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Healthy lineup has become NL’s most productive

Jul 22, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

AP AP

For months, they pined for the day they would be able to field a healthy lineup, recognizing they couldn’t truly evaluate themselves until all eight of their Opening Day starters were back together again.

Well, three weeks later, the healthy Nationals now boast the NL’s most-productive lineup. Not to mention the league’s best record.

With Monday night’s 7-2 victory at Colorado, the Nationals are 11-5 since Bryce Harper came off the disabled list June 30, 54-43 overall. The biggest reason for the surge: A lineup that has scored an average of 5.3 runs per game, posting a .279 batting average, .340 on-base percentage and .449 slugging percentage, all tops in the NL.

Sure, it’s only three weeks, and those numbers are unlikely to hold at such high levels. But it’s also worth noting that the Nationals are doing all this despite several key players being mired in slumps.

Adam LaRoche is 8 for his last 58. Harper is hitting just .216 since coming off the DL, and that’s with a recent upswing. Anthony Rendon, who had been on fire entering the All-Star break, is just 1-for-19 since. The Nats’ five bench players are 7-for-53 since June 30.

Yeah, those guys all play for the team with the league’s most-productive lineup this month.

At the other end of the spectrum, Ryan Zimmerman (24-for-59, 1.100 OPS), Jayson Werth (22-for-59, 1.326 OPS), Ian Desmond (22-for-60 after last night’s 5-for-5 performance), Wilson Ramos (18-for-52) and Denard Span (21-for-64, .403 on-base percentage) all have been on sustained tears at the plate, elevating this lineup to its current state.

The biggest takeaway from all this: The Nationals’ lineup is extremely well-balanced. There are pure hitters and power hitters, high-on-base guys and high-slugging guys. The leading home run and RBI guy (Desmond) bats seventh. The leading doubles hitter (Span) bats first.

Span has the lowest OPS+ in the lineup at 101. Werth and LaRoche have the highest marks at 129. For the uninitiated, an OPS+ of 100 is considered league-average. In other words, every single member of the Nationals lineup right now is above average.

Perhaps Zimmerman put it best on Sunday, explaining the significance of a lineup in which everybody is a threat.

“I think it makes us so that not one person has to do everything,” he said. “Literally from 1 to 8, anyone can go off that day and have an amazing game and drive in four or five runs. You don’t know who it’s going to be. As a team, as an offense and as a lineup, it’s fun to be a part of something like that, because there’s no more pressure. You just try to go out there and do what you do. And if you don’t do it that day, someone is going to do it.”

Right now, somebody — usually multiple somebodies — is doing it every single day.

116 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. laddieblahblah - Jul 22, 2014 at 9:40 AM

    This group is the best in baseball right now. The Nats who are producing the best are the most experienced. Many of them (Zim, Werth, La Roche) also have a history of hitting their stride later in the season. So does Harper.

    I’m more concerned with JZ’s bicep problem and with whatever is ailing Gio. JZ is on the mound tonight, so that question will be answered very shortly. Unlike earlier in the season, though, we know this group can win even if JZ is not at his best. Not so long ago, even JZ’s best did not always produce a win.

    The Nats are now positioned to do to Atlanta what Atlanta did to the Nats, at this time, last year.

    • Section 222 - Jul 22, 2014 at 9:53 AM

      Most productive lineup in baseball + best bullpen in baseball + near best and healthy starting rotation = NL East title.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:29 AM

      Strasburg’s consistency is high on my list.

    • unterp - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:37 AM

      didn’t know Gio has an ailment. thanks for your report…

  2. Hiram Hover - Jul 22, 2014 at 9:52 AM

    Happy to see this success, but we should also acknowledge that the Nats have feasted on some pretty bad pitching. Ranking of their opponents, by ERA, among NL teams:

    Brewers – 10th worst
    Cubs – 11th
    Phils – 12th
    Rockies – 15th

    The good news is that there’s more poor pitching ahead – the Reds this weekend are best staff they face until the Braves, 2 weeks later.

