Skip to content

Nats still searching on offense

May 27, 2014, 7:40 AM EST

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

After getting Adam LaRoche back from a quad injury on Sunday, the Nationals are getting increasingly close to full strength.

Though Ryan Zimmerman doesn’t have a specific timeline to return, he will begin swinging a bat on Tuesday. Once he takes the field again – as long as no one else goes down in the interim - the Nats will be without only one member of their Opening Day lineup.

All season the theory has been that once the Nats get their guys back, the offense will start clicking. But when, exactly, will that happen?

Wilson Ramos has been back for three weeks and LaRoche for two games, but neither has proven a magical solution to their offensive woes. Even with a nearly complete lineup, the Nationals still can’t score.

In the month of May, Washington has scored 72 runs through 23 games and gone 9-14 during that stretch. As a team they’ve hit just .223 this month, worst in the majors. Their .289 on-base percentage, .334 slugging percentage and .623 OPS in May: all worst in baseball.

Their problems continued on Monday where they mustered just one hit through their first 6 1/3 innings against Nathan Eovaldi. LaRoche hit a two-run homer in the seventh for the Nationals’ only two runs in a 3-2 loss against the Marlins.

It was only LaRoche’s second game back from the disabled list, and he looks to be rounding into the form he exited with. The first baseman was the Nationals’ best hitter in April and could be heating back up. For now, as manager Matt Williams explained, they have to take the good and build on it.

“Some positive signs today, certainly, from [LaRoche]. Back in the lineup and got one today. Some positive signs coming… regarding our health, out of our training room, which is good,” Williams said.

The Nationals have lost five of six with an average of 1.8 runs in those losses. In those six games overall, the Nats’ pitching staff has allowed an average of 2.7 runs per game. Though their rotation hasn’t been as advertised this season, it has not been their fault. The offense simply isn’t giving them a chance to win.

Williams is aware of that and spoke to it after Monday’s game.

“They expect more from themselves. We’ve got to give ourselves a better chance. And everybody knows that. It’s well-documented. Everybody’s been talking about it.”

Tanner Roark was the latest Nationals’ pitcher to take a tough loss on Monday, despite going seven innings with three runs allowed against the sixth best offense in the majors. Afterwards he said the mood in the clubhouse is remaining positive as they continue to search for wins.

“We’re fine. We’re still having more fun than ever and that’s the biggest thing. Morale is up. It will turn around, we just gotta keep plugging away and not dwell on anything.”

As LaRoche continues to play and as Ramos keeps improving, the Nationals should start showing progress on offense. They were the seventh best offensive team in April, so they have proven very recently they are capable of scoring. But at some point very soon, they’ll need to begin showing it.

  1. natfan33 - May 27, 2014 at 8:12 AM

    The belief is that the Nats hitting took off when Rick Schu came on-board last year replacing Eckstein. But wasn’t that also about the time that Esponosa was sent down? He is killing the morale of the hitters on this team.

    • Joe Seamhead - May 27, 2014 at 8:23 AM

      I am not going to stick up for Espinosa’s hitting, [who can, it's indefensible], but I doubt that he has any real effect on the morale of the rest of the team, and he is far from being the whole, or even the main problem.There is no consistency from anybody, at least results-wise. I do feel for the guy, but nobody feels worse than Danny does himself.

      • Hiram Hover - May 27, 2014 at 8:27 AM

        +1.

        There are lots of legitimate criticisms of Danny, but he’s not responsible for everyone else’s struggles.

      • NatsLady - May 27, 2014 at 11:07 AM

        Danny saves a run or two every game with his D. Yes, we all wish he were hitting, but he’s contributing.

      • Eric - May 27, 2014 at 11:19 AM

        +1

    • texnat1 - May 27, 2014 at 12:18 PM

      I certainly don’t buy that his hitting is contagious. But I also don’t think he saves anything resembling 1 to 2 runs a game.

      Fangraphs has him at negative 2 runs saved for the season, in fact (assuming I am looking at it correctly).

