The Nationals have the ability to hit a lot of home runs but that power has been sapped by injuries. Hand injuries to Wilson Ramos, Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper drained power from the lineup for stretches, even after they returned. Adam LaRoche also went through a July slump and Jayson Werth, after a hot July, is dealing with the lingering effects of a sore shoulder.
But in recent days, Ramos and LaRoche have offered encouraging signs for the Nationals’ offense. LaRoche, a streaky hitter who has the ability to single-handedly carry an offense at times, looks every bit the part this month. Including Monday’s walk-off homer, shockingly the first of his 11-year career, LaRoche has homered six times in the past 12 games. He had six total homers in the 54 combined games before that. Harper has added three home runs in the past 11 games.
Ramos, too, has enjoyed a power awakening in recent weeks. He has three homers in the past 10 games. He had three homers in the previous 34 games before that, which puzzled him because his surgically repaired hand felt strong. His two-run shot on Monday was one of the most impressive of the season. Left-hander Vidal Nuno flipped slider over the plate and Ramos waited back and crushed a line drive shot to straightaway center field. It was his longest homer (418 feet) and hardest hit (111.8 mph off the bat) of the season, according to HitTrackerOnline.com.
“With the injuries that he had, it’s difficult to maintain timing and approach and rhythm and all that,” Manager Matt Williams said after Monday’s game. “The more he plays, the better he gets. He certainly can’t play every day, but he’s doing what he does. He stays through the middle really good. He hits the ball the other way really well with some power.”
Despite all the injuries, the Nationals rank 14th in the majors with 107 home runs. Thanks to Harper, Ramos and LaRoche this month, the Nationals have 21 homers in August, trailing only the Baltimore Orioles’ 28. Homers shouldn’t be an offense’s only trait but the Nationals have scored the third most runs (132) in the majors since the all-star break. The power surge has helped.
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