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2011 MLB Season in Review: Washington Nationals

Washingtonnationals

This is pretty weird. We get pretty use to certain team being bad, and then they go out and surprise you. I would not exactly call the Washington Nationals good, but they are far from as bad as they have been. Of course, I don't get a chance to see the Nationals play very often. It comes from being one person covering 32 NFL teams, 29 other MLB teams and god knows what else. So for the Nationals we have to look at the numbers.

The wound up 80-81, and finished in third place in the National League East. John Riggleman was let go, as he wanted some assurances that he would get a long term deal. Davey Johnson stepped in and he team went 40-43 under him. That has earned Johnson a shot at he job full time. The Nationals did go 36-36 in their division, but played down to their competition. They were 19-17 against the Atlanta Braves, and Philadelphia Phillies. However, just 17-19 against the Florida Marlins and New York Mets. They also went 8-7 in inter-league play. They are ok, but still need some work.

The Nationals scored 624 runs on 1,319 hits. That was the second lowest hit total in the NL, and the team batting average was just .242 the third worst BA in their league. They did swat 154 dingers, so power is not the issue here. They may need a few table setters to help manufacture some runs. Since they did strike out the most times in their league, a little patience at the plate might also help. By extension they also had the fourth fewest walks. 

The Nationals pitching staff gave up 643 runs on 1,403 hits, and the staff ERA was 3.58. That was the sixth best staff ERA in the senior league. The problem seems to be this staff gives up many gopher balls. Opposing batters hit 129 home runs of the Nationals staff. They also had the second fewest strikeouts, and averaged just 6.5 strikeouts/nine innings. Since they did not give up all that may walks it looks like opposing batters were able to figure out their pitches.

When I look over the numbers, I see a team that definitely needs some pitching help. The bullpen looks solid where the highest ERA was 3.81 but they did convert 43 saves. The starting rotation needs work. They need Stephen Strasburg to get right and come back and they will need more help on top of that. Granted, part their rotation is young and may mature. I think Jordan Zimmerman may be a guy they look to eat up innings in the future.  Overall, this may be a team on the rise.

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