Nationals Baseball: The offense is good! The offense is good?

Friday, April 16, 2010

The offense is good! The offense is good?

Now that Harry Caray and Phil Rizzuto are long dead (God! Rest! Their! Souls!) I think it's time someone started saying "Holy Cow" again. Oh no, not me. My vernacular battles belong in convincing the world that Harper is a great boy's name and a stupid girl's name. But maybe Rob Dibble can take it up. God knows I'd rather hear that than his usual deep insight of "Yeah!" and "Argh!" (maybe it's because I only can see the highlights...)

The Nats won last night which is great because it's nice when you don't have to back off a modest win total projection three weeks into the season like we had to last year and the year before. The key to the not horribly sucking has been an offense that has put up at least 4 runs in seven of their 9 games. On the surface that may not seem like much, their runs per game is below average in the NL. But more than half of the NL has scored 10 runs or more in a game already. The Padres scored 17, the Braves 16, the D-Backs 15. Either the whole NL has started to mash and the Nats are going to be killed, or the Nats are simply chugging along and will slowly pass the other teams as these extreme games get evened out.

Are other teams hitting better than the Nats? Sure, but that's based mostly on average. The Nats are being incredibly patient at the plate (44 walks is second highest in the NL), and their power is perfectly acceptable (31 XBH is tied for 6th in the NL). The Nats aren't going to hit .230 for the year. That'll improve and if these other stats remain relatively constant... well we're going to see a repeat of last year's perfectly acceptable offensive output. Maybe something a little better.

The key has been getting something from nearly every spot in the lineup (excluding RF, but we all know about that debacle). Pudge has been hot, as has Willingham. Zimmerman and Desmond have been hitting with pop (when they've been connecting). Dunn is still getting on base. Guzman and Morgan have been off their games, but not to the point of really hurting the team much. Only Kennedy has struggled and issues with 2nd base aren't going to throw this team for a loop. Even with the offense not firing on full cylinders, or even 2/3rds cylinders, there is enough talent here for decent showing.

This isn't a great offense and won't be unless Desmond is something more than I think he is and Pudge really is having a shocking renaissance. It's a good offense though, for the second year in a row. It's also a pretty bad pitching staff for the second year in a row... but maybe in 2011 the Nats will compete in all aspects of the game.


Bryan said...

Actually, I didn't think Olsen pitched that poorly. That could mean by the end of the season its Lannan, Stras & Olsen at the top.

That actually could be the start of a pretty decent 2011 staff.

I feel like I've typed this before, not to mention that I feel like I've read this before.

Hoo said...

I think the shocking part of the Nats offense is that the Nats are scoring big runs with the top of the lineup out of sync. Morgan isn't hitting well. Zim has been hurt and struggling before yesterday. The back of the lineup has been a pleasant surprise with the exception of Adam Kennedy (which is about what you expect).

Which means there may not be a huge tailoff as both the front and the back of the lineup regress to the mean.

BTW, I think any Nats fan should be overjoyed at 4-5 with Zimmerman missing about all but 1 AB in 4 of those games.

Bryan said...

Hoo - 4-5 with Zimmerman missing those games and 6 of them coming against the Phils.

And I actually think our pitching will settle down a bit once we get past this Phils-intensive part of the early schedule. The Phils have probably the best lineup we'll face.

Harper said...

They better be happy with 4-5 because despite the little sunshine I tried to spread today, this team is skating on thin ice.

While the offense has been good the pitching has still been terrible (2nd most runs given up). The Nats eeked out wins (1 2-run win, 2 1-run victories) and got blown out in their losses. It's a recipe for a tougher go from here on out if the pitching doesn't pick up.

But that's for another column - today "Offense... it's not bad!"