Washington's Nationals started the night on Friday with the second-lowest error total in the National League, behind only the New York Mets, who ended up committing their 19th error as a team to leave the NL East rivals tied for the least errors in the National League.
Washington's .989 fielding percentage as a team before last night was tied for the National League's best mark as well, with the Mets and San Francisco Giants, and the Nationals were ranked third in the NL in "Defensive Efficiency", which is defined as the, "... rate at which balls put into play are converted into outs" by Baseball Prospectus.
As the Nationals mentioned in last night's pregame notes, their .719 Defensive Efficiency mark was up from the 2015 Nationals' .700 mark, which ranked 9th overall in the NL for the season.
Dusty Baker talked before last night's game against the St. Louis Cardinals about what stood out for him about how the Nationals' defense has performed thus far.
"The fact that we don't usually give away outs and beat ourselves," Baker said. "Because this game is not designed for 28 or 29 outs.
"You don't have to make the spectacular, but you've got to concentrate enough to make the everyday regular play and then hope you do make a couple spectaculars on the way. Most teams that lose are teams that play poor defense.
"You don't win playing defense, but you certainly lose playing defense. It's like you're not scoring, and if they're not scoring, at least we're still 0-0 and you've got a chance to win. And defense is work, defense is effort."
Baker also talked about one outfielder in particular whose defense has improved, pointing to Jayson Werth's work in left field.
"I'm not surprised," Baker told reporters. "Like I've said, he's an older engine and it takes longer. I mean, I'm convinced of that.
"It takes longer to get your act together, but once you get it then you keep it longer, generally speaking, compared to a younger player. A younger player gets it quicker, but they don't tend to keep it as long."
Werth and Baker have also talked about the difficulty of adjusting to left field after playing right.
"I played right field for like eight years, and then I moved over to left," Werth told MASN's Mark Zuckerman yesterday:
"Last year I didn’t really get too many looks over there until I started playing there (once healthy). But at the end, I thought I was pretty comfortable. And then the start of this season, it’s just a matter of getting some reps."
"I played left field," Baker said, "and that was the hardest field to play. Everybody can hit the ball hard to left field.
"The ball is slicing and toward the line and usually it's toward your backhand side, which is always the hardest in every sport is your backhand. I don't care what you're playing.
"And so I explained my degree of difficulty that I had in the beginning and I told him I ended up having to work and I got a Gold Glove, [which] at that time they didn't give to the left fielders, it was mostly center fielders that would get the Gold Glove.
"He explained to me that he really didn't have any time to work in left field last year because he was hurt all Spring, so he was learning while he was playing and that was tough. Cause I know how it was for me, especially to go from right field, which is kind of easy."