Are The Washington Nationals Legitimate World Series Contenders?
Major League Baseball has seen a major shift in the balance of power this
year. The Pirates and Orioles are contenders while the Phillies and Red Sox are
languishing. However, the Washington Nationals are perhaps the biggest surprise
in baseball this year. Could they possibly be a contender to win it all this
Is Their Hitting Good Enough?
The Nationals are not exactly a team that hits for a lot of power. On top of
that, their hitters tend to strike out a lot. Nationals batters have combined
for over 1,000 strikeouts this season. The playoffs are a time when a lot of
games are won by a run or two.
It isn't uncommon to see a 1-0 game in the NL playoffs. Washington is ranked
12th or lower in the NL when it comes to stolen bases, triples, home runs and
other power statistics. For what it may be worth, the Nationals have a .585
winning percentage of their games that are decided by one run.
What Do They Have Behind Strasburg?
Everyone knows that Stephen Strasburg is the ace of their staff. What most
people may not realize is that the Nationals have a couple of pitchers that are
putting up numbers that are just as good. Gio Gonzalez is 16-6 with an ERA a
shade over 3.20. Jason Zimmerman has a 9-7 record this season. However, that
also comes with an ERA of 2.54.
Why is this important? The Nationals plan to shut Strasburg down sometime in
September when he reaches 160-180 innings pitched for the year. After his most
recent start, he has pitched 145.1 innings. Washington has already ruled him out
for Stephen's final 2-3 starts.
Winning it all depends on having a great closer. Someone who can shut down
the opposition in the ninth inning is incredibly important. The Nationals have
that great closer in Tyler Clippard. He has converted 28 of his 32 save
opportunities so far this season. Opponents are batting just .166 against
Having The Best Record In Baseball Helps
At the time of this writing, the Nationals have the best
record in all of baseball. This means that Washington would have home-field
advantage for the playoffs if they finish the season still on top. The ability
to play the first and potentially the last game of any series at home is a huge
advantage. They will also get home-field advantage in the World Series thanks to
the NL winning the All-Star game.
Washington currently sports a .600 home winning percentage so far this
season. This is good because any team that is bound to win a championship is
going to do so by making its home park a scary place to play. However, if they
do have to win a game on the road, they can do that to. With a .641 road winning
percentage, there is no doubt that the Nationals can close out a series away
Can the Washington Nationals win the World Series? They certainly have the
pitching depth that is needed to make a serious run. Their record away from home
indicates that they will be able to handle going on the road. Championship teams
have to win at least one road game a series. What it will really come down to is
the hitting. If the bats get hot, there may be no stopping the Nationals.
About the Author: Don Phan is an avid baseball fan and recommends FansEdge
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