  2. Joe Seamhead - May 27, 2014 at 8:18 AM

    A year ago much venom and blame was directed towards the batting coach because the Nats weren’t hitting. Now a few are starting to blame the new hitting coach. You guys griping about about the batting coaches seem to think that a major league hitting coach is the same as a youth league coach telling players to keep their elbow up, or to keep their head down. I just don’t think that a major league hitting coach has as much influence as you all seem to think that he does, one way, or the other.

    GYFNG!!!

  3. rabbit433 - May 27, 2014 at 8:18 AM

    When I watch the games and watch the batters come to bat, I don’t expect them to hit. Unfortunately, I don’t think the players expect to hit either. They just don’t seem to have that “it’ll happen” attitude. This is a tough team to get into and, this season, difficult to watch.

  4. scnatsfan - May 27, 2014 at 8:23 AM

    Just like last season we are playing these games like they don’t really matter, the ones at the end of the season do. The attitude is everything is OK, no need to change anything. That drives me crazy.

    • Sec 3 My Sofa - May 27, 2014 at 8:32 AM

      I dunno. To me, they look tight, the opposite of not caring. I have no idea what’s in their heads, really, but I do know you can’t play this game better by trying harder.

      • Eugene in Oregon - May 27, 2014 at 9:58 AM

        +1

      • Eric - May 27, 2014 at 10:00 AM

        +1

        I’m very curious what anyone sees that indicates a lack of caring. An infielder diving for a line drive only to deflect it away from a charging outfielder? Swinging hard only to pop out? Throwing 100+ pitches at 90+ miles an hour only to lose?

      • NatsLady - May 27, 2014 at 11:09 AM

        Yeah, me too. If Jayson Werth “didn’t care” he would have just let Stanton’s hit go for a single. He dived for it (which he doesn’t like to do), the ball popped out, and ==> double.

      • scnatsfan - May 27, 2014 at 11:30 AM

        Show me a guy who shows emotion. Show me a guy who is yelling in the dugout to fire up the team. Show me a guy who beats a cooler after another critical K. Show me anyone who has some fire in them. Knock teams like the Yankees, Sox, Phillies etc but sometimes, IMHO, teams that play with an attitude have more life. Knock Mattheus for his bonehead move all you like but at least he showed emotion, although misguided. What I would give for Espi to wave at three straight curve balls and come back to the dugout and drag all the bats out of the rack.

      • Eric - May 27, 2014 at 12:05 PM

        I personally don’t tend to equate temper tantrums with passion. I think you can show passion in various other ways, e.g., standing in front of your helmet cubby, head down, rapping your fingers endlessly while contemplating your 20th line out of the week (Werth, Pittsburgh), yelling at the ump after a BS called strike 3 to end the game (Espinosa, Pittsburgh), etc.

        If you do want something along the lines of a temper tantrum, you can look at replays of Ramos slamming his helmet to the ground in the dugout as he returned from making his 5th out of the day in Pittsburgh.

        There’s also McLouth slamming full speed into the wall to make a catch, Werth sprinting to steal a home run, various diving plays by Espi, Span falling on his butt in Houston, Frandsen’s behind the back effort. The list goes on and on.

        There are plenty more examples of successes and failures so far this season.

        None of the above plays out if people don’t care. But, even more importantly, just because someone doesn’t slam their bat into the wall so hard that it explodes in their face doesn’t mean they don’t care.

      • Hiram Hover - May 27, 2014 at 12:26 PM

        I for one am happy these guys are not turning the dugout into a war zone/demolition site.

        Better they channel that passion into productive play on the field than tantrums off the field–Mattheus smashing his hand, Gio screaming at team mates, etc.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - May 27, 2014 at 2:11 PM

        “I have never understood why it should be necessary to become irrational in order to prove that you care. Or, indeed, why it should be necessary to prove it at all.”

    • scnatsfan - May 27, 2014 at 1:28 PM

      Respect your guys opinions but I have always thought this team needed more heart, more swagger.

      • Eric - May 27, 2014 at 1:45 PM

        I agree with the swagger part, but that comes with winning, imo.

