Nats by the Numbers- August 2016 Review

MLB: AUG 15 Nationals at Rockies

Nationals’ rising star Trea Turner was named the Nationals League’s Rookie of the Month for August as he hit .357, stole 11 bases and posted a .938 OPS while giving Washington a dynamic force at the top of its lineup.

The Nationals were 17-11 (.607 winning percentage) in August 2016.  The team’s win rate was the second best in the season, trailing only the squad’s April total when Washington won a blistering 16 of 23 games (.696 percentage).  With the help of Baseball Reference’s amazing play index, this edition of “Nats by the Numbers” looks at some of the highlights, and a lowlight, of the NL East Division winner’s August 2016 performance.

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The major acquisition for Washington at the 2016 trade deadline was closer Mark Melancon, and the veteran wasted no time showing his new team why Mike Rizzo acquired him to anchor Washington’s bullpen.

Melancon posted a .732 WHIP in August as he picked up seven saves, allowed only one earned run and struck out 14 in 14 innings pitched.

Melancon’s first save as a National was perhaps his best of the month. On Sunday August 14th, Tanner Roark and San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner matched zeroes until Wilson Ramos’ solo home run in the bottom of the seventh gave Washington a 1-0 lead. Shawn Kelley relieved Roark and pitched a scoreless eighth, before Melancon took center stage in to try to close things out in the ninth.  The new Nationals shut the door on the Giants, fanning the last two batters he faced to preserve Washington’s narrow win.

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MLB: Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals

22-year-old rookie righthander Reynaldo Lopez showed signs of his exceptional talent in August in two starts against divisional rival Atlanta.

On the 13th at Nationals Park, Lopez allowed only one run in seven innings pitched with a mere five hits allowed as he earned his first Major League victory as Washington held on for a 7-6 victory over the Braves.

Five days later in Atlanta, Lopez was even more dominant.  The fireballer struck out 11 and allowed one earned run and in seven innings pitched as Washington won 8-2 .  Lopez’s 11 punchouts in his fourth Major League game trailed only Stephen Strasburg (14 strikeouts in Major League debut in 2010) and Joe Ross (11 strikeouts in his third Major League game in 2015) among Nationals’ pitchers since the team began in 2005.

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For most of the 2016 season, the Washington Nationals played solid defense.  The team allowed more than one unearned run in only 11 games on the season, but four of those came in an ugly stretch in August when the team’s defensive performance dropped significantly.

On the 19th and 20th Washington won back to back games at Atlanta, but allowed two unearned runs in each contest due to sloppy defense.  In the finale of the series on the 21st, Washington’s season high five errors in the game allowed Atlanta to tally a pair of unearned runs as the Braves avoided a sweep with a 7-6 win.  The iron glove routine continued on the 23rd in Camden Yards, as a pair of Washington errors led to two unearned runs for the O’s in an 8-1 Baltimore victory.

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Jayson Werth played at a high level in August 2016, putting up a season high .902 OPS in the month.  After hitting 12 home runs in 341 at bats from April through July Werth went on a tear in August, as he went deep eight times in only 94 at bats on the month.

Werth’s eight homers was the most he’d hit in a month since September of 2010 when he hit nine.   His previous high for homers in a month as a National was seven, set in July 2013 and equaled in September 2015.

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Anthony Rendon was truly “Tony Two Bags” in August, stroking 13 doubles as he hit .324 and drove in 20 runs in the month.

Rendon’s 13 two baggers tied the Major League high for doubles in a month in 2016, equaling the 13 doubles hit by San Francisco’s Brendon Belt in June.  He also tied  Nationals’ record for most doubles in a month, equaling the 13 hit by Brad Wilkerson in May 2005, Ryan Zimmerman in June 2006 and Denard Span in June 2014.

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The Nationals most impressive offensive showing in the month came in August’s first three days, as the team put up 32 runs and swept the struggling Diamondbacks in Arizona to start August out with a bang.

In the series opener on the 1st, Stephen Strasburg allowed only one run in six innings pitched and went 3 for 4 with a RBI at the plate to lead Washington to a 14-1 victory.  Anthony Rendon drove in three runs, Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy scored three times each and Wilson Ramos went 3 for 6 with two runs and two RBI in the rout. The game was the second in Nats’ history where the team has scored 14 or more runs without hitting a homer. The first time that happened was on July 13, 2007 when the Nats won at Florida by 14-10.

The Nats’ bats were almost as hot in the following game, as Washington won 10-4.  Rookie Wilmer Difo went 3 for 5 with a run scored, a RBI and a stolen base and Jayson Werth, Wilson Ramos and Chris Heisey homered to help Tanner Roark pick up his 11th win of the year.

In the afternoon finale of the series on the 3rd, Daniel Murphy homered, starting pitcher and winner Max Scherzer drove in two runs and Clint Robinson had a two run single to lead Washington to an 8-3 victory.

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Speedy rookie Trea Turner spent a lot of time on the base paths in August, as he had 45 hits (including six doubles, three triples and five homers) to earn the National League’s Rookie of the Month honor.  The dynamic rookie also had 11 steals, a .938 OPS and scored 27 runs in the month.

Turner had hitting streaks of 10 games and eight games in August, and his 45 hits was the most by a first or second year player in a month in the Major Leagues since Chris Coghlan had 53 for the Florida Marlins in September/October of 2009.

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