Nationals' Who's hot, Who's not

Nationals' Who's hot, Who's not
August 28, 2013, 12:15 pm
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The Nationals' past week, at a glance:
Record: 5-1
Team slash: .296/.360/.473
Team ERA: 4.58
Runs per game: 6.7
Opponent runs per game: 4.8
Opponent slash: .273/.327/.429
Bryce Harper, OF: 9-25/1 HR/6 RBI/.467 OBP/1.067 OPS
There he is. Riding a 10-game hitting streak -- and with multiple hits in six of those games -- Harper has regained the form that earned him last season's NL Rookie of the Year award and a place among the game's all-time great youngsters. Forget opposing pitchers -- even Harper can't get himself out of this rhythm, as he stayed in Sunday's loss against Kansas City after fouling a ball, hard, off his foot. He drove in two that game with a home run that gave him 40 for his career before age 21; only Hall of Famer Mel Ott and Tony Conigliaro had more before 21.
Denard Span, OF: 9-25/1 HR/3 RBI/.429 OBP/1.109 OPS
Sure, it's a product of a small sample and two speedy triples, but Span is actually out-slugging much of the team right now (including, as you can see, Harper). He's paid to get on base and score runs (he has five of those over this stretch), so the extra-base hits are always gravy -- and it's always fun to see him muscle one over the wall. That home run boosted his season total to three; all have come in the past 27 games.
Ian Desmond, SS: 8-20/2 HR/4 RBI/.429 OBP/1.129 OPS
Speaking of homers, Desmond crushed a pair over the last week to bring his season total to 19. He also snagged a bag (his 17th), putting him in great position for another 20/20 season if he can swipe a few more over the season's final month. His dingers came in consecutive games against the Royals, and though the second one was in a losing effort, he absolutely crushed it -- the kind of homer that makes you think there should be a second fence for bonus points.
Anthony Rendon, 2B: 3-17/1 XBH/2 RBI/.238 OBP/.473 OPS
One Nats hitter not joining in any reindeer games at the plate is Rendon, the rookie currently manning the keystone for Washington. At times after his call-up, Rendon looked to be among the team's best hitters; however, he has scuffled of late, and his season average has dipped all the way to .257. That's not making anyone pine for Danny Espinosa or Steve Lombardozzi, but he's a bit of a weak link right now. Expect him to hit out of it though, and if the Nationals make a push for the second wild card (they're only 7 back!), a resurgent Rendon could be key.
Gio Gonzalez, SP: 0-0/3.1 IP/7 ER/3.00 WHIP/1 K
Gio just didn't have it against the Royals. Failing to get out of the fourth inning, he let a baker's dozen on base, and seven of them found their way across the plate. A common thread between his two worst starts this season (including his 3.1-inning, 10 earned run outing last month in Detroit): batters are not swinging and missing. Of his 77 pitches against the Royals, only two fooled batters; a typical quality Gio start features about 10 such instances.
Craig Stammen, RP: 0-1/4 IP/2 ER/1.75 WHIP/3 K
Unfortunately, Stammen was saddled with the only loss of the Nationals' otherwise very successful week. It was one he deserved, however: Five Royals reached against him, two scored, and it all could have been avoided if he had just covered first base on a grounder to Adam LaRoche with two out in the eighth. That mental error, coupled with Ryan Zimmerman's inexplicable wandering from third base on subsequent grounder, lead directly to the loss. Paging Tom Emanski...