As the heat of July fades into August haze, it’s worth reflecting on the Washington Nationals’ success this month. They have continued to hold court from first place in the National League East, and they held on to that position despite facing teams who could have wrestled it away from them. Day after day, the Nationals keep proving that they deserve the top spot, and the driving force behind their convincing efforts this month was their explosive offense.
The month isn’t even over yet, and the Nationals have already clobbered 35 doubles and two triples, and sent 24 balls sailing into the outfield seats. They have scored the most runs (104) and have the best run differential (+31) of all major league teams this month. The Nats lead July in steals with 27 (which is nearly half their total for the year), even above the Miami Marlins who lead the majors in yearly totals.
When comparing the Nationals July offensive numbers to other teams’, their slash line of .293/.345/.450 ranks second, sixth and sixth, respectively. The Detroit Tigers are the only team that is better in multiple categories with a slash line of .285/.356/.466, and the Nationals are in good company being compared to them – the Tigers have the second-highest winning percentage in the American League for the month.
Like the Tigers, the Nationals also have the second-best July winning percentage in their league (.650). They have only lost one series, split two, and won the other three to make them 13-7 for the month so far. With just one more full series to go, the Nats are looking to close out July and head into August riding one of their best offensive surges in team history.
The Nationals have never had a better July, and it has been their best offensive month this year by a long shot – they have bumped their team batting average up nine points since the end of June to .257. They have been aggressive at the plate and have the results to show for it. Of all eight currently active players who have 100 or more at bats, just one is batting under .250 for the year. Even more impressively, of the 10 players who appeared in 14 or more games this month, seven of them are batting upwards of .270, into the three and four hundreds. Bryce Harper is among the three least productive players for the month, but when the “hole” in your lineup is Bryce Harper, I think you’re doing alright as a team.
It was a great time to heat up with the weather, considering the majority of the month was consumed with NL East matchups. Fourteen games thus far in July were against rival teams (nine of which the Nats won), and eight of their next 12 will be within the NL East.
With just two full months left in the regular season, many people have declared that the Nationals are officially in a pennant race. Now that their offense is doing a fantastic job of backing up their almost always awesome pitching, the odds are looking good for the nation’s home team.