Filtering by Tag: Offense

The Nats and Situational Hitting

Yesterday the Nats lost a baseball game, and as many would like to point outthey lost this game because of situational hitting. By that most people mean situational out making. The Nats had three golden opportunities to score runs. Twice they had first and third with no outs and once the bases loaded and no outs, and every time the Nats failed to plate even one run. By run expectancy the number of runs that can be expected to be scored in those situations by an average MLB offense are 1.6 and 2.2. The Nats however do not have an average MLB offense. An average MLB offense is hitting .253/.317/.401 and the Nats, .233/.292/.374. In other words because the Nats aren't even an average hitting team their run expectancy is going to be lower, but it shouldn't be to a point where zero is an acceptable or an expected outcome, but like most things in baseball an average is reached due to extremes more often than consistency.  

Most people look at those situations and blame the Nats poor situational hitting ignoring the fact that most teams hover right around 50% in scoring runners from third with less than two outs. The Nats are no different at 46% and while that is second worst in baseball it isn't that far off from the league average of 50%, and the Nats being sixth worst in opportunities is far more troubling. No matter how the Nats were doing in such situations people would take issue and remember the good old days when teams always scored runners from third with less than two outs. Those days never existed. The MLB average is always somewhere around 50%, and the correlation in runs scored is found more with opportunities than it is with the production in the situation itself. The St. Louis Cardinals are only 2% better at plating a runner from third with less than two outs than the Nationals, but they have scored over one and a half more runs per game, but have had 38 more base runners on third with less than two outs.

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Obvious Answers

During the Nats five game losing streak they averaged 1.2 runs a game. for the season they have averaged 4.33 runs a game compared to an NL average of 4.23 and since the All-Star Break they have scored 4.59. There are very obvious reasons for all of these things. During the losing streak the Nats discovered one of the inevitable truths of baseball. If a team cannot score they cannot win. Here is another truth about the Nats offense that some might not realize. They are not a hit or miss offense.

Go all the way back to the Nats first five game losing streak at the end of April beginning of May and they averaged 1.4 runs a game. The Nats had a four game stretch with three at the Orioles and one at the Rockies in which they went 1-3 and scored 1.6 runs a game, but this is all pointing to a trend that once every two months the Nationals have a very bad stretch of games. If this is the pattern then the Nats next bad stretch of games will come at the end of October. If the Nats are still playing at that time then there is less reason to be upset.

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Since April the Nationals Offense has been Better

Before this season I always tried to find the positive in the Nats play. It wasn't easy and at times it took some deep, deep digging, but there was always a grain of light to be found. With the Nats playing so well and now 14 games over .500 I want to try and find that nugget of darkness. The simplest one to find and the one most will say is the reason the Nats can't last is because they can't score, and while they do rank 24th in runs scored in baseball and 12th in the NL they have made some progress of late. 

In April the Nationals scored 74 runs in 22 games or 3.36 runs a game. That isn't just bad that it close to being one of the worst offenses of all time. Over a 162 game season that is 544 runs on the season which would have been the worst in the majors in 2011 below the 556 run Mariners. That April number is so bad that it obscures some of the good things that the Washington Nationals have done since them and it pulling their overall offensive average down.

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