Turns out, yes. But I’ll get to that in a minute.
After a really rough week for the Nats when they went 2-5, in all 5 losses scoring 3 runs or fewer, it’s hard to remember where they were a week ago – 4 games over .500 and hitting the cover off the ball. This week put a dent in their run scoring since the lineup started to come back.
In the 36 games since June 8, they have now scored 4.33 runs per game. This is still significantly greater than the 3.76 season number. But a week ago their 4.65 R/G they were at just a week ago. 4.33 R/G would only rank 5th in the NL this season, not 2nd place. Still good, but an obvious difference.
They scored less than 3 runs in 4 of the 7 games, which is a formula for failure. They scored 3 runs in one game, which they lost, but they are a solid .500 in those games. And they won 2 more games scoring 5 runs (they’re now 37-2 when they score more than 5 runs). The offense didn’t just die, either, they were tripped up by some bad plays and mistakes. Those are bad things, but when the primary concern is a dead offense, mistakes are a secondary concern.
The feeling after this week might have been a little different if Span had bunted successfully on Saturday, or if Hairston could’ve just hit a sac fly, both in a depressing top of the 10th. Or on Tuesday at Philly, when they loaded the bases and Jayson Werth hit a shot to the outfield… that was caught. A few things here or there makes this week look better, but they still didn’t hit much.
So back to the original question – is there anyone actually hitting? Well, I spoiled it earlier, but there sure is. And hitting really well, starting with the guy who might be their best hitter over the last month and a half…
Since returning from injury on June 4th, Werth has basically an OBP machine with decent but not spectacular power, just the kind of player anyone could have reasonably hoped for, even if they didn’t expect it. He’s hitting .326/.401/.515 in those 37 games, with 6 home runs. He’s really turned it up in July, hitting .396/.466/.563 this month.
Since June 1, Desi has played in 40 games. He has failed to reach base safely in only 4 of those games. In that time, he’s hitting .307/.371/.536 with 9 HRs. Since the beginning of July he hasn’t had as much power, with only 3 XBHs, but he’s still batting .309/.397/.364.
Zim hasn’t had a great week or two, although if his .323 OBP since July 1 is a slump, that aint exactly a bad slump. But even including that, since May 3, when he returned from the DL, he’s hitting .279/.359/.474, which makes him the second best hitting 3B in the NL behind only David Wright.
Despite a cooled off July – and you have to have had a spectacular June to call hitting .277/.333/.532 cooled off – Rendon still kept his average above .300. Since he was recalled from the minor leagues on June 5th, he’s hitting an incredible .312/.349/.493.
Ramos came back from the DL on July 4th, and has been so good it’s hard to exaggerate the difference between him and Suzuki. In only 9 games, Ramos is hitting an unsustainable .375/.394/.625 with 2 doubles and 2 HRs. With the big bats missing so much time, and the difficulties at 2B, Ramos’ absence flew a bit under the radar. But it’s easy to see why they missed him so much.
That’s 5 of the Nats 8 starting position players, and it doesn’t count Adam LaRoche, who had a bad week along with the Nats, but has been hitting .289/.371/.483 since May 1 came and April was put behind him. The most notable absence is Bryce Harper, who’s only hitting .196/.328/.333 since returning from the DL. Hopefully hitting bombs in the derby will get him ready to hit ones in the regular season.
The team can hit, and has been hitting. Last week was bad, they didn’t score much, and it seemed like more of the same. But since the lineup started getting starters back in early June, they’ve been hitting. Bad games, series and weeks happen. But with the way the lineup is hitting since early June, as individuals, it probably won’t happen too often.