Found April 19, 2012 on The Nats Blog:

1f313cd9d12c7bebe1bdce494273b388-getty-143087574

With their victory over the Houston Astros last night, the Washington Nationals became the first team in the National League to reach 10 wins on the season. That's quite an accomplishment for a club that just a few years ago was literally the laughing stock of baseball. At 10-3 they now have the best winning percentage in the N.L., and are just half a game behind the Texas Rangers for the best record in baseball.

Finally, it's a good time to be a baseball fan in Washington. Nats fans take a moment to let it sink in, at least for the moment, the one time floor mat that was Nationals Park has become the home of one of the best teams in the game. Wear your Curly W with pride on the way to school this morning, fly that flag in your front yard that you haven't dusted off since 2005, and for the first time feel good when talking about baseball to your not-from-in-town coworkers.

Got it out of your system? Now let's get real, and let's talk baseball. As unbelievably fun as it has been to watch Washington win one-run game after another, winning consistently with the type of offense the Nats have been producing is just not sustainable. I hate to say that, and I really want it to not be the case, but it's quite clear that just about every Washington player needs to pick it up in the offensive category. The team currently ranks 19th overall in the league in runs scored, second to last in home runs, and 25th in slugging percentage. They say that good teams are able to win one-run games, and that's true, but the best teams consistently have two and three run wins.

The Nats are currently 5-2 in one-run games, which has made this April one of the most exciting opening months I've ever been a part of. Washington traditionally had been a team that would just fold when it got close. They'd make a comeback only to give up yet another big inning, they'd boot ground balls, they'd flat out find a way to lose. Now, they have the confidence that they can win, and that makes a huge difference. The pitching staff steps up in ways it never has before, and the lineup seems to find a way every single time to at least scrape one or two more runs on the board. But what happens when pop-ups to the Houston Astros outfield are caught, what happens when seeing eye singles get knocked down, or when Washington actually has to face a top-shelf offensive club?

The good news is Washington does have the tools to get it done now, and they have several major pieces coming back later this summer. Danny Espinosa is currently hitting .214, that number will have to come up. Ryan Zimmerman, despite mashing the ball all season, is only hitting .240 with no home runs on the year, that will even itself out soon. Nationals outfielders not named Jayson Werth are hitting below .200. Not even Roger Bernadina, Xavier Nady, and Rick Ankiel are THAT bad.

The point is that the Nationals need to figure out the bats sooner than later. The team's pitching staff, no matter how good it is, will eventually start allowing more runs each game. Even if it ended up being the best rotation in history, this would be so. The club will also start playing better ball clubs than the New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, and Houston Astros. They will surely need better run support then.

I have faith in this team and I can't wait to see how the season goes. But I want this good start to help jolt Washington into their best campaign since moving from Montreal, I don't want it to serve as a guise for the many issues that lay beneath the surface.

THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

That time when Jordan Zimmermann smiled.

The Gio Gonzalez effect: Jordan Zimmermann smiling during a postgame interview on TV, even after yet another start with no run support? Who needs run support when you have Natitude? Jordan Zimmermann on the winning attitude in the #Nats clubhouse: "It's a Natitude." (via @DanKolko, 4/18/2012) Nationals 3, Astros 2: Run support? Who needs run support...
COOL AS A CUCUMBER

Nats manager's presser interrupted by fire alarm

Perhaps the most riveting video so far of the 2012 Washington Nationals season? See above: Davey Johnson reacts to a fire alarm during his pregame press conference before Tuesday's Nationals-Astros game at Nationals Park (link to CSN Washington.com video here). Okay, maybe "reacts" isn't the right way to describe it. Interestingly, Davey reacted...

LaVar Arrington delivers weak ceremonial first pitch at Nationals game (Video)

Before Tuesday's Washington Nationals game against the Houston Astros, retired Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington threw out a very weak ceremonial first pitch. Arrington tried to ham it up a bit as he pretended to check the runner at first base and wound up his arm as if he was going to throw it really hard. However, the end result was really weak as Arrington's...

Shutting Stephen Strasburg Down is Smart

People are constantly asking Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo about Stephen Strasburg's innings limit this season his his recovery from Tommy John surgery.  Most recently, Rizzo told Casey Stern and former Nats GM Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio's Inside Pitch that, there will be a time where they shut down Strasburg, but "I can't put a concrete number" on...

