After starting the season with a brutal .136/.213/.259 April in which he hit one double and three home runs in 24 games and 89 plate appearances, Adam LaRoche, after talking to Chipper Jones, bounced back with a .330/.416/.608 May in which he hit four doubles and seven home runs in 28 games and 113 PAs. A .287/.370/.437, five double, two home run June left the 33-year-old, left-handed hitting first baseman who signed a 2-year/$24M deal this past winter, with a .257/.341/.445 line on the year.
The month of July wasn't kind to LaRoche, however, as he went 14 for 88, .159/.227/.284 with three doubles and two home runs. The veteran of 10 MLB seasons has a .268/.381/.479 line so far in August, leaving him with a .238/.325/.417 line, 16 doubles and 18 HRs in 123 games and 483 plate appearances over which he's been worth +0.4 fWAR.
Coming off a .271/.343/.510, 35 double, 33 HR, +3.4 fWAR 2012 season, the first year of LaRoche's two-year deal has to be viewed as a disappointment. In discussing the possibility of moving Ryan Zimmerman from first to third after a rough season defensively at third for Zimmerman in which he's tried to adjust to his post-surgery shoulder, Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore noted this morning that LaRoche, at this point, is, "... not a player other teams are going to be lining up to trade for." So what do you do with LaRoche if you want to move Zimmerman over from third?
Removing Zimmerman from the equation or over at third, dealing LaRoche at this point would leave Washington with Tyler Moore at first base, but no backup at this point. Another year of development from 24-year-old 2012 Nats' Minor League Player of Matt Skole might have given the Nationals another option going forward, but a torn UCL suffered on a play at first base turned this into a lost season. Chris Marrero? What other options do the Nationals have right now?
Can a 34-year-old LaRoche bounce back in the second year of the two-year deal he got after testing the market for a longer contract and then returning to the nation's capital when the offer he was looking for wasn't out there? After hitting .268/.319/.506 vs LHPs in 2012, LaRoche, along with the Nats' other left-handers, has struggled against left-handed pitching, posting a .191/.248/.313 line vs lefties this season. A return to even his career. 244/.300/.431 line vs LHPs in 2014 would be welcome.
Davey Johnson told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s The Sports Junkies last week that he didn't think it was any sort of injury issue with LaRoche, but he didn't have an explanation for the veteran infielder's struggles. "I think he's all right," Johnson said, "It's just one of those years. You don't expect it. He's put the numbers up many times in the past. But... it's tough."
Right now it appears the Nationals and LaRoche have another year together coming in 2014.