For most of the 2013 season the Washington Nationals have struggled to find consistency at any position outside of shortstop and third base. Whether it’s due to injuries or lack of production, it has clearly hurt the offense’s ability to provide enough run support. Finally, the team is back to full strength and some players appear to be heating up, none being more important to the team’s success more than Adam LaRoche.
Over the course of his career LaRoche has always been a streaky hitter. He’ll get cold enough to make fans wonder why he’s even in the lineup, but hot enough to carry an entire offense for two months. LaRoche is notorious for coming out of the gates slow, having a career OPS of .708 in April. However, his OPS rises to .763 in May and to .771 in June.
This year has been no exception to the norm for LaRoche. He started extremely slow in April, hitting only .136. Then, he had a fantastic May, hitting a sizzling .330 and continued his hot hitting through June at .287. However, his average headed south in July as he was 14 for 88 (.159). Fortunately for the Nationals, LaRoche seems to be heating up again in August as he has a 1.018 OPS up until this point.
Clearly, there doesn’t tend to be any middle ground with LaRoche. Davey Johnson knows he is getting one of the two sides of LaRoche, but which one he brings on a monthly basis can be very unpredictable. For the Nationals to have any hope whatsoever of getting back into the race for the NL’s second wild card, LaRoche has to be on one of his hot streaks.
Even if LaRoche hits in the upper .200’s or low .300’s, it still may not be enough to put the Nationals in contention come September. But to have any chance, Laroche must be hitting well. With most of the other everyday players, there is no doubt as to what type of player they are going to be in the final month and a half. With Jayson Werth hitting better than ever and Wilson Ramos providing a big offensive boost at catcher, LaRoche hitting well could provide a third dangerous hitter in the middle of the order.
The Nationals have proven that they don’t need to score many runs to win games. But still, the Nationals pitching has not been enough to win consistently because the offense continues to score a minute amount of runs. LaRoche could provide a major boost to a struggling offense, giving the Nationals a chance to catapult themselves back into the postseason chase.