With the rainstorm of national attention placed on the controversial shutdown of Washington Nationals fireballer Stephen Strasburg, another very intriguing story has been unfolding in Washington DC.
In 11 games this month, Washington has led the MLB in batting average (.310), hits (124), homers (28) and RBI (63). The Nats also lead baseball in OBP (.369), SLG (.578) and OPS (.947).
More impressive, five specific Nats players have given truth to the notion that hitting can be contagious.
These players are the subject of this slideshow.
Note: Statistics courtesy of MLB.com and current through September 11, 2012.
How brilliant is Nats' brass looking now, after not going after first baseman Prince Fielder?
Already having a nice year prior to September, LaRoche has dialed his game up to near boiling point since the calendar rolled over.
In 41 at-bats, LaRoche has batted a league leading .390 (16-for-41) with six home runs and 11 RBI. His OBP/SLG/OPS has been an unwordly .457/.878/1.335.
In the last 10 games, this Oklahoma native has hit .389 (14-36) with five home runs and eight RBI.
Somebody get this guy a fan!
Right behind LaRoche is stud shortstop Ian Desmond.
While Desmond’s power numbers are not as mind-boggling, he is tied for third in the MLB this month with 15 hits.
This month, Desmond is batting .349 with three home runs and eight RBI. His .378 OBP/.651 SLG/1.029 OPS is also impressive.
In the last 10 games, Desmond has batted .366.
He has raised his season average to .292 (130-for-445), while compiling 22 home runs, 66 RBI and 29 doubles to go with 17 stolen bases.
Baseball is about making constant adjustments, and this is especially true with hitting.
As expected, rookie phenom Bryce Harper struggled a little after the All-Star break. But with sound film study and tweaks to his batting mechanics, Harper has exploded into September.
Amongst hitters with 40 or more at-bats, Harper has been one of the hottest MLB players this month.
Currently, Harper is batting .375 (15-for-40) with three home runs and four RBI. His OBP/SLG/OPS is .468/.725/1.193.
In the last 10 games, Harper has been on fire, batting a red-hot .382 (13-for-34). He has raised his season average from .247 to .265 since August 21.
Already loaded with pitching (even without Strasburg), Washington will be in really good shape, should Harper continue his solid-hitting down the stretch.
Yet another Nats infielder with thundering lumber, All-Star third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has been a beast this September!
In 43 at-bats, Zimmerman has hit .326 with four homers and an eye-popping 14 RBI. His OBP/SLG/OPS is .362/.674/1.036.
Seeing a trend here?
After a rough start to the season, Zimmerman’s overall stats have begun to creep up there with the best of them. In 126 games, Zimmerman has batted .286 (145-for-507) with 21 home runs and 83 RBI.
Last is budding second baseman Danny Espinosa. This third year player has also shelled stitched circles for the Nats so far this month.
Currently, Espinosa is batting .326 (14-for-43) with two homers and five RBI. He is the only Nats player in this group with a sub-1.000 OPS (.964).
Terrible, I know. (Sarcasm.)
In the last 10 games, Espinosa has batted .333 (13-for-39). On the year, he is batting .255 (136-for-534) with 16 home runs and 52 RBI. He also has 34 doubles to go with 19 stolen bases.