The Nats have lost 5 in a row. No biggie. It's a long season and the Nats are still where they want to be. In first place with a 95+ win pace. It's hard to say anything is wrong. The Mets and Marlins remain more than a double sweep (Nats get swept in 3 game series, they sweep their series) away. This weekend is favorable to the Nats. The Mets are breaking down and can't beat the suddenly hot (7 of last 8) Braves. Miami has 3 more at the best in baseball Cubs. Meanwhile the Nats get to play the Brewers. All signs point to an expansion of the lead, not a contraction.
If the Nats do go into the Mets series closer than 4 games out well then there's the Mets series sitting there to put it right. And after that Cincy and Milwaukee again at home to pull out of any dive they may be undergoing.
The Nats schedule through the 4th is set up for them to stay in first. So if we wake up on July 7th and the Nats are staring up at someone, well then something has gone wrong.
Speaking of wrong, let's talk about Ryan Zimmerman.
Ryan Zimmerman is having a terrible June (.190 / .222 / .328). He had had a terrible April (.219 / .301 / .301), but his May was perfectly acceptable (.262 / .316 / .542).
At his peak (2009-2010) Ryan hit nothing soft and hit a ton of flyballs. He didn't strike out much and had good patience. Then he got hurt. In his next two full years (2012-13) he would morph into more of a line drive hitter who hit nothing soft. That cost him a little power. He would strike out a bit more and walk a bit less. That cost him some average and OBP. All in all still a very good hitter. Then he got hurt again. And again. Now he's still a hard hitter but he's hitting ground balls. That costs him some average again. He's striking out even more and walking even less. Again more average more OBP.
None of these changes are dramatic. You look at how he's hit over the years there's been a gradual shift. His numbers in 2015 aren't actually all that different from 2012. You could hope that it has been a bit of bad luck in hitting them were they ain't, but it's also likely a bit of other things. Not as much speed in the legs to beat out hits or go for two. An approach that's a little less all field.
There are things about his stats that can't be denied if you look at his full season stats. He is gradually making less contact. He is gradually being more aggressive. He's not hitting the ball as hard. I'm not saying Ryan can't be a useful player but I do think the
cumulative effect is that he's likely no more than average for a full
If you want to try to be more positive you can hope that this is just Ryan's streakiness coming into play. I've looked and there is something to that - at least starting out or coming back from injury. But I'm not sure I buy it and this midseason dip is unusual. I suppose you could argue his May wasn't all that great - probably got lucky in the HRs* which boosted him almost .100 OPS. If you say that than you can say there is no "midseason dip" and he just never got hot. But then again you are arguing that we're 70 games into the year and he hasn't really hit well.
Ryan is clearly not the hitter he used to be, certainly not as his peak, but not as of a couple years ago either. It's not his fault. Injuries and age have taken a toll. It happens with all players, just usually not this early in a career. Right now I'm not advocating sitting Ryan (Robinson is a great bench piece but not a great player) or replacing him. But I am saying he should have his ABs limited as there are clearly 5 hitters you want to have more ABs than him. Normally that would make him 6th in the line-up but the whole lead-off situation is it's own thing so Zimmerman should bat 7th. If we're at the All-Star break and things haven't picked up we can discuss other options. They likely won't be taken. There doesn't appear to be a lot of affordable 1B options coming up to trade, nothing in the pipeline, and there are multiple off-field reasons not to sit Zim. But we can discuss them
Other notes :
Since the Phillies (NOT THE CUBS) began the "walk Bryce" movement he's hit .223 / .384 / .349. That may seem ok because that is a nice OBP but the "walk Bryce" movement has pretty much ended. Starting with the Marlins series in mid-May (he was walked 4 times in a game v the Mets the series before so this makes sense as a cutoff for me) he's hit .250 / .323 / .389. That's over a month now. Now he is hitting better in June. If you want to be real favorable to him we can carve out a .288 average period, but the OPS is still under .800. That's not fine for your superstar. Bryce might be slowly coming back around. If not, we're about to have a big Bryce conversation.
*HR/FB rate suggest that is the case. Looking at HR distance too. Not really killing balls. Then there's the inside the park one he got on a catchable ball that turned into a collision