How can the Nats' offense improve in 2024?
In order for the Nationals to win more than 70 games next season, they will need to make key changes to their approach.
In August, the Nationals went on a run. They swept the Oakland Athletics, took two from a hot Boston Red Sox team, won two of three against the National League runner-up Philadelphia Phillies, and won a series against the New York Yankees and Miami Marlins. During this run, the Nationals relied on clutch hitting and moments from players up and down the roster.
The problem with clutch is there is a lot of variance and luck involved. Sure, you have all-time greats like Derek Jeter, who was clutch year in and year out, but baseball is random. Big moments can come from anyone, and anyone can fail to live up to those big moments. In 2023, FanGraphs pegged Bryce Harper, Ezequiel Tovar, Javier Baez, Anthony Santander, and TJ Friedl as the most clutch players. For each of these players, 2023 was by far their most clutch season, with Javier Baez posting “un-clutch” seasons every season prior to 2022. In Harper’s 2015 MVP season, he was rated as the second most “un-clutch” player in baseball.
The key for the Nationals to match or surpass their 2023 win total is by scoring runs in a manner that is more predictive of success. While teams with high batting averages will obviously score a lot of runs, a team’s on-base percentage and slugging percentage are more indicative of offensive success.