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Where Ryan Zimmerman and the Nationals are crushing the rest of the majors

Where Ryan Zimmerman and the Nationals are crushing the rest of the majors

If you somehow haven’t heard, the Washington Nationals’ bats are on fire, and their stellar offensive performances have pushed them to the top with the best record in the majors after the first month of baseball at 17-8. And Ryan Zimmerman is playing like the best batter in the game.

Since Opening Day on April 3, the team has won all six of their games with double digit runs — most recently Sunday’s 23-5 shredding of the New York Mets when they set a franchise scoring record — and they are 2-1 when their opponents are in two digits.

Even in the last week — despite going 4-3 in series against the Colorado Rockies on the road and the Mets at home — the Nats outscored their opponents by 31 runs. Sure, giving up 46 runs isn’t exactly a small number, but scoring 77 in seven games is pretty amazing.

So after a great opening month of the season, here’s a look at how individual players are comparing with the rest of the National League and the majors overall. It’s basically the Ryan Zimmerman Show.

1. RBI

Multiple Nats have a shockingly high number of runs batted in this season, and that’s setting aside Anthony Rendon’s 10 in Sunday’s blowout against the Mets.

Zimmerman leads both leagues with 29 going into Monday night's games, while Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper are tied for second with 26. That’s tied for second in the majors because Twins’ Miguel Sano leads the American League with 25 RBI. That’s pretty great for the heart of the lineup.

2. Batting average

Not surprising given his RBI numbers, but Zimmerman, again, leads both leagues with his .420 batting average, and actually, as a whole the NL is doing quite a bit better than the AL.

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Justin Turner is batting .404, while Harper is at .391. Yet again, the NL’s top three leaders in this category are hitting better than those at the top of the AL — this time, the White Sox’s Avisail Gargia — who’s hitting .368 — and the Angels’ Mike Trout at .364. Not too shabby for the Nats.

3. Home runs

Yet again, Zimmerman leads the majors in this stat too, only here he’s tied with the Brewers’ Eric Thames with 11 on the season. Harper and the Braces’ Freddie Freeman are also tied for third with 9.

Although the point of all this is to showcase how exceptionally well many of the Nats are playing, it’s worth noting that Zimmerman also leads the majors in hits (37), slugging (.886) and with an outrageously high OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging: 1.345).

So it’s not that Zimmerman and the Nats are frequently hitting grand slams to pad their stats — although those are happening every once in a while too — but they’re coming together early in the season to dominate fairly consistently. 

Their next game is Tuesday with a 7:05 p.m. first pitch, kicking off a three-game, home series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

MORE NATS: Why Adam Eaton is out for the rest of the season

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Nats give up monster HR, drop series-opener with Giants

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USA TODAY Sports

Nats give up monster HR, drop series-opener with Giants

SAN FRANCISCO  -- Mac Williamson hit a two-run homer in the sixth to lead the Giants past the Washington Nationals 4-2 on Monday night.

Chris Stratton (2-1) struck out five over 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs and four hits.

Williamson, playing his first home game at AT&T Park this season after being called up during the recent road trip, connected with a deep drive to right-center off Shawn Kelley after he relieved starter Gio Gonzalez (2-2). Gonzalez walked Brandon Belt to end his day before Williamson crushed the first pitch he saw from Kelley.

The 464-foot shot by Williamson is the furthest homer by the Giants this year, topping his previous 434-foot homer Friday after he was promoted to face the Angels in Anaheim. Earlier Monday, Williamson drove in his team's initial run on a fielder's choice in the fourth.

Only three home runs have travelled further in 2018, according to MLB StatCast: Franchy Cordero (489), Avisail Garcia (481) and Marcell Ozuna (479)

San Francisco kicked off a 10-game homestand by winning back-to-back games for only the second time this season and first since April 4-7. The Giants were coming off their first series victory of the season against the Angels.

The Nationals' runs came on a pair of sacrifice flies, by Howie Kendrick in the third and pinch-hitter Andrew Stevenson in the seventh.

Gonzalez allowed three runs and four hits, struck out four and walked three in five innings.

In his only other start against Washington, Stratton threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts last Aug. 13.

Hunter Strickland, who brawled with Bryce Harper during Washington's last visit to AT&T Park in late May 2017, finished for his fourth save in six chances. Harper didn't bat in the ninth.

NATS TRADE COLE

Washington traded right-hander A.J. Cole to the New York Yankees for cash. The 26-year-old Cole was 1-1 with a 13.06 ERA in four games for the Nationals and was designated for assignment last week.

BAKER REUNION

Ex-Nationals manager Dusty Baker, who guided Washington to back-to-back NL East titles before his firing after last season, visited the ballpark to see his former club.

Did he plan the visit in advance?

"Maybe," Baker said, grinning.

Nats pitcher Stephen Strasburg hustled out to give Baker a big hug behind the batting cage.

"What's up Dusty, how you doing?" Strasburg said.

Baker also visited with third base coach Bob Henley, the loan holdover from his coaching staff.

Baker is now working in an advisory role to Giants CEO Larry Baer while getting to watch son, Darren, play his freshman college season at California in Berkeley.

"I am good," Baker said. "How bad can it be between Cal, San Francisco and Sacramento?"

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: OF Adam Eaton, on the disabled list retroactive to April 9 with a bone bruise in his left ankle, won't be rushed back until he is completely pain-free. "When you see him in the lineup he'll be ready," manager Dave Martinez said. "He's coming along. When we get him back this time we don't want any issues." ... OF Brian Goodwin remains in Florida with pain in his bruised left wrist.

Giants: LHP Will Smith is eagerly anticipating his return from Tommy John surgery that cost him all of last season, and he could come off the DL as soon as Tuesday. He pitched twice for Class-A San Jose and three times so far for Triple-A Sacramento. He is scheduled to throw consecutive days for Sacramento on Wednesday and Thursday then another short outing Sunday. "We're close. We're getting there," Smith said, noting it will be "awesome. I'm ready to go." ... RHP closer Mark Melancon (flexor strain in pitching elbow) is scheduled to play catch during Thursday's off day. There is no timetable for his return, manager Bruce Bochy said. ... LF Hunter Pence (sprained right thumb) did some hitting and is scheduled for early batting practice Tuesday.

UP NEXT

Giants lefty Ty Blach (1-3, 4.10 ERA) will face the Nationals for the first time in his career when he pitches the middle game of the series opposite right-hander Tanner Roark (1-1, 3.24).

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Bryce Harper, broken bats, and bobbleheads: a true trifecta

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Bryce Harper, broken bats, and bobbleheads: a true trifecta

Bryce Harper can do no wrong.

Last week in a win over the New York Mets, Bryce Harper, in super-human fashion, managed to shatter his bat while still hitting a home run.

It was as incredible as you think it is. Click the link in the line above here if you don't believe us. 

In what was already a one-of-one scenario, the cherry on top has been officially added: a Bryce Harper, broken-bat bobblehead.

The company that will be producing the legendary figurines is Sports Fan Island, who have gotten the bobbleheads licensed through both the MLB and the MLBPA.

The details on the bobblehead speak for themselves, from the intricacy of the broken bat, to the flames surrounding home plate under Harper.  

Despite the fact that the bobbleheads don't officially ship until July, fans can begin to pre-order this piece of historic memorabilia for $39.99, so you may want to grab them while they're still hot. 

RELATED: 2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS- APRIL UPDATE