Hitting 20 HRs isn’t a huge deal in baseball, but it is a pretty good sign that a hitter has power. It doesn’t make them a “power hitter”, that demarcation line is probably more like 30 HRs nowadays. But 20 HRs means you’ve got more than “some pop”, you’ve actually got power. And the Nats seem to have quite a bit of power.
With Bryce Harper‘s 20th HR, the guy with the most power on the team got there last, thanks to injury, but 5 players on this team have now hit 20 HRs in 2013. That’s Harper, Jayson Werth, Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche all with 20+. Think that’s pretty common? It’s not. The Nats and the Braves are the only NL teams this year with five or more players who hit 20 HRs. And in the AL, only Toronto was able to do it.
But it’s not just this year. Going back 5 seasons, there have only been 3 teams in the NL besides the Nats to have done this – the 2012 Cardinals, the 2010 Brewers and the 2009 Phillies. That’s it. It gives a hint to how balanced this offense is, power can come from everywhere.
It’s interesting where those teams finished in the NL in runs scored. The 2012 Cards finished 2nd, 2010 Brewers were 4th and the 2009 Phillies were 1st. St Louis and Philadelphia made the playoffs, but the Brewers did not. The Brewers actually finished 77-85 that year. Some of that was the complete lack of production they got from the guys who didn’t hit 20 HRs, some of that is because they finished in 14th in the NL in Runs Allowed per Game.
So the Nats are unique in this regard – they have this balanced lineup that can hit HRs up and down it. It’s even more balanced when you consider a full season of Wilson Ramos next year could bring that list to 6 and Anthony Rendon may even bring it to 7. Only 3 teams since 2009 have had 6 guys hit 20 or more home runs, the 2009 Rangers, the 2009 Yankees, and the 2010 Blue Jays. Toronto and New York each had 7 guys.
In other words, as far as power goes, this team has more guys with power than almost any team in the last 5 seasons. That’s not to say they have more power than any other team. It’s sort of interesting that they have 5 guys reach the 20 mark, and 0 reaching the 30 mark. No team has done that since back in 2008 when the Cubs did it, with Alfonso Soriano only reaching 29 as the team leader.
Home Runs aren’t the only thing that go into scoring runs, but the Nats are now 6th in the NL in runs per game. It would be lunacy to suggest they didn’t have any offensive issues this year, and that the five 20-HR guys are proof. But it hints at the possibility of this lineup playing together all year. There’s no guarantee that next year everyone will be healthy enough to say that. But if they manage to get going early next year, with a full, healthy lineup, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them sitting at the top of the HR board, and the runs per game list, too.