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Sports: Nats Clinch NL’s Best Record, Home-Field Advantage In Playoffs

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For most teams, playing at home has its advantages, especially when it comes to the playoffs. That couldn’t be truer for this year’s Washington Nationals.

The Nats clinched home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs with their afternoon victory over the Miami Marlins on Friday and with the way they’ve been at home this season, the significance of owning the NL’s best record cannot be understated.

Only four teams own a better home record than the Nats’ 49-29 mark this season. Furthermore, a few of their most important contributors perform much better in the nation’s capital. Lead-off hitter Denard Span sports a .344 average at Nationals Park, compared to hitting .253 on the road. Span’s ability to get on-base sets the table for guys like Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth. First baseman Adam LaRoche has a batting average that is 98 points higher at home than on the road.

Opening day starter Stephen Strasburg owns a 5-8 record away from Nationals Park and his ERA is more than a run higher than his ERA at home.

The format of the divisional series is different from their magical 2012 season. The Nats, despite sporting the major’s best record, played their first two games in St. Louis before having Games 3, 4, and 5 in D.C. This time around, Washington will have Game 1 (October 3) and Game 2 (October 4) at home, as well as Game 5 (October 9) if necessary. The Nationals will face either the Giants or the Pirates. Washington was 5-2 against San Francisco this season and 4-3 against Pittsburgh.

If Washington wants to advance to the NLCS this season, Span, LaRoche, and Strasburg need to have their regular season success carry over to the playoffs. The core of this team played in the postseason two years ago, so they won’t be fazed by the spotlight. The Nats have accomplished a lot so far, but their new magic number is 11, as in the number of games they need to win to become World Series champions.

The Nats have everything in their favor, it’s only a matter of executing and playing up to their capabilities.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com

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