The Team that Couldn’t Hit

It’s beyond bad, at this point. After a week in which the Nats broke their team record for striking out the most in one game, they came out Sunday and got no hit for 7 innings. Sanchez pitched a good game, but this team certainly helped. You know the hitting has been bad, but it’s probably worse than you realized. They are last in the league in OBP, and second to last in SLG and OPS. Thanks to the last place team playing in San Diego, a big pitchers park, they are actually ranked last in OPS+ (which factors in park effects). They are just plain bad at hitting.

Looking down the lineup is sickening. Forgive the order, this is just a sample lineup that could go out there:

  1. .221/.321/.389
  2. .217/.250/.383
  3. .227/.324/.387
  4. .196/.300/.313
  5. .319/.377/.493
  6. .241/.275/.325
  7. .220/.297/.317

That’s Espinosa (2B), Desmond (SS), Werth (RF), LaRoche (1B), Ramos (C), Morse (LF) and Hairston (3B). There’s no CF in there, but Ankiel’s .221/.302/.288 ranks 5th in plate appearances on the team, so factor that in the list. Ramos is looking great, even without comparing him to the rest of the team. Unfortunately, his last few weeks haven’t looked great, with a very low OBP, but he’s still slugging, so in comparison, a .250/.275/.500 is still the best hitter on this team. When you put Pudge in the lineup with his .214/.241/.321, he manages to drag down these horrendous averages.

There is some hope, however. Roger Bernadina is in for a guy in Rick Ankiel that may never recover to acceptable offense (Ankiel hit .232/.298/.388 over the 2009-2010 timeframe). Bernadina may not be great, and he can’t field the way Ankiel can, but he has hit since returning, and at this point the team needs any offense it can get. Morse has hit pretty well over the last few games, although he is now hurt and may get some time off.

Further hope comes from the fact that Jayson Werth will recover, and Adam LaRoche is a slow starter every year. Each should finish the season with respectable numbers, but after this much of the season has gone by, neither will hit for career highs. If Ryan Zimmerman get healthy soon, he will also help, but he is over a month away from the best possible return time, so the team can’t count on that.

But Espinosa and Desmond aren’t hitting. Both should be doing better than they are, so you can only hope with time and experience this will get better. Pudge probably can’t do much more than he is. And as hot as Ramos started, he will come down to earth. The two guys in the middle infield may be the most important people on the team right now. They are young, they are potentially a big part of the future of this team, and they aren’t pulling their weight on offense yet. If they do end up hitting well this year, not only will it be good for the future, it will be good for now.

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