Thursday, August 4, 2011

2nd Half Resurgence

This Nats season has been quite an upside down year as we have covered before. We have seen our star player miss more than two months with an oblique injury, our new 1B play 0 healthy innings this year before shutting it down for surgery, and our $126 million acquisition play like Nook Logan. In addition we have seen a rookie lead all Nats hitters in WAR, our error rate drastically decrease, a sophomore slump out of our 2nd baseman, and a green catcher taking over as the starter instead of a Future Hall of Famer. Throw in a managerial resignation in the midst of an 8 game winning streak and we have insanity.

Since Davey Johnson took the reigns of the club he has dreamed of big offense, the "hairy-chested guy" that comes off the bench to swat a homer to win a 10-9 slobberknocker. And since the All-Star break that team has begun to show up more and more. Some players have stayed scorching hot (see: Morse, Michael) and others are starting to join the party.

Which leads me to the point of this - the Nationals recent string of wins with offense have been led by two players who are finally heating up; Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond.

Let's start with Desmond.

His first half was marred by a lack of hitting and spotty defense (pre-fatherhood) - he hit just .223 with 22 RBIs. Since the break he has been slowly but surely heating up, and in the 17 second half games he is hitting a much more manageable .265 with 9 RBIs. A sign of him possibly heating up - in his last 4 games he has 5 RBIs, whereas it took 32 games for his previous 5 RBIs. He also has been showing a ton more pop than before, as evidenced by his Tuesday home run, his first since April 17th.

Next let's get to the $126 Million Dollar Beard - Werth.

The Bad - 1st Half - 88 Games. .215 AVG. .681 OPS. 10 HR. 31 RBI.
The Good - 2nd Half - 17 Games. .285 AVG. .899 OPS. 3 HR. 11 RBI.

So far his 2nd half numbers are all well above his career averages for AVG and OPS, a welcome change from that miserable first half. With Werth finally hitting like the player he was in Philly, the Nationals now have one of the most formidable 3-4-5 hitters in baseball with Zimmerman, Morse, and Werth. Add Desmond, Gomes/Nix, and Espinosa in some combination of 2, 6, and 7 and they now have the potential to put up some (Carpenter-style) crooked numbers on the scoreboard.

The Nationals have found some recent success at the plate thanks to several reasons, but there should be no question that Werth and Desmond are at the top of that list. Hopefully they can keep it up, get some momentum, and help the team win some ballgames.

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