        I don’t at all think they lack heart…but IMO that’s nigh impossible to discern one way or the other as a stranger watching a few disjointed collections of 2- or 3-second snippets of each player over the course of any given game.

  5. Joe Seamhead - May 27, 2014 at 8:33 AM

    Having watched a son that played over a hundred games a year, I can say from first hand experience that truer words were never spoken than “baseball is a game of failure,” and no player, or team, ever succeeds all the time, no matter how good they are. It’s baseball. It’s just what it is. That said, I really still have faith that our boys can win the division. And I’ll believe it until they do, or until the magic number comes up that says they can’t.

  6. Sec 3 My Sofa - May 27, 2014 at 8:41 AM

    Of course, the other possibility is, maybe this is just who they are. They aren’t underacheiving, they just are a decent team with a few good players who’ve had some good individual seasons, but most of whom haven’t actually done much beyond that.

    • scnatsfan - May 27, 2014 at 9:22 AM

      You wonder if we are just a .500 team that had some really good runs or a .600 team that is underachieving

    • Eric - May 27, 2014 at 10:03 AM

      I have little doubt that what we’ve seen since LaRoche hit the DL is exactly what this team is: a group that won’t sink too far too fast while a significant group of regulars is injured.

      The fact that some non-injured regulars are now slumping is neither surprising nor, imo, likely to go on for too long. And, it’s led to us falling faster than we were. I do think the offense will come back around in time to prevent anything more precipitous. If we’re lucky, we’ll be getting hot just as the schedule gets tough.

  7. bowdenball - May 27, 2014 at 8:45 AM

    Chase wrote:

    “All season the theory has been that once the Nats get their guys back, the offense will start clicking. But when, exactly, will that happen? Wilson Ramos has been back for three weeks and LaRoche for two games, but neither has proven a magical solution to their offensive woes. Even with a nearly complete lineup, the Nationals still can’t score.”

    Uhh, maybe when the Nats get their guys back?

    This is a really weird post. The return of these two guys doesn’t give them anything close to a complete lineup. Ramos and LaRoche were never out at the same time, so having both in the lineup (yesterday was the first time, since Ramos sat on Sunday afternoon) basically constitutes the return of ONE of the three middle of the order absences- Harper, Zimmerman, and the LaRoche/Ramos spot. I would hardly say that constitutes a “nearly complete lineup.”

    Oh- and in those two games the aforementioned combination has gone 3-12 with a single, a double and a 2 ruin HR.

    If you want to ignore the fact that we still have huge holes at two of three spots, that’s fine I guess. But maybe we should wait more than 9 innings before we decide that the lineup sucks with Ramos and LaRoche both in it?

    • Eric - May 27, 2014 at 10:05 AM

      It’s been 18 innings, but a fair point nonetheless ;).

      • bowdenball - May 27, 2014 at 10:18 AM

        Ramos was out Sunday for the normal day game after a night game catcher day off. So, 9 innings.

        Either way, a little too soon to say that getting those guys back hasn’t helped. Especially since they scored 5 runs with LaRoche in the lineup on Sunday!

    • Eric - May 27, 2014 at 10:35 AM

      Oh right, good call re: Sunday day off…heh.

      I agree it’s too soon to say anything, even if Ramos *had* played Sunday.

      • NatsLady - May 27, 2014 at 11:10 AM

        Ramos is recovering from a broken hand, the recovery on that is not instantaneous even if he can play with it. It could be a couple of months before we get back the RBI machine’s full power.

  8. chaz11963 - May 27, 2014 at 8:57 AM

    I don’t think anyone projected this team to be an offensive powerhouse. They were projected to be a good/decent offensive team with great pitching. That largely is proving to be the case. The offense becomes mediocre when a few of the best hitters are missing. The pitching is shaping up to be what was projected, granted we expected the starters to be elite and they have just been good, I think that is starting to change.

    They key is whether this mediocre weakened offense can at least keep us around .500 until we become whole again. We’ve been fortunate that the Braves have not gotten hot.

