Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche has been a revelation early on this season, as the veteran left-hander has a 147 wRC+ this season through 102 plate appearances and is projected to have a 2.2 WAR season by ZiPS. What makes this remarkable is that LaRoche is coming off of a terrible, injury-plagued year with almost no expectations. He has already broken last year’s home run total, and his pre-season projection had him as a 1.2 WAR player.
LaRoche suffered an oblique injury a few days ago, and he is expected to be back in the Nationals line-up on Tuesday. The 32-year-old has been replaced by Chad Tracy at first, with Jayson Werth hitting in the clean-up spot in his absence. Tracy has been poor in limited action this season and is coming off of three terrible seasons that came after a 1 WAR year in 2007.
Before that, Tracy was a league-average player in 2006 and was even worth 4.3 WAR in 2005 after a 1.7 WAR rookie year. He had a good game against the Phillies and will hope to prove something in LaRoche’s absence.
So far this season, Adam LaRoche has been worth 1 WAR with a .392 OBP, 17 RBIs, and a .200 ISO. His oblique injury should be behind hi when he takes the field on Tuesday, and he should be able to continue his great start to the season. In 2008, 2009, and 2010, LaRoche hit exactly 25 homers in each year. He is currently on pace for about 24, and his updated ZiPS projection has him at 17 (pre-season projected home run total of 13).