When the Nats signed Adam LaRoche in January of 2011, nobody knew what kind of hitter to expect. That’s because, despite 4 strong seasons from 2006-2009 where he hit .276/.349/.500 and managed HR totals of 32, 21, 25 and 25, his 2010 was much worse. Hitting only .261/.320/.468 in Arizona that year, it could have certainly been an indicator that his best days were behind him. As a slick fielding first baseman, having a slightly above average OPS with some power might get you years on a bench, but it isn’t starter material.
Then, of course, came the injury last year. And it was an injury after a terrible start – he hit .172/.288/.258 in 43 games, about a quarter of a season. Many Nationals fans had him written off, and why not? After two years without performing, it would have been a stretch to think he could just turn it on. A 2011 spring training without any power hinted that maybe one of his redeeming qualities – the thought that no matter how bad he hit, he could still probably manage 20+ HRs, was in danger, too.
But he’s shot right out of the gate in these first 4 games. It’s way to early to talk about AVG/OBP/SLG for this year, but his 2 HRs have him one shy of what he did in close to two months last season. He’s hitting the ball hard – both were screaming line drives down the foul line – and he’s been the Nats best hitter in the very short season. After three strikeouts on Opening Day, he’s had a 4 for 5 day and a 2 for 3 day with a walk. So far, so good.