    • Sec 3 My Sofa - May 27, 2014 at 9:06 AM

      Well, if Espinosa and McLouth had stayed .250 hitters with occasional pop on mistake pitches, and there was good reason to hope they would do that, the team would be three or four games better, maybe a little more, and they’d be right there with the Braves.

      • scnatsfan - May 27, 2014 at 9:45 AM

        I think hoping Espi will hit .250, take walks and strike out less is just that – hope. He is the only person on the planet that doesn’t see the huge hole in his swing growing again.

  9. Sec 3 My Sofa - May 27, 2014 at 8:59 AM

    Well, Jose Canseco’s last-call tweets have me convinced. Zach Walters will fix all of this.

  10. edshelton2013 - May 27, 2014 at 9:23 AM

    I agree with Rabbit. I used to get excited when we’d get guys on base. Now, I just expect another out and no runs. This team is difficult to watch. It’s the same night after night.
    Even when everyone is back from the DL, we still have several current guys with sub-Mendoza stats. Laroche says slumps can be contagious. That implies that everyone is pressing, trying to carry the team individually.

    • bowdenball - May 27, 2014 at 9:30 AM

      There are only two hitters on the 25 man roster under the Mendoza line- Ramos and McLouth. Neither will be there very long IMO, and in any event McLouth will be on the bench “when everyone is back from the DL.” BTW the next-worst hitters on the 25 man roster are Espinosa and Moore- one has already been replaced by the return of an injured player and the other will be replaced when Zimmerman returns.

      I don’t think people realize how much the injuries have hurt us. As I said before we have been missing Zimmerman, Harper and either LaRoche or Ramos for most of the season. Yesterday was the first time since the third week of April that we were only missing two of our middle of the order guys. Oh, and by the way this was the second-best offense in the National League in April when those guys were mostly healthy.

      • jd - May 27, 2014 at 10:08 AM

        bowdenball,

        That’s pretty much the bottom line. Having Harper, Zimmerman and one of LaRoche and Ramos out of the lineup is not anything most teams can absorb. Imagine the Tigers without Cabrerra, Victor Martinez and say Kinsler for 6 weeks? how about the Braves without Freeman, J.Upton and Simmons?

        It’s easy to be frustrated because that’s what fans do but as long as the lineup contains: Mc.Louth, Frandsen, Moore,Francona on a daily basis .500 should not be unexpected.

      • bowdenball - May 27, 2014 at 10:14 AM

        Absolutely, jd.

        It is strange (but not surprising) that fans were all doom and gloom about the offense’s prospects when Harper and Zimmerman were injured, but then seem surprised when things unfold exactly as most of them had predicted when the injuries occurred.

        You’d like to see a bit more offense from the bench, but anyone who is surprised that this team is hovering around .500 without three of its best hitters in the lineup for the last two months is being unreasonable. No team in baseball would excel without three of their five best hitters-especially one that doesn’t have an MVP type bat left to carry the load in their absence.

      • letswin3 - May 27, 2014 at 11:43 AM

        I’m with ya, JD and Bowdenball. I don’t like it any more than the rest, but it is what it is …. and every team in the game would be struggling without 3 of their middle of the order guys and a couple of starting pitchers. I’m still optimistic for 2014. When Zim and Harper get back it still won’t be instantaneous winning ball …. those two are also going to have to recover their timing and regain the impact that they provide, but I’m confident that they will again produce runs like before.

  11. Ghost of Steve M. - May 27, 2014 at 9:27 AM

    Jayson Werth has 9 walks in 51 plate appearances with RISP. He probably could’ve had more if he wasn’t trying to carry the team on his back and expanded his strike zone. Werth was batting almost .325 with RISP 3 weeks ago. His BA in RISP now stands at .275 which is decent. He has a .431 OBP with RISP which is strong.

    I have been saying for weeks that opposing pitchers are pitching Jayson away and further away. Every once in a while he gets a mistake pitch to hit. It’s been frustrating to watch but opposing managers aren’t all stupid, you can afford to walk Jayson most times and get to the guy after him.

    With LaRoche and Ramos back, Jayson should start seeing better pitches to hit, and if not, keep taking the walks.

