Washington Nationals First-Half Recap

Washington Nationals Dave Martinez

The 2023 Washington Nationals finish the first half at 36-54, 24.5 games back of first place in the east, and 18 games under .500. Lane Thomas headlines the batting leaders, leading the team in batting average, runs, home runs, and RBI. On the Pitching side, Josiah Gray leads the team with a 3.41 ERA, while MacKenzie Gore leads the squad with 108 strikeouts. Kyle Finnegan leads the relievers with 11 saves. The “Scrappy Nats,” as announcer Bob Carpenter has started calling them, have had a few disappointing players and a few who have shined so far this season. Here are the Top three and bottom three players through 82 ballgames.

Shining; OF Lane Thomas: Lane Thomas has emerged as the team’s MVP in 2023, shocking many fans this season. Thomas is top five in the NL in Hits (107) and outfield assists. As well as leading the team in all major categories and hitting .302 with a .844 OPS.

Disappointing; C Kiebert Ruiz: The 50 million dollar catcher has yet to find a consistent stride in 2023 after signing an eight-year extension in the offseason. Ruiz is yet to throw out a batter’s steal attempt in 2023. They are slashing a measly .226 in 73 games. Almost all of the numbers are down compared to the 2022 season, and Nats fans are hoping Ruiz can find a stride and earn his money in the second half.

Shining; LHP Patrick Corbin: If you told Nationals fans in the offseason that Patrick Corbin would provide quality starts and pitch to a 4.89 ERA, they would say you are ridiculous. Corbin has provided exactly what fans had hoped for in 2020-2022. Corbin provided good innings and kept the Nationals in ballgames. Corbin’s WHIP is the lowest it has been since 2019.

Disappointing; 1B Joey Meneses: Now, Meneses’ numbers have not been atrocious. He is hitting .284 with a .732 OPS. Joey’s power numbers have decreased since the spark he provided in ‘22. Meneses has six homers in 334 at-bats, and four of those homers came in the final week of the first half. Compared to 2022, Meneses had 13 homers in 222 at-bats. National fans hope the slugger can keep his streak alive after the all-star break.

Shining; RHP Josiah Gray: Representing the Nationals in the 2023 All-Star game, right-handed pitcher Josiah Gray might have finally found a feel on the mound. He is pitching to a 3.41 ERA in 18 starts. Josiah has 92 strikeouts in just over 100 innings of work and has been limiting the homers given up, only giving up 14 home runs compared to 38 in 2022.

Disappointing; 1B Dominic Smith: Dom Smith is in the same category as fellow first baseman Joey Meneses. The numbers are not terrible, but the power numbers are down. They are hitting five homers and 20 RBI in 86 games. The glove was good at first base, but the bat was rough to watch.

Regarding the young guys in the clubhouse, RHP Jake Irvin is the leading Rookie of the Year for the Nationals. He is pitching to a 4.60 ERA, striking out 41 and walking 28. Not many Rookies have appeared with the Nats this season, including Amos Willingham, Jose A. Ferrer, and Jake Irvin.

The second half began on the right foot for Nationals fans as Mike Rizzo selected Golden-Spikes winner Dylan Crews, an outfielder from LSU, and 2023 NCAA National Champion, with the second pick in the 2023 MLB Draft. Dylan Crews is expected to fly through the minor leagues next season and could be an early September call-up in 2024. Here’s to the Nationals having a decent second half and not immediately trading all their players again.

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