    • David Proctor - Jul 22, 2014 at 9:58 AM

      Given our penchant for making bad pitchers look like Cy Young, I will gladly accept just taking care of business

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:30 AM

        Agreed.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:58 AM

        Yeah, tho I think that “make bad pitchers look like CY winners” is another meme that survives despite abundant evidence to the contrary.

      • Doc - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:11 AM

        I; was thinking the same thing. Milone and Estrada come to mind as being mediocre pitchers until they shut us down.

        Milone threw a SO at us!

        Get the big ones and the little ones! Goooooooooooooooooooooooo Naaaaaaaaaaaaaats!!!!

      • knoxvillenat - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:34 AM

        +1

    • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:39 AM

      Wait, “10th worst” in the National League would be the 5th best. Do you mean they rank 10th in the NL in ERA? I think you must.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:57 AM

        Seems like you understand it perfectly.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jul 22, 2014 at 1:01 PM

        Ok, good. Just making sure.

    • nats1924 - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:40 AM

      lots of pizza at everyones door steps!

    • bowdenball - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:42 AM

      That seems a little overblown. The Rockies are last in ERA in part because of where they play. The other three teams are middle of the road- remember the Nats are first in the NL, so they’re actually 9th, 10th and 11th of 14 teams. And of course those rankings are also negatively affected by the damage the Nats did; remove that and their rankings probably go up.

      They also faced Matt Garza, Kyle Lohse, Cole Hamels, Jason Hammel, Jake Arrieta, and depending how far you go back Jeff Samardzija during their hot streak, so it hasn’t entirely been a parade of mediocre starters.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:37 PM

        Actually, the Rockies are last (to Sofa, 1st worst, or 15th best) in ERA even if you throw out Coors Field and rank them just on their away ERA. That’s how bad they are.

        Taking out the Nats wouldn’t change the fact that all these staffs rank in the bottom 3d or so of NL teams–14th among 14 is still the bottom. Throwing out 3-4 games against the Nats wouldn’t move any of them to middle of the pack on the season, except maybe the Brewers, if you’re generous in your definition of middle of the pack.

        You’re certainly right that the Nats faced a few good starters in there, but they faced more mediocre to bad ones, and some bad BPs too. Beating up on them is exactly what a good team needs to do. And the Nats did.

        To repeat the first words of my post: “Happy to see this success.” Just warning against irrational exuberance.

      • bowdenball - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:47 PM

        Yeah I guess that was my larger point- they faced below-average competition and they did exactly what they should do.

  3. scnatsfan - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:04 AM

    Now if the Braves will just go away I will put the bourbon and maalox away until September

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:36 AM

      Did you see how empty their stadium has been. For a team near the top of their division, they have a fanbase problem. Their LoD wants to send BJ Upton off with Uggla.

      Those 2 contracts will continue to dog them into the future. Uggla has a deferral clause and several years left for BJ Upton.

      If Rizzo showed any interest in BJ it probably hardened the Barves resolve to get him.

      The funny part is they keep trotting him out and in the leadoff.

      • masterfishkeeper - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:03 AM

        Yes, by far the Barves’ worst hitter, yet the manager makes sure he gets more at-bats than anyone else.

      • Section 222 - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:43 AM

        If their LoD wants to get rid of BJ as well as Upton, I’d say they are smarter than our LoD. :-)

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:49 AM

        LOL

  4. adcwonk - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:04 AM

    All along, baseball-reference has us, by the SRS measurement, the best team in the NL. Baseball-Prospectus all along has had us winning the NL East (currently, projected to be 90.1 wins, 4.4 ahead of the Braves, and, actually, just 0.3 games behind the Dodgers, putting us as the second best win pct in the NL).

    Yeah, if Bryce and Rendon can get back on-track — look out world!

  5. scnatsfan - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:06 AM

    For the first time all year I bet on the Nats last night (as well as the Nats taking the series). I forgot how much a small wager can change how you view a 4 run inning lol.

