Let me start by saying that I love the job that Manager Matt Williams is doing with the Washington Nationals. He does not fear controversial decisions, as was shown when he removed Bryce Harper from Saturday’s game for failing to run out a ground ball to the pitcher. However, if I was in charge, my typical batting order would look slightly different from the one Williams has been using to start the 2014 season.
1. Denard Span – Span is not the best hitter on the Nationals, nor is he the most likely to get on base. With that said, he possesses the speed and patience needed from a leadoff hitter. He frequently ventures deep into at bats, fouling off some of the opposing pitcher’s best pitches. Span also puts the ball on the ground often, giving him a chance to reach base on balls that he does not square up.
2. Anthony Rendon – Currently, Bryce Harper is batting in the two spot. Power is not as crucial in this slot of the batting order, so I believe Harper’s skill set could be used better in the middle of the order. Rendon is a fantastic all around hitter, and his compact swing suits well to hitting behind the runner to the right side of the field. Rendon has had the hottest start on the team, and in my opinion, having him bat in the first inning is a must.
3. Bryce Harper – By batting Harper in the three hole, Washington will most likely avoid their opponent’s lefty specialist. With Span and Harper batting back to back, it is easy for a team to use a pitcher like Randy Choate to create a mismatch with the offense. By splitting those two hitters with Rendon, either Span or Harper will not have to face the lefty specialist or the left hander will have to pitch to the right handed Rendon.
4. Jayson Werth – Werth was the Nationals best player in 2013. He has developed into one of the best hitters in baseball since recovering from his wrist injury, and his power would be welcomed in the middle of the order by any team. The Nationals can use him in the cleanup role to provide protection for Harper. Pick your poison.
5. Adam LaRoche – This veteran is one of the most patient hitters in the league. LaRoche often struggles against lefties, but his power always makes him dangerous in a close game. If LaRoche can return to his 2012 form, the Nationals will have another strong run producer who has the potential to pick up 100 RBI.
6. Ian Desmond – Desmond is a free swinger who likes to hunt fastballs. The only downside to batting him sixth, is that he does not have a great amount of protection behind him. Pitchers will be more likely to throw him a heavy dosing of breaking balls. However, Desmond has experience batting in all areas of the lineup and the silver slugger should be able to adjust to whatever pitches he faces.
7. Danny Espinosa – Espinosa has been one of the pleasant surprises of the young season. Espinosa has struggled with strikeouts throughout his career, but is off to a strong start in 2014. Espinosa is a great defender at second base, and his power from both sides of the plate give him a lot of potential.
8. Jhonatan Solano/Sandy Leon – The catcher has to bat somewhere. Neither one of these players are particularly good at the plate, but they are certainly better than the pitcher.
9. Pitcher – Yes, in the National League, he has to bat.