Dusty Baker was asked earlier this season if he thought having four players with close to a .400 OBP or four players with 100 RBIs on the year would be more impressive.
Baker, as always, took an interesting approach to answering that question.
“Which is more important the chicken or the egg?” he asked rhetorically.
“.400 on-base percentage ... I’ll bet a lot of those guys are back-to-back-to-back in the order. So therefore, if you don’t get on base, you don’t have nobody to drive in, you know what I mean, so both are important to me, not only on-base percentage, but I would like to see what you hit with runners in scoring position - I think, which is more important. Because see, when you drive in runs, a lot of it has to do with chances.”
“What if you drive in 100 runs but you got 500 chances? Then another guy drives in 80 and he has 250 chances,” the Nats’ skipper continued.
“So which one is more important to your team? Somebody is leaving a bunch of guys out there, you know, so what I’d like to see is not only your batting average with runners in scoring position, but also that’s only part of it, some guys hit a ball to second base and drive a run in or a sacrifice fly - those are as important as batting average, getting runs across the plate. I think that RBIs are something we don’t put enough importance on.
“We put a whole bunch of importance on on-base percentage, but what good is on-base percentage can’t nobody drive him in? Right? That’s some just — some simple stuff. Maybe it’s too simple for people to understand.”
Out of the four players who were being discussed, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, and Daniel Murphy, two of them (Harper - .419 and Rendon - .402) are still above .400 with their OBPs, while Murphy (who hovered around .400 through mid-July and started last night with a .377 OBP) and Zimmerman (who maintained an OBP over .400 through mid-June and is down to .357), have fallen off some.
Zimmerman is the only one to top 100 RBIs thus far with 103 as of Friday night, with Rendon at 96, Murphy at 89 RBIs, and Harper (who’s been out since August 12th) at 87.
As for AVG with RISP? Murphy leads that pack with a .393 AVG with RISP on the season, followed by Rendon (.372), Harper (.349), and Zimmerman (.315).
As a team, the Nationals started Friday night with 202 home runs total (before Adam Lind hit a three-run home run in the third inning of the series opener in Citi Field), good for seventh in the NL in home runs, and one shy of the franchise record for homers in a season (which Lind’s blast tied), and a franchise record 777 runs scored so far in 2017.
Before the series opener in New York, Baker talked about the Nationals’ offense again, going back to his belief that RBIs aren’t given enough importance when asked if it was a big deal that the team was close to setting a new franchise mark for home runs.
“Not really,” Baker said. “I mean, I like homers, I love homers, but I like runs. I like RBIs. I was hoping before Bryce got hurt that we’d have four guys with 100 RBIs. I don’t think I’ve been on a team that had four guys with 100 RBIs. That’s getting it done.
“Murph was on the way then he slowed up, and then Zim got it. Anthony has a chance, Rendon has [a chance]. Bryce would have been well over 100 [if he hadn’t gotten hurt], so that’s the one that I like.”