    • RPrecupjr - Jul 22, 2014 at 1:41 PM

      Ask Pete Rose ;)

  6. nats106 - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:07 AM

    Nats play teams with losing records 22 times through the end of August and 16 against teams over 500. Braves schedule is the inverse.

    Calling it now. Nats in first by 5 games at the end of August, probably with the best record in the NL.

    Pennant race in September!!!!

  7. David Proctor - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    MLB Radio is funny. “We keep waiting for this team to go on a roll, but they never do it. We’ve been waiting a year and a half. They should be the best team in the NL, but they’re just not.”

    Narratives die hard, I guess. Best record in the NL and by far the best run differential. Not good enough apparently.

    • ArVAFan - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:21 AM

      May our opponents continue to believe that narrative until it is too late. Better to be under appreciated and over perform than the other way around.

      GYFNG! (Win series . . . Or sweep).

    • BurnedOnce - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:28 AM

      Memello hates the Nationals. He says he likes them but he just doesn’t. He likes the players but hates the organization. Except Stras And Harper who loves to rip. It’s a Chicago thing with Rizzo. It’s Rizzo that’s under his skin and colors his commentary on the team.

    • therealjohnc - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:28 AM

      Narratives do die hard, but there are some who are paying attention. I saw this comment by Dan Szymborski of Fangraphs during a chat yesterday:

      12:11
      Comment From Guest
      The Nats are tied for the best record in the National League and have by far the best run differential in the NL and yet people still act as if they’re a disappointment. This despite losing Span, LaRoche, Zimmerman, Harper, Ramos, Gio and Fister to the DL, many of them for extended periods. I don’t get it. Explain
      12:11
      Dan Szymborski: Because people are dumb? That’s the best explanation I can think of.

      For the record, I was not the “guest” who posted the question – although I couldn’t help but wonder if it was one of us from the NI and/or the interNats.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:02 AM

        John, thanks for the post. Made my morning.

        The LoD crowd who supposedly follow this team were throwing in the towel back in May. Notice how they disappeared or have returned under new aliases.

        For me though, I still see areas of improvement that must be addressed. The Dodgers and Cardinals probably will be making roster upgrades.

        There is also an ego thing with Stan Kasten. He doesn’t want to lose to the Nats. I hope they don’t go after David Price.

      • adcwonk - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:55 AM

        The LoD crowd who supposedly follow this team were throwing in the towel back in May

        You can find a quote from April 25 that says — and I repeat it in its entirety: “Season is gone already.”

      • knoxvillenat - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:00 PM

        “Season is gone already.”

        Too bad the OP didn’t do the same.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:21 PM

        Wow, that may have set the knucklehead record!

      • adcwonk - Jul 22, 2014 at 6:14 PM

        Actually, I’ll bet it doesn’t!

      • scnatsfan - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:06 PM

        I just don’t see where we improve unless you move Hairston. The pen is set, SP is set, backups set (Espi, Lobo, McClouth and Franzen are going nowhere). Just don’t see what we do… maybe Rizzo does!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:17 PM

        Espi had a career day as a bench role player from both sides of the plate.

        Can he do that again?

        Hairston has to go.

        The pen expands to 8 for the postseason. Did the All Star rest get the Dayton Duo back on track? Certainly add Treinen on Sept 1 but do you do it sooner?

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jul 22, 2014 at 1:49 PM

        Because people are dumb? That’s the best explanation I can think of.
        “A person is smart. PEOPLE are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals, and you know it!”

        They’re a rumor-mill, recognizable only as deja vu and dismissable just as quickly. Anonymity is their name. Carping their native tongue. They’re no longer part of the fanbase. They’re above the fanbase. Over it. Beyond it. They’re “them.” They’re “they.” They are the Legion of Doom.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:41 AM

      It never is for stirring up drama.

      This weekend is a big test. Nats face 2 All Stars in Cincy

  8. Candide - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:20 AM

    In other words, every single member of the Nationals lineup right now is above average.

