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Harper hitting 9th, starting in CF

Jul 15, 2013, 6:00 PM EDT

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NEW YORK — Bryce Harper likely has never hit ninth in his life, nor is he likely to ever hit ninth again in his life. But for one night, at least, the young Nationals slugger will find himself sitting at the very bottom of a National League All-Star lineup, selected by manager Bruce Bochy to hit ninth tomorrow at Citi Field.

Harper, who has never hit lower than seventh since arriving in the big leagues last season, obviously has never been part of a lineup as deep and talented as this. And perhaps his inexperience compared to the other NL All-Stars, dictates the 20-year-old take a back seat to his teammates for a day.

Harper has never hit lower than seventh in the major leagues, and 185 of his 190 career starts have come hitting either second, third or fifth.

Harper also will be slightly out of position in center field, though he spent much of his rookie season there for the Nationals.

The full NL lineup, as announced by Bochy (manager of the defending World Series champion Giants):Read more »

  1. phil dunton - Jul 15, 2013 at 6:14 PM

    In the WP today, Boswell seems to be saying that Harper's stats are comparable to Mike Trout's. Trout is batting .322 and has 59 RBIs while Harper is batting .264 with 29 RBIs. Granted, Harper has missed a bunch of games but those two batting averages are hardly comparable. (I might be misinterpreting what Boswell is trying to say because his statement is rather strange.) Trout has All Star stats, Harper doesn't.

  2. davecydell - Jul 15, 2013 at 6:24 PM

    and you read the WaPo?Why?

  3. Manassas Nats' Fan - Jul 15, 2013 at 6:36 PM

    ,9th is like a second leadoff.

  4. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 15, 2013 at 6:36 PM

    Phil, Harper is .70 points off in OPS but Bryce is killing RHP with a 1.026 OPS and was definitely beset by injuries.I think when you discount the injuries he is near the best in the game for his age. Harper is still a bright spot on this team even when he makes the occassional bonehead play.

  5. 3on2out - Jul 15, 2013 at 6:41 PM

    phil dunton:I must take exception to your interpretation of the Boz this morning. He said,"(t)he Nats’ all-star left fielder compares his stats to others in his brilliant generation, like Mike Trout. But he needs to compare his maturity, too."Bryce would like to compare his stats to Trout's and may have wanted to surpass Trout's numbers as 20-year old (which won't happen with his month on the DL) but Boz is certainly not calling their stats compatible.

  6. 3on2out - Jul 15, 2013 at 6:43 PM

    compatible or comparable!

  7. Theophilus T. S. - Jul 15, 2013 at 6:47 PM

    Both Boz and PD are correct. If Harper wants to approach Trout's numbers he's got to get some attitude shots. He's not entitled to Ted Williams-like respect from the zebras — Umpire to Catcher: "Son, if it's a strike, Mr. Williams will let us know." You can't hit HRs with your bat on on your shoulders.

  8. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 15, 2013 at 6:54 PM

    Like I said after the incident Bryce had in Pittsburgh that if an ump is looking for "15 minutes of fame" all they have to do is get into a rhubarb with Bryce Harper. That ump and Bryce were all over ESPN for the weekend, MLB Network and local sports shows.Bryce can't give into them. They will go away faster when he stops giving them their moment.Those strike calls in the 6th inning were garbage and like I said Bryce's boss needed to be fighting his fight. That's the way it should work and if his boss didn't care to fight it then let it be and get them the next time.

  9. NatsLady - Jul 15, 2013 at 6:58 PM

    Just because of the way I do my blogging, I look at things week by week (which is pretty much 2 series per week).7/14 = 2-57/7 = 5-26/30 = 4-2Harper and Ramos came back in the week ending 7/7 (July 1 and 4, respectively) and we were at home that week. Team plays significantly better at home. We have a long home stand after the break. Hopefully we can take advantage.

  10. Section 222 - Jul 15, 2013 at 7:00 PM

    Well, I tip my cap to everyone who predicted that Harvey would start. That was pretty much everyone but me.If anyone is unhappy with Bryce's spot in the batting order, I would just ask him or her — who would you have hit lower than him? For all the complaining about the fans voting, that is one heck of a collection of supestars isn't it? Sure, you can quibble with a few of the choices, but there's no real clunker, like a Derek Jeter, in the starting lineup.

  11. Tcostant - Jul 15, 2013 at 7:08 PM

    I remember just two years ago someone shouting me down on these boards when I say Rizzo should have draft Trout instead of Storen.Harper might be great, but Trout is great already.

