The phrase "one of the best" has been used to describe various aspects of the Nationals all season. They've got one of the best rotations in baseball. They've got one of the best bullpens. They've got one of the best farm systems in the sport, helping them overcome a slew of injuries.
And, of course, they've got the best record in the majors at the moment.
Maybe it's time to start using that designation on another aspect of this organization: The Nationals have one of the best lineups in baseball.
That notion would have sounded ludicrous a few months ago, back when four runs was considered an offensive explosion and everyone accepted the idea this team would win on the strength of its pitching staff and only its pitching staff.
Not anymore. Just look at what the Nationals lineup has done lately, not only during last night's 14-2 shellacking of the Giants but over a longer stretch of games.
As a matter of fact, did you know the Nationals have scored 170 runs since the All-Star break, most in the majors? Yes, you read that correctly. The Nationals have scored more times than any other team over the last month, an average of 5.2 runs per game. They've hit a collective .278 during that span while slugging .421.
And what's most impressive is that the production has come from nearly everyone in that lineup.
Sure, Ryan Zimmerman has been on an absolute tear for the last seven weeks. And Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche have been consistent run producers during that time as well.
But there's also Danny Espinosa, hitting .301 with a .496 slugging percentage over his last 30 games. And there's Steve Lombardozzi, who has 11 hits in his last 22 at-bats. And there's Roger Bernadina, hitting a ridiculous .383 since July 21.
The contributions of all those players, plus many more, have allowed the Nationals to overcome Ian Desmond's oblique tear, Bryce Harper's prolonged slump and fairly tepid production from their catchers (that was, until Kurt Suzuki went 3-for-6 with four RBI last night).
Which also makes you wonder just how much more productive this lineup could actually become once Desmond returns from the DL and Harper gets back on track. It could be a frightening proposition for opposing pitchers.
Just consider the lineup the Nationals could field come October, with their current offensive splits (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage) included...
1. Jayson Werth (.308.406.459)
2. Bryce Harper (.251.328.405)
3. Ryan Zimmerman (.282.350.468)
4. Michael Morse (.301.324.477)
5. Adam LaRoche (.264.339.500)
6. Ian Desmond (.286.322.503)
7. Danny Espinosa (.250.317.406)
8. Kurt Suzuki (.218.252.287)
Look at the depth of that lineup and the power capabilities 1 through 7. Only three other teams in baseball have seven regular position players with slugging percentages over .400: the Yankees, Rangers and Rockies. That's some select company.
Is this a perfect lineup? Not at all. The Nationals strike out too much, they're getting no significant production from their catchers and they don't boast anything resembling a true leadoff hitter.
But they've still got a lineup capable of exploding at any given moment (just ask the Giants). And they've got a lineup that -- as has been the case all season with their pitching staff -- deserves to be praised as one of baseball's best.