    Welcome to Lake Woebegone

    • ArVAFan - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:22 AM

      +1

  9. natsfan1a - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    Nice to see a happy game results email in my in-box. Gotta make time to speed-watch the recording today.

  10. Candide - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    Anyone have an extra Denard bobblehead they’d like to trade? We were out of town last weekend.

    I have extras of the following:

    Danny Rosenbaum (P-Nats)
    Morse
    Ramos
    Gio
    ZimmermaNN
    Strasburg

    In case of multiple offers, I’ll take the one who offers to take the highest one on the list above (i.e., if I get an offer to take Morse and an offer to take Gio, the Morse offer wins).

    Our next game is August 5 (Werth gnome night) and can swap then. Or if you live reasonably close to Alexandria, Virginia, we can meet somewhere.

    • adewaldh - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:50 AM

      Sorry to piggy back on your post, but I have a an extra Harper that I’d like to trade for a ZimmermaNN. Good luck with the Denard, it is a great bobblehead.

    • kehillatnefesh - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:17 PM

      Been waiting for a great reason to join the board. I have a Span, looking to swap for a Werth Garden Gnome! Think that will definitely scare the sqirrels away from my tomatoes!

    • NIWatcher - Jul 22, 2014 at 5:31 PM

      Candide, how do I reach you offline without posting our emails on this blog? I have several trades I would like to propose.

      • Candide - Jul 22, 2014 at 7:38 PM

        NIWatcher – look for my contact on your Craigslist link.

        (Nice idea!)

    • NIWatcher - Jul 22, 2014 at 5:55 PM

      To ease contact among NIers who are interested in exploring such trades, I have posted an entry on the Washington, DC, Craigslist under “collectables.” The title is Bobbleheads Nationals for Trade. By contacting me through Craigslist, I can share anyone’s emails with the others who are interested in making trades.

  11. NatsLady - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    Coors and GABP are good places to pad your personal stats. I’m all for it (as long as it includes WINNING). The trick is for our pitchers to prevent the other teams’ hitters from padding their stats.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:42 AM

      Exactly!

    • Candide - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:44 AM

      Coors and GABP are good places to pad your personal stats.

      …unless you’re a pitcher…

  12. Joe Seamhead - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    There’s so much to be positive about right now!

    Anthony Rendon will wake up soon and things will look even better.During the 1-19 tailspin that Mark mentioned, though he is usually hitting the ball at somebody, he has zero RBI’s in that stretch, and has hit into numerous force out fielder choices, and stuck out 5 times. That trend will not continue.

    ALR is in a funk, too, but he has a history of being streaky. I’m not worried about him at this point.

    Personally, I’m with laddie, and more concerned about Gio and JZ.

    It was nice to see Espinosa get a couple of solid hits last night.

    Also, was nice to see Ryan get an outfield assist.

    Though Michael Morse is playing virtually every day, would you believe that 4 Nats now have more RBI’s than the Beast? Desi, Rendon, Werth, and ALR all have more than Michael’s 47.

    I found this interesting: Billy Hamilton has 38 steals, but has been caught stealing 15 times. He has scored 48 runs. Rendon has 69 runs scored and Span has 58. Between Rendon and Span they have 25 stolen bases, been caught only 3 times.

    • karlkolchak - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:42 AM

      Regarding Hamilton, it’s said that having a SB success rate below 75% actually hurts the team, so his 71.6% rate is not really helping Cincinnati. I’d love to see the speed game get back to where it was in the 1980s, but the catchers are just too good these days.

      • masterfishkeeper - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:06 AM

        Interesting point. Fangraphs says Hamilton has added 4.3 runs with his baserunning while Span has added 4.1. Much closer than you would think. Of course, Hamilton has played an amazing centerfield, too.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:15 AM

        Remember, Hamilton is 23, and in his first full MLB season. He already has the legs, and his judgment is only going to get better.

