May 12, 2014, 1:28 PM EDT
After the Athletics completed their sweep of the Nationals with a 9-1 drubbing on Sunday afternoon, they closed the series with an overall scoring split of 21-4. Through three games, the Nats could only muster four total runs.
The weekend was a continuation of what has been a tough month for the Nationals at the plate. Through 11 days – nine games for the Nats – Washington has scored the least amount of runs (21) of any team in baseball. They have the second-worst batting average as a team this month (.222) and the worst on-base percentage (.284).
Injuries have hurt them, for sure, as now Adam LaRoche is on the disabled list. He was the team’s best player through the season’s first five weeks and left a big hole in the lineup.
But LaRoche wasn’t the only National who had a strong first month. Anthony Rendon and Danny Espinosa have both cooled off considerably since their surprising starts in April.
After hitting .316 with four homers, 20 RBI and a .896 OPS in April, Rendon is batting just .189 with a .535 OPS through nine games in May. Espinosa was solid in April with a .288 average and .828 OPS, now he’s sitting on a .129 OBP in May.
Ian Desmond is still looking for answers at the plate as his poor start to the year has carried over into its second month. He’s hitting only .217 on the season with a .607 OPS. Both are career-lows. Desmond has, however, cleaned it up in the field, having not committed an error since April 21.
Denard Span is also dragging his feet at the plate. He holds a .237 average through 30 games, well below his career average of .281. His OPS is also a career-low at an ugly .598.
Rendon, Espinosa, and Span, in particular, wouldn’t normally be relied upon heavily if the Nationals were fully healthy. But with their current circumstances, having three members of their Opening Day lineup on the DL, the Nationals are having trouble overcoming the collective struggles of who’s left.
Ryan Zimmerman will be out at least a few more weeks and Bryce Harper could be out until July. Help will come eventually, but for now it will be tough to win games when scoring at such a paltry pace.
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