The Washington Nationals were expected to be the team to beat in the National League this season, but things have not panned out that way. They find themselves off to a 34-36 record while sitting in third place, seven games back in the NL East.
After a blazing hot start, Bryce Harper cooled off and eventually ended up on the disabled list. Meanwhile, Stephen Strasburg has gotten off to a 3-6 start and also has spent time on the DL.
However, do these injuries justify calling Strasburg and Harper disappointments so far this season?
What about more conventional, clean-cut disappointments, such as the season Danny Espinosa had put together before landing on the DL? Despite spending time on the DL, his struggles were well established before any injuries started to dominate his season.
Where do these guys rank in the Nats' top disappointments this season?
It simply has not been pretty for the Nationals' offense as a whole. The disappointments incorporate all of the Nats, although there have clearly been some that stand out more than others.
The Nats' batting average this season is the third worst in MLB at .232. With the abysmal offense, it is no surprise the Nationals are not where they expected themselves to be at this point in the season.
He certainly isn't the biggest disappointment in D.C., but after last season, it seemed as though Strasburg was going to be the best pitcher in the league.
Despite his turn around as of late, the beginning of the season left much to be desired.
Strasburg pitched to a 3.13 ERA in April while going 1-4. While most pitchers would love to have an ERA barely over 3.00, it was not good enough for Strasburg. Especially considering that we have seen how sharp he could be.
Hopefully he has removed the kinks and is back on track as the Nats go forward.
Harper's all-out play might have put him in the position that he is in now. Injuries might be something that Harper struggles with going forward in his career because of the style of play, but if he can remain healthy, he can be such a vital part of the Nationals' success.
It is disappointing that he is still sidelined on the DL, especially after his amazing start to the season. Harper's .344 April average makes you wonder what kind of player he could be if he toned down his enthusiasm just a bit to avoid any unfortunate injuries.
Even if Harper played a more cautious style of baseball, he would still be better than most of the players in the league. Perhaps he will try to play with less reckless abandon for his body when he returns from the DL.
Danny Espinosa is the biggest offensive disappointment this season, as he batted a pathetic .158 before being placed on the DL. According to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com, he was playing for a month with a small fracture in his right wrist before his DL stint.
Despite this, it is hard to believe that all of Espinosa's troubles are from this injury, especially considering that he has struggled since the beginning of the season.
Espinosa hit .173 in April and .155 in May, when the injury apparently began to surface.
For Espinosa, the injury might have some more long-term ramifications with the emergence of Anthony Rendon and his ability to play second base in Espinosa's absence.
It is hard to imagine giving up on a guy who has hit 66 doubles and 38 home runs in the previous two seasons combined, but waiting for him to get going this season might be the difference in making the playoffs or not for the Nats.
On the pitching end, Dan Haren has been atrocious for the Nationals. Haren has had some fantastic seasons in the past, but all of his success might be behind him now.
Unfortunately for Washington, Haren was a $13 million gamble that has yet to pay off.
Haren holds a 4-8 record with an even more disturbing 5.72 ERA. Historically, Haren's ERA has been the best in the first half of the season, and if this holds true in 2013, then even worse days could be ahead of him.
If he does not turn it around, the Nationals might consider becoming buyers for a pitcher at the trade deadline.