  13. Danny - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:47 AM

    In the past season and a half, the common baseball fan now considers the Nationals to be overrated to the point that we are now underrated and our success this year is being ignored to an extent. We also have become less popular as a team to some due to “media overhype”. Although those sentiments are likely from whining Braves fans on message boards.

  14. nats1924 - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    re: Ghosts of Steve; braves empty park….

    The braves -and atlanta in general- have ALWAYS had a fan base problem. During their glory years of 15 consecutive divisions they STILL couldnt sell out playoff games -which always left me dumbfounded. I remember watching a few playoff games during those years and half the outfield seats went empty.

    Braves fans say its all because of location. I call that 100% bull stuff!

    If DC had a sport teams AS success as those braves teams not ONE playoff game would not sell out, and we’d reel in close to 3M fans annually.

    Atlanta sports are weak, hands down.

    Go Nats

    • 6ID20 - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:03 AM

      Yeah, no one came to the Olympics there because of the location.

    • adcwonk - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:44 AM

      Maybe it _was_ location. I.e., “it was in Atlanta” ;-)

  15. David Proctor - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:53 AM

    I’m not sure what to expect out of JZimm tonight. Hopefully we score a ton of runs and we can live with whatever JZ gives us.

    • micksback1 - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:03 AM

      as long as he has no discomfort and can throw heat for 6 innings, that would be OK

      • water47 - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:21 AM

        Agreed, QS would be a nice demonstration of his health. He is bulldog. Go JZim! GYFNG!

  16. micksback1 - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    I think most of the posters here are n the same page, generally speaking, the Nats are in a good place to not only win the East but have the best overall record in the NL, thus home filed in all playoff series. barring any serious injuries to multiple players, this will be true. There is not a dominant NL team, the key will be, how are the pitching staffs when October rolls around? If Nats pitchers are rested and rolling, they should be favored to win the NL, that is always the key in post season.

    For now, yes, if Harper and Rendon get rolling, watch out. I hope they do and I give Bryce a 50/50 shot of doing so and Rendon 75%. The issue is ALR, I really think he is over, 7 weeks is a true sample size, his contact is very weak. I think he just aged. A move needs to be made, either within or trade. if within, the key would be Espi being able to hit. RZim could go to 1st in that case.

    we will see

    • unkyd59 - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:10 AM

      Lather, rinse, repeat…

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:13 AM

      Mick, I said it the 1st week of July, ALR hurt his back and it’s a power zap. I think he looks better after the All Star rest and now is getting his timing back. Give it another week. If he doesn’t get going he has to go to the DL because a healthy and productive ALR is needed.

      Am I concerned, yes. I’ve been saying since the July 4th weekend he wasn’t right.

      • micksback1 - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:18 AM

        The 15 DL would be a good ime right now while team plays CO, Reds and AZ

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:22 AM

        Mick, give it time. Again, I’m concerned and have been concerned. I’ve see this before where he is in a power zap and also missing dead red fastballs.

      • Doc - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:40 PM

        Yeah, we have to give it time.

        But TyMo is busting out at Syracuse.

        Let’s not give it tooooooooo much time!!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:49 PM

        The Dan Duquette system is to rotate the hot hand in the Minors to the MLB team and send them back when they cool off. Yes, it that’s the goal then bring up TyMo, Walters, Souza one at a time in Hairston’s spot.

        TyMo is as good as Hairston in celebrating walkoffs!

  17. micksback1 - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:02 AM

    I till think one of the September call ups is going to be a key impact player down the stretch, who that is ???

  18. nats106 - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    Rox are going with Yohan Flande, and his 7+ ERA whom the Nationals just saw a few weeks ago. I expect no less than 7 runs tonight from the Nats. Even if he’s rusty it should hopefully be enough.

