If you would have told me in spring training that ...
* the Nationals would be 46-46 at the All-Star break, I would have taken that in an I-395 minute.
* the pitching staff would have the sixth-best ERA in the National League, I would have been ecstatic.
* the defense would be seventh-best in the NL, I would have bought stock in Rawlings.
* Tyler Clippard would make the All-Star team and Michael Morse should have, and Danny Espinosa and Drew Storen could have, I would have thought, “What about Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth?”
* Zimmerman would be out for two months, I would have thought our defense would be a disaster and our offense would be anemic. (Well, I got half that right.)
* Werth would be hitting under .220 and on pace for fewer than 60 RBIs, I would have thought he was the one on the disabled list for 58 games.
* Ian Desmond would be hitting just over .220, I would have thought you were crazy.
* Jordan Zimmermann would be our best starting pitcher but have a losing record, I would have thought he must not be in line for any run support (Right again!).
* the Nats would play, prior to the break, 37 one-run games and win more than half, I would have been giddy.
* the Nats would be 46-46 with a team batting average better than only the Pirates, I would have questioned your sanity.
* Jim Riggleman would walk away from a team that had won 11 of 12 games and was over .500, I would have thought “That’s not the Riggs I know.”
Yes, it has been an interesting and intriguing first half with unexpected twists and turns. You could say the Nats have won several games they should have lost, and lost a number of games they could have won with a sacrifice fly or some other little thing in the fundamental department.
One thing has been consistent: The Nationals have played solid baseball, seldom get blown out and have proven they can play with any team in the National League - well, maybe not the Phillies just yet.
The road trip starting Friday will be tough in Atlanta, winnable in Houston and uncertain in L.A., like everything else there. Then it’s home to return to the NL East versus the Marlins, Mets and Braves.
Is there a playoff race ahead? Can the offense hit? Can the pitching staff keep on keeping on? Can the defense keep catching the ball and throwing it to the right place? The answers to those questions: Maybe, they’d better, I think so, I know so.
Brace yourselves for a second half that may bring memories of 2005 back, and bring them back in a hurry!
By the way, here the final interleague numbers:
AL 131-NL 121
AL East 50-40, AL Central 42-48, AL West 39-33
NL East 44-37, NL Central 37-56, NL West 40-38
The Nats went 8-7, a marked improvement over 2010.