After Monday’s three-homer offensive attack in a 5-1 win over the Mets, the Nationals have now hit 33 homers in their last 13 games and an incredible 27 homers in the month of September. That is 11 more than Milwaukee for best in the National League.
The Nationals have 168 homers on the season, second only to the Brewers (177) in the National League, and better than Cincinnati (163), Pittsburgh (149) and Colorado (148).
Looking down the starting nine, the top seven have displayed legitimate home run power, and if it wasn’t for injuries to key components, the numbers would be even more incredible.
Here is a look at the lineup and their home run numbers:
1. Jayson Werth (5)- missed 75 games
2. Bryce Harper (18)- career high
3. Ryan Zimmerman (21)- missed 13 games, but fifth season with 20 or more homers
4. Adam LaRoche (29)- three away from career high
5. Michael Morse (13)- missed 50 games
6. Ian Desmond (22)- matched career total coming in to this season, career high
7. Danny Espinosa (16)- 37 homers last two seasons
8. Kurt Suzuki (5)- four homers with Nationals
If you add in Suzuki, who has three homers in his past 12 games, there is a threat at almost every position. This means there is nowhere to hide for opposing pitchers when they face the Nats. You walk one of these hitters, you still have to face another right after him who can hit.
One could argue that it could be fool’s gold when you face a playoff roster of the top pitchers in the league in Atlanta, St. Louis, San Francisco or Cincinnati, and then the power numbers would drop off. But if the Nationals can secure home-field advantage, then they could also have a home run advantage in the friendly confines of Nationals Park, evidenced by the power display they put on during the recent homestand.
The good news for the Nationals is that their on-base percentage is up to start September, albeit four of those games were against the lowly Cubs pitching staff. The Nationals’ on-base percentage of .362 is second only to the Padres (.369) in the first 10 games of the month. Their OPS, on-base plus slugging, is the best in the league at .941, 118 points better than San Diego and 99 points better than Baltimore for tops in the majors.
So you will never see the Nationals play small ball with this bunch, but they still have drawn 32 walks to start September (ninth in baseball), and singles and doubles are also good enough to move guys base to base if you are not stealing or sacrificing your way to home plate.
And the other argument is their eventual opponents will have to face the Nationals pitching staff as well. So having their one through seven bashing against another team at Nats Park will be good, as long as Ricky Nolasco doesn’t secretly put on a playoff team’s jersey.