    • jd - May 27, 2014 at 10:11 AM

      Ghost,

      Werth looks to me like he could use 2, 3 days off which I know wont happen until at least Zim returns but he has taken some ugly swings lately and has missed some very hittable pitches as well.

      On the other hand I saw some very nice at bats from Rendon and Ramos yesterday and Desmond is not very far off. The problem is that the lineup dies after the 6th spot so other than the big inning against Cueto it’s been really hard to score runs in bunches.

    • Doc - May 27, 2014 at 10:12 AM

      Good analysis, Ghost.

      That’s pretty much what the Pirate pitchers did on the past weekend to JDub—pitch him away.

      However, most days and most ways I still think that Werth is more ballplayer than most of the other position players.

      Anyway, just hold the fort guys, the cavalry is just over the hill!!

      So far Ramos has not shown much of his patented power. Maybe he needs a few more ABs.

      • therealjohnc - May 27, 2014 at 11:14 AM

        Ramos may not get his power back for a while; wrists are vital to power, and often (but not always) it takes time for players to get their power back after hamate bone surgery. The good news is that it does return. But it may not be back for a few weeks.

    • sjm308 - May 27, 2014 at 10:15 AM

      Great point Ghost and while they are still hard to watch right now, that gives me some hope.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 27, 2014 at 10:48 AM

        jd, brings up a great point about the void at 7, 8, 9 and as Doc says the calvary is coming.

        JDub has to start hitting the other way with men on. In the 4th they walked Rendon to leadoff. Jayson popped out to CF. He did the same with men on 1st and 2nd and no outs vs the Pirates.

        I think he’s trying to hard to hit bombs and right now he just needs to get singles or worse case a productive out. The pop ups and Ks are just giving it away.

        Bottom of 5 Espi is HBP’d to leadoff. Instead of McLouth bunting for a hit or sacrifice he Ks.

        Bottom 7, Danny Ks to leadoff and McLouth is HBP’d. Marlins bring in the lefty to face Dobbs. MW counters with TyMo instead of Frandsen or Hairston in a 1 run game. Huh why? TyMo Ks.

        Also, why not steal earlier with McLouth?

        8th inning AJ Ramos sets down Rendon, Werth, and LaRoche with the help of the ump.

        Blue definitely needed to get to a barbecue because he definitely blew the call to K Rendon who should’ve walked and even more egregious was pitch #2 and #4 to LaRoche as both were balls even further out of the K zone. Instead of walking on 4 pitches LaRoche in a 2-2 count had to protect and rolled over an easy grounder.

        Was MW chirping at all? He needs to get off his pirch and get in that umps face. Pitch #4 was a fastball about 5 to 6 inches off of the plate.

        I’m sick of the umpires really screwing up at critical times with the heart of the order up. Rendon should’ve been on 1st and go from there.

      • Doc - May 27, 2014 at 11:20 AM

        Think that ol’ Matty needs to kick some ump butt, even if he gets thrown out.

        Tthe new appeal proces doesn’t mean you have give up your manhood.

        How do we reincarnate Earl. We still have some DNA sitting (lying) around don’t we???

  12. habs3 - May 27, 2014 at 10:09 AM

    I have to temper my optimism for this team. Espinosa and McLouth went a combined 0-4 . I had posted yesterday that they would go 1-8. At least with Espinosa he is cheap and one of the top defensive 2 nd basemen in the league. McLouth on the other hand can’t hit and is an average outfielder who is costing us $5mm per year.

    One thing these injuries have taught is us is that Rizzo did not fix the bench. I will give him A for the BP and SP but for the bench he gets an F. For all those ardent fans that frown on any criticism of the team I am only basing my grade on the results.

  13. tcostant - May 27, 2014 at 10:12 AM

    Just painful to watch these hitters right now. I’ve bitten my nails down as far as they can go. McLouth is on my s-list until futher notice. He was signed, for a situation just like this, to have a professional hitter start for an extended period becase of injury. Total failure.

    I think we are going to see some Zim in LF before June 15th, if he can hit, but still needs to build up for the 3B thrwo, throw in LF while he does that and get an extra week out of him hitting. Please.