  19. mdmcommish - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:07 AM

    Ok, here’s the scenario. The Nats win the division …and …have the best record in the NL. We built a lead big enough to align our pitching rotation for the playoffs and we are facing a Wild Card Team (that could be anybody at this point between the Giants, Dodgers, Cards, Brewers, Reds), not the Barves, they drop out of it. WHO starts game one and what is the sequence of your rotation…and more interestingly…who is the 5th starter that sits. For me, I am going Fister, Zimmermann, Stras, Roark…sorry Gio…I am fascinated about what everyone else thinks as of now.

    • micksback1 - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:11 AM

      I like your question, but is it based on right now, because it will depend on where the staff is at season ends. However, based on now and the fact that in post season teams only use the top 4, I would say Stras (have too, he is considered the ace), Fister, JZim and Roark.

      Now, let’s keep in mind that the Nats have 5 games of post season experience which is important and Fister does as well, so, since Gio has 2 games post season exp, in the end I would lean to him

    • scnatsfan - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:55 AM

      Ha ha I love it but I won’t be having that conversation before August

    • Section 222 - Jul 22, 2014 at 2:51 PM

      It’s a great debate. It may depend, of course, on how tight the division race is. Best case, we clinch early and MW can set up his rotation as he wishes. But if we’re going hard until the last few days, that may not be possible. I think at this point, I’d go Stras, JZnn, Fister, Gio. The fourth starter only gets one start in a 7 game series. Roark can be effective as a long guy, so you keep him on the roster to come in if one of the others has a bad outing. If you don’t use Gio, he’s not even on the playoff roster.

  20. Hiram Hover - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    The issue is ALR, I really think he is over, 7 weeks is a true sample size, his contact is very weak. I think he just aged.

    Well, we can all agree that he aged … 7 weeks.

    This is an over-reaction, Mick. For all the talk about ALR being a slow starter (not really true over the last 5-6 years), since 2009, July has been the month where he most often struggles, just as he is this year.

    • micksback1 - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:13 AM

      OK, I hope you are right, but, when he has struggled in past seasons in July, have you ever seen him hit so weakly as he has? I mean in terms of contact

      • NatsLady - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:08 PM

        Yes. You have forgotten his previous slumps. He can look very bad, so bad that Chipper Jones helped him out.

  21. Joe Seamhead - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    I am a little bit encouraged by the way Blevins has looked in his last couple of outings.We can only hope that trend continues.
    Somebody brought up Billy Burns yesterday. Though he is only hitting .254 with a.332 OBP, along with his 45 SB’s in 50 attempts, he missed two weeks with an oblique injury that has affected him since early in the season.With his speed the Nats started the move to make him into a switch hitter, and that is still a work in progress with the A’s. Earlier this year he scored from 2nd after tagging up on a routine fly ball out, giving the batter an RBI sac fly. It is generally accepted that Burns and Hamilton are the two fastest players in pro baseball.

    • scnatsfan - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:55 AM

      I am hoping Michael Taylor makes him an afterthought

  22. micksback1 - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    On the AL side, A’s O’s and Angels, right now I see the ALCS as O’s verse A’s, edge goes to A’s

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:19 AM

      Tigers and As are the 2 best in the AL I think.

      • micksback1 - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:20 AM

        Not sure about tigers

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:26 AM

        Just think how good the Tigers would be if Verlander was on track. He’s the reason they need David Price more than any team.

      • adcwonk - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:47 AM

        Just think how good the Tigers would be if Verlander was on track….

        … and if they hadn’t traded Fister away ;-)

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:51 AM

        Yes, thank you very much DD!

      • knoxvillenat - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:57 AM

        “Just think how good the Tigers would be if Verlander was on track.”

        Tigers need to DFA Kate Upton so Verlander can get his act back together.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:03 PM

        That seems to be a popular sentiment in Detroit!

  23. micksback1 - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:39 AM

    Ghost

    I agree with you on Verlander, I am basing AL right now at this moment. Tigers could very well be in ALCS

  24. micksback1 - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:41 AM

    I do hope Price ends up in the AL, if he went to Dodgers they would be tough, but, there is something about the Dodgers that just does not convince me that they the team to beat in the end. Somehow, the Giants are going to be very formidable asthey always are in October

  25. micksback1 - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    Does anyone else get the feeling that the Braves may be in panic mode and a blockbuster trade is forthcoming that will either doom them or get them on track?

