by Ben Johnson
As the 2014 MLB season draws to a close, the Nationals and Orioles have a firm hold on first place in their respective divisions, and hold two of the three best records in baseball.
The Nationals can attribute much of their regular season success to their pitching staff while the Orioles claim to fame is their high powered offense. It has been proven in the past that dominant pitching prevails over a dominant offense in the postseason, it is no different in the case of the Nationals and the Orioles.
The Nationals rotation contains five very talented starters; Doug Fister, Jordan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Tanner Roark. Add that to a superb bullpen led by Rafael Soriano, Tyler Clippard, and Drew Storen. Put it all together and the Nationals have potentially the best pitching in baseball.
The single most important statistic when discussing pitching is ERA (earned run average). The Washington Nationals team ERA is an impressive 3.11 which is second in all of baseball, the Baltimore Orioles on the other hand have a team ERA of 3.50 which pales in comparison to that of the Nat’s. The Nationals are also the only team in the majors with three starters with an ERA under 3.00.
One of the more underrated pitching statistics is quality starts which is defined as a pitcher who goes at least six innings while giving up no more than three earned runs. On the year the Nationals have 93 which is good enough for 4th place in the league while the Orioles have only 72 which puts them at a paltry 25th in the league. Another thing the Nationals have excelled at this season is walks; they have allowed by far the fewest in all of baseball.
Most experts would say that the Orioles offense is far superior to that of the Nationals but the statistics would say otherwise. In terms of runs scored per game the Orioles and Nationals are dead even at 4.4 runs per game. With an offense led by such big names like Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Ian Desmond, and Jayson Werth the Nationals are good enough to compete on the same level as Orioles which is contrary to popular belief.
Having a higher powered offense will win you a bunch of games in the regular season but come playoff time, its teams with superior pitching that will rule.