With tonight's win over the Brewers, the Nationals have won five of eight and now have a 31 wins and a .313 winning percentage. To beat the '62 Mets' .250 winning percentage, the Nationals need to win just ten more games over their final 63.
There's no way that even this team will go 9-54. It's finally safe to say that the Scats will not be the worst team in the modern era.
It goes to show just how difficult it is to be this bad this long. All the Nationals have done to blow away the Mets is take two of three from two terrible teams--the Padres and Mets--and then pick up an additional win over the Brewers.
That's it. This little run of barely .500 ball was all it took.
In fact, at this point I think it's safe to say that the Nationals now aren't even the worst team in baseball now.
If you were doing one of those "power rankings" lists, you'd have to put the Nationals at the bottom, just because they are still a solid seven games in the win column behind San Diego.
But to take a snapshot right now, I would say that the Nationals are certainly better than the Padres team we saw in DC last week. You're talking about a team that starts just two guys with an OBP over .327, and one of them is Tony Gwynn, Jr. Their best starting pitcher is either Kevin "don't call me Chick" Correia or "Hanging" Chad Gaudin. Based on run differential, the Nationals should be about three games better over the course of the season.
Kansas City won last night for only their second time in their last 13. They have four automatic outs in their line-up every night in Mike Jacobs, Yuniesky Betancourt, Miguel Olivo, and Willie Bloomquist. Their best hitter is... wait for it... Alberto Callaspo. They hit that guy fifth. Bloomquist bats second. Sheesh. Zach Greinke is wonderful (though merely good lately), and you have to love the SABR-ific Brian Bannister. Luke Hochevar will be very good someday. But their bullpen is no better than ours after Joakim Soria. Based on run differential, we're no worse than the Royals, and we're almost certainly better than they are right now.
I made the case last week that the Scats are better than the Mets, and I think that's probably true, though that's so much a function of injuries that it feels a little unfair.
Oakland is another team that would get an argument, especially since they shipped off Matt Holliday. But they have so many good young pitchers--Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Vin Mazzaro, Dallas Braden, and Andrew Bailey--and such a strong farm system that they'll surely be contending years sooner than the Nationals.
In any case, the Nationals are finally proving that no, they really aren't that bad. Truth is, it's really, really hard to be that bad, and it's pretty amazing that they were that bad this long.