We know you want the good news first. The Nationals are the #1 team in the Majors in OPS, and there is no other team that is close. The Nats are at .867 on the team OPS, and #2 in runs scored. The starting pitching has been fantastic too if we go with a sans Jeremy Guthrie stat that gives the Nats a 2.31 starter’s ERA.
The bad news probably starts with that bullpen ERA of 6.75 which is the 4th worst in the Majors. Small sample sizes will skew 29.1 innings of work when you are giving up 3-run home runs. The more alarming news is the team defense that was supposed to be an asset, which the outfield has met that challenge, but the infield and catchers are combined for the worst team defense so far and the infielders are a combined negative UZR. The Nationals are tied for 2nd worst in team errors at 9, and that has to improve. Uncharacteristically, Anthony Rendon has 2 errors, and he is thought to be a top 3rd basemen defensively. Again, small sample sizes will skew.
“How many is that? Nine? That’s an uncharacteristically high number,” Dusty Baker said, and he could have been referring to the team errors, but was actually talking about the number of home runs Nationals’ pitchers have surrendered which has actually been ten.
“It always concerns me when you don’t catch it or throw it,” Baker continued his criticism and spoke about the defensive issues. “Because you’re giving away outs. You give away extra outs. And the game wasn’t designed for 30 outs vs. 27. We’ve just got to tighten our defense up. We’ve got to tighten our defense, and we’ve got to tighten our entire game up.”
Mental errors have been an issue also, but for the most part, the Nationals are doing just fine as a team with a 5-4 record and some needed rest. When the Nationals lost Trea Turner to a hamstring injury, Adam Eaton stepped up and in to lead-off and ignite the offense.
Trea Turner and Anthony Rendon both got off to slow starts, and you just know they will get hot, and all other Nats starters are at OPS’s of .937 and above. Turner is batting .158 and Rendon is at .133. The biggest positive surprises have been the 1st basemen as Ryan Zimmerman is batting .382 and driving the ball and so is Adam Lind who has already won a game for the Nats with a pinch-hit 3-run home run and a total of 3 pinch-hits already in just 4 at-bats plus he has 2 additional hits subbing at 1st base. Lind is a +0.3 fWAR already. Daniel Murphy leads the Nats with a +0.8 fWAR followed by Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Eaton, and Bryce Harper.
Matt Wieters has been a pleasant surprise at the plate, but his defense so far has been an issue. It could be just getting used to this pitching staff, and that is where more work and a larger sample size will be more helpful in future analysis.
The main thing to consider is this has just been 9 games which is just 5.56% of a full season.