With a 17-8 record, the Washington Nationals have materialized as perhaps the strongest team in Major League Baseball. Their lead in the National League East has extended to five games over the Miami Marlins, with no end in sight to their rapid pace.
After winning the NL East last year, the Nationals were the consensus favorite for the division crown heading into the season. Their roster is loaded, with 2016 Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and NL MVP finalist Daniel Murphy returning to support youthful franchise faces like Bryce Harper and Trea Turner.
However, even their specified role players have been performing like MVP candidates. The records set, matched, or nearly equaled in the month of April exemplified how absurdly great the Nats have played, and here they are.
Former MVP and starting right fielder Harper broke the MLB mark for total runs scored in the month of April with 32, beating Larry Walker‘s record of 29.
Third baseman Anthony Rendon set the Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos single-game franchise record with his 10 RBIs yesterday in a six-hit, three-HR outing against the New York Mets. The previous record was eight, set by Tim Wallach in 1990, a mark that Rendon exceeded after just five innings on Sunday.
The Nationals broke their single-game runs scored record in Sunday afternoon’s 23-5 win against the Mets, who dropped to last place in the NL East. The prior mark belonged to a 21-9 Expos victory over the Colorado Rockies in 1996.
In scoring 23 runs on Sunday, the Nationals broke the MLB record for games in which a team has scored 14 or more runs in the month of April. It was the fifth such game for Washington.
Nationals teammates Harper and Ryan Zimmerman are the first pair of teammates with an on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) over 1.250 with at least 75 plate appearances during April in the history of MLB.
Zimmerman also set the Nationals record for RBIs in a single month, regardless of which month, with 29. Zimmerman is on pace for 194 RBIs, which would be the most single-season RBIs in MLB history (Hack Wilson, 191 in 1930). If his pace holds, he’ll surpass Wallach for career franchise RBI record in just two months.
Zimmerman (37), Murphy (36), and Harper (36) are the top three in hits in the big leagues.
Here’s my favorite one: you know how dominant Chris Sale has been, and how he has received no run support? The Nationals’ 23 runs in one game is almost six times the number of runs the Boston Red Sox have scored with Sale on the bump (four). Insane.
The World Series isn’t played until October, so the Nationals have a long way to go. But if the later months of the year go anything like April did, just carve their name into the Commissioner’s Trophy already.
(This piece would not have been possible without baseball-reference.com and Ryan Spaeder).