Washington’s Nationals won more games against their NL East opponents last season than any other MLB team did against their respective divisional rivals.
They went 51-25 against the NL East and the 51 wins were the most in Nationals’ club history (2005-present).
Washington finished (15-4) against Atlanta, (10-9) against Miami, (12-7) against New York and (14-5) against Philadelphia.
Of course, it was a down year for a number of the Nationals’ NL East rivals... right?
“Who said that?” Dusty Baker asked the reporter who prefaced a question with that statement earlier this week, before the season opener, citing the general consensus about the state of the division last season.
“The Phillies were dangerous and Atlanta was down, but all those teams are better this year. Don’t listen to the publications, they don’t matter.
“As long as you win your division, that’s our goal, because we haven’t won it two years in a row, so with that in mind, I just hope that we can stay healthy and just tell my boys, ‘Just play and stay together on a daily basis.’ And I think our team is going to do it.”
Washington disappointed in the years following each of their previous NL East crowns, failing to repeat or even make the postseason in 2013 or 2015.
GM Mike Rizzo talked in a recent MLB Network Radio interview about trying to break that history of division titles followed by disappointments, but said he was not taking anything for granted going into the season.
“It’s going to be a battle,” Rizzo said. “The Mets are great. They’re healthy. They’ve got those [starters], they run a guy out there every day at you. They’ve got a good lineup. [Yoenis] Cespedes is one of the best players in the league. They’re better, just because they’re going to get healthy.
“The rest of the teams: I’ve always feared Miami. They’re got a great young everyday lineup, as good as anybody’s in the league and the moves that Philly and Atlanta are making are going to make them better in the short-term and in the long-term.
“You’ve got to keep up with the Joneses and try to stay ahead of these guys and it’s tough.
“It’s tough to win on a consistent basis in this league and specifically in this division.”
With 18 of their 25 games this month against their NL East rivals, the Nationals have an opportunity to pick up where they left off last season against the divisional foes.