Two months ago I took a look at how the middle of this lineup stacked up against the rest of the NL. It turned out they looked pretty good. The Nats 3, 4 and 5 hitters ranked #3 in the league in Runs Created, a position-independent counting stat measuring offensive production.

Since that date, Willingham went into a deep slump, Zimmerman started hitting even better, and Dunn hit then finished slow. They all ended up with pretty good numbers, although Willingham was on pace for much higher when we last looked.

345 Runs Created 2009 Nats

Individually, Zimmerman and Dunn produced the most, very close in total. Willingham’s slump really hurt him – in August he was looking like he’d get over 100. Anyway, it is still a potent middle of the lineup, and it still stacks up relatively well against the rest of the league.

345 Runs Created 2009

The top two spots remain with Milwaukee and St. Louis, thanks to Holliday, Pujols, Braun and Fielder. Their #3 guys weren’t nearly as helpful, which becomes clear when looking at the standard deviation. Washington fell by the wayside to Colorado, Philly and Florida (just barely) which were all immediately behind the Nats in August. Philly stayed hot and got some great late season production from Howard. Colorado got a great August-Sept from Tulowitzki, and Florida benefited from a strong finish from all three guys.

Washington has a relatively strong middle of the lineup, and while they dropped a bit, still ranks very high on the list. 3 of the 5 teams above them made the playoffs. Once again, the biggest conclusion, other than the fact that it’s kinda interesting, is that they don’t have easily replaceable parts there. The Nats are high on this list, and if you get rid of Dunn or Willingham, you will miss their bats. In other words, having a strong heart of the lineup isn’t easy.

Here’s the whole spreadsheet, in case you wanna see. Pujols beats everyone by 20 RCs at the least…

By Charlie