Top 10 Reasons the Nationals Are Built for the Postseason
Knocked out of the park by: Matt “Cheetah Chrome” Billman
10. Daniel Murphy
Murphy came to the Nat’s this past offseason from the division rival Mets, who by the way, he absolutely demolished this year with seven homers and 22 RBI’s in 19 games. The 2016 All-Star and two time NL Player of the month (May & July) leads the Nationals in just about every offensive category. He sit’s second in runs (88), batting average (.347), first in hits (184), homers (25), RBI’s (104), and doubles (47). The dude can flat out ball, and has been by far the Nat’s most consistent and powerful weapon at the plate. With postseason baseball starting tonight vs. the Dodgers,you can’t forget what this guy has done? The 2015 NLCS MVP led the Met’s with 13 runs, 19 hits, 11 RBI’s and seven homers, six of which came in six straight games. Murph is a baller, and I can’t wait to see him tear it up this postseason. He’s shown no signs of slowing down.
09. Lights Out Pitching
The Nationals have had one of the league’s best starting lineups when it comes to pitching the last few seasons and 2016 was no different. The Nationals finished with a 3.51 ERA, which was good for second in the majors behind the MLB best Chicago Cubs. They were also fifth in shutouts (12), fourth in quality starts (92), second in earned runs (570), and second in strikeouts (1476). Postseason baseball usually means a four man starting rotation, so we’re guaranteed to see Mad Max on the bump for game one vs. the Dodgers, as well as Gio and Tanner Roark. I doubt we’ll see young gun Giolito in the postseason. He got rocked a few times this year in his initial MLB season. Strasburg is coming off the elbow strain in early September and has been shut down ever since. Expect Joe Ross as the four man in the playoffs. The Nats have a top five bullpen ever since we kicked Papelbon out of town (yeah, don’t put your hands on Bryce). We now have Mark Melancon from Pittsburgh who was huge, finishing second in the NL in saves with 47.
08. Fall Ball
Starting August first and coming down the stretch towards the end of the season in the crisp air of October, the Nationals finished with a 34 and 23 record, good enough for second in the NL and third throughout all of baseball. In the same time frame last year, the Nats finished below .500 with a 29-32 record, leaving them on the outside looking in. Coincidence? I think not. The team has heated up at the right time, and let’s hope the momentum carries them deep in to the postseason. Somebody needs to break this DC curse.
That’s right, toothpicks. The Nat’s brought in Dusty Baker this past offseason to replace Matt Williams, and many were skeptical on how it would play out. Dusty became a clubhouse favorite in the eyes of the players with his outlandish, friendly, and player-first approach to the game. But the best thing about Dusty? Toothpicks. He chews on a toothpick all game, every game, and it’s great. Tooth picks are a power move. It’s so unconventional that it works. This isn’t just some random obsession that Baker has with toothpicks, there’s actually a story behind it. Back in 1992 when he was the hitting coach in San Francisco, he would dip every time the team scored runs. When the team was trailing, he would throw in a lip and the whole team would called it “rally dips”. Baker eventually swapped chewing tobacco for toothpicks given the obvious health reasons.
06. Baby-faced Trea
Trea Turner has arguably been the most exciting part of the Nationals this season. He appeared in only 27 games last year, so forget those numbers, they don’t really count. Trea made his season debut on June 3rd this season and took the team and league by storm. Why is baby-faced Trea a reason the Nats are so hot? Well, maybe it’s the fact that he won Rookie of the Month back-to-back in August and September by going yard seven times, knocking in 31 RBI’s and batting over .330. Trea “Burner” mania has begun.
05. Harper’s Hair
Bryce Harper isn’t having the best season of his career. Okay I lied, he’s having a terrible season. The reigning NL MVP is coming off an unreal 2015, but followed that up with a career low in bating average (.243) and was caught stealing 10 times. Fear not, Bryce still has that flawless and perfect hair that seems to flow perfectly in the wind. That’s a confidence boost for anybody, especially going into the playoffs. If you watch the Nats, you realize when a player hits a rocket out of the park, their helmet gets ripped off by a teammate when returning to the dugout. Think about this: the NLDS on Fox Sports, national TV, probably got a fresh haircut for the postseason, and the chance to have that helmet ripped off after a huge go-ahead homer on Kershaw!? What better motivation can there be!? It’s all about the hair. Hair hits homers.
04. Backup Catchers
Everybody in D.C. loves Wilson Ramos. The Buffalo was closing in on the best season of his career, until that awful game on September 26th vs. the Diamondbacks. The Nat’s lost a critical piece of their team to a season ending ACL tear injury. Nate fans lucked out because backup catcher Jose Lobaton has come in and taken over the starting spot with ease. Lobaton played in 39 games this season, and batted .232 with two RBI’s in the last three games.
03. Cheap Beer
First pitch of the NLDS vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers is today at 5:30. Kershaw vs. Scherzer. Ace vs. Ace. First playoff game in D.C. in two years. Today is also Friday, which means you should leave work early because again, there’s playoff baseball tonight in our nation’s capital. If you’re going to the game tonight, look to be spending anywhere between 6-10 dollars on a beer in the park. Listen to me, I’m about to lay some news on you. Go pregame at the first base gate, which opens at 2:30. THEY HAVE $5 BEERS. What other incentive do you need? Leave your office at 2, throw on your red t-shirt, jersey, hat, whatever Nat’s gear you have, and go tailgate at the first base gate with cheap beers. Get a little loose, play some corn hole, and cheer on the Nat’s tonight.
02. Mad Max
I know, I already talked about the lights out pitching. Although this has a lot to do with Scherzer, that’s not where we’re going. This is about Mad Max and his crazy eyes. Yes, each eye is a different color. The left is brown and the right is blue. It’s a superpower. What else explains his ridiculous numbers throughout the years making him one of the league’s best? Please give us a reason other than his super eyes…I’m waiting. Even on Scherzer bobble head night you’ll find that the plastic replica has two different colored eyes. Mad Max increased his powers back in April when he adopted a dog with two different colored eyes. Max’s ERA in April was a 4.35. The months following, that number dropped to 3.83, 1.96, 1.32, 3.05, and a September ERA of 2.43. Coincidence? I think not.
01. The Curse
This really has nothing to do as to why the Nat’s are hot. This is simply a plea from all D.C. sports fans for the past 24 years. There has not been a championship in this city since the Redskins won the Super Bowl back in ’92. D.C. now has the third longest championship drought of any city in the U.S. We are cursed. I have no clue what it is, but it’s there. It happens every year with every team. DC always has one of the best teams, stud athletes, and NEVER wins. We don’t even get to conference championship games for that matter. It’s awful, it hurts, and we want it to end. So hey Nats, lets fix it. Please. Sincerely, all of D.C.
Knocked out of the park by: Matt “Cheetah Chrome” Billman