    • scnatsfan - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:56 AM

      That is their usual pattern, make a splashy move. Like Lee.

      • knoxvillenat - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:02 PM

        Maybe their next splashy move will be similar to the Uggla trade or the B.J. Upton free agent signing.

        How’s either one of them working for the Barves?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:31 PM

      Barves are looking to dump BJ but they will not find any takers. I’m sure they are looking to improve with trades for bullpen front end. They demoted Luis Avilan.

  26. adcwonk - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    Last night: seven runs while RISP was 2-for-13.

    If we can improve that just a little tonight…

    • NatsLady - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:12 PM

      Or just get the 12 hits (13 in this case) and bring the runners in from first base. The Rox were 2-7and fat lot of good it did them. It’s about opportunities.

      Also, someone raised the contradiction between saying RBIs are not a particular “skill” and at the same time tracking RISP.

  27. scnatsfan - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    realjohn, I can answer. As a Nats fan since they were the ‘Spos two years ago was the year we had been waiting for, the end of 30 years of rebuilding (or so it seemed). Last years step back was a kick in the guy, just like the start to this year was. You can’t blame a long suffering fan from wondering if another dissappointment was rearing its head. I for one thought the team lacked ‘heart’ or the killer instinct because I think the talent is right there with the best in MLB; glad to see the team playing near what it can do.

    • scnatsfan - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:10 PM

      And wordpress starts again!

    • therealjohnc - Jul 22, 2014 at 1:12 PM

      Oh, I hear you. I’m a DC native, and the local sports scene has essentially been a desert since 1992. Suffice it to say, sports team disappointment and I are on a first name basis.

      But you know what? Disappointment happens in its own time. Why hurry it along? For the brief, grim self-satisfaction of being able to say “I saw all this coming, and ah wuz rite!“? Like the dark side that is the easy way to self-satisfaction; quicker, more seductive. I understand the appeal; baseball can be a frustrating and even unjust sport. And living in the disappointment zone is likely to pay off at least a little bit, because every season only one of 30 MLB teams gets to win the WS. For all the rest, each fanbase’s LoD gets to sit back, sooner or later, and say “well, they didn’t make it … and I saw this coming.” But that’s a cold way to try to stay warm through the long winter.

      And is that payoff worth the day-to-day gloom and doom? Don’t spend a magical season in darkness and despair contemplating things that could go wrong. Some things will, some things won’t. Don’t get me wrong, it’s OK to be a critical thinker and be aware about various weaknesses and vulnerabilities. But trying to address them all is a fool’s errand. Even if a team is the best, most balanced team in the league it can still easily lose a playoff series (2001 Seattle Mariners won 116 games and didn’t even make it to the WS). That’s why Billy Beane famously said “my [stuff] doesn’t work in the playoffs.” Most people leave off the full quote, which is “[m]y [stuff] doesn’t work in the playoffs. My job is to get us to the playoffs. What happens after that is [emphatic expletive deleted] luck.” If your concern is that the 25th player on the team (Hairston) isn’t as good as he could be, you are firmly down in the weeds, my friend. You won’t get rid of that kind of flaw. Stuff happens. Allow yourself to enjoy the ride. As hard as the end of the 2012 season was to take, that summer was an amazing wonderful season and I’ll always remember it fondly.

      • natsjackinfl - Jul 22, 2014 at 2:33 PM

        Far as I’m concerned, therealjohnc, you now have the post of the season.

      • thelatencn - Jul 22, 2014 at 4:17 PM

        +1

      • Sonny G 10 - Jul 22, 2014 at 7:01 PM

        +1 and I second NatsJack’s comment.

