Full disclosure, I did see Jeimer Candelario walk off during a game in Detroit, and a lot of times when I see somebody do a walk off, I go to bat for them going forward. I've seen a lot of people have walk-off moments. Travis Hafner, Neil Walker, Christian Vazquez, Jesse Winker, and Candelario. And I always want good things to happen to those people. So Candelario I thought good things about, and then he sort of petered off over time for the Tigers, and when he signed with Washington this offseason I kinda went '...well that was a good run'.
But...apparently Jeimer Candelario isn't done. He's got a 1.9 WAR so far, is hitting .258 with 28 RBIs, 7 homers and SEVENTEEN DOUBLES. Cause this is the kind of mashing he can do, he can just pop it right where the outfielders aren't and make you look silly. Every team needs a guy like that, even the Nationals. He's got the best batting stats for any National not named Lane Thomas, and he's actually doing well enough defensively [unlike Thomas]. Though 2022 was more of a slight dip than a complete drop-off, Candelario seems to be getting his career back on track in a new city and delivering statistics that respond favorably to his prime years. It is excellent to see, and a nice piece of a varied, if flawed, team.
I mean, the thing with the Nats right now is that they have players who are doing one thing really well, but their lack of versatility is holding them back. Like Lane Thomas, who leads the team in home runs with 9 but is terrible defensively. Or Joey Meneses, who's DHing and not quite a power guy but still leads the team in RBIs with 30 and is hitting .301. The Nats' best starters right now, Josiah Gray and MacKenzie Gore, are both efficient pitchers who have WHIPs around 1.4 right now. And, yes, Kyle Finnegan does have 11 saves, but his ERA is around 5. The pieces are there, but they're not all fitting together exactly.
What's odd is that the team average is .264, which is on the higher side, and is incidentally fourth in all of the MLB. And that's the funny part. Last in the NL East, clearly one of the bottom feeder teams in the league this year, and their batting average is higher than every team except the Rays, Blue Jays and, well, the Rangers. Highest average in the NL, too, higher than Arizona. That is odd. Of course, the team ERA is sixth-highest in the league and they've hit the fourth-least home runs of anyone in the league, so...that'll do it.
Obviously the Nats aren't great this year, but it is nice that they're finding little performances and heroes to take away from the season, which is a decent step towards a future regime. Hopefully they can build on this a little and not have to start completely over anytime soon.
Coming Tonight: So weird that this guy's been around since 2004.