Offense out of nowhere
Not really out of nowhere, but the Nationals offense managed to score runs in their first sweep of the season, amidst their longest winning streak of 3 games. A sweep of the Marlins is just the kind of thing that Washington needs to do if they want to stay out of last place. Yes, they were still 4 games behind Florida despite the sweep, but it’s a step in the right direction. Until this past weekend, they have been able to hit the ball some, but their ability to drive in runs, to hit with runners in scoring position has been atrocious. This was a little change from that. They left guys on base, but they also knocked some in. They have also hit a few HRs, which is the best way to make sure runners aren’t left on. 4 HRs in 4 games is their best stretch since Apr 4-7. Either way, it’s nice to see most of the players actually getting hits in the same inning. As stated before, it’s alot easier to hit a few HRs than to try to string together 3 or 4 consecutive hits every time you want to score more than 1 run. And another win tacked onto the end against the Braves, thanks to a stellar pitching performance from Bergmann and a slightly scary but effective save from Colome, makes it 4 wins in a row.
Lopez and Zimm
Lopez hit a HR in 2 games in a row this week, which is nice to see. He isn’t a 25 HR a year guy, but he has shown no power since coming to DC, and he has SOME. He and Zimmerman are both hitting about .250/.300/.350. This is atrocious for both of them. Nothing about their past would make you believe these are anything other than long slumps, but as they are getting the majority of the team’s ABs it is hurting the team. The Nats need Zimmerman to hit with more power and to raise his average a bit. The power from Lopez is nice, but he should just be getting on base more. If he can’t, then he is batting in the wrong spot in the lineup. Not that there is anyone better. This team is bad enough and hitting poorly enough, maybe they should go with the stat-geek’s dream lineup of descending OBP. How does this order sound? Church, Guzman, Schneider, Langerhans, Young, Belliard… ok enough of that. Hopefully this past week, including Zimmerman’s grand slam, will help them break out of their slumps. Because these guy’s aren’t playing even close to their ability, so don’t think of this more than slow starts, simultaneous slumps.
Mud on OUR face!
Since Guzman and Logan came back, the Nats have put together some real offense. Obviously these guys are the key, right? Sorry, but no. Until Sunday, Guzman, since he’s been back, has an adequate for him (but replacement level) .261 AVG and .320 OBP. Nothing nauseating, and let’s give him the benefit of the doubt for having to take a month off. But as expected, his 0 extra base hits drag down his numbers and give him a ridiculously low OPS of .581. Sunday and Monday he hit a triple each day. If he can bat .300 (he’s NOW hitting about .370 in one week), that’s about the minimum you would need from him to have an acceptable OBP, since he rarely walks. Remember, he is batting second, which means he should see the second-most number of ABs on the team, so it’s important he gets on base. In terms of power, he is not a HR hitter, and never was, but if he can hit 15 triples and 25 doubles, his SLG will still be below .400, but it won’t be horrendous. And it’s still unlikely to happen. Remember this is a guy who has the second lowest VORP in the majors in 2005, and has only had an EqA above .260 one time in his career (which is, to remind you, the average for all hitters all time).
Either way, as we saw before, the entire team stepped up. Guzman was part of the run scoring bonanza and must be given credit for it. Perhaps what has happened is, as all the other Nationals are aware of his abilities at the plate and realize they have to step up their hitting to compensate. Also, with Guzman in, the player with the highest batting average on the team (assuming those who have less than a handful of ABs don’t count), Belliard, sits on the bench. Not that Belliard has been spectacular, but he has shown a history of being a good bat for his position. And even if they are trying to trade Belliard, then he should get enough playing time to have other teams see him. Logan hasn’t played much yet, so it remains to be seen how his presence will affect the team.
A word on Hill going to the DL
And finally to Bergmann
Bergmann pitched great on Monday, taking a no hitter into the 8th before giving up a HR. Spectacular outing even without the historical significance. If Bergmann and Hill are as good as they have shown so far, this team may have a better pitching staff going into the future than anyone imagined. They probably aren’t quite this good, but they could very well be two quality starters for this team for a long time.