The 2013 MLB baseball season is over, and while many teams are moving on to the postseason, that does not include the Washington Nationals. The World Series was the ultimate goal for the team, as manager Davey Johnson was clear to point out all the way back at the Winter Meetings when he was quoted as saying “World Series or bust!” Unfortunately, the Nats fell well short of that this season. They couldn’t match their production from the magical 2012 season in a number of ways, and so the results were much different than they were last year.
So where did things go wrong? Well, let’s check out the final numbers to get an idea of how the Nats finished the season.
As a team, the Nationals hit .251/.313/.398, ranking 17th among major league teams in batting average, 18th in on-base percentage and 13th in slugging percentage. They scored 656 runs (ranking 15th), hit 161 homers (13th), and struck out 1,192 times (18th). As you can see, despite their hot offensive finish to the season, the Nats still end the year sitting squarely in the middle of the pack as far as team offense goes.
What about pitching, which was so dominant for the team in 2012? The Nationals finish with a collective 3.59 ERA (eighth), 1.23 WHIP (fourth) and .683 OPS against (eighth). The starting pitching was strong, but not spectacular, putting up a 3.60 ERA (seventh) with a 1.19 WHIP, and a 3.31 strikeout-to-walk ratio, while the bullpen had its issues at times, posting a 3.56 ERA (17th) with a 1.29 WHIP and a 2.65 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The Nationals were awful defensively to begin the season, and while they improved in that facet of the game as the year went on, the overall numbers are still not too impressive. The Nats made 107 errors as a team and had a .982 fielding percentage, seventh-worst in the majors. They also ranked dead last in throwing out base stealers, catching just 17.4 percent of runners trying to steal (not an issue when my man Iván “Pudge” Rodriguez was there, but that’s neither here nor there at this point).
As you can see, based on the numbers alone – an 86-76 team that did not make it to the postseason – a lot of improvement needs to be made for next year.
To everyone in the Nationals clubhouse – players, coaches and management – the season was a failure (though to me, as a fan, it wasn’t THAT bad) because the team came up short of their goal. A handful of veterans played well below their career norms for much of the season. But since I’m a “glass half full” person, I have to point out some positives that can be taken out of this season.
After a disappointing first four months, the Nationals finished the season by going 31-16, which works out to a 107-win pace (I stole that statistic from the Internet – I certainly wasn’t going to the math on that one!). They saw many young players emerge, and regulars like Jayson Werth, Jordan Zimmermann and Tyler Clippard – to name a few – really excelled. Denard Span had that 29-game hitting streak and should win a Gold Glove for center field. Catcher Wilson Ramos finished the season healthy and played a record number of consecutive games behind the plate. Tanner Roark worked well enough to earn a spot in next year’s starting rotation. So there; it wasn’t all bad. And while the Nationals search for a new skipper and make transactions during the off-season, I’ll be enjoying postseason baseball, I will run in my fourth marathon, and the Christmas holidays will come and go. But if something exciting happens Nationals-wise, I’ll be here to tell you all about it!