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Beltway Baseball: Projecting the Nats’ 2014 lineup

Feb 11, 2014, 1:16 PM EDT

Associated Press AP

Entering his first spring training as manager, Matt Williams has thrown out several possibilities for each key Nats player in terms of where they will slot in the lineup. Basically, he’s going to feel it out through camp before deciding what his Opening Day lineup will look like.

We know which players will be on that card, we just don’t know the order. Luckily we have Mark Zuckerman who gave his own lineup projection in this the second clip of our Beltway Baseball spring training preview. Mark has considered the possibilities for each player and put together what he would do if he were in charge.

Watch the video right here:

  1. David Proctor - Feb 11, 2014 at 1:36 PM

    1. Span
    2. Rendon
    3. Harper
    4. Zimmerman
    5. Werth
    6. Desmond
    7. LaRoche
    8. Ramos

    I realize that’s 3 righties in a row 4-6, but I want Werth in the middle somewhere. With Werth hitting how he did last year, I don’t think he’ll want to hit #2 and I don’t think that’s the best place for him. I fear having LaRoche and Ramos batting back to back because they clog up the bases, but I can’t figure out another way to do it. I guess you could do:

    1. Span
    2. Rendon
    3. Zimmerman
    4. Harper
    5. Werth
    6. LaRoche
    7. Desmond
    8. Ramos

    But that puts Desmond in the 7 spot when he deserves better than that and it’s wasting him. It’s not an easy lineup to construct.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Feb 11, 2014 at 1:39 PM

      I am not sure Rendon is ready for number 2.

      • David Proctor - Feb 11, 2014 at 1:41 PM

        Why? Except for July, he was one of our best hitters. He hits the ball the other way well. He profiles as a high OBP guy.

        I mean, Williams said he thought one of the middle infielders would probably bat #2 and it sure as hell shouldn’t be Desi.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Feb 11, 2014 at 3:20 PM

        You make a good point about his profile and numbers besides July but we already have a player better than Rendon’s profile in Werth. We gotta utilize him there.

      • tcostant - Feb 11, 2014 at 1:42 PM

        I second that, I like this:

        1. Span
        2. Werth
        3. Zimmerman
        4. Harper
        5. Desmond
        6. LaRoche
        7. Ramos
        8. Rendon

      • alexva6 - Feb 11, 2014 at 2:11 PM

        I’m not sure why it shouldn’t be Desmond in the 2 spot. Two years ago no way but now for the same reason you want Harper up I want Desmond up.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Feb 11, 2014 at 3:13 PM

        Desmond has no plate discipline for #2 guy, no? He is always swinging at first pitches. That’s not good for runners ahead of him either, right?

    • jd - Feb 11, 2014 at 1:55 PM

      I like your lineup but I like to see Werth’s OBP closer to the top of the order. Any way you slice it I want to make sure Harper comes up in the 1st inning, there is great value to playing the game with the lead and having Harper’s bat in the 1st inning increases the probability that that will happen.

    • bowdenball - Feb 11, 2014 at 2:34 PM

      If Werth doesn’t want to hit #2, someone should show him the analyses showing that the #2 spot is the optimal place to put your best hitter. He seems to be pretty smart and somewhat sabermetrically inclined, I’m sure he’ll get it.

      A combination of Span and Rendon at the top doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I suppose it’s nice if one or both of them get on base in the first inning, but otherwise you’re screwing yourself over twice. First you’re having one of your best hitters bat with two outs and nobody on. Second, if the lineup turns over in a close game in the ninth you’ve got Span and Rendon up there instead of Harper or Werth.

      • David Proctor - Feb 11, 2014 at 2:43 PM

        I think Rendon will be one of our best hitters next year. I guess it depends on what your opinion of Rendon is as to whether batting him #2 makes sense.

  2. Faraz Shaikh - Feb 11, 2014 at 1:38 PM

    Nice beard, Chase.

    Lineup is OK for me. We can change it up as season progresses and who is hot/not can dictate who bats in middle of the order. IF bench does seem weak on paper.

  3. Doc - Feb 11, 2014 at 2:34 PM

    Rendon can hit almost anywhere; then again, the Nats have a lot of guys that can hit almost anywhere.

    ALR is to me, a perceived weak link. Ramos would be a #4//#5 hitter in a lot of MLB lineups. Even in the #8 spot he kills.

