The 162-game marathon is finally over, even though on one level, it was done by the end of April. But just because the Washington Nationals never found their way over .500 (their last time over .500 was July 1, 2021) doesn’t mean this year wasn’t productive.
We saw a young pitcher in Josiah Gray make the All-Star team. Other pieces for a future contending team saw their first full seasons in D.C. from CJ Abrams and his 47 steals to MacKenzie Gore and his 151 strikeouts. We also learned that Joey Meneses (team-bests .275 batting average and 89 RBI) wasn’t a one-hit wonder, while the catching combination of Keibert Ruiz and Riley Adams looks to be a fixture behind the plate for a while.
The 16-game improvement was nice but there are still deficiencies on this roster. The lineup that produced the 12th best batting average in MLB produced the 10th fewest runs scored, while the pitching staff allowed the most home runs (245) in the big leagues while posting the fourth-highest ERA. And (once again) who plays third base? The mystery since they won the World Series continues. See you in February when pitchers and catchers report.
Digesting the Division: Atlanta (104-58) captured its sixth straight NL East and holds home field advantage throughout the playoffs. They also lead the majors in runs scored, batting average, on-base and slugging percentage. Philadelphia (90-72) will face the Braves in the NLDS if they get by Arizona in the Wild Card Round. They also boast MLB history as Kyle Schwarber becomes the first man to hit under .200 for a season while driving in 100+ runs. Miami (84-77) was the little engine that could, snagging the final playoff spot despite a -56 run differential. The Marlins are playing in October thanks to a 33-13 record in one-run games. The New York Mets (74-87) part ways with manager Buck Showalter and go back to the drawing board after a disastrous season that began with World Series hopes. But even with the Mets nightmare, it was still a little bit better than the Nationals (71-91).
Bask in the Birds: The Baltimore Orioles (101-61) captured the AL East and No. 1 seed in the American League by beating Boston on Thursday. It’s their first title since 2014 and the first 100-win season since 1980 (those O’s finished second behind the 103-win Yankees). They’ll face the winner of Tampa Bay (O’s went 8-5 against the Rays in 2023) and Texas (3-3 against the O’s this year).
Last Week’s Heroes: Keibert Ruiz hit .455 with a homer and five RBI while Luis Garcia batted .308. Josiah Gray allowed one run over six innings in his final out of the season. Joe La Sorsa tossed one scoreless inning over two games.
Last Week’s Humbled: Patrick Corbin allowed four runs over 4 2/3 innings to wrap up his season. The final year of his deal is 2023. Jackson Rutledge (9.00), Jordan Weems (11.57) and Jose A. Ferrer (18.00) also had issues during the final days of the season. Joey Meneses hit .174 while CJ Abrams batted .208.
FINAL TEAM LEADERS:
- Lane Thomas: 156 games played, 682 plate appearances and 628 at bats, 101 runs scored, 28 home runs
- Joey Meneses: .275 batting average and 89 RBI
- Thomas and Meneses: 168 hits and 36 doubles
- CJ Abrams: Six triples and 47 stolen bases
- Alex Call: 53 walks
- Patrick Corbin: 10 wins, 32 starts, 180 innings pitched.
- Josiah Gray: 3.91 starter’s ERA.
- MacKenzie Gore: 151 strikeouts.
- Kyle Finnegan: Seven wins in relief, 28 saves, 69.1 innings of relief, 46 games finished.
- Hunter Harvey: 2.82 reliever’s ERA, 67 strikeouts in relief.