    You know I just wrote “June 15″, I really can’t beleive that was the trade deadline when I was a kid. Really, the middle of June. That was a great change, way to early.

  14. philipd763 - May 27, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    No offense all season and nary a mention of the hitting coaches name, Rick Shu, and his .247 batting average over 9 seasons in the majors.

    • jd - May 27, 2014 at 10:36 AM

      phillipd763,

      Really? In April our offense was close to the top of the NL. Missing 3 players in the missle of the lineup will take you down a couple of notches. no?

      • NatsLady - May 27, 2014 at 11:13 AM

        Look at what’s happened to the Tigers, losing seven of eight, getting shut out 9-0 by Oakland. They “were” the best team in baseball two weeks ago. Lucky for them, they are in a weak division without any real challenger (the Royals are starting to accumulate injuries).

        I know as fans we keep our eyes on the standings and the postseason, but our boys have to take it one at-bat at a time.

      • Doc - May 27, 2014 at 11:22 AM

        As usual, NL, you are correct!

        But it’s hard being a fan, and being reasonable!

  15. NatsLady - May 27, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    LaRoche being back, and being back healthy is big. Jayson said he tries to get on base so “Rochie” can drive him in (exactly as yesterday). That means Jayson won’t be swinging for the fences, and also that he might get something to hit from lefties (if we ever SEE a lefty) thinking they’ll get past him to ALR.

  16. NatsLady - May 27, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    My comments are going in random places, so bear with me because I have no control over WordPress…

  17. NatsLady - May 27, 2014 at 11:36 AM

    Looks like trouble in Philly city… Cliff Lee…

    http://www.sportsinjuryalert.com/2014/05/phillies-injury-update-cliff-lee-not.html

  18. knoxvillenat - May 27, 2014 at 11:36 AM

    “MW counters with TyMo instead of Frandsen or Hairston in a 1 run game. Huh why? TyMo Ks.”

    Ghost, I posted this yesterday but I was listening to the game on radio when this situation came up and according to Charlie & Dave, Hairston was something like 0 for 7 lifetime against Dunn and I believe they said with 5 or 6 K’s in there. I would still rather had seen Frandsen myself.

    • NatsLady - May 27, 2014 at 11:41 AM

      Small sample size. Probably no good answer, MW will get criticize for whichever. That wasn’t the reason the game was lost. Ty-Mo could have had a hit, he’s had one before… I mean not often, but he has had them.

      • knoxvillenat - May 27, 2014 at 11:45 AM

        Small sample size I agree, I’m just offering up a possible explanation as discussed by C&D and one that makes some sense. I still would rather have seen KF instead of TyMo.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 27, 2014 at 11:43 AM

      Knoxville, thanks for that.

  19. habs3 - May 27, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    One thing these injuries have taught us is that the bench has not been fixed. I am tired of people making excuses for McClouth. He is being paid as a regular. He was to fill in as a regular when Injuries occurred. Now everyone is saying we should not expect much because these bench are bench players. What is the point of having a bench if they cannot fill in when injuries happen, especially when some are paid as regulars. If we are going to give kudos to Rizzo for the SP and BP, he gets an F for the bench.

    Our professional scouting department is lacking. The Marlins front office beats ours.

    • secretwasianman - May 27, 2014 at 3:28 PM

      McClouth is a disaster. I would rather have Lombo or Shark. It would be a lot cheaper.

  20. Section 222 - May 27, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    Lots of good comments here. I particularly agree that blaming the hitting coach is kind of silly. The same guy who supposedly resurrected our bats last year is now incompetent? Hmm, where have we heard that before? (Ahem, Eckstein…)

    I disagree with blaming the HP umpire. Balls and strikes calls even out over time. Bad calls are not why we lost the game yesterday. Lack of hitting is.

    • secretwasianman - May 27, 2014 at 3:27 PM

      You couldn’t be more wrong. ALR hits a 2 run second deck homer. Then in the 8 th that pitcher is not required by the ump to throw him one single strike. Pathetic calls.

