But some players have been more disappointing than others, and Adam LaRoche ranks high on that list.
A crucial part of last season's NL East championship lineup, LaRoche was brought back over the winter under the premise that his presence was too vital to this club for the next two years to let him sign elsewhere. Mike Rizzo waited out LaRoche, who was seeking three guaranteed years, then finally inked him to a two-year, $24 million deal that includes a $15 million mutual option for 2015.
The end result — or, at least, the result through the first four months of this season — hasn't come close to what Rizzo and the Nationals expected.
LaRoche enters play tonight hitting .232 with 14 homers and 46 RBI, well behind his typically metronome-like career pace and even farther behind the career-best numbers he posted one year ago.
There were 25 major-league first basemen last season who qualified for the batting title. Among his peers, LaRoche ranked 13th in batting average, 10th in ob-base percentage and sixth in slugging percentage, earning his first career Silver Slugger Award in the process.
There are 26 qualifying first basemen at this point this season, and LaRoche now ranks 23rd in batting average, 22nd in on-base percentage and 23rd in slugging.
What is most striking, though, about LaRoche this year isn't the overall numbers, but the complete up-and-down nature of his offensive performance. Or, to be more precise: down-and-up-and-down.
LaRoche began the season in one of the worst offensive slumps of his career, batting a paltry .129 with a .204 on-base percentage and .247 slugging percentage through his first 25 games. But after analyzing video of his swing with former Braves teammate Chipper Jones, LaRoche went on a sustained tear. Over his next 58 games, he hit .313 with a .402 on-base percentage and .532 slugging percentage.
The problem: The 33-year-old has fallen back into another prolonged slump, this one actually worse than his season-opening funk. Over his last 18 games, LaRoche is hitting .119, with a .167 on-base percentage and paltry .224 slugging percentage.
He has always been a streaky hitter, but this year seems to be particularly extreme. The good news: Because he has dealt with these things before, LaRoche has confidence he'll break out of it.
"It feels like a lot of what I've been through throughout my career," he said. "I go back and watch film, work on some small things, see if I can pinpoint it. For whatever reason, it takes one good swing, one bloop hit and I can find it and get going."
The bad news: Even if he rediscovers his lost stroke, it might be too late for LaRoche to make the kind of positive impact on the Nationals in 2013 that he did in 2012.