The Nationals are getting production out of a left-handed hitter and no, it’s not Juan Soto.
Brock Holt has the hot hand in Washington, riding a five-game hitting streak that’s seen him put together multi-hit games in each of his last four contests. His streak has coincided with the Nationals winning four of five games for the first time all season, keeping the team’s playoff hopes alive even if only by a thread.
“I’ve always been a Brock Holt fan,” manager Davey Martinez said after the Nationals swept the Tampa Bay Rays in a two-game series Tuesday. “I’ve seen him play for many, many years. I love his intensity, he’s a gamer. He’ll play anywhere, hit anywhere in the lineup. He just loves the game and plays the game the right way. When we got him here, he didn’t play much in Milwaukee…now that he’s getting consistent at-bats he’s doing well.”
Holt signed a one-year deal with the Brewers last offseason but was released Aug. 26 after going 3-for-30 in 16 games. The Nationals signed him three days later and it looked like more of the same when he recorded just one hit over his first 15 plate appearances. But after his recent surge, Holt is hitting .400 with four doubles and five runs scored since signing with Washington.
This isn’t the first time GM Mike Rizzo has gone looking in the bargain bin for a productive bat.
Last season, the Nationals signed Asdrúbal Cabrera in early August following his release by the Texas Rangers. Cabrera went on to record more RBIs (40) than games played (38) down the stretch and started at three different positions. In 2018, the Nationals added Mark Reynolds on a minors deal and he stuck as well, hitting 13 home runs and playing both first and third base.
Holt has only played nine games with the Nationals, so he still has to continue hitting over the rest of the season before his signing can be considered as much of a success as that of Cabrera or Reynolds. But the offense-starved Nationals are enjoying this sudden burst of production out of another left-handed bat in the middle of their lineup.
“I love those kinds of players, I really do,” Martinez said. “He stands in there, he’s not afraid of left-handed pitching, hits righties really well. He joked around with me today about being released to hit third on a new team in the lineup, so I said, ‘Hey, I’m not afraid. Just be ready to play. That’s all I’ll ask you to do is be ready to play.’ He’s been a good addition.”
Versatility has been a priority for the Nationals this season. They signed Josh Harrison earlier in July, adding a veteran bat that could play both corner outfield spots and either position on the left side of the infield. Holt is one of three active players who’s appeared in at least 20 games at all four infield positions and both corner outfield spots since 2012.
But while it was his versatility that helped land him a contract in Washington, his bat and energy are what have made the biggest impacts. The Nationals’ loose clubhouse has embraced Holt, whose antics Martinez compared to former second baseman and celebration frontman Brian Dozier, and apparently his singing voice as well.
“He loves the game, he loves his teammates, he’s fit right in already and he brings a little — kinda reminds me of a Dozier,” Martinez said. “Loves to sing, I know that. He says he wants to go national and be a country singer after this. So, we’ll see but, asked him if he was tone deaf. But he just loves being with his teammates.”