The names on the clubhouse placards in Washington have more cache than those in the Mets' clubhouse, with Bryce Harper, Denard Span, Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, Anthony Rendon -- hitting stars who helped the Nationals finish third in the National League in 2014.
But considering how injuries have broadsided the Nationals this season -- Yunel Escobar's ugly wrist injury Wednesday was only the latest example -- there isn't as much difference between what the Mets and Nationals have had to work with as you might think.
Harper is an MVP candidate, but Michael Taylor -- who went to spring training pegged as someone who would provide depth -- has more at-bats than all other Washington outfielders. Clint Robinson, signed as a minor league free agent during the winter, has 170 at-bats as the team’s primary first baseman. Danny Espinosa was supposed to be a utility infielder, after batting .158 in 2013 and .219 in 2014 and losing his everyday job, and he has almost 300 at-bats.
The Nationals are a modest 15th in runs, propped up by Harper but also the contributions of those extra guys. Robinson has hit .271, with a .344 on-base percentage, and Espinosa has 27 extra-base hits. Taylor has pitched in with some power, speed and defense, and on Wednesday, he got the decisive hit off Bobby Parnell in a devastating loss for the Mets.
This is what is particularly galling about the failure of the Mets' leadership during the past three months while their offense has evaporated. It'd be nice if they would be willing to take on the salary of an expensive star, but at the very least, where are the crucial extra infielders and outfielders, who aren't expensive? Day after day after day, manager Terry Collins has had to pick lineups from the same group of struggling players. Eric Campbell is batting .179; John Mayberry Jr. is hitting .170; backup catcher Anthony Recker, .137. Kirk Nieuwenhuis had a great three-homer day earlier this month, but he's hitting .169 -- and the Mets had brought him back after unloading him earlier this season.