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Werth to bat second

Mar 24, 2011, 10:12 PM EDT

LAKELAND, Fla. — Jayson Werth may be the highest-paid player on the Nationals roster this season, but he there’s a good chance he won’t lead the team in RBI after Jim Riggleman revealed plans today to bat the $126 million right fielder second in his nightly lineup.

“I think it probably, in a perfect world, sets our club up best,” Riggleman said before the Nationals’ exhibition game against the Tigers, with Werth batting second for the first time this spring.

Read more about the new-look lineup, plus other news of the day, on CSNwashington.com.

  1. Sam - Mar 24, 2011 at 10:19 PM

    People who don't know any better will have a problem with this. I don't. It's not a bad move. A guy who gets on base 36-38% of the time who can hit 45+ doubles. Excellent 2 hole hitter.

  2. phil dunn - Mar 24, 2011 at 10:32 PM

    Well, maybe I don't know any better, but I think Riggleman has lost his mind. Next, he will have Alberto Gonzalez batting in the cleanup slot.

  3. Harper_ROY_2012 - Mar 24, 2011 at 10:34 PM

    This is where he should be batting he is a doubles machine and he sets the table nicely for Zimmerman, LaRoche and Morse to follow him and drive more runners in!

  4. Sam - Mar 24, 2011 at 10:38 PM

    No one will be complaining when he is driving the ball to the gap in the first inning. Getting on the board early is huge. It's a definite confidence booster.The only reason to hit someone lower is the possibility that they come up with runners on base. Well, that's just a possibility, and there is no guarantee the batter does anything with those guys on anyway. Besides, the alternatives are to have Desmond, Morgan, Ankiel, etc. hitting ahead of him. So, he'd be hitting more often than not with 2 outs and on one on. Hitting second, he's hitting with only 1 out most of the time.By the time you get past the first inning, it doesn't really matter anymore.

  5. sm13 - Mar 24, 2011 at 10:54 PM

    If Werth hits second, where does Desmond bat — leadoff seems the logical answer. Does that mean that our supposed lead-off hitter, Nyjer, is off to Syracuse or parts unknown? One can only hope…

  6. fpcsteve - Mar 24, 2011 at 10:54 PM

    Random thought regarding the Phillies… Werth is gone. Utley is on the DL with no projected return date. Rollins had a tough year, and there have been whispers about a decline in progress. Howard is often as good as the people around him. Pitching is great, but you have to score some runs. It will be interesting to see if the Phils are "all that" this year. Just a thought…

  7. GardnertheNatsFan - Mar 24, 2011 at 11:04 PM

    No brainer for 2 reasons:1.) He's the best baserunner on the team. He scores from second 9 times out of 10 on Zim's singles and from first on his doubles. Doesn't work the other way around. Putting Zim or Laroche in front of him clogs up the bags.2.) Super high OBP – again he's on base for Zim and Laroche (also known as the only guys in the lineup who have managed 100 ribbies in a season)

  8. Les in NC - Mar 24, 2011 at 11:43 PM

    I couldn't care less if Werth isn't leading the team in RBI in September! What I do want him to do is maintain his excellent OBP and good base running skills so that he has a chance to lead the team in runs. RBI is a very sexy stat, but is not reflective of exactly how much you really do for your team to help win games.

  9. Mark'd - Mar 24, 2011 at 11:53 PM

    Werth's worth was always lofty metrics for RBIs and Runs scored. Like I said in the last column by Mark that it is a good idea for now except his RBIs will drop. Just hope everyone remembers this discussion in a few months.

  10. Theophilus - Mar 25, 2011 at 1:14 AM

    I believe the brain trust's feeling coming into camp was that Werth needed to hit third, fourth or fifth to drive in runs. Now that Morse has emerged to hit fifth, and Ankiel will be around to bat sixth (at least some of the time), their belief (hope) is that those guys will drive in the runs and Werth can set the table. For myself, I'd hate to see him in the fourth or fifth spot trying to jack HRs and instead getting long outs (that would have been over the wall in the Phillie Band-Aid Box that makes a travesty out of baseball). Doubles will suit me just fine. Think of a tall Brian Roberts hitting 50 or so per year.

  11. Anonymous8 - Mar 25, 2011 at 1:46 AM

    I like how Werth works the pitcher. If the Nats can find a leadoff hitter with the same philosophy, that could be a key."With two and three being Werth and Zim, they’re both pretty good OBP guys," Riggleman said."So I feel like that’s a chance for us to get at least one base runner, maybe two, when our fourth hitter comes up.""I think he feels like, 'I get on base, I see more pitches than anybody in the league, I can score runs, run the bases and still drive in runs, too,'" Riggleman added. "I think that probably fits our club the best."

  12. Theophilus - Mar 25, 2011 at 2:48 AM

    Watching the delayed telecast on MLB Network. Ankiel is a better outfielder than I remember. Maybe it's because Edmonds was always in CF.

  13. David - Mar 25, 2011 at 3:03 AM

    I think that this is probably a good idea because we don't have many good hitters. But – to those who say that it doesn't matter after the 1st inning, that isn't true, because the #2 batter is separated by only one batter from the #9 batter, the pitcher, who is rarely on base. Werth will rarely bat with someone on base, which is unfortunate.

  14. Sam - Mar 25, 2011 at 4:55 AM

    What I meant by it doesn't matter after the first inning is that he won't always be hitting 2nd. After that, he could hit at any spot relative to who leads off the inning. Regardless, his goal is always the same: don't get out.

  15. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 25, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    To Phil Dunn…. I actually thought you did know better. The key to this whole thing is getting production out of the 6,7, & 8 spots in the lineup. I don't hold much hope for Pudge but when he's not in the lineup then it's Ankiel, Ramos and Espinosa. That might work.

  16. Francis P - Mar 25, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    I think this is a great idea. His OBP needs to be as high in the line-up as possible – it gets him more at-bats and allows him to be on base so that Zim and others can drive him in.Frankly, I'm just shocked that a major league manager would actually do this – Werth seems like the "traditional" 5 hitter, so I just assumed the Nats would put him there (or maybe at 4 because we don't have a 4).

  17. Brian Benson - Mar 25, 2011 at 8:02 PM

    I also like Werth in the 2-hole, with Zimm, Laroche, Morse, and maybe Ankiel to follow. There was a whisper that Milwaukee was interested in Nyjer, but that quickly went by the boards. If Morgan starts in AAA, who leads off Desmond??

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