  4. trochlis318 - Feb 11, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    okay guys the lineup i think the nats should go with:
    Span
    Werth
    Harper
    Zimmerman
    LaRoche
    Desmond
    Ramos
    Rendon
    (P)

  5. David Proctor - Feb 11, 2014 at 3:17 PM

    Interesting that we’re interested in Ryan Madson:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/nationals-journal/wp/2014/02/11/nationals-interested-in-reliever-ryan-madson/?wprss=rss_sports&clsrd

    It’d have to be entirely incentive-based, similar to what Wilson did with the Dodgers like year. I’d like it. Low risk, high reward.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Feb 11, 2014 at 3:29 PM

      it will have to be a minor league I imagine.

      I am hoping garcia finally fills his potential. he has kept us waiting for too long.

  6. Eugene in Oregon - Feb 11, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    Assume folks saw this:

    “Masahiro Tanaka was introduced by the Yankees on Tuesday after chartering a Boeing 787 Dreamliner for his trip from Tokyo to New York…Tanaka charted the Japan Airlines plane, which seats about 200, at what was reported to be a cost of about $200,000 for a flight said to include five passengers and his poodle Haru.”

    Clearly — whether he performs well or not — the Yankees and Mr. Tanaka represent a good fit for each other.

  7. Section 222 - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    The video keeps stopping when I try to play it. Can someone reprint what Mark and Chase say is the likely lineup? Or do they not make a prediction?

    Interesting how, at least in the opening of the video, there’s no discussion of a competition between Espi and Rendon for the 2B slot.

    • David Proctor - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:08 PM

      Span, Werth, Harper, Zim, Desmond, LaRoche, Ramos, Rendon was Mark’s prediction.

  8. Sirc - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:02 PM

    The Nats offense was utterly broken last year until RZim was moved into the 2 hole. The exact same players are returning to the lineup.

    If Williams is married to Span batting first then he MUST put one of the (only) 3 players with any plate discipline batting second: RZim, Werth or Harper.

    Span shouldn’t hit leadoff. But if it is going to happen no matter what then those 3 have to hit 2-4 in any order.

  9. philipd763 - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:15 PM

    What is Rizzo waiting for? Burnett is out there, he wants to sign with a NL contender near his home in Maryland, he won’t cost a draft choice and he’s probably only looking for a one year contract. What’s not to like? That would give us the best pitching staff in MLB. Just do it! The rest of the contenders for the fifth slot are huge question marks.

    • scnatsfan - Feb 11, 2014 at 6:23 PM

      +1

      Sign the defecting catcher too

  10. Section 222 - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:17 PM

    I like Mark’s prediction, and agree with Sirc on the rationale. ALR should hit no higher than 6th, I’d put him 7th because if you split up the two lefties by that much, one of them (probably ALR) is likely going to face a RH reliever in the late innings.

    I’d also consider putting Ramos in the No. 8 hole because he doesn’t seem fazed by the junk that that batter normally has to see. But Rendon is a good choice too because he’s not going to swing at bad pitches. I’m fine with either Werth or Zim as the No. 2 or the No. 4 hitter. Werth is a more patient hitter than Zim, giving Span plenty of chances to run. Zim is a very good opposite field hitter though, and did very well in the No. 2 hole at the end of last season. Let’s see who seems to have the power stroke this year.

    So:

    Span
    Werth
    Harper
    Zim
    Desi
    Ramos
    ALR
    Rendon.

    • natsjackinfl - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:29 PM

      I think I’d prefer Ramos 7th and Rendon 8th due to Rendons running ability in a sac bunt situation.

      • David Proctor - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:38 PM

        This is a solid point, it was almost impossible to bunt Ramos over last year.

  11. realdealnats - Feb 11, 2014 at 5:21 PM

    Span-L
    Werth-R
    Harper-L
    Zim-R
    Desi-R
    LaRoche-L
    Rendon-R
    Ramos-R

    I like Rendon in the 7th slot b/c I believe this year he will grow even more into the hitter many of us have envisioned and I want him on base when Ramos hits those towering HRs. Rendon’s plate discipline will only get better too, helping him to get on base. Plus to bat him behind Ramos means his speed gets stuck behind a real load.

    Maybe later in the year Werth drops down to the 4 or 5 spot and Rendon moves up to 2.

    I still say pick up Burnett and move Det (who I really like) to the BP. That gives us a strong lefty who can either go a couple innings or down the line maybe even set-up or save. I don’t really know Blevins so discount what I’m about to say, but he feels like one of those guys who might do us right or just be one of those guys we get excited about in January b/c he’s a left hander. Having Det there–and Roark as another ice water righty–makes me feel very good about the pen.

