WASHINGTON — When the dust settles on the 2017 MLB season, the Washington Nationals will be one of the top seeds in the National League, thanks to their winning record. But the team’s postseason destiny could have more to do with how often they win rather than just raw numbers.
With a record of 71-47 going into the West Coast road trip, the Nats are 24 games over .500, with the second largest division lead in baseball. Even with such a comfortable lead, the Nats have yet to show the prolonged winning streak that defines championship caliber teams.
The longest winning streak of the season is a modest seven games. At their current clip, the team will win 98 games (.604), which roughly equates to winning three of every five games this season. The long winning streaks haven’t been there, but neither has prolonged losing streaks (season-high four games, twice).
“We haven’t had a really long winning streak yet,” skipper Dusty Baker told the media. “I know that it’s going to get here, especially if you can go through the rotation a couple times through, and that’s how winning streaks start usually.
“We’ve hit the ball well most of the year, but it’s the pitching that separates you and puts you on winning streaks.”
Offensively, the Nats are second in the MLB in runs (633), second in slugging (.470), second in OPS (.808), third in hits (1125), third in batting average (.274), third in on-base percentage (.338).
Even with some Cy Young caliber arms in the rotation, there are also more pedestrian performances that have broken up winning streaks. The team’s ERA is seventh in MLB in ERA (3.99), but leads the majors in quality starts (76).
As a result, the team has won 24 of 38 series, losing 11 and splitting three.
The question is whether that .600 winning percentage will translate well to a seven-game series in the playoffs.
For right now, Baker seems content to live in the moment and wait for reinforcements to come off of the disabled list.
“I’ve been preaching get to 25 over, and we finally got there,” Baker said earlier this week. “Now hopefully we can go to 30 over and just win. Win series.”