      • Section 222 - May 27, 2014 at 3:55 PM

        So you’re saying that because he hit a HR of Eovaldi in the 6th, he would have hit a HR off of Ramos in the 8th if only the ump hadn’t made a bad call? That’s pretty optimistic for a guy who usually sees disaster for the Nats looming around every corner.

  21. Ghost of Steve M. - May 27, 2014 at 11:41 AM

    Tonight is the perfect night to get some hits since Espi has had success against Alvarez and Werth and Ramos have not. LaRoche, Rendon, Desi and Span have all hit him well.

    I’d play Lobaton tonight also and go:

    Span, Rendon, ALR, Desi, Werth, Espi, McLouth, Lobaton

  22. philipd763 - May 27, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    Maybe the hitting coach doesn’t make any difference so why have one? I used to ask the question regarding Eckstein’s hitting instructor credentials since he never played professional baseball. So I will now ask another perhaps stupid question. How does a major league hitting instructor like Rich Shu, who couldn’t hit major league pitching, teach major leaguers how to hit? At least a guy like Mark Maguire has some hitting credentials. Why would a Brian Harper listen to advice from Rick Shu?

    • Sec 3 My Sofa - May 27, 2014 at 2:02 PM

      Maybe just to swap professional advice from another hitting coach?

      Unless you meant Bryce Harper, in which case maybe because authority comes in various flavors, and making sense and paying attention to details are useful if you want to be credible.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - May 27, 2014 at 9:00 PM

        It didn’t even occur to me you might mean *Bryan* Harper. Which is my bad. Makes even less sense, Bryan being a A pitcher, but still.

  23. NatsLady - May 27, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    By the way, you know the Nats aren’t playing .500 ball. They are 9-14 for May.

  24. manassasnatsfan - May 27, 2014 at 12:39 PM

    At the beginning of each game, I assume we will win (knowing we could lose). Each at bat I assume that the ay bat will be a success (though a big majority won’t).

    If you go in assuming success you at least have a chance. If you go assuming you will fail, you will.

    Our problems in hitting (as is every player in the majors, is if they would approach hitting correctly they all would hit better). by correcting the approach.

    They try to do what ever it is they want )even if statistically it is not a good choice). Instead I suggest the following approach do what the what the pitcher is letting you do. Pitches to the outside drive the other way, pitches inside pull. In the middle hit up the middle.

    I know I say this often, but if every batter did this they could increase their average a lot. Pulling an outside pitch is almost always an out, so why do it? Why? Because they feel they have more power this way but in watching about 20 games a week now for the last 10 years, and about 5-7 games a week for 50 years before that, I can tell you it dies work.

    Ramos double to right yesterday was great, as was Ian’s long fly out. They went with the pitch. LaROche pulled his because it was inside. In his at bat where he grounded to second all the pitches were outside. Just hit the ball to left. Hitting it to right is a ground out.

    In other words maximize your chances by doing what the pitcher is letting you do.

    It seems like a simplistic approach, but it works. Charlie Lau taught this. George Brett was his only steudent who actually tried doing it, and he was pretty darn good. He could have been greater had he done it all the time.

    There is a down side to it though. Power does go down, but if everyone is hitting hard liners, you don’t need as many homers.

    I know most of you probably think I am wrong, so go ahead and bomb away at me.

  25. manassasnatsfan - May 27, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    At the beginning of each game, I assume we will win (knowing we could lose). Each at bat I assume that the ay bat will be a success (though a big majority won’t).

    If you go in assuming success you at least have a chance. If you go assuming you will fail, you will.

    Our problems in hitting (as is every player in the majors, is if they would approach hitting correctly they all would hit better). by correcting the approach.

    They try to do what ever it is they want )even if statistically it is not a good choice). Instead I suggest the following approach do what the what the pitcher is letting you do. Pitches to the outside drive the other way, pitches inside pull. In the middle hit up the middle.

    I know I say this often, but if every batter did this they could increase their average a lot. Pulling an outside pitch is almost always an out, so why do it? Why? Because they feel they have more power this way but in watching about 20 games a week now for the last 10 years, and about 5-7 games a week for 50 years before that, I can tell you it dies work.

