Ramos has shown that the Nats, presumed to be one power bat shy of a load, have found that rare commodity in-house. The burly catcher, known for titanic batting practices for years, has 15 homers and 55 RBI in just 70 games. Do not, repeat, do not simply multiply by two and talk silliness about a 30-homer, 100-RBI catcher. But after catching 23 straight games recently, the longest streak in 2013, Ramos has shown he can be a workhorse when healthy while also maintaining power. Now, can he stay off the DL a full year? We don’t know. But his ability is not in doubt.
Span, a perfect route-runner in center field with his gliding catches and good throws, has justified Mike Rizzo’s offseason trade. His 29-game hitting streak and his .343 average since the Nats bottomed Aug. 7 have raised his numbers to his solid career levels. He’s signed through 2015, too. The conscientious sort, Span fretted all year about proving his worth to his mates, who knew Michael Morse left because he had arrived. Now he’s embraced and a team motor.
Zimmerman’s 13 home runs during this streak have erased all doubts about whether he still has his power. Since the all-star break, only Alfonso Soriano has hit more. That matters enormously because with more than $100 million left on his contract he needs to be worthy of a key batting order spot, whether he plays third base (where he certainly will start in 2014) or eventually moves to first base. Like Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, who has hit .326 with 30 RBI during this streak, has shown he can hit in the vicinity of his paycheck.
Roark may, in some ways, be the most important development, at least potentially. He arrived from the minors Aug. 7 and has pitched 412
3 innings — nine more than Stephen Strasburg in that span and only a fraction less than Gio Gonzalez — with an amazing 7-0 record and 1.08 ERA.
Manager Davey Johnson now openly supports him for the ’14 rotation, citing not just his stuff but his command, mound presence and attack-mode style; all of that befits the way he has worn his uniform since Little League — like it’s 1958. Six weeks don’t make a career, but if Roark, 26 and in his prime, does become a rotation piece — just “good” suffices — then it frees huge amounts of payroll room for the next several seasons since the Nats wouldn’t have to spend $13 million a year for their next Edwin Jackson or Dan Haren. That money can go toward extending the deals of Ian Desmond (.327, 25 RBI in the streak) and Jordan Zimmermann, the NL leader in wins.