Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Ivan Rodriguez has quietly hit .370, one of several regulars putting up big numbers.
But at this point -- with 11 days to go until the season opener -- we've got a pretty good idea what the Nationals' pitching staff will look like. John Lannan, Jason Marquis, Garrett Mock, Livan Hernandez and (probably) Craig Stammen will be in the rotation. Matt Capps, Brian Bruney, Sean Burnett, Tyler Clippard and (probably) Jason Bergmann and Tyler Walker, plus one other guy (Miguel Batista, J.D. Martin or Jesse English) will make up the bullpen.
So it's time to start shifting focus away from pitching and onto the guys standing at the plate with bats in hand. Managers and talent evaluators usually don't pay much attention to offensive numbers early in the exhibition schedule, because pitchers are always ahead of hitters. But around this time, there begins to be an expectation of progress, of hitters finding their stroke and putting together more quality at-bats.
I haven't made much mention of offensive stats this spring (aside from a now-daily update of Justin Maxwell's fast-fading batting average) so let's run through all the guys of consequence and see how they've done at the plate so far...
Nyjer Morgan: .143 (3-for-21), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1 BB, 3 SO
Cristian Guzman: .231 (6-for-26), 1 HR, 4 RBI, 0 BB, 3 SO
Ryan Zimmerman: .421 (16-for-38), 5 HR, 8 RBI, 1 BB, 6 SO
Adam Dunn: .179 (5-for-28), 0 HR, 2 RBI, 5 BB, 7 SO
Josh Willingham: .346 (9-for-26), 4 HR, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 3 SO
Adam Kennedy: .300 (12-for-40), 0 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 4 SO
Ivan Rodriguez: .370 (10-for-27), 0 HR, 7 RBI, 1 BB, 5 SO
Willie Harris: .290 (9-for-31), 1 HR, 6 RBI, 7 BB, 6 SO
Ian Desmond: .326 (15-for-46), 1 HR, 12 RBI, 5 BB, 7 SO
Mike Morse: .225 (9-for-40), 2 HR, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 11 SO
Justin Maxwell: .093 (4-for-43), 1 HR, 4 RBI, 8 BB, 18 SO
Willy Taveras: .333 (8-for-24), 1 HR, 5 RBI, 5 BB, 5 SO
Roger Bernadina: .242 (8-for-33), 0 HR, 1 RBI, 5 BB, 8 SO
Eric Bruntlett: .267 (8-for-30), 1 HR, 6 RBI, 3 BB, 12 SO
Alberto Gonzalez: .370 (10-for-27), 0 HR, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 4 SO
Wil Nieves: .273 (9-for-33), 0 HR, 6 RBI, 0 BB, 1 SO
A couple of thoughts...
-- Many of the regulars have produced quite well this spring, especially Zimmerman, Willingham and Rodriguez (who I have to admit I didn't realize had done so much until I looked at his numbers this morning). They all look good and ready to go when the bell rings on April 5.
-- It's time for Dunn and Morgan to get it going. You can't really worry about Dunn too much, because he's got as reliable a track record at the plate as anyone in baseball. But you'd like to see him start producing a little more as March winds down, hoping he's not still trying to find himself come April. Morgan, on the other hand, needs to step it up. He's scheduled to return to the lineup tonight after missing more than a week with a tight hamstring. This guy is crucial to the Nats' offensive success this season. When he was on last season, he made a huge difference at the top of the lineup. But he's far from an established big-league player at this point, so you can't just take it for granted that he'll hit in the regular season if he doesn't hit in the spring.
-- Another guy who has really quietly had a nice spring at the plate is Gonzalez, who is never thought of as an offensive threat but is batting a robust .370 this spring. A week ago, I would have said Bruntlett was a lock to make the roster as the backup infielder, but perhaps Gonzo's late push could make team officials reconsider this.
-- If you were going to select your starting shortstop and right fielder based on spring stats alone, Desmond and a Harris/Taveras combo would get the nod. But as we all know, spring numbers are only one factor taken into consideration. These decisions remain very much up in the air as we approach the final week of camp.