Washington Nationals: Dave Martinez passes early tests

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 05: Manager Dave Martinez
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 05: Manager Dave Martinez /
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Despite major losses in the lineup, along with the most famous slump of Ryan Zimmerman’s career, the new offensive philosophy Martinez wants works.

Washington leads the National League with 90 walks. Figure 12 to 18 of Bryce Harper’s walks were semi-intentional and you still have a club working pitchers hard to force them into mistakes. Trea Turner has 15 walks heading into the weekend on 87 plate appearances. A remarkable number.

Washington’s on-base percentage of .335 is third in the NL. Although their .235 batting average is eighth, the Nats 85 runs is fifth. By not relying solely on the home run, the Nats are creating offense and throwing opposition pitchers on their heels.

Over the first 19 games, the Nats have 23 stolen bases. The same number as their home run total. Washington runners have been caught five times for an impressive 82.1 percent success rate. NL runners steal with a success rate of 70.6 percent overall.

Martinez is not afraid to bunt, a mild surprise for a guy steeped in analytics. Wilmer Difo and Michael Taylor will get bunts down for hits and for sacrifices. When healthy, this combo of speed and power is lethal.

He has handled the starting pitching well. Gone are the sluggish 115-pitch games that affected Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark their next start. The front four average almost 19 outs a start. Needs to be longer, but they are not getting overworked early.

As the season wears on, and we get what must happen to win the division, the lessor load early helps come August.