The most uplifting thing about the Washington Nationals when they were bad was Ryan Zimmerman. Now that they're good, Zimmerman's hitting is suddenly the most dispiriting thing about them.

The Nationals have surged four games clear of the NL East pack despite little contribution from Zimmerman, the franchise player who bats third and signed a $100 million contract extension in the offseason. His .655 OPS is the worst on the team, and he has only three home runs in 205 plate appearances.

"I just don't see him tracking real well," Manager Davey Johnson said. "I don't know why, if it's his approach of what he's thinking. I know he can be streaky at times. But I sure need him to be comfortable, because he's invaluable to this ball club."