If you bet the over on 61.5 wins for your Washington Nationals at the 101 game mark, I regret to inform you that you lost your money. The Nats have only won 61 games and are merely tied for the best record in baseball with the streaking Cincinnati Reds, who hit the 61 win mark after a red hot ten straight wins.
Here’s a list of teams which do not have 61 wins: the Yankees (60 wins), Rangers (59), Braves (57), Tigers (54), Cardinals (54), Rays (53), Diamondbacks (51), Red Sox (51), Brewers (45), and Phillies (45). In other words, every team that made* the playoffs last year. (The Phillies had the best record in baseball in 2011 with 102 wins and won the NL East by 13 games–but now trail the Nats by 16.5 games.)
A lucky seven of random but incredible facts about your Washington Nationals:
1) If Washington played just under .500 ball for the last 61 games (going, say, 30-31), the Nats would still win 91 games — one game enough to have knocked the eventual World Series champs Cardinals out of last year’s NL Wild Card. This would represent an 11 game improvement over last year’s 80 wins, which, in turn was 11 games better than the Nat’s 69 wins in 2010.
2011 NL Central Standings
Rookie Sandy Leon
2) The Nationals are winning despite a slew of injuries that prevented them from playing their starting 3-4-5 hitters and last year’s closer until after the All-Star Break. Both face-of-the-franchise Ryan Zimmerman and $120 million man Jayson Werth have missed significant time. Washington has also gone five catchers deep due to freak injuries, and bullpen roles have been rearranged more often than a Kardashian’s social schedule. Most recently, the Nats lost All-Star short stop Ian Desmond to a stained oblique muscle but, once again, haven’t missed a beat.
Not just Bryce Harper
3) Washington’s cadre of rookies have probably contributed more than any group of rookies in MLB. Everyone knows Bryce Harper, but Steve Lombardozzi, Tyler Moore, Sandy Leon, and, just this weekend, Corey Brown have all stepped up big at different times during the season. (Bonus trivia tidbit: Lombardozzi and Harper hit back-to-back home runs to start a game versus the Braves in June, becoming the first pair of rookies since at least 1900 to do so.)
4) The Nationals never say die and have come from behind to win 24 games.
An ace as #3.
5) As a whole, Nationals pitching is the best in baseball in ERA (3.25) and Batting Average Against (.233) but All Star pitchers Steven Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez may not even be the best pitchers on their own team. Jordan Zimmermann is the most under-rated and unheralded starter in baseball, mainly because his run support during the first half of the season (and last year) was horrible. Zimmermann currently boasts the fourth best ERA in all of baseball at 2.28. (Strasburg is tenth at 2.76.) Again, Zimmermann is the Nats third starter but has a WAR of 4.4 (bested only by Justin Verlander’s 5.1 among MLB pitchers).
Old Man Johnson still has it.
6) Manager Davey Johnson recently won his 100th game as the Nats skipper,something it took former manager Jim Riggleman 854 games (give or take) to do. Johnson is 69 years old — 2.5 times the average age (27.1) of his players and four years older than the combined ages of his three youngest players (Harper , Leon , and Lombardozzi ).
7) The last time the Nats had the best record in baseball this late in the season was 2 October, 1933, and the Washington Post cost three cents.
The Nats were two months shy of legally being able to toast their MLB best record in 1933.
* Or should have