The Nats problem is they don't walk, or so they say. It is true that their OBP of .291 is crazy low, and if they kept it up over the whole year it would be one of the worst OBPs in modern times. But this is the Nats
Last year .261 average, .322 OBP
This year .234 average, .291 OBP
It's not walking that's killing the Nats. If we look at isoOBP (getting on base with the base hits pulled out) the numbers look like this
Last year : .061
This year : .057
Virtually identical. It's not that the Nats aren't walking. The Nats never walked. Its that the Nats aren't hitting.
Is this an BABIP thing? Perhaps. Their BABIP last year was .308, among the highest in the league. This year it's .281 among the lowest. What if they were getting a number like last year? That's another 41 hits, or a line that reads .254, .311 OBP. Much closer to last year's than where they are now.
So that's it then. Wait until the BABIP goes up to .308 and the Nats will be fine. Except the BABIP won't go up to .308, the league average is around .295. The Nats won't likely ride regression back to a good offense. Plus, we're forgetting about SLG.
Last year : isoSLG (pulling singles out of it) .167
This year : .141
While their isoOBP is down around 6.5%, it's the slugging that's really killing them. They are down about 15.5% from last year's final total. I want to look at three people inparticular
LaRoche : .198 this year, .238 last year
Desmond : .198, .218
Zimmerman : .162, .196
Why do I want to look at these three? Here's their isoSLG on June 10th last year
LaRoche : .232
Desmond : .174
Zimmerman : .108
Both Desmond and Zimmerman hit the ball a lot harder as the year went on. LaRoche didn't exactly but his stats on June 10th, 2012? .258 10 homers. His stats on June 10th, 2013? .252 10 homers. He may not reach the heights of last year thanks to fewer doubles and walks but there's no reason the notoriously slow starter can't hit .270 with 30 homers again.
There is hope. Now they need Bryce back and the starting pitching needs to get healthy and that 5th spot needs to be fixed and someone else from the bench or another spot in the lineup has to do something. But there is hope.