The Washington Nationals need to play to their strengths, which at the moment is small ball. The process was perfected in the win last night.
In the first inning last night the Washington Nationals put a run on the board without the help of a base hit. Aided by a sacrifice bunt and a double steal, the Nats led 1-0 after one frame.
In the third inning, an infield single, hit batter, and sacrifice fly added another run, as the Nationals jumped out to a four run lead.
Another sacrifice bunt in the sixth put two men in scoring position with one out, and a groundout brought one of them home.
Between Brian Dozier, Matt Adams, and Anthony Rendon, 74 home runs left the team at the end of last season. The Nationals addressed this by bringing in Eric Thames. Unfortunately, he simply hasn’t hit for power this year.
The Nationals led the National League in stolen bases a year ago, and were in the top half in home runs. This year, they are in the bottom half in both categories.
If the power isn’t there, the wheels always will be. An old adage says, “there is no substitute for speed”. Why not manufacture runs?
I get it, the game of baseball has evolved. Moneyball tells us not to give up outs with sacrifice bunts. One of my favorite lines in Moneyball is when the A’s player says, “you pay me to steal bases”. Beane replies, “I pay you not to get thrown out at second base.”
Speed is a strength of the Nationals and they should be playing into it more. Trea Turner and Victor Robles have perfected two double-steals, in the past two weeks. Michael Taylor is fast as well. He should be pinch running every night he isn’t playing, and running at will.
Adam Eaton is scuffling at the plate right now. Both sacrifice bunts he had last night led to runs.
Sure, bunting and attempting steals are good ways to run yourselves out of a big inning. The way some of the guys in the lower part of the order are hitting (not you Brock Holt), means more runs should be manufactured at the top of the order.
Aside from Juan Soto, this team is not a home run hitting team. To push more runs across, maybe they should revert to 1980s baseball again, and play some small ball.