Quick, guess which team is leading the National League in OPS. Unbelievably, it is the oft-ridiculed Washington Nationals, even though they have the worst record in baseball at 10-21.
The Nats’ outstanding team OPS of .809 is more than enough to edge out the now Manny-less Dodgers for first place. They are third in homers with 42, behind only the Brewers (44) and the Rockies (43), both of whom play in bandboxes. Their very healthy .361 OBP trails only the Mets and Dodgers, and their robust .448 slugging percentage trails only the Phillies.
Add it all up and you have the best hitting team in the League. In fact 7 out of 8 members of the regular starting lineup have OPS’s of at least .821 or higher, and the one guy who doesn’t, second basemen Anderson Hernandez, only falls short for lack of power and still contributes with a sparkling .378 OBP.
Which all makes it really too bad that the Nationals can’t pitch their way out of a paper bag. Their 5.54 team ERA is easily last in the league, and it’s not even that close (surprisingly, second worst are the 16-14 Phillies, at 5.31).
So basically the Nats are on pace to become Rangers East. However, by all accounts they do not face the same structural constrains on good pitching in their new ballpark that the Rangers do at Arlington. Which means the Nationals pitchers really do flat-out suck.
But it also means, especially with their offense, that if they can scrounge up some good pitchers somewhere, they really make some noise. It’s probably too late to turn things around this year, but Adam Dunn is on a two-year deal, so a dark-horse run next year behind Dunn and Stephen Strasburg is not out of the question.