  12. Laddie Blah Blah - Jul 15, 2013 at 7:15 PM

    "I remember just two years ago someone shouting me down on these boards when I say Rizzo should have draft Trout instead of Storen."Great call. Rizzo certainly must wish he had made the same call when he had the chance.

  13. Section 222 - Jul 15, 2013 at 7:15 PM

    Tcostant — If you made that call before the draft or shortly after, then kudos to you. If you only started saying that after Trout came up to the majors, then you were hardly alone, and I doubt anyone shouted you down. There's no question that Trout would have been a better pick. Whether it's fair to argue that Rizzo should have known that, or that he had any authority to draft someone who would hold out for more than slot money in that spot is another story. I suppose one benefit of hitting 9th is that Bryce might stay in the game longer than the other outfielders, unless Bochy is going to let him bat only once. By the way, I thought CarGo pulled out of the Home Run Derby because of an injury…

  14. JD - Jul 15, 2013 at 7:16 PM

    NatsLady, Not to be a Debbie downer, the Nats start the post all star schedule against the LA Dodgers who are just about the hottest team around. The Dodgers will likely start the 2nd half with Kershaw, Greinke and Nolasco (or Riu). At the same time Atlanta gets the White Sox. I tell you right now I will take status quo at least through these series. Then we get Pitt at home and the Braves get the Mets on the road so that could also be problematic.

  15. James Joyce - Jul 15, 2013 at 7:17 PM

    The Nats problem is Harper, let's be honest. Well, more preciely it is about the use of Harper. The guy is a mega talent, no doubt, but he's a .270 guy with nice power, he's not anything close to Miggy Cabrera at this point in his career. His maturity (runs the bases like he's playing against kids in Babe Ruth ball) and skills are not ready to be hitting 3 and he's better suited to hit 5th or 6th than leadoff. Span, Rendon, Zim, ALR/Werth, BH, Desi, C. They should roll that out there and see if they can score — my guess is yes. Davey's desperation move having the kid with 30+ HR power hit leadoff has some merit in that Harper can work a walk, but it's just not a good idea to have a guy with XBH power like Harper's out there maybe hoping to walk and likely with nobody on base.

  16. SonnyG10 - Jul 15, 2013 at 7:18 PM

    May the National League win 1-0 on a Bryce Harper home run. Go Nat!!

  17. JD - Jul 15, 2013 at 7:21 PM

    TCostant, The reason the Nats took Storen with their pick was that this was an unprotected pick, because they lost Crow. What that meant was that if the Nats failed to sign the pick they would lose it completely.This gives the pick tremendous leverage in the negotiations and the Nats already had a tough sign in Strasburg. In hind sight it's easy to call the Nats out but you must put the whole picture out there if you want to make that point.

  18. Don - Jul 15, 2013 at 7:21 PM

    The other 8 NL starters are better hitters than Harper. They are playing this game to iwn, not to appease Harper fans.

  19. JD - Jul 15, 2013 at 7:25 PM

    James Joyce, I don't understand your argument. By far the biggest responsibility of the leadoff guy is to get on base. I don't understand why having power is an argument against batting leadoff. Harper has a .371 OBP and I for one have no objection starting a game up 1-0.

  20. James Joyce - Jul 15, 2013 at 7:38 PM

    JD: Generally, being able to knock guys in is more valuable than being a guy knocked in. Should Cabrera hit leadoff for Detroit? Cano for the Yanks? Braun? Kemp? Mauer? Votto? Big Papi? You follow me?

  21. Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa - Jul 15, 2013 at 7:41 PM

    Is anyone actually suggesting Harper shouldn't be hitting "pre-leadoff"? I don't see anyone.

  22. bowdenball - Jul 15, 2013 at 7:42 PM

    Don said…"The other 8 NL starters are better hitters than Harper. They are playing this game to iwn, not to appease Harper fans."Harper: .264/.371/.522, 143 OPS+Phillips: .266/.320/.413, 97 OPS+And for that matter:Beltran: .309/.346/.533, 140 OPS+

  23. bowdenball - Jul 15, 2013 at 7:49 PM

    It is mind-boggling to me that people are discounting Harper because his batting average isn't all that high. Should be stop taking so many pitches so that he can slap a few extra singles and never walk or hit for power? Do you think Guzman was a better hitter than Harper because his batting average was higher?Harper is the best hitter on the Washington Nationals, and one of the 20 or so best hitters in the National League. I don't care where he hits in the lineup because I don't care about the All Star Game. But saying that he's the worst hitter in that lineup or that he should be hitting 5th or 6th for the Nats is just wrong.

