PHOENIX - I’m about to say goodbye to Phoenix and wrap up the 2013 season from a personal perspective, as my flight back east is set to take off in just a little bit.
Quickly, I’d like to say thank you to each and every one of you for following along this season, both here on the blog and on Twitter.
While it’s a long season and the job can be pretty grueling at times, you guys have again helped make things fun. I really enjoy the back-and-forth with everyone, and truly thank you for your readership.
I’ll be here with you every day throughout the offseason, discussing the search for a new manager to any and all free agent moves and trades, and everything in between. Hope you’ll stick with me as the hot stove heats up in the months to come.
Before we close the book on the Nationals’ 2013 season, however, I’d like to get everyone’s final thoughts on what this team did this year.
The World Series was the ultimate goal, as Davey Johnson was clear to point out all the way back at the Winter Meetings (cough, cough - WSOB), and the Nats fell well short of that. They couldn’t match their production from the magical 2012 season in a number of ways, and so the results were much different than they were last year.
No postseason berth, no division title, no intense home playoff games.
So where did things go wrong? Well, if we weren’t already aware, let’s go to the final numbers to get an idea of how the Nats finished.
As a team, the Nationals hit to a slash line of .251/.313/.398, ranking 17th among major league teams in batting average, 18th in on-base percentage and 13th in slugging percentage.
They scored 656 runs (ranking 15th) hit 161 homers (13th) and struck out 1,192 times (18th).
I think you get the idea there; despite their hot offensive finish to the season, the Nats still end the year sitting squarely in the middle of the pack as far as team offense goes.
From a pitching standpoint, the Nats finish with a collective 3.59 ERA (eighth), 1.23 WHIP (fourth) and .683 OPS against (eighth).
The starting pitching was strong, but not spectacular, putting up a 3.60 ERA (seventh) with a 1.19 WHIP, and a 3.31 strikeout-to-walk ratio, while the bullpen had its issues at times, posting a 3.56 ERA (17th) with a 1.29 WHIP and a 2.65 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The Nationals were awful defensively to begin the season, and while they improved in that facet of the game as the year went on, the overall numbers are still not too impressive.
The Nats made 107 errors as a team and had a .982 fielding percentage, seventh-worst in the majors. They also ranked dead last in throwing out basestealers, catching just 17.4 percent of runners trying to swipe a bag.
Add it all up and it gives you about what you’d expect, based on the numbers alone - an 86-76 team, and one that’s on the outside of the postseason picture looking in.
Just for the sake of comparison, the 2012 Nats ranked ninth, 12th and sixth in the three major offensive categories (batting average, on-base percentage and slugging), second in team ERA and eighth in fielding percentage.
To everyone in the Nationals clubhouse - players, coaches and management - the season was a failure. The Nats came up short of their goal. A handful of veterans played well below their career norms for much of the season. But there are some positives to be taken out of the year.
After a disappointing first four months, the Nats finished the season by going 31-16, which works out to a 107-win pace. They saw a bunch of young players emerge. Jayson Werth, Jordan Zimmermann and Tyler Clippard - to name a few - really excelled.
All that leads me to this question: How do you view the 2013 season as a whole?
Is it a massive disappointment? Is it tough to take, but perhaps the blow was softened by the way the season finished? Despite the lack of postseason baseball in D.C., do you maybe even view the year as a success in some regards?
As I prepare to hop aboard my plane, what say you?