    • letswin3 - Feb 12, 2014 at 3:00 PM

      Realdeal, you wrote this exactly as I dictated it to you. Just jokin, but I agree with everything you say here. Can a rookie manager possibly have more good solutions in setting a batting order? And, as you say, if players change, he can change the order …. so many good options here.

      One additional thought …. when Werth was asked to hit leadoff and 2nd. he never hesitated. This guy is very bright, sees everything, and is a team player. He will do what is asked of him, without a whimper. Future manager in training.

  12. sjm308 - Feb 11, 2014 at 5:26 PM

    Great comments throughout.

    I want Harper hitting 3rd & while I thought Ramos did a great job in the 8 spot, Natsjack makes an excellent point & Rendon hopefully will continue to show good plate discipline. I don’t think the alternating rt/left that Davey emphasized is that big a deal.

    Span
    Werth
    Harper
    Zimm
    Desmond
    Ramos
    LaRoche
    Rendon

    Those first 3 guys will see a lot of pitches which hopefully sets up everyone else.

    • Section 222 - Feb 11, 2014 at 5:49 PM

      That sounds about right sjm. :-)

    • Nats128 - Feb 11, 2014 at 6:01 PM

      Is that your lineup if Laroche is struggling or your lineup regardless.

      • sjm308 - Feb 11, 2014 at 9:20 PM

        No! I have him on a short leash. One caveat, if he is playing great defense, I bat him 8th and give him lots of rest vs. lefties

  13. sjberke - Feb 11, 2014 at 6:03 PM

    Did you know our own NatsLady is now famous? Fred Goggin of CNBC just read a tweet of hers during a break in CNBC’s curling coverage from Sochi. It decried the state of US curling–I’ll let her repeat the tweet if she wishes–but congrats!

    • NatsLady - Feb 11, 2014 at 10:58 PM

      Here was my tweet. (And I said this BEFORE the ladies got blown out by Great Britain…)

      Rose I. @NatsLady
      The US doesn’t seem to be very good at #curling. Minnesota, you had ONE job!!!!

      • DaveB - Feb 12, 2014 at 6:49 AM

        I love it … good job NL!

  14. Theophilus T.S. - Feb 11, 2014 at 6:39 PM

    Span, Werth, Harper, Zimmerman, LaRoche, Desmond, Rendon, Ramos.

    You guys act like you’re trying to hold LaRoche. If he comes back from last year’s fiasco he needs to hit in a power position. I know that’s an “if” but that’s what everyone’s hoping for so why not plan it out that way? Plan B comes later.

    Rendon bats ahead of Ramos because I assume Desmond will be on base ahead of him and we want someone who can hit and run, or draw a walk, at seven.

    • Theophilus T.S. - Feb 11, 2014 at 6:46 PM

      “hide”, not “hold”

    • sjm308 - Feb 11, 2014 at 9:48 PM

      Theo – you are probably right with my spot for LaRoche. I would love to see him get that stroke back but I am just not positive he can do that. I guess I would start him in a power position no matter how he does this spring and let him show that he does or does not have it back. I think the fact that he is in a contract year will help but I think his age will hurt. I would love to see .250 with 25 HR and 80+ rbi and you are correct that unless he is in a power position those RBI’s would be difficult.

    • Section 222 - Feb 12, 2014 at 12:10 AM

      Sure, if ALR is tearing it up after a couple of months I’d be fine with batting him 4th or 5th again. But at the beginning of the season, no way I want his rally killing ways in a power position. Werth, Zim, Harper, Desi, and maybe even Ramos are all hitters I want coming up with guys on base before ALR. Why would you just cross your fingers and hope that he’s back, rather than wait until he proves that last year was an aberration?

      Last year, ALR batted 4th or 5th in 106 games! Davey didn’t start to bat him 6th consistently until August 9. That’s ridiculous. This is a guy whose slashline on July 1 was .256/.339/.444/.783 and over the course of the year was .237/.332/.403/.736 Yet he batted before Des, whose slashline on July 1 was .275/.314/.508/.822, for most of the season.

      I sincerely hope Matt Williams doesn’t stubbornly keep someone in the middle of the order who isn’t performing. That has a big impact on a team’s run production.

  15. Doc - Feb 11, 2014 at 10:42 PM

    I think for old time’s sake we should do up a batting order, with the principals as listed above, according to what Davey proposed in a project towards his MA in math—batting order based on declining order of OBP.

  16. veejh - Feb 12, 2014 at 12:55 AM

    Taylor Jordan broke his ankle in the offseason. Is this old news?

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