  24. bowdenball - Jul 15, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    Sorry, that should say that Harper is one of the twenty or so best hitters in the major leagues, not just the National League. He currently ranks 18th in OPS among hitters with 200 or more plate appearances.

  25. Get Your Re(n)d On - Jul 15, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    "Ghost Of Steve M. said… Like I said after the incident Bryce had in Pittsburgh that if an ump is looking for "15 minutes of fame" all they have to do is get into a rhubarb with Bryce Harper. That ump and Bryce were all over ESPN for the weekend, MLB Network and local sports shows."Wendelstedt didn't "get into a rhubarb with Bryce Harper", it was the other way around. None of Wendelstedt's strike calls were egregious. Some if not all pitch trackers were showing them as strikes. Bryce Harper was the one that escalated the situation both times, not Wendelstedt.

  26. Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa - Jul 15, 2013 at 8:02 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  27. Don - Jul 15, 2013 at 8:07 PM

    Bowdenball — that's arguing for the sake of it. Harper has big, big talent, he does not have big production or big history and OPS+ is for fantasy team stat-heads not for All Star game lineups. But, I hear you, you don't care much about the ALG. For the real team, it is not some insult to Harper for me to say he should bat in the middle of the order, as all kinds of great players hit there. His monster power is just wasted as a leadoff man in the NL, 2 hole guys are there to drop bunts, take pitches to let a guy run, shoot the ball to hte right side, etc., he's not yet a great hitter to hit 3 (since April, the league has adjusted to Harper he has not yet countered), he does not have great RBI skills to hit 4th. Have him bat behind Werth/ALR and ahead of Desi. Span and Rendon are decent guys to have at the top, Zim is the best hitter on the club for my money, ALR and Werth are solid guys to knock them in and/or get on for Harper. Why not? Not like Davey's other ideas have been so glaringly strong to date.

  28. Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa - Jul 15, 2013 at 8:07 PM

    I remember just two years ago someone shouting me down on these boards when I say Rizzo should have draft Trout instead of Storen.Storen and Trout were drafted in 2009, of course. By 2011, they were both up already. Just for fun, Trout was 25th overall. All these guys were drafted ahead of Trout, so if you had Trout back then, you're in the wrong line of work, you should be scouting: Stephen Strasburg Dustin Ackley Donavan Tate Tony Sanchez Matt Hobgood Zack Wheeler Mike Minor Mike Leake Jacob Turner Drew Storen Tyler Matzek Aaron Crow Grant Green Matt Purke Alex White Bobby Borchering A.J. Pollock Chad James Shelby Miller Chad Jenkins Jiovanni Mier Kyle Gibson Jared Mitchell Randal Grichuk

  29. JD - Jul 15, 2013 at 8:08 PM

    James Joyce, Well that depends if there are other hitters on the team who get on regularly. Otherwise you hit with 2 men out and no one on and you ain't knocking any one in anyhow. Span and Desmond don't get on enough. Our best OBP hitters are: Harper, Werth and Rendon in that order.

  30. baseballswami - Jul 15, 2013 at 8:13 PM

    When you watch Bryce every day, I think it's apparent how mature he is at the plate. Yes, he sometimes makes mistakes- he has not been an outfielder all that long, or in the majors all that long. He is a special talent, a great kid- but intense and passionate. I have noticed though, that pitchers no longer plunk him. I don't see him charging the mound- he might take on an ump, but I think he would not get in a fight.

  31. Don - Jul 15, 2013 at 8:15 PM

    I'd guess that a 3 hole hitter has about a 25-30% chance of batting with someone on base (for every team, more for some, less for others), a double from that 3 hole guy scores a run a lot of the time. A double from a leadoff man needs something to happen behind it 100% of the time for a run to score, no?

