 or more runs 42 times, good enough for 6th in the NL. Here's where it gets weird. The Nats have scored 3 or 4 runs in only 16 games. The next closest team is Colorado with 22 games. They've only scored 4 runs 4 times. (That would set a "record" if you must know) For those of you that like graphs, here is the Nats run distribution:
It's just a quirk of the system sure, but it misleads. It means the Nats are playing more games where the outcomes are pretty well set. Score two runs or less and you lose over 70% of the time (in the 2013 NL). Score 5 runs or more and you win over 70% of the time. The Nats W-L record when factoring in their run distribution drops another game, to 49 wins. The same weird distribution holds true in July. 14 games with 2 or fewer runs scored. 2 games with 3 or 4 runs scored. 4 games with 5 and 6 games with 7 or more. It's just... odd. The end result is that the Nats offense isn't even is as average as it seems, not even with everyone back.
Maybe there is a next gear for the Nats offense, but even popping it right now it's probably too late. We'll see. Nine out by Braves series... Here's hoping.