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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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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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@MLB

Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.