  32. bowdenball - Jul 15, 2013 at 8:19 PM

    Don said…"Bowdenball — that's arguing for the sake of it. Harper has big, big talent, he does not have big production or big history and OPS+ is for fantasy team stat-heads not for All Star game lineups.But, I hear you, you don't care much about the ALG. For the real team, it is not some insult to Harper for me to say he should bat in the middle of the order, as all kinds of great players hit there. His monster power is just wasted as a leadoff man in the NL, 2 hole guys are there to drop bunts, take pitches to let a guy run, shoot the ball to hte right side, etc., he's not yet a great hitter to hit 3 (since April, the league has adjusted to Harper he has not yet countered), he does not have great RBI skills to hit 4th. Have him bat behind Werth/ALR and ahead of Desi. Span and Rendon are decent guys to have at the top, Zim is the best hitter on the club for my money, ALR and Werth are solid guys to knock them in and/or get on for Harper. Why not? Not like Davey's other ideas have been so glaringly strong to date."First of all, OPS+ isn't just for statheads. It's on base percentage plus slugging percentage, adjusted for parks. If you don't like the nerdy part, just rank him according to OPS. The ranking is the same. He gets on base and hits for power. I would hope you wouldn't have to be a "fantasy team stat-head" to appreciate that.I agree with you that he shouldn't lead off because of his power. But I would be fine with anywhere from second to fourth. I don't understand why you would put him 5th or 6th. Why would you want your best hitter to hit less often? You want a game to end with the Nats down 1 and Harper on deck or in the hole while someone with less power flies out to the warning track on a pitch Harper would have hit 425 feet? And what does it mean to have "RBI skills"? Doesn't it mean you make fewer outs and hit for more power? Those seem like good ways to drive in runs, and that's what Harper does better than anyone else on the Nationals.

  33. JD - Jul 15, 2013 at 8:20 PM

    Don, A leadoff guy getting on base results in a run in close to 50% of all situations, it's single most important guy in every inning. Sure sometimes you have 2 out rallies but when the 1st guy gets on the pitcher is immediately pitching from the stretch, any mistake by the pitcher or by the defense produces a jam. It has long been thought that the 3rd position is reserved for the best overall hitter and most managers still play it that way. It has been statistically proven that this is not in fact the correct way to build your lineup.

  34. Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa - Jul 15, 2013 at 8:21 PM

    OTOH, a leadoff double with high OBP guys behind him scores a lot of the time, too. Of course, as JD said, if you're the only guy on the team getting on, it won't matter much, anyway.

  35. Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa - Jul 15, 2013 at 8:27 PM

    It has long been thought that the 3rd position is reserved for the best overall hitter and most managers still play it that way."They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that —We'd put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat.But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;"How many managers would walk Casey intentionally, there, and pitch to the lefty on deck?

  36. JD - Jul 15, 2013 at 8:28 PM

    I still think the Nats were on to something when they created the lineup in the 2nd half of last year and in retrospect they shouldn't have effed with it. If you wanted a smooth fielding center fielder, fine and last year's numbers would have supported Span at leadoff (more or less) but I think Werth, Harper and Zim immediately put pressure on the opposition and usually with more than just singles.

  37. Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa - Jul 15, 2013 at 8:40 PM

    I wonder if it's even possible to know what would have happened, if. What if the people who blame Davey for putting too much pressure, and a big target, on the team with "World Series or Bust", or the people who say they miss Morse's practical jokes in the clubhouse so much that it's affecting the team's attitude, are right? If that's so, then maybe getting Span was just the right thing, but it failed (so far) for other reasons. Sometimes, hindsight really is 50-50, as Steve Spurrier used to say.

  38. do1teach1 - Jul 15, 2013 at 8:48 PM

    I think Bos is right. I said on this board a couple of months ago that I thought the Nats were a "mental team."Bos says it this way: "Somewhere between self-doubt and anger, between frustration and choking, between blowing your stack and feeling despondent…they’re a mental mess."I won't repeat my mental profiles of our many head-cases, having covered that in my previous post. But I do think the team had a chemistry–from the bullpen Rizzo destroyed, through the gutty Lannen, through the easygoing Morse–that kept things fun and breezy.Now, the chemistry completely destroyed, we are left with a collection of brittle porcelain figurines.We began with the NL East Champions, winners of 98 games. And we are left with The Glass Menagerie.

  39. Section 222 - Jul 15, 2013 at 8:48 PM

    I went looking for Rendon's numbers to think about weighing in on the lineup possibilities and noticed by chance that he has now played 43 games and has 177 PAs. Espi, before he was demoted, played 44 games and had 167 PAs. I guess that shows the difference between batting second alot and batting 7th almost all the time. Anyway, now seems an appropriate time to compare the numbers. Espi, 44 games, 167 PAs, 25 hits, 11 runs, 9 2B, 3 HR, 12 RBIs, 4 BBs, 47 Ks, .158/.193/.272/.465 OPS+ 27 Rendon, 43 games, 177 PAs, 49 hits, 22 runs, 14 2B, 4 HR, 14 RBIs, 13 BBs, 32 Ks, .301/.352/.460/.812 OPS+ 122.In many categories, Rendon has basically been twice as good as Espi. Wow.By the way, Bryce's OPS+ in his ROY season was 119.

