The Nationals are actually 5-7 since starting out in a terrible 1-10 slide. That could look prettier if it wasn’t for the bullpen explosions, implosions, and whatever else type of ‘plosion you can think of. The regrettable weekend series against the Marlins and a few blown saves here and there have combined to make this team look much worse than it is. They’re not as bad as you may think. Offensively, their rankings among other NL teams are pretty interesting:

Runs Scored per Game – 10th

Ok, that isn’t particularly promising, but when you look at the numbers that go into it :

Hits – 4th
OBP – 4th
SLG – 7th
OPS – 6th
HRs – 8th

I believe that the runs will go up. In order to score, you must get on base and hit with power. They do both of these, and just haven’t scored yet. The inevitable length of the season, will allow these rankings to be more in tune. Maybe the team won’t be top 5 in runs scored, but they’ll be in the top half if the other stats remain where they are. It’s not just Adam Dunn that’s doing this. Ryan Zimmerman is hitting all the time, taking walks, and doing his best to prove my assertation that he can hit 30 HRs. Nick Johnson is unbelievably hot, hitting .341/.415/.451, but mostly he’s healthy, and he’ll always hit when he’s healthy. And then there’s Elijah Dukes, who has tailed off a bit – but still has an OBP o .350 and SLG of .500. I expect those to go up as the season goes on.

But then there’s the other side of the ball

Of course, when you move on to pitching and defense, the rankings are not quite as nice:

Runs Allowed per Game – 16th
ERA – 15th
BBs – 11th
Ks – 14th
K/BB – 15th
Wild Pitches – 16th
Saves – 16th

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point. Thankfully, the rookie starters have looked pretty good. They have shown alot of promise, not just for the future, but for 2009 success. As for the rest of the staff, Scott Olsen has brought his ERA down in every start, and if you throw out the first (which you can’t), his ERA is 3.80. He’s also struck out 15 batters in his last 3 starts, in 18 1/3 IP, while only walking 5. Lannan’s been a bit spottier, starting out poorly, recovering well for 2 starts, then in his last start he got debacled, as Emmitt Smith would say. But those two look serviceable.  Meanwhile, Cabrera has a league average ERA, and what more can you really expect from him? Really, the bullpen is the issue. Everyone knows this, most of all the Nationals, and until they fix it, they’re gonna have issues.

The point is, the recent 5-7 is probably much closer to what this team is than the overall 6-17. They won’t lose 100 games this year, I’m still convinced this team has some good runs ahead of it, this year.

One more thing, neither here nor there but interesting to note, they have a luck of -3. What does that mean? Well their combined runs scored and runs allowed predict them to be 3 wins better. Instead of 6-17 they should be 9-14. Not great either, but better. Of course I think that these luck numbers can look skewed when you have a terrible bullpen. If you lose every 1 run game instead of winning them, you’ll end up with poor “luck.”

By Charlie