After Friday night’s 2-1 loss to the Phillies, the Nationals‘ home run drought has now hit nine games. The last time the Nationals homered was in the seventh inning of their July 22 game in Colorado when Adam LaRoche hit a game-winning shot. That was 83 innings ago.
The Nationals lineup is capable of more. Yet, they have collectively hit only 86 home runs, 20th in baseball.
“I don’t think it means anything,” Manager Matt Williams said after Friday’s loss. “Over the last three or four games, we’ve hit some balls hard right at people. That’s just how the game goes sometimes. Can’t change the approach just because it’s not happening. Have to stay with it. Have to keep hitting it hard and take your chances. But they’ve got gloves on so they can catch them. It’s one of those nights.”
Part of the lack of power makes sense. Bryce Harper missed two months with a thumb injury and has battled timing issues since. Ryan Zimmerman missed a month and a half with a broken thumb, and just as he was heating up his hamstring gave out. Wilson Ramos missed a month following surgery to remove the hamate bone from his left hand.
Harper has hit three home runs in 169 at-bats. Ramos has three in 182 at-bats. (Tyler Moore, who hasn’t been on the team since early June, has three home runs, too.) It takes time to recover strength after hand injuries, and the missed games hurts their timing. But that’s a sap in production from three big power bats in the lineup.
The rest of the lineup hasn’t hit many balls over the fence recently, too. Werth had a scorching July but hasn’t homered since July 13, a span of 14 games. Anthony Rendon hasn’t homered since July 7, 19 games ago. LaRoche has slumped of late but hit the team’s last home run. Ian Desmond leads the team with 17.
“I don’t know, it’s one of those things,” Werth said. “We’ve been winning games and scoring runs. That’s the main thing. You try to hit home runs, you don’t. It’s not something you can think about. It’s just one of those things.”
The past Nationals’ homer-less record was six games, and that’s been done three times in team history (2005-present).