Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lombo Solves Lead-Off Problem

Lombardozzi, above, has been great for the Nationals. (Photo: kffl.com)
Last season, the Nationals could not find anyone suitable for the lead-off spot in the line-up. They started off this season with Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa both taking turns. However, they seem to have landed on the lead-off man they have been looking for.

Standing at six feet flat and weighing a whopping 195 pounds, Steve Lombardozzi hardly looks like your typical major league baseball player. He's a right handed switch hitting second baseman that can play in the outfield if Davey Johnson so pleases. The Fulton, Maryland native is your prototypical do-it-all baseball player.

After batting a satisfactory .265 in the month of April, Lombardozzi exploded in May batting .348 throughout the entire month. He had a slugging percentage of .435, but never hit a home run (he hit six lead-off doubles). He struck out just twice and reached first base on a walk three times. He also scored eight runs in May.

Steve Lombardozzi is a critical piece to the Nationals puzzle that often goes over looked. Last season, the Nationals would have given anything for a lead-off man this good. This season, it's a spot that they seldom have to worry about thanks to his consistently great play.

Last night, Lombardozzi hit a lead-off double to start the game. Bryce Harper then stepped into the batters box and knocked him in with an RBI single. Lombardozzi barely beat-out Jose Bautista's laser throw from right field to score the games first run before an out was even recorded.

That is the kind of luxury that the Nationals have been getting from "Lombo" ever since he took over the lead-off role. He gets on base early, and then let's the combination of Harper-Zimmerman-LaRoche-Morse bring him across the plate to score the run.

What's more impressive than his batting average is his on base percentage. Throughout May, he maintained a .392 on base percentage. He was hit by two pitches and took three more for a called ball four. Simply put, the man gets on any way he can.

This June, Lombardozzi has gotten off to a cold start. He's batting just .154 with and on base percentage of .241. He's been walked three times (which isn't bad considering it's the beginning of the month) and has struck out five times already.

Despite the slow start in June, Lombardozzi is a gem that the Nationals have uncovered. He can play any position on the diamond (including the hot corner the Ryan Zimmerman usually occupies) and plays them all very well.

The top of the Nationals order is fast becoming one of the most treacherous in the MLB thanks to Steve Lombardozzi. The more you break this team down, the better they look for a HUGE push into late October.