Craig Stammen started out very poorly last night, but recovered well enough to keep the Nats in the game. That is, until Matt Capps came in to give up 2 runs. I’m not gonna complain too much about Capps. Often times closers don’t fare as well when they don’t feel the closing pressure. And frankly, if he’s gonna give up runs, I’d rather it not be in a save situation. Still, moving a 2 run deficit to a 4 run deficit effectively took the wind out of the offense’s sails going into the 9th.
Except for the fact that the offense hasn’t had any wind in it’s sails. They’re 12th in the league in runs scored. That’s despite being 7th in OPS. They’re hitting like a middle of the road team, but scoring like a bottom of the barrel team. If you take out their 14 run victory on Saturday, they’re only scoring 4.1 runs per game, putting them at place. This team isn’t hitting, despite getting decent pitching. Yesterday wasn’t great, but up until the 8th inning they could have easily been ahead.
This month, this team has not scored runs particularly well. Perhaps the most emblematic of the team’s struggles is Nyjer Morgan. He’s hitting .266/.344/.385 on the year, which maybe isn’t terrible, at least he’s getting on base, but it’s not great. Since the beginning of the month, he’s only hitting .232/.295/.268, meanwhile this season he’s leading the league in being caught stealing. At least two of those 8 CS are from being picked off, which shouldn’t happen, although once I know is from a botched hit and run. Regardless of the reasons, he’s not himself, and this last month has been worse. Without him setting the table, this team doesn’t seem to score.
Despite that, the #2, 3 and 4 spots are all hitting well, at least when Guzman, Zimmerman, and Dunn are playing. Guzman has been torrid in May. Zimmerman has been his usual good self and Dunn, mired in a slump in April, really picked it up to hit so far in May.
As you look down the lineup, past those 2-4 spots, it hasn’t been terrible. Willingham has had a poor batting average this month, but has gotten on base and hit with power in May. Ian Desmond, playing almost every day, has also hit well in May. Pudge has had a very poor May, and his OBP has actually been blew his AVG, so maybe some of the blame can go there.
So without Morgan hitting, but with everyone else hitting, why can’t this team score? They’re hitting .274/.358/.403 with runners in scoring position, which isn’t terrible. And overall, they’re hitting .261/.334/.422, which means they’re hitting BETTER with runners in scoring position. Not that this is anything but luck, but it is important to see if they’ve had bad luck when men are on base. It is important to note, though, that the team hits with no power with RISP, but it’s not a terribly huge difference.
Meanwhile, they have grounded in to some double plays, they’re ranked 10th in the league at 30, although they aren’t more than 3 double plays from being ranked 15th. Meanwhile, going back to Morgan, they rank 16th in the league in caught stealing. So perhaps, it’s poor baserunning and double plays that is really hurting this team. Hmm.
What’s the point of this exercise? Basically, it’s to show that this team isn’t scoring, but there’s nothing simple to point to. MAYBE it’s the baserunning, maybe it’s just poor luck, like hitting with a little less power when men are on 2nd or 2rd. My conclusion, looking at all of this, is twofold. First, Morgan is an important part of this lineup as a tablesetter. Whether him not being on base means there are less guys that can score, or he’s just using up too many outs, they’re not really scoring as he is hitting poorly. Second, some of this may just be bad luck. The numbers don’t add up to a low scoring team, which makes me think they’ll come around. Give it some time. Hopefully it won’t take too much time.