Many pundits had the Washington Nationals winning the 90+ games, the NL East, and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. Yet the Nationals have struggled badly out of the gate, which has led to them falling eight games behind the division leader in the standings.
The Nationals have posted a 7-13 record through the first 20 games of the season, and they’ve looked absolutely terrible during that stretch. They’ve looked hopelessly lost at the plate, in the field, and have struggled to live up the pre-season hype. Even worse for Washington fans is the fact that the New York Mets are off to a blazing hot 15-5 start that has them eight games ahead of the division favorites.
While it is early, and an eight game lead can be made-up, it has to be upsetting for Washington fans to see this team crash and burn at the start of the season. Especially since the team with the huge lead in the division is the Mets — New York also has a 4.5 game lead over second place Atlanta. New York’s national league franchise is run by an ownership group that has barely been able to scrape together the funds to meet the team’s financial needs on a year to year basis…they’ve spent recklessly on several contracts (hello Curtis Granderson), which has led to a budget crunch heading into the 2015 season.
So how have the World Series favorite Nationals ended up in this situation?
Washington’s offense has been down right atrocious through the first 20 games as the team has hit .215/.289/.346 with a 78 wRC+ (100 is league average) and a terrible wOBA of .281 in 223 plate appearances. All of this adds up the Nationals scoring 3.45 runs per game, that ranks 26th in MLB, and a putrid offense that is unwatchable. It has also puts a lot of pressure on the pitching staff to shut down their opponents bats, with very little margin for error.
The poor runs support is the primary reason that the Nationals have struggled so badly out of the gate. Washington’s starting staff has been pretty good (Scherzer has been absolutely on fire) throughout the early going, and it sucks to see these starts getting wasted on such a poor offense.