Top stats to know: 2014 Nationals

The Washington Nationals are NL East champions for the second time in three seasons. They clinched the division title with a win over the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night.

The Nationals have been the best team in the National League for much of the second half of the season. The high expectations from last season that went unfulfilled were met under first-year manager Matt Williams.

Story of the season

The Nationals have won with consistent starting pitching. Five starters have combined to make all but 10 starts for the team this season. Three of their top five starters have ERAs below 3.00.

The Nationals survived injuries to Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman thanks to a very deep lineup. They entered the day ranked second in the National League in runs scored. Four regulars have hit at least 15 home runs.

Most valuable player

Second-year infielder Anthony Rendon has developed into a star. He entered the day ranked sixth among NL position players in wins above replacement. He also leads the league in runs scored.

Rendon has been consistent throughout the season, but he has excelled in the latter part, hitting .300 with 11 home runs and 12 stolen bases in his past 81 games.

He has made significant improvements to his defensive work from a year ago as well. He ranks sixth among third basemen this season with nine defensive runs saved.

Circle these games

What were the best wins for the Nationals this season?

April 2: The Nationals rallied from multiple deficits against the Mets, battling back to tie on Denard Span’s two-out hit, right after Danny Espinosa worked an eight-pitch walk. Washington would score four runs in the 10th to win on Opening Day.

June 8: Jordan Zimmermann pitched the best game of the season for the Nationals, a two-hit, 12-strikeout shutout against the Padres, in which he retired the first 16 hitters he faced.

June 24: The longest game for the Nationals since they moved to Washington, D.C., was won on Ryan Zimmerman’s 16th-inning home run.

Aug. 16-21: The Nationals had an amazing 10-game winning streak in which five of six wins (two against the Pirates, three against the Diamondbacks) were via walk-off. Rendon had the last two, on back-to-back days against the same pitcher, Evan Marshall.

Sept. 3: An epic game between the Nationals and Dodgers ended with Washington winning in 14 innings. The Nationals rallied from 2-0 down in the ninth to go up 3-2, but the Dodgers tied the game in the bottom of the inning. Each team would score twice in the 12th before the Nationals scored two in the 14th to win.

Key stat

After a loss on June 27, the Nationals were 41-38 and tied for first place in the NL East with the Braves. Since then, they are 46-25, the best record in the National League over the span.