It wasn't the constructive offensive game I wanted to see, but once Dusty was out for the game that pretty much ended the whole "treat it like a playoff game" idea. I mean if your manager is not around, what's the point? So stick them out there, let them play, see what happens and what happens is a win. Great!
There's a lot of talk about the offense (yet so little about the pitching - it's as if I didn't write half of what I wrote yesterday). Is it bad? How do you judge that? If so, how bad is it? Will it stay bad? Of course there are no "true" answers here. It's all conjecture and opinion really, which is why you can have a lot of back and forth about it.
They have been hitting poorly recently. That's not really arguable. In the last two series as a team they are hitting .224 / .290 / .365. Does this in itself matter though? Not really. This is like week 23 or something. You are going to have a bad week and as weeks go, well that's bad but it could be worse. Stretching out until August 27th (the 2nd COL game) the Nats are hitting .245 / .302 / .371. That's about 2 1/2 weeks of below average hitting. That's more meaningful as it's both like a tenth of the season so far and still going on. Is it an arbitrary endpoint? Oh definitely. But we're not looking to define the offense as bad or good in general (at least I'm not). I'm simply noting for how long the offense has been scuffling. That's the point I'd start at.
The question though remains - how bad is it? How do you judge that? It's easy enough to pick out a time where they struggle and an average and compare that to the league but baseball isn't static. You go up and down. Is this down now really that unusual? Well for fun, because let's face it we're crusing until the playoffs, I went ahead and calculated the rolling 10 and 20 game averages for the Nats over this season
Neither the current 10 game average or 20 game average look all that bad. For the season the Nats are hitting .255 so the 10 game average is right on and the 20 is just a tick below. Now of course that counts the ATL series but the ATL series happened. I can't just pull that out and say I don't think it counts. Maybe it was the Braves, but maybe it wasn't. We're trying to be objective.
I think though we see two things going on. The first is how our expectations have shifted, perhaps unfairly. About 40 games ago, right around the start of August, the Nats offense started to heat up. Soon, the Nats were hitting as well as they have all year. That set a bar, and honestly one that's probably one that's a bit unfair. The Nats aren't going to consistently hit .270+. The only team doing that are the Rockies for obvious reasons. .257 in fact, is good enough for 4th in the NL. Yet in our heads .265/.270 is probably what we are thinking the Nats should do because well, they just did it for 3 weeks, obviously they can do it forever right?
However, while we are probably reacting too strongly to the current state of hitting, there is definitely a trend that's happening. The Nats are coming down. That's not in itself an issue if they are going to settle around where they average, but they are starting to dip below that. That could spell trouble.
We've said this many times, but it bears repeating. It doesn't really matter if the Nats are the best or the worst hitting team. All that really matters is how they hit in the playoffs and in a short series anything can happen. Still we'd like to believe that they are good going in rather than not good. Nothing wrong with that. Right now the offense is scuffling but it's not particularly out of line with previous scuffles during the year. If it goes on a couple series longer though that's going to be something because it'll put the Nats around their lowest points for hitting all year just as the season is wrapping up. I don't know anyone that is ok with that.