Nationals Notes- July 30th

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Former National Ian Desmond celebrates his walk-off home run on May 2, 2012 that gave the Nationals a 5-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

With the Nationals a comfortable 12.5 games ahead of the Miami Marlins in the National League East on the day before the 2017 trade deadline, here’s a look at a few notes of interest coming out of the past five games.

WELCOME BACK

What is not to like about former National shortstop Ian Desmond?  Desmond plays the game with passion, is beloved by all who have played with him and, by all accounts, is one of the finest people in baseball as well.

Desmond made his return to Nationals Park this weekend as a member of the Colorado Rockies, but unfortunately will not be able to participate in the series due to injury.

The Florida native was a three time Silver Slugger award winner for Washington, and was an integral part of the Nationals’ rise from cellar dwellers to National League East champions.

Probably the best season for Desmond came in 2012, when he hit. .292 with 25 homers, drove in 73 runs and made the National League All-Star squad in Washington’s first division winning season.   The talented infielder was particularly strong at Nationals Park that season, hitting .310 with 16 home runs and posting a .888 OPS.

BANG ZOOM X 10

Brian Goodwin joined the Nats’ double digit home run club by hitting his 10th in the Nationals’ eight home run effort in its 15-2 trouncing of Milwaukee on July 27th.  Goodwin became the sixth Nationals’ player with 10 or more homers in 2017, joining Bryce Harper (27), Ryan Zimmerman (22), Anthony Rendon (21), Daniel Murphy (17) and Michael A. Taylor (12).    The Nationals’ high mark for most players with 10 or more home runs in a season is eight, set in 2015 and equaled last season.  With Jayson Werth and Adam Lind standing at eight round trippers each and with Matt Wieters and Trea Turner both with seven, there’s a decent chance that the 2017 Nationals will be record setters in this category.

BANG ZOOM X 5

There have been 18 instances of a National League team’s hitting five or more home runs in a game this season, and the Nats lead the way with four such games. In addition to the record-setting eight home run performance on Thursday against the Brewers, the Nats clubbed seven in a 23-5 rout of the Mets on April 30th, hit five in a 13-3 win at Oakland on June 2nd and also hit five in their 14-4 win at Cincinnati on July 17th.

Since 2012, Washington’s 13 five plus home run games trails only Colorado’s 15 among National League teams.

MAKE ROOM FOR SOME HARDWARE

Nationals’ players stand at the top of the Wins Above Replacement totals among both National League batters and pitchers.

Among position players, Anthony Rendon’s 4.9 leads the league with teammate Bryce Harper next at 4.7. Harper comfortably leads the league in OPS at 1.075, with Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt a distant second at 1.017.

Max Scherzer’s 5.5 mark easily leads the way among hurlers, with teammate Gio Gonzalez second at 4.6.   Stephen Strasburg is eighth among National League pitchers at 3.2,

In his bid for his third career Cy Young Award, Scherzer is on pace to become only the second pitcher since 2003 to have 300 or more strikeouts in a season. Scherzer has a league leading 201 punch outs in his first 21 starts.

Gonzalez allowed only two runs in seven strong innings on Wednesday night, but got a no decision in Washington’s 8-5 comeback win over Milwaukee.  The lefty has allowed three or fewer earned runs in all 10 of his starts at Nationals Park this season.

ODDS AND ENDS

Infielder Wilmer Difo has eight RBI in his last 40 at bats after driving in seven in his first 110 of the season. In his last ten games, Difo is hitting .300 with ten runs scored and a pair of RBI.

New Nationals’ bench player Howie Kendrick is as consistent a player as they come.  In his 12 year Major League career, he’s hit .293 with a .753 OPS in games played at his home park while hitting .288 with a .751 OPS in games on the road. In the first halves of seasons Kendrick has a .287 average and a .746 OPS, while hitting .295 with a .740 OPS in road contests.   Among the reasons why picking up the veteran to fortify the Nats’ bench was a good idea is his performance against left-handed pitchers so far in 2017. In 38 at bats against southpaws, Kendrick is hitting .342 with a .918 OPS.

An unsung performer out of the Nats’ bullpen this year has been veteran Oliver Perez. The lefthander with the funky delivery struck out all three Rockies he faced on Saturday night, giving him 29 strikeouts in 22 innings pitched on the year.  Perez has been scored upon in only two of his last 18 outings, and has given up only six hits in 14 innings pitched during that span.