Joe Drugan: It’s time to give Lombardozzi a chance

The Nationals have come out guns blazing in the first 16 games of the 2012 season. The guns that are blazing thus far are radar guns from the pitching staff, though. The Nationals offense has struggled mightily in the first few weeks of the season, ranking 20th in batting average, 21st in runs, and 23rd in slugging. It’s time to switch things up in NatsTown, and it starts in left field.

With Michael Morse out of commission for at least another month, it’s time for the Nats to look to options other than Xavier Nady, Mark DeRosa and Roger Bernadina. None of those players have been able to do anything significant in the lineup. Nady was supposed to provide pop off the bench in a utility role, and in 42 plate appearances has hit just one home run, and that’s the only run he’s driven in. Bernadina has struck out an astounding 12 times in 36 at-bats. He’s stolen two bases, but he is getting on-base at just a .293 clip and isn’t hitting for power, slugging just .278.

DeRosa is a whole different type of disappointment. During spring training, he hit .427 with an impressive .587 on-base percentage. Those numbers go to show you why you can’t pay attention to numbers in spring training. In 10 games, he’s hitting .100 with a .229 on-base. Those aren’t sustainable numbers for a major league player.

Meanwhile, some are talking about calling up minor leaguer Tyler Moore to see what he can do in left field while there may be a viable solution for the team on the bench right now: Steve Lombardozzi. Lombardozzi was given some innings in left field during spring training just in case Morse wasn’t available and other options weren’t working out. Well, Morse isn’t available, and the numbers listed above show the others aren’t working out so well. So why not give Lombardozzi a shot?

Granted, it’s mostly pinch-hitting appearances and spot starts, but in 22 plate apperances, Lombardozzi is hitting .444 with a .545 on-base percentage. He’s struck out just once, a team-low, while walking three times. He’s a player that fits into almost any part of your lineup because of his ability to take pitches. In very limited action, he’s already worth 0.3 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), according to FanGraphs, which is the fifth-best offensive WAR on the Nats.

No, left field isn’t the strongest of Lombardozzi’s positions, but he certainly can’t be any worse than Morse or Nady out there. With the additional offensive pop he can provide to the top or bottom of the lineup - especially compared to Nady, Bernadina, and DeRosa - it seems like a smart move for the Nats to make to squeeze a few more runs out for the outstanding pitching.

With as good as the arms have been, it’s time to for the bats to step up, and Lombardozzi can help do just that.

Joe Drugan blogs about the Nationals for The Nats Blog, and offers his viewpoints as part of’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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