Big Stage Win for Nats in Little League Venue

Keibert Ruiz sparked another victory for the Nationals.

The dog days of the baseball season (now) can be especially cruel to young rebooting teams. Lower experience, pitch counts, longer seasons, travel, heat, and humidity. The grind. If you expected the Washington Nationals season to spiral downward after the trade deadline, you probably underestimated them. But you were not alone.

At 57-68, Washington has already surpassed their win total from last year. With nearly a quarter of the season left to play. The primary goal before the season started was simply to improve from the dismal 2022. Check. Another aim included the continued development of young pitchers Josiah Gray and MacKenzie Gore. There have been hiccups by both hurlers. But again – check.

I talked about CJ Abrams’ positive trajectory earlier this month. Check that box too.

Read more: Big Stage Win for Nats in Little League Venue

Turning it up after the All-Star Break

The Nats are 21-14 since the all-star break. Washington has won two straight series against teams in the wild card hunt (Boston and Philadelphia). The latest young Nat contributing to his team’s best stretch of baseball this season is 25-year-old catcher Keibert Ruiz. Another check.

In the first inning last night in the MLB Little League Classic, the Nationals smacked five hits in a row to start the game. On the fourth base hit, Ruiz cranked a two-run double to put the Nats on top of the Philadelphia Phillies 2-0. Dom Smith followed with another two-RBI hit and the Nats jumped out to a 4-0 lead.

Thanks to a high-quality start from Trevor Williams, Washington held on to defeat the Phillies in their home state, 4-3. The Phils took the season series 7-6, but the Nats won the two-city weekend series two games to one.

Defensive Toughness

Ruiz’ toughness is unquestioned. His season was cut short by a painful injury last year after 112 games. In 104 games this season, Ruiz has already exceeded last season’s hit total (102-99). According to FanGraphs, Keibert batted just .226 before the all-star break. Since? .336. With runners in scoring position, Ruiz is hitting .365.

In terms of defense, Ruiz must improve on the stolen bases allowed (88 to date). But to his defensive credit, his fielding percentage behind the dish is a respectable .992 according to FanGraphs. Keibert is also tied for the major league lead in double plays started by a catcher with four. So, there is a solid base regarding his glovework.

Ruiz is batting .258 on the season with 19 doubles, 15 homers, and 51 RBI. As a switch-hitting catcher, Keibert Ruiz probably has not hit his professional peak yet. That qualifies as another box checked for the Washington Nationals keys to the future.

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Dominic Toto

Blogging about the Nats since 2022. Nats nut since 2004. Once hit a batting practice ball that cleared the infield dirt at Nationals Park on a fly.

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