  40. Don - Jul 15, 2013 at 8:53 PM

    JD: some statistical model that ends up with Joey Votto batting first is just a bad one. If 100+ years of baseball theory (running to the present day on pretty much every club in the bigs) is wrong, than I'd rather be wrong (along with a pack of World Series winning managers).Bowdenball: My point on OPS+ is that no manger drawing up his All Star lineup card is using that as a tool. They are not holding arb hearings, they are trying to win a ball game.

  41. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 15, 2013 at 8:58 PM

    Section222, I can't believe those numbers. That's +2.4 wins at least on that change. So frustrating seeing it in stat form and supporting what I have been saying for too long.

  42. NatsLady - Jul 15, 2013 at 9:02 PM

    ESPN did a study, the Barves have the easiest schedule, the most home games, they never go west of the central time zone, etc. The KC Royoals have a brutal schedule.

  43. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 15, 2013 at 9:06 PM

    9 head to head games with the Nats.

  44. bowdenball - Jul 15, 2013 at 9:11 PM

    People who think Rizzo "destroyed" this team probably haven't been following baseball very long. I can't remember a team that changed less from one season to the next than the 2012 and 2013 Washington Nationals. They changed one lineup spot, one rotation spot and two bullpen spots. That's amazing continuity, far more than any other team in the NL East and more than any team in the league other than possibly the World Champion SF Giants.

  45. Don - Jul 15, 2013 at 9:12 PM

    Since before he ran into a wall, Harper ran into a wall — he's hitting south of .200 since April. He needs to adjust.

  46. Tcostant - Jul 15, 2013 at 9:16 PM

    Section 222 said… Tcostant — If you made that call before the draft or shortly after, then kudos to you. If you only started saying that after Trout came up to the majors, then you were hardly alone, and I doubt anyone shouted you down. There's no question that Trout would have been a better pick. Whether it's fair to argue that Rizzo should have known that, or that he had any authority to draft someone who would hold out for more than slot money in that spot is another story. Me: At the time of the draft, I was clear we needed a hitter, not a pitcher. I suggested both Trout and also Grant Green who the A's just brough up to the majors.

  47. Tcostant - Jul 15, 2013 at 9:19 PM

    JD – I know that being able to sign a HS was a concern, because they would have lost the pick. I do think that was part of Rizzo's thinking.The A's had Trout #2 overall on their board, so the fact that he went 25, was more about signablity than his real rank by team.

  48. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 15, 2013 at 9:27 PM

    bowdenball, they didn't change enough I would say and part of my own confusion was I thought players they signed for 1 year deals like Tracy and Haren would have to earn their way. Clearly Haren wasn't going to be cut in Spring Training but many times myself and others thought he needed to be the mop-up guy and earn it back. Ohlendorf was the better choice.Tracy should've been cut in Spring Training only the Nats had nobody to challenge him and the same for Danny Espinosa. Both were handed their spots.You couldn't forsee the bench being as poor as they were but you could certainly see that they had no clear contingency for Espinosa after knowing of his shoulder injury. Those figures as compared to Rendon are possibly the difference in +5 wins. Keep telling yourselves his defense made up for it. Laughable.

  49. JD - Jul 15, 2013 at 9:36 PM

    Ghost, 5 wins in 40+ games? I don't think Babe Ruth over a replacement player gets you that.

  50. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 15, 2013 at 9:40 PM

    WAR doesn't fully describe how negative Espi was and how positive Rendon is on scoring. Every 5 extra runs is essentially 1 more win be it from RBI or run scored since HRs are about equal. Again I'm projecting for 60% of the season.

  51. JD - Jul 15, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    Ghost, I am not sure what you just said but I think you said that playing Rendon instead of Espi in these 40+ games would get the team 5 extra wins. If that's what you are saying I am disputing that statement and the fact that the team has essentially the same record now that it did with Espi in the lineup (and I'll grant you the fact that Rendon has been twice as good as Espinosa or even more) bears me out.

  52. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 15, 2013 at 9:48 PM

    JD, I believe Espi was a big negative on Wins and Rendon a big positive. Run differential can't be downplayed.

  53. JD - Jul 15, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    If you replace a replacement level player (Lombo?) with a superstar (Cano?) you may win 7 or 8 extra games over 162 games and that's enormous. I think it's fair to say that Rendon over Espi over a quarter of a season is about 1 – 1.5 games difference. I think 5 is a bit extreme. That's all.

  54. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 15, 2013 at 10:15 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 88 64 --
ATLANTA 76 76 12.0
MIAMI 74 78 14.0
NEW YORK 73 80 15.5
PHILADELPHIA 70 82 18.0
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