Right now, the Washington Nationals are struggling to score runs. The eight runs they pushed across the plate in their most recent game against the Toronto Blue Jays was a season high, with five runs directly coming from the home run ball. The Nationals have hit more home runs than just one team in the Majors.
Along with a lack of power in the early going, is a lack of patience at the plate. When the Nationals host the Miami Marlins in the next series, they’ll do so as the team who has taken the fewest amount of base on balls in all of baseball. 55 walks, total. In comparison, the Los Angles Dodgers have walked 122 times, more than double that of the Nationals.
Getting runners on base has not come easy for the Nationals this year.
The struggle to get on base has squashed the opportunity to become aggressive base runners. You can’t risk the chance of getting thrown out at second base if you don’t have the luxury of getting walked on a regular basis.
Being shutout five times this year has only put a magnifying glass on the situation as well. In the most recent shutout, Josh Harrison led off the game with a base hit. He was immediately picked off first, caught leaning towards second. The following hitter walked, which could’ve potentially set up a two on-no out situation.
In the recent loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, Harrison reached base with one out before being caught stealing. The following hitter singled.
Earlier in the year, Juan Soto attempted a steal in the fourth inning of a scoreless game against the Dodgers. He was unsuccessful. Victor Robles was caught stealing in the eighth inning of that game. The Nats were shutout. A couple of examples of how the Nationals have run themselves out of innings.
The Nationals as a team have seven stolen bases on the year. They have been caught five times. Only three teams have been caught more. Only seven teams have successfully stolen less. Everyone on the Nationals not named Trea Turner has combined for two stolen bases thus far in the first twenty one games.
How many times this year have the Nationals failed to score when they’ve had a runner on third base with less than two outs? I can think of a handful in the past week, alone.
This Washington Nationals team isn’t playing small ball, they aren’t manufacturing runs, and they aren’t out slugging anyone. For this reason they can’t afford to be aggressive on the base paths. They need to play station to station until they solve their offensive woes.