The Nats are sitting pretty at the top of the division after 10 games this season, at a very nice 7-3. And while you may think they’ve had some close games (and you’d be right) their run differential is the best in the division, and their Pythagorean W-L also puts them at 7-3. So they’re right where they should be. As far as stats go, in such a small sample it is still way too early to worry about specific numbers per se. Suffice it to say, we know Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond are hitting the cover off the ball. But there are a couple of other hitters that are doing things you might not have noticed, so let’s start with the good
A few games into the season, Werth looks very comfortable. He’s already got two doubles and a triple, which is good to see. In case you remembered him starting out strong last year as well, you are correct. But last year’s strong start only lasted 4 games before he had issues. A slight mid-May surge brought him back up to an .800 OPS, but an awful 2 month stint from the end of May through the beginning of July did him in. To add some perspective on how easily these numbers can change, he’s hitting .350/.447/.450 right now. If he goes 0 for 5 tonight, he’ll be hitting .311/.404/.400, a .093 OPS drop in one night. Then again, if he goes 2 for 5 with a HR, he’s hitting .356/.462/.511, a .076 rise. So let’s take all these numbers with a grain of salt…
…except for when we talk about Steve Lombardozzi. Not because I think his .286/.500/.286 will hold up, I certainly don’t expect that OBP to finish even in that vicinity. But, for a guy who has no power, a couple of singles early on in the year is a good sign, and a couple of walks from major league pitching shows that he hasn’t lost his patience. I think, though, his 10 PAs is a troubling number. I know Davey likes him and wants to use him, but if he’s getting the equivalent of a start per week, he needs to be sent back down to the minors. At 23 years old, daily ABs are the most important thing, and he’s clearly not getting them. Either Davey’s use of him needs to change, or they need to demote him.
Danny Espinosa/ Ryan Zimmerman
After a rough spring Espinosa hasn’t hit much at all this early season. He has already hit a HR, though, which is a good sign, and he’s taking lots of walks. Despite his .198 average, he leads the team in free passes.This, to me, is a good sign that despite his lack of numbers, he is probably in good shape, and just needs some time for the numbers to right themselves. Zimmerman is right behind with 7 walks to Danny’s 8, and he’s right behind in average, too, hitting .173. But Zimmerman has hit for so long now that you tend to worry about him much less, he will right the ship eventually.
Another guy off to a poor start is Wilson Ramos, although this is almost to be expected. He doesn’t walk, and probably won’t ever do that too much. So right now the numbers are pretty glaring since you can see the .214 average. But he’s bound to be very streaky, thanks to the lack of patience (same as Desmond, although as Desi’s started out strong, Wilson has started poorly). The good you can point to with Ramos is that, despite the 6 for 28 start, he’s only struck out 4 times. So he’s still making contact, and that means he’ll go through a streak where the hard grounders find holes in the infield, and he’ll hit .430 for a week.
With all these guys, a poor start or a hot start probably isn’t going to mean too much for them. But Roger Bernadina could be a very different story. He’s only 4 for 28, with 2 walks and 2 doubles, which translates to only .143/.200/.214. Rick Ankiel returned this weekend and started both games in CF. I wonder if Ankiel is now the full time CF, since he’s much better defensively, with Morse out, Bernadina was playing for a 2 month starting role in LF. Without hitting, though, he might not get too much more time at either one. Davey knows, though, that just as I’ve been saying all along, 10 games isn’t enough to make a decision on a guy. But Roger is definitely in more danger of losing PT than the rest of these guys.