Injuries, Slumps and a Precipitous Drop in Offense

Looking to the right of this text, you may notice that there is a little display showing where the Nats NL rank in a few categories. I hadn’t updated it in two weeks, so I sat down to do it today, and boy, it was not pretty.

Werth's return began the emergence from the run scoring basement

“A little help here?”

Through May 6th, this team’s offense was looking pretty spectacular. They were 4th in the NL in runs per game, 3rd in OBP, 4th in slugging, 3rd in OPS and 4th in HRs. My, how things have changed in two weeks. They’ve slipped in all categories:

Runs per Game – 4th to 8th
OBP – 3rd to 9th
SLG – 4th to 6th
OPS – 3rd to 6th
HR – 4th to 7th

It’s pretty easy to understand why this has happened. They’ve gone from missing Ryan Zimmerman and Wilson Ramos to missing Zim, Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche. And while Ramos was out, Jose Lobaton had an OPS over .700.  So even though we knew that production wouldn’t last, they were really only truly missing one big bat early, and now they’re missing three. On top of that, most of the other guys haven’t stepped up.

Starting with Ramos, while his return should compensate for one of the other guys, he’s hitting .182/.256/.242 since he’s come back. That doesn’t really compensate. In terms of the overall offense, his return hasn’t helped yet.

The other guys, though, have also helped the decline. Since May 6, Anthony Rendon is hitting .167/.250/.190. Danny Espinosa is hitting .150/.171/.325. Denard Span, who hasn’t hit all year, is hitting .234/.280/.319.

I say most of the other guys, because two have been hitting. Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond are both looking very good since May 6. Werth has been his usual OBP machine, and Desi is finally starting to heat up. But two hitters, shockingly, just isn’t enough.

Besides the starters, the bench fill-ins aren’t hitting gangbusters, either. Frandsen hasn’t been able to get on base, hitting .241/.241/.414 in that time, and McLouth is hitting .200/.231/.240, actually an improvement on his season prior to May 6.

All this is not to say the Nats can’t hit – it’s an extremely small sample size. We’re talking 11 games at the most, and alot of these guys don’t even have that many.

But what it does show is that without those middle of the lineup guys, the Nats aren’t able to compensate for the slumps by the rest of the team. Unless either Rendon or Ramos start hitting again, they’re down to two real threats with the bat. Espi and Span could add something, but they probably aren’t going to be enough to turn the downward trend.

If Rendon and Ramos both get hot soon – and they’ll both hit eventually, we just have no idea when – things could turn around quickly. Throw in a returning LaRoche next week, and that lineup looks a whole lot better.

The timetable on Zim seems to keep being pushed out, and who knows if he’ll have his power back right away. But they could use him now either way. The last two weeks really highlight how much they miss those guys, and how, without them, a few slumps among the other guys can really sink the offense.

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