After decimating the Braves of Atlanta the Yankees marched back into Washington with all the sound, fury, and bluster of a coming storm. Over the three game series the Yankees batters stormed to the plate as their offense surged while the Nats weakly attempted to put the ball in play and when they did it was most likely to be a weak grounder easily corralled by one of the Yankees fielders.
This series shouldn’t be the turning point of the Nats season. The moment they look back on with hindsight filled with fear and dread pinpointing exactly what went wrong and where the collapse began. The Nats may have been beaten but they weren’t defeated as they remain 12 games over .500 and have a 4 game lead on the Braves for the NL East. Instead the Nationals should look to the Yankees and admire them before then emulating their approach.
Year after year and season after season the mighty Yankees of New York are one of the best offensive teams in baseball. A lot of that has to do with the players they have but some of it has to do with those players approach at the plate. It is questionable whether or not the skills the Yankees have can be taught, but that doesn’t change the fact that the approach is something to be admired.
In this series the Yankees were able to get to the Nationals starters by making them throw a lot of pitches. No Nationals starter made it past the sixth inning in this series and every one of them threw a lot of pitches per inning. The Yankees batters aren’t just good at IDing a borderline pitch, but they also have the ability to spoil good pitches and then with the count full and having seen well over 5 pitches in an at bat the Yankees batter will take the walk when it is offered.
The Yankees not only extend the pitch count through foul balls and working deep into a count, but they also do it by extending the inning and allowing a starting pitcher to return to the comfort of their dugout. Year after year the Yankees do this to teams, but the reason may have to do more with the players they acquire than an approach they teach.
If this Nats team is able to look back at this Yankees series as a learning experience and add what the Yankees players do well to what they do well then this could be a positive step in a new direction. The Nationals are still a young team. The Nationals average age of 27.5 is the 4th youngest in baseball and the youngest of any division leader.
The qualities at bat that the Yankees displayed of taking close pitches, fouling off tough pitches, shorting up with two strikes, and taking a walk when that is all the game will offer are all thought of as part of a mature approach at the plate. The Nationals are full of young players and young players will make the mistakes of youth.
The Nationals should not see this defeat at the hands of the Yankees as a low point. They should instead view it as a learning experience, and use some of what the Yankees did against them to help them in their remaining games. There is a lot of baseball left to be played, and not every defeat has to be a defeat. Some of them can be a learning experience and the Yankees certainly schooled the Nationals this weekend.