A question mark going into the 2012 season, the Washington Nationals bats have gotten it done. A team that has struggled to get hits and score runs over the years has finally joined baseball’s best offensively.
The Nationals of 2012 have improved in almost every category on offense. Their team batting average is 20 points better than it was in 2011. That season they hit .242 compared to .262 this year. Though the Nationals do not have anyone batting .300 five members of the team are hitting over .270 compared to two last season. Shortstop Ian Desmond leads the team at .292.
Last year Washington finished next to last in the National League with 1,319 base hits. This year they are fourth with 1,441.
This is nice, but it is run production where Washington has really improved. The Nationals have scored 722 runs in 2012. This places them fifth in the NL which is seven places higher than in 2011. Washington hitters have driven in 679 runs this season. Last year they drove in 594. The team has hit 190 home runs for an improvement of 26 over last season’s total. They are currently second in that category.
The Nationals have six players with more than 50 RBI compared to four in 2011. First baseman Adam LaRoche leads the way with 99 while third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has 94. Washington has four players with 20 or more home runs compared to three last season. LaRoche leads the way in this category as well with 32.
The Nationals success at the plate is evident in scores of their games. In 2011 Washington scored 10 or more runs only four times. In 2012 they have scored in double digits 11 times.
Even the Washington bench has come through. A team weakness in 2011 Nationals reserves have driven in 160 runs compared to 120 last year. They have also combined to hit 31 home runs. Tyler Moore leads the reserves with nine home runs and 27 RBI. This is important, because in 2011 four runs were all a team needed to beat Washington. This year no deficit is insurmountable, because of the starting eight and bench. Manager Davey Johnson knows that he can trust almost anyone on the roster to come up with the big hit when needed.
Going into 2012, Washington had good pitching and solid defense. There were few questions marks there. It was believed that the team would have trouble scoring runs.
To the surprise of many the Nationals bats have been one of the team’s strengths.
They have come through enough to earn Washington a birth in the post season.