Ten games over .500 and in first place in the NL East, there's not a lot for the Nationals to complain about at the moment. They are charging foward with one of the league's best records and their pitching staff has been particularly impressive.
Manager Dusty Baker likes where the Nats currently stand and this week highlighted two areas he feels extra good about as the Nationals continue their homestand against the Cardinals.
"Probably our defense," Baker said to start. "The fact that we don't usually give away outs and beat ourselves. You don't have to make the spectacular, but you have to concentrate enough to make the everyday regular play and then hope you do make a couple spectaculars along the way. Most teams that lose are teams that play poor defense."
"And secondly, how this team is very resilient and unaffected by tough losses or even consecutive losses," he continued. "Because after the game, you could hear a church mouse run across the floor in the clubhouse. Then the next day you wouldn't know anything every happened. That's a sign of some pros."
As far as their defense goes, the Nationals rank favorably in Major League Baseball in several categories. They have made just 19 errors, the second-fewest of any team. Their .989 fielding percentage as a team is third. They are also third in the NL in defensive efficiency at .719.
"It's a special group. We've got a lot of guys with Gold Glove-caliber abilities," first baseman Clint Robinson said.
Second baseman Daniel Murphy leads the team in errors with five, but he's only on pace to make about 17 of them this season. That number wouldn't rank anywhere near the top of the league in most years.
The Nationals have the second-best team ERA at 2.82 and the second-best rotation ERA at 2.96. They would like to be higher than 13th in runs scored, but that still puts them in the top half of the league.
The Nationals are at the very least above average pretty much across the board, but Baker and his players still see room for improvement.
"We're in first place but we're kind of treading water. We haven't caught our stride yet," Baker said. "To have that 'put your foot on their throat' attitude when we get the lead, I'm hoping that we get more of that here. I have a pretty nice team. I'd like to see them be a little meaner."
"There's still a lot of guys that are still finding their stroke right now," shortstop Danny Espinosa said. "Our pitching staff has done a good job and defensively we've done good. We have guys on base. We're getting guys on base, we're just not hitting quite the way we can be hitting. We know that."
"There's always room for improvement. It's a tough league," Robinson said. "The division has turned out to be a lot tougher than I think a lot of people expected. Once we get our lineup firing, I think that's when you'll see a lot of special things."
Baker has referred all year to the idea of a killer instinct and how the Nationals could use more 'dog' in them.
"I'm gonna give them some gunpowder," he joked on Friday.