Despite losing three of their starting nine players to the disabled list in April (four including Denard Span's seven-day stint for concussion symptoms), the Nationals have managed to make it into the first week of May with a an 18-15 record, good enough for second place in the congested National League East.
On Wednesday, they'll finally be receiving their first good injury news of the season, as starting catcher Wilson Ramos returns to the starting lineup after undergoing surgery on his left hand to remove a torn hamate bone in his wrist. Ramos suffered the injury on Opening Day against the New York Mets and hasn't been in the Nationals' lineup since.
While Washington's offense has produced despite the absence of Ramos, Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper, the return of the 26-year-old will certainly be welcomed by the Nationals, who currently rank eighth, ninth and seventeenth in batting average, home runs and RBI, respectively. Ramos has struggled to stay healthy over the past two seasons logging just 103 total games. However, he has never hit below .265 for his career and is coming off a 2013 season in which he hit 16 home runs and 59 RBI with a .272 average in just 78 games. Nationals catchers, meanwhile, have hit a collective .219 in his absence this year (per CBS Sports).
While the Nationals' team rankings in batting average and home runs are more than satisfactory, their 127 total RBIs could use some work. Only four players on the team have more than 10 RBIs to this point (Anthony Rendon, Adam LaRoche, Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond), so while Washington hasn't struggled to get on base, they've managed to strand a significant portion of the runners they've put on.
This is where Ramos' return will be so impactful for the Nationals. His 2013 numbers translate to a .272 average with 31 home runs and 122 RBI and, while that doesn't account for potential slumps, it does show that Ramos has a knack for driving in runs. In addition to more consistent starting pitching, the one thing that seems to be holding this Nationals team back from running away with the consistently-average NL East is their ability to drive in runners. With Ramos back in the lineup, Washington might finally have all the pieces it needs to get to the top of the division and do some damage.
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