The Washington Nationals have struggled offensively this season with the third-worst run producing lineup in the majors. Injuries have made it hard to evaluate the team as a whole with their Opening Day catcher, second baseman, third baseman, and both corner outfielders all missing time at one point so far this year.
But the one injury that hurts Washington the most is quite clearly Bryce Harper. Harper was out on Monday with bursitis in his left knee and the Nationals once again couldn’t get things going in a 6-2 loss to the Orioles. The Nats are now 1-7 without Harper in the starting lineup.
Though his teammates will stay away from using injuries as an excuse, the absence of the reigning N.L. Rookie of the Year creates an obvious void.
“Having him in there makes us a better team,” Zimmerman said. “He's a great player. I think any time you take a guy out of the middle of the order, and I know he's hitting second right now, but it has to shuffle people around and obviously it makes it easier for the other team
Manager Davey Johnson acknowledges Harper’s value in the lineup, but put the onus on the rest of the team to pick up the slack.
“When you’re struggling a little bit offensive and you take out one of your better hitters it doesn’t help. But certainly we have the talent and we’re certainly capable. We’re just not quite getting there.”
Harper is hitting .287 on the season with 12 home runs, 23 RBI, 25 walks, and 29 runs. He leads the team in all five categories.