Rick Ankiel Featured on NPR's 'This American Life'

It’s our legal obligation to report on any Rick Ankiel related stories we come across on this site. By now you’ve seen the highlights of what he did earlier in the week. Dude has an absolute Howitzer attached to his arm. LINK HERE But you might not be aware that he was the subject of a story recently on the NPR show ‘This American Life’. We’ve embedded the story below...

Are the Nationals a true contender in the National League?

The season is not even a tenth of the way through, but the Washington Nationals have come out of the gates hot, posting an NL East-leading 9-3 record. The pitching staff has been nothing short of brilliant thus far, posting a Major League-low 1.99 ERA. While the team hasn't shown a lot of power (just six home runs) or speed on the basepaths (five stolen bases), their hitters...

Report: Ivan Rodriguez plans to retire

Fourteen-time All-Star catcher Ivan Rodriguez will announce his retirement Monday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported, citing sources. Rodriguez, the 1999 American League MVP, reportedly made the decision after failing to get a decent playing opportunity this season. The 40-year-old chose Texas as the location for his announcement because...

Jackson's shaky start dooms Nationals in 11-4 loss

Edwin Jackson's home debut for the Washington Nationals was about as good as it gets. His follow-up started nearly as bad as possible. The right-hander gave up five runs on six hits - three of them triples - to the Houston Astros in the opening inning. Reliever Tom Gorzelanny gave up another five runs in the sixth and the Astros cruised to a 11-4 win Thursday night. It was...

Astros bested in 8th, lose to Nationals

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Jayson Werth drew a bases-loaded walk and Wilson Ramos hit a sacrifice fly as the Washington Nationals rallied in the eighth inning and beat the Houston Astros 3-2 Wednesday night for their third straight win. The Nationals improved to 10-3 -- they became the first team in the majors to reach 10 wins this season. Texas earned its 10th victory later in the evening...

Gorzelosing.

(Reading Steve McCatty's lips: "WTF, Tom!?" Screencap via MASN/TV) "Gorzo kind of had to take it on his chin." (Davey Johnson, via post game interview/MASN, 4/19/2012) Astros 1, Nationals 4: Edwin Jackson blows up in 5-run first, recovers after rough start. Zim hits first HR to make it a 1-run game. And then Tom Gorzelanny pretty much soaked...

Nationals manager Davey Johnson's press conference is interrupted by fire alarm (Video)

Last night after the Washington Nationals 1-0 win over the Houston Astros, Nationals managers Davey Johnson was giving his usual press conference until he was interrupted by a fire alarm. To give Johnson credit, he didn't skip a beat during the distraction: (Courtesy of Nats Enquirer)

Nationals 3, Astros 2

Jayson Werth drew a bases-loaded walk and Wilson Ramos hit a sacrifice fly as the Washington Nationals rallied in the eighth inning and beat the Houston Astros 3-2 Wednesday night for their third straight win. The Nationals improved to 10-3 - they became the first team in the majors to reach 10 wins this season. Texas earned its 10th victory later in the evening. Washington drew...

Happy Trails Ivan Rodriguez: Pudge Finally Retires

The Supreme Court sides with Larry Flynt in the defamation suit Hustler Magazine v. Falwell in February. In April, Sonny Bono is elected mayor of Palm Springs, California, and Roy Orbison dies of a heart attack in December. The year was 1998, the same year the Texas Rangers signed Ivan Rodriguez out of Puerto Rico. Old. School. After 21 seasons in the big leagues (yep, some...

Nationals Get To Astros Bullpen, Win 3-2

Despite failing to earn his first win of the year, Jordan Zimmermann's seven innings of four-hit, one-run baseball put the team in place to win yet-another tight game over the Houston Astros last night. It was their fifth one-run win of the young season. They also have two one-run losses.  The Nats were able to rally late in two consecutive innings to muster up three runs,...

Ivan Rodriguez to retire

Future hall of fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez is set to announce his retirement, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports. The announcement will take place with the Texas Rangers on Monday, which is the team he started his illustrious career with. Rodriguez had a down year last season posting only a .218 avg in 124 plate appearances for the Nationals. In 21 seasons which included...
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.