When the Nationals got to the All-Star break, there were few bigger - or more welcome - surprises on their roster than Laynce Nix. He was hitting .274/.315/.502 in the first half, slugging 12 home runs and giving the Nationals the play of a solid starter for the price of a cheap veteran. They were able to weather the loss in production from trading Josh Willingham, and Nix was getting regular at-bats in the cleanup spot.
That was probably never meant to last - Nix hasn't been much more than a role player at any other point in his career - but the way it has changed has been startling. Slowed by a strained right Achilles tendon and by his batting average on balls in play coming back to earth, Nix is hitting .182/.250/.338 in the second half, having homered just three times. He returns to Cincinnati tonight, where he'd spent the last two seasons, having lost a good chunk of playing time to Jonny Gomes, another Reds castoff, and his OPS has slid to .756.
In general, the Nationals have still gotten decent production from their left fielders this season; they are hitting .262/.315/.446 with 19 homers and 68 RBIs. But they've seen a dropoff in the on-base percentage from what they had in Willingham, and Nix - who's always been a low OBP player - has been a big part of that.
He and Gomes are probably a temporary fix at the position; Michael Morse will likely be at the position next season, and Bryce Harper could end up there eventually. But he was on the way to a much better season than where he's at now, and when he returns to his former team tonight, it won't be in the best of states.