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Nats' offense on pace to pass 1994 Expos for highest-scoring in franchise history

Nats' offense on pace to pass 1994 Expos for highest-scoring in franchise history

Scoring is up around baseball as home runs fly out of ballparks at a historic rate. The Nationals have been riding that wave and especially lately. They scored 43 runs across three games from Saturday through Monday, as they continue to bash their way through the National League playoff hunt.

Those 43 runs are a franchise record for a three-game stretch. So are the 15 homers they launched against Brewers and Pirates pitchers.

After their most recent barrage, the Nationals are now on a scoring pace never seen before in franchise history. They are averaging 5.29 runs per game, which if it holds would establish a new record for a Nationals or Expos team. The current mark is 5.13 held by the 1994 Montreal Expos, who were famously a juggernaut seemingly destined for a World Series ring before a labor strike ended their season.

The 1994 club remains the best offense in franchise history based on a per game scoring average. But the most runs ever scored by a Nats or Expos team was in 2017 when the Dusty Baker-led Nationals put up 819 runs across 162 games. This year's Nats are on pace for 857.

The Nats, in fact, are already climbing the charts despite having 38 games remaining on their schedule. Through 124 games, they have 656 runs which is more than they had total in 23 separate seasons. They have already scored more runs than the 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2011 Nationals. The 2005 Nats won 81 games and the 2011 club won 80. They already have as many runs as the 2013 Nationals who won 86 games.

What is perhaps most remarkable about the 2019 Nats' offense is that there are no historic standouts in terms of runs scored. Anthony Rendon is on pace for an impressive 116 runs, but that would only place him fifth in franchise history. 

Adam Eaton is also on pace for 100-plus runs, but he's the only other one. Having two 100-run players isn't that out of the ordinary in Nats history. Bryce Harper and Trea Turner did that last year.

Now, Rendon is on track to join some special company in franchise history when it comes to driving in runs. He could challenge the RBI record of 131 set back in 1999 by Vladimir Guerrero. 

Rendon is on pace for 127 RBI despite missing 14 games this season. He also currently has the third-best slugging percentage in franchise history.

But what stands out most is that these Nats are doing it collectively. Despite not featuring an elite home run hitter, they are averaging the most homers per game and RBI per game in franchise history. They have the highest OPS and slugging percentage ever for a Nats/Expos team.

Rendon, Turner and Juan Soto have been the stars. But this has been a group effort with many carrying their weight.

The Nats are also doing this in the first year since Harper left the team in free agency. When Harper signed away with the Phillies, there were questions about whether they could replace his production and power. Those aren't questions anymore.

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Report: MLB intends to propose season of around 50 games

Report: MLB intends to propose season of around 50 games

Major League Baseball intends to propose a plan to the MLB Players Association for a significantly shorter season in 2020, ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Monday.

According to Passan, MLB envisions a season of about 50 regular-season games beginning in July. The league will continue discussing other options with players but believes its agreement in March to pay prorated salaries allows for it to dictate the shorter schedule, even without an MLBPA deal. 

The exact number of games under the proposal is still being considered, according to the report, but players would receive the full prorated amount of their salaries.

The 50-game range is less than half of what the players reportedly proposed to MLB on Sunday. MLBPA delivered a proposal for a 114-game season that would begin June 30, Passan reported. The players' proposal included the right for all players to opt out of the season, and a deferral of salaries if the 2020 postseason was canceled.

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This round of proposals comes after contention between the sides over pay cuts beyond the prorated salaries. MLB previously proposed a second pay cut in the form of tiered salaries, an offer players balked at. Players likely won't find MLB's newest idea favorable either, as they reportedly want a season of at least 100 games.

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Max Scherzer, Sean Doolittle provide powerful voices during baseball’s search for answers

Max Scherzer, Sean Doolittle provide powerful voices during baseball’s search for answers

Sean Doolittle was willing to talk about it. The topic was union business. He’s focused, detailed and informed when any player-related financial topic is put in front of him. Being prepared is his process in general. Before Doolittle dispatches a thread of tweets, he reads multiple background sources, formulates his thoughts, looks for spaces that may lack clarity when dispatched in public.

On this particular topic, back in spring training when everything was more hopeful, he deferred. He asked if Max Scherzer had talked about the subject broached by a reporter. Told Scherzer had not, Doolittle said he would prefer to wait until Scherzer spoke. They had discussed the idea prior. So, they were working in tandem.

The pair has operated individually when addressing their personal performance or as team spokespeople when discussing the state of the Nationals. In this new setting, when a negotiating battle is underway between the union and league, and a pandemic has hurtled the sport into unprecedented territory, the two have become one of the most prominent duos in the league.

Scherzer dropped the largest statement of the negotiating period when he tweeted last week. A member of the union’s powerful eight-person executive subcommittee, and the best player among that group, Scherzer’s decree the players would not accept a further pay cut rattled the sport. An out-of-town announcer railed against the stance. The league received a large hint of the players’ coming counter-proposal. The union, through Scherzer’s rarely used social media account, had spoken.

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Days later, Doolittle countered his employer when tweeting about the Nationals players’ desire to step in and pay minor-league players in the organization. Doolittle’s Twitter account is often an outlet for his thoughts on topics from social justice to baseball matters to, of course, Star Wars. He uses the medium for consistent and steady interaction with the public. Scherzer operates differently. He stays off social media -- for the most part. He composed just four original tweets in the two years before delivering a missive via screenshot last week.

Soon, both will be gone. Doolittle is in the final year of his contract. Scherzer has one more year on his seven-year, $210 million deal which has evolved into a bargain framed by staggering figures.

Doolittle will be 34 years old on Sept. 26. Scherzer turns 36 years old on July 27th. Their statesmen positions in the game are likely to last beyond their playing careers. Doolittle will walk into a flood of post-career media offers. Scherzer’s future could include being the executive director of the MLBPA. He is the necessary blend of informed, passionate, and obstinate.

Both are voices to be heard in this climate. They understand the landscape in front of and behind them. Managing messages within the union and out in the public eye are divergent projects which simultaneously influence each other. Being the elders -- the viejos -- on the team brings a specific responsibility separate from overall union business. They need to be the house protectors then.

And know they are working in conjunction. An avenue over here for one, an avenue over there for another, making two of the most prominent local voices two of the most powerful across the sport.

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