Washington Nationals: First-Half Report Card 2014
The Washington Nationals missed Bryce Harper for most of the first half, but they were still able to do a great job keeping afloat and contending for the NL East. Now at the top, Washington should be able to have a good fight with the Atlanta Braves for the division crown.
The Nationals are not near the top in AVG, OBP, SLG or OPS nor is the team at the top in power categories like home runs or runs. But the team is still managing to pull out wins, and in the end that's all that counts. When it gets down to the stretch run, Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper will have to dominate those categories.
First-Half Grade: B-
Washington's defense is pretty average as well, ranking in the middle of the pack in fielding percentage and defensive efficiency. The Nationals do not have a lot of passed balls or wild pitches, which makes catcher Wilson Ramos one of the best defensive catchers in baseball.
First-Half Grade: B
Washington's pitching staff has the lowest ERA in baseball at 3.08 and has the fifth lowest WHIP. Batters are only hitting .246 against the staff as well. Washington has one of the most efficient pitching staffs in baseball right now, which is why the team is at the top of the division.
First-Half Grade: A+
The bullpen has been decent as well for the Nats. Rafael Soriano has 22 saves on the year and a remarkable 0.97 ERA. Tyler Clippard has done a great job as the Nationals' setup man, winning six games and posting a 2.03 ERA in 43 appearances while even earning himself an All-Star bid. The key to the Nationals' success down the road will be the 'pen, and so far it is doing a pretty good job at keeping things in order.
First-Half Grade: B+
Matt Williams was handed a good team and has done a good job keeping the team strong, especially after Harper was lost for much of the first half of the season. Williams will have an even bigger job trying to get this team back to the postseason.
First-Half Grade: B