Zimm’s Corner: All Star Break Edition

By | July 12, 2016
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Editor’s Note: In his ongoing “Zimm’s Corner” monthly report on the hometown Washington Nationals, HTTD writer Patrick Rice provides his thoughts on the Nats at the 2016 All Star break.

Zimm’s Corner All Star Edition
Part I – A Look Back

Record: 54-36 (six games up on the Mets and Marlins)

In the strike year of 1994, the Montreal Expos entered the All Star Break with a 54-36 record, but were never able to finish their historic season.

22 years later, and re-located in Washington, D.C., the Washington Nationals have a chance to do something special for a city begging for success.

By taking the final three games against the hated New York Mets, the Nationals find themselves 18 games above .500 and six games up in the division. Zimm’s corner has looked at the defensive prowess, the pitching, and the bats of the Nats so far this season, but as we pause and reflect on the first half of the season – the numbers are truly remarkable.

Let’s start with the pitching. The staff for the Washington Nationals has been about as good as advertised. Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, and co. have mowed down hitters at an impressive rate. Take a look at the numbers for yourself:

  • Team ERA: 3.29 (1st)
  • Quality Starts: 57 (2nd)
  • Strikeouts: 853 (2nd)
  • Opponents BA: .231 (3rd)

The best part of these pitching statistics is that Dusty’s group shows no signs of slowing down. The bridge between the starters and Jonathan Papelbon is shaky, but otherwise this group is the most stout in baseball. Expect the Nationals to be active in trying to bring in a set-up reliever for the 8th inning at the deadline. With additional help, this staff could become even more dangerous in October.

Having excessive pitching is a bonus, but having a great defense is a luxury.

Nearly a month plus after discussing the Nationals defense and slick fielding almost nothing has changed. The Nationals remain first in Major League Baseball with an overall team fielding percentage of .990 %. Taking a deeper look in the stats, Washington has only committed 33 errors on the season, eight less than both the Houston Astros and LA Dodgers.

My favorite piece to the Nats defense has been watching Danny Epinosa man the 6-hole in the middle of the defense. The double play tandem of Espinosa and Daniel Murphy have combined for .96 double plays per game, good enough for 8th in the league.

These numbers jump off the page. Not only do the Nats pitchers have the power to strike out 20 batters in a game, but they have the confidence to allow the ball to be put in play. That is how you win baseball games. That is how you win in the fall.

Baseball is a game of numbers. Looking back on the first half of the season, it’s easy to point out seven game losing streaks, getting swept by the Cubs, or Dusty’s loyalty to his players.

However, the numbers above do not lie. This team has the makeup to be special. No matter how you look at the stats, baseball is won with pitching and defense.

The Washington Nationals have both in spades. There is a long way to go, but this team checks the most important boxes.

Washington, D.C. fans continue to be scared and suffer through painful heartbreak. ESPN just named the city the 4th most suffering sports City in the US. Is it time to put our belief behind the District’s Baseball team?

The stats say yes.

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