—After a 16-inning walk off win Sunday, the Washington Nationals are sitting on top of not only the division but the league with a 14–4 record (The Chicago Cubs sit at 14-5).
Right now they seem to be sitting on top of the world behind the play of big names such as Bryce Harper, who currently leads the league in home runs with nine (but doesn’t even have the best batting average on the team, that belongs to Daniel Murphy), and Stephen Strasburg who has jumped to a 3-0 start with 31 strikeouts. The rest of the Nationals pitching staff is holding their own by leading the league with a 2.24 ERA. There is no question they have the talent to win ball games, but can they continue winning and win when it counts?
Dusty Baker seems to be the missing ingredient. Baker has a total of 1,686 MLB wins as a manager, trailing only Bruce Bochy among active managers.
Divided under former manager Matt Williams, Baker started the process of bringing the Nationals together as a team shortly after taking the job. Baker said he believes, as he was taught many years ago, that the team that loves each other like family has a better chance of sticking together for the long haul. Baker says he wants to relate to each player in whatever way they want to relate to him.
“This team is very special, and it’s a lot of fun to be a part of it and watch and it and just help a little bit,” Harper said via the Washington Post Sunday.
It seems to be working.