    Ramos double to right yesterday was great, as was Ian’s long fly out. They went with the pitch. LaROche pulled his because it was inside. In his at bat where he grounded to second all the pitches were outside. Just hit the ball to left. Hitting it to right is a ground out.

    In other words maximize your chances by doing what the pitcher is letting you do.

    It seems like a simplistic approach, but it works. Charlie Lau taught this. George Brett was his only steudent who actually tried doing it, and he was pretty darn good. He could have been greater had he done it all the time.

    There is a down side to it though. Power does go down, but if everyone is hitting hard liners, you don’t need as many homers.

    I know most of you probably think I am wrong, so go ahead and bomb away at me.

    • Sec 3 My Sofa - May 27, 2014 at 2:18 PM

      I don’t accept the premise that nobody but Brett did/does this, but I would agree that there are times and places for it, as a hitting approach. There are also times and places for other approaches. If, e.g., I need to hit to the right side, and get an inside pitch, I don’t want to pull that, I need to find a way to “inside-out” or otherwise get it to the right side.

      IF you are right in implying that few players do this, and that it is a simplistic description of the approach, I think 100+ years of baseball, and highly motivated players and coaches, would have a good reason for not doing it more.

      • manassasnatsfan - May 27, 2014 at 2:21 PM

        I believe that everyone would have about .050 higher.

        and correct sometimes you need to go to right.

        However fighting the pitch doesn’t work.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - May 27, 2014 at 2:31 PM

        I believe that everyone would have about .050 higher.

        Based on what?

        “They have ungodly breaking stuff in The Show.” Sometimes fighting the pitch off is a good at-bat.

  26. Sec 3 My Sofa - May 27, 2014 at 2:36 PM

    I think it was Eddie Murray who talked about why hitters need more than one swing, because you cannot always put “your best swing” on a ball, in fact, it’s unusual to be able to do so. Most of the time, because MLB pitchers are good at what they do, you’re getting their pitch, not yours, and you need a swing that will work with that pitch.

    But if we’re just philosophizing generally on hitting theory, I don’t think any single system works for a large disparate group of humans, just on principle. That’s just me.

    • Eugene in Oregon - May 27, 2014 at 2:52 PM

      +1.

    • Sec 3 My Sofa - May 27, 2014 at 4:23 PM

      OK, now that we’re safely in the “nobody’s reading this anymore” zone, I’ll dump a few more particular thoughts (just mine) on why that “simplistic approach” is more limited in its utility than you seem to think, IMO.

      “They throw ungodly breaking stuff in the show.” But they also throw really hard sometimes, and when hitters are trying to hit 98, 99, 100+ with movement, they don’t have the luxury of “hitting it where it’s pitched.” Against guys like Chapman, the popular approach seems to be to cheat–start swinging before you have any way to know where the pitch will be, or even what it will be, and try to adjust on the way there.

      I like the “hot zones” graphic MASN and some others are using for hitters. One of the things it shows is, not every hitter, even among MLB hitters, can hit in every part of the strike zone. Players like, e.g., Vladimir Guererro, were anomalies among a small set of abnormally gifted humans (anybody who can play MLB baseball is different from the rest of us).

      Like I said above, sometimes, maybe even a lot of the time, that’s good advice and will work. I think it’s way better than “Swing hard in case you hit it,” most of the time. And it’s definitely better than trying to hit six-run home runs, AKA the Danny Method. But I think you’re reaching when you say it’ll add, on average, one hit a week for every 500-AB player. That’s the difference between playing in Durham and playing in Yankee Stadium. If it were that easy, everyone would already be doing it. They may be baseball players, but they aren’t that dumb.

  27. secretwasianman - May 27, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    This has been 210 games of crappy baseball now. Very mediocre. Why do people still think this team can flip a switch and start hitting ? They can’t. Forget 2012. That was the aberration, not this year or last. The record indicates exactly the level of team that they are.

Archives

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

Follow us on Twitter