  28. letswin3 - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    ALR obviously isn’t hitting right now, but it looks to me like he’s feeling better physically than at any point this season. I say that because of his running (I know, I know, running sure isn’t his strong suit … and we aren’t going to pick up wins with his feet). But over the last week I’ve seen him leg-out a single and go from first to third on a routine single …I’ve been watching him for a few years now, and I can’t ever remember seeing him run like this. With his health in place, he is likely ready to go on another of his 17 for 31 runs and stimulate NI conversation about re-signing him for ’15 (Frankly, I doubt that he would ever be re-signed for ’15, what with the Zim situation and all). He hasn’t suddenly aged, and I expect him to contribute plenty over the remainder of the season. Btw, I’m the same guy who clamored for the Nats to let ALR and his 2013 pathetic 237 average walk off into the sunset last winter. But he’s a Nat now, he’s been very helpful over the first half and I’m convinced that he can, and will, be a positive factor over the remainder of the season.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:28 PM

      I made points above that ALR got better during the All Star break and is now just working on his timing.

      Plays like you mentioned are keys that he is feeling better but I’m certainly in the wait and see cautiously optimistic group on him.

  29. NatsLady - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    I had fun looking up the stats for Desi, RZimm, Werth and Span at Coors and GABP. (I didn’t look up our pitchers, I admit). Also, I had some thoughts about why Span doesn’t walk more. I still have some more research to do on the question, but would appreciate other people’s thoughts.

    • NatsLady - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:17 PM

      Oh, that’s where this post went! Ah, WordPress!

    • Smyrcok - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:53 PM

      NL, Span doesn’t walk very much because pitchers can throw him strikes and not have to worry about him putting it out of the park. We’ve all seen his nice inside the park power, but pitchers never feel like they have to pitch around him. He also doesn’t strike out a lot. They just want him to put it in play and hope for that weak tapper to second, or get him to put it up in the air for a fly out.

      • NatsLady - Jul 22, 2014 at 3:57 PM

        Yes, that’s my conclusion exactly! In order to walk, pitchers have to throw balls at you. They don’t for Span, because even if he puts it in play, he’ll (often) hit it where it can be easily fielded. So people who complain that Span “doesn’t draw enough walks,” are whistling in the wind until he can improve his average enough that pitchers will consider him dangerous.

    • natsbro - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:59 PM

      You may find this article interesting (if you haven’t seen it already):

      http://citizensofnatstown.com/2014/07/08/denard-span-and-cherry-picking/

  30. Doc - Jul 22, 2014 at 2:03 PM

    Ghost your previous point about ‘rotating hot hitters from the minors’.

    Rizzo doesn’t mind doing it with pitchers, but more but a brain stoppage doing it with hitters. ALR on DL should be easily done, and bringing up TyMo.

  31. texnat1 - Jul 22, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    Is anyone else surprised that Rendon doesn’t take more walks? With his eye and swing, you would expect it. And it would help even out his cool periods. Oh well, he has been great overall and he is still learning the game at this level.

  32. natsbro - Jul 22, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    People are awfully hard on guys when they go through slumps around here…

    • Joe Seamhead - Jul 22, 2014 at 3:05 PM

      3-4 weeks ago a bunch of people were calling on Werth to be put on the DL. Others wanted to bench/trade Desmond. Now it’s Adam. I say poppycock. They all go through slumps. The Nats are in 1st place. Be careful with fixing things that aren’t broke.

      • natsbro - Jul 22, 2014 at 3:12 PM

        :thumbsup

  33. Sonny G 10 - Jul 22, 2014 at 7:20 PM

    Did you folks catch Stephen Strasburg’s after-game interview the other night after he pitched? He mentioned that he had talked to Drew Storen about the elbow clean-out procedure Drew had and how it had affected Drew during his recovery. Stras said his procedure was similar and it was affecting him the same way. Good velocity but harder to get the command back. This is exactly what I thought was going on with Stras and it gives me confidence that Stras will improve much like Drew did. If not this year, then certainly by next year.

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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.

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