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Another even year, another NL East title for Nationals

Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth scored in the first inning, when the Nationals took a 3-0 lead. Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Just like in 2012 and 2014, the Washington Nationals are National League East division champions. We recap their season.

Class of the field

The Nationals handled their division rivals this season. They are 49-24 against the Braves, Marlins, Mets and Phillies. The worst the Nationals have done against a fellow NL East team is 8-8 against the Marlins.

That dominance kept Washington atop or near the top of the division lead all season. The furthest out of first place the Nationals have been (for days on which they played) is a half-game. That last happened May 11.

Outside of the East, it’s a different matter for the Nationals. Against the NL Central, they are 16-16, and they’re 13-16 against the NL West.

The Nationals appear headed for a playoff series against the Dodgers. Washington was 1-5 against the Dodgers, but two of the losses were one-run games. The total difference in runs scored between the teams in their season series was five.

Murphy most valuable position player

Daniel Murphy, in his first season with the Nationals, leads the team’s position players in wins above replacement (4.6 WAR entering Saturday’s game against the Pirates). He began the day leading the NL in slugging percentage (.596), OPS (.987) and OPS+ (158) -- all career highs.

Second in WAR among the Nationals’ position players is Anthony Rendon (4.0 before Saturday’s game). He has 18 home runs and 79 RBIs, within reach of his career highs in both categories.

Pitching standouts

If you were asked before the season whom the Nationals’ two most valuable pitchers in 2016 would be, you might have guessed correctly on one: Max Scherzer. The other? It’s not Stephen Strasburg. It's Tanner Roark.

Roark has a career-high 7.3 strikeouts per nine innings. Among ERA qualifiers, he is fourth in the majors with a 2.70 ERA and seventh in hard-hit rate (11.5 percent).

Scherzer (6.4 WAR) leads qualified major league pitchers with a 0.93 WHIP. He also leads the majors with 267 strikeouts and is third with 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings.

Strasburg, sidelined with an elbow injury, has been limited to 24 starts.

Hot start and then no serious ruts

The Nationals’ best month was April: 16-7 (.696). Opponents scored 2.6 runs per game against Washington in April, a rate that would be three-quarters of a run better than any team’s season-long runs-per-game average.

The team’s longest losing streak has been seven games. Other than that skid, the longest they’ve gone without a win was four games (three times).

Seven games is also the Nationals’ longest winning streak this season. There are 10 longer streaks this season (including two by the Giants), so it wasn’t as if Washington had an unbelievable stretch of successive wins.

Different manager each time

The Nationals won the NL East in 2012 under Davey Johnson and in 2014 under Matt Williams. Dusty Baker is in his first season as the team’s manager this year.

Riley Foreman contributed to this article.