The Nationals are in the midst of an 8 game losing streak. It is rather painful, but they have fought hard against what is currently the best team in baseball (Milwuakee) and have been in most of these games until the end. Hitting with runners in scoring position still eludes this team, as if the aren’t sure if you’re allowed to go to first base if someone is already on the bases. You are, guys, just go ahead and do the same thing you normally do when you’re at bat. The starting pitching hasn’t been bad, at times it’s been very good. But with no run support and a bullpen that has struggled lately, they have been losing. They lost 8 of 9 on this road trip, but are back for hopefully better things as they kick off a 10 game homestand.
For those of you who are down on Ryan Zimmerman, take heart in knowing that Sports Illustrated is not. They have a list powered by stats geeks and often-referred-to-by-TNR Baseball Prospectus profiling the top 50 players in Major League Baseball. One National made the list, and he was listed all the way up at #11:
No. 11. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals, Age 22
All right, so the numbers this year aren’t great. Let’s remember that Zimmerman is just 22, an age at which Mike Schmidt was still toiling in the minor leagues. Zimmerman isn’t going to be Schmidt — Scott Rolen and Brooks Robinson are better comparables — but he’s going to be very good for a long time. The last third baseman to have more than 100 RBIs in his age-21 season was Eddie Matthews in 1953. Zimmerman isn’t panicking at the plate; in fact he has cut down on his strikeouts from a year ago. And his glovework is always fantastic. The hits are going to come.
Nice to see that someone still realizes there is nothing to worry about with him. And he is 8 for his last 21, bringing his average up to .255. Since April 16, when his average was down to .180, he is batting .297. This is about what you’d expect, not a particularly hot streak. When he goes on one of those, you’re gonna see why everyone thinks he’s so great. Also watch him field ever, and you realize why. This team is very lucky to have a player of his caliber, as you watch him more you realize that he is the kind of complete player that the Nationals can build a team around. And the guy is right about Zimmerman not being Schmidt. Ryan would need like 25+ years to hit 548 HRs, and hopefully he’ll never have that mustache.
Back to the normal what the hell are they doing moves
The Nats called up Tony Batista this week. Really? Why? With Guzman getting all this playing time were the people at the clubhouse buffet line getting lonely? There is no point to this whatsover. Batista is not a game changer. Yay, he can play first. So can Langerhans, maybe. So can Kasto, maybe. If you want a placeholder for that spot on a team going nowhere, don’t put in someone who is 33 years old, makes Dmitri Young look thin and has more than enough MLB service time to prove that his .250 career average is high for his abilities right now. Don’t bring up fat old guys who you don’t want to be playing in a month when your 1B comes back let alone guys you don’t want in a year. Even if he hits well, what does it do for the team?
Christian and Nook
They’re a combined 3 for 21, with 1 walk and no extra base hits. Expect this to improve. Statistical evidence suggests they should be about 6 for 21, with 1 or 2 extra base hits and 1 or 2 walks. So you have something to look forward to there. In other words, neither guy is as bad as they have started, as tempting as it is to say that “told you so” right now. Still all their past play suggest that they aren’t going to be much better. If only some sort of magical confluence of Guzman hitting well for 2 months, a contending team needing a shortstop, Bowden thinking straight and the other GM not thinking straight occurs so the Nats make a Guzman for pitching trade, this will all be worth it. Otherwise, the one year Guzman had a respectable OPS, he weighed 25 pounds less and had to hit 14 triples to do it. Don’t expect a “new approach to the plate” or anything to fix that. He doesn’t have the plate discipline or power to be anything but below average unless he hits .315. Even then it is gonna be close. Logan is fast enough to do what Guzman used to do, leg out enough liners to bring that slugging up to respectable. But at 27, he’s probably never going to learn to walk, so expect more Willie Mays Hayes than anything else with him. Except that kind of play was much more acceptable in the 80s, before everyone hit at least 10 HRs a season.