Nationals have a chance to finish with best-ever home record

With a tropical depression making its way up the East Coast and set to dump buckets of rain on the Washington area in the next two days, it’s somewhat in doubt the Nationals will play their final home game of the season. But if they do, and if they win, they’ll have set a club record.

The team is 41-39 at home this season, having clinched a winning home record for the third time in its six years in Washington and the first time at Nationals Park. But the Nationals have never been better than 41-40 at home. They’ve got a chance to get to 42-39 with a win tonight.

Aside from setting a team record at home, the mark points out just how bad the Nationals have been on the road this season. Only three teams in baseball have a worse road record than Washington, which is 27-51 away from Nationals Park. Even if the Nationals get swept this weekend in New York, they’ll still have improved their road record by a game over last year’s mark and beat their 2008 road win total by two games.

But the formula to winning in baseball, though, is dominating at home and playing respectably on the road. Of the six teams that have already clinched playoff spots, four either have 50 wins at home already, or have a shot to get there in a home series this weekend. None of those six teams have more than 45 wins on the road, but they’ve at least done enough to let their home record shine.

And for the Nationals, who had baseball’s third-worst road record last year and its worst in 2008, winning away from Washington is the next step.