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Should Desmond be Nats’ No. 2 hitter?

Mar 10, 2014, 6:00 AM EST

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A manager constructs a spring training lineup with plenty of objectives in mind. First and foremost, he wants to make sure his best players get as many at-bats as possible as quickly as possible before they take a seat after four or five innings.

But a manager also uses exhibition play to try some things out and put together various lineup combinations he may envision using on a regular basis once the regular season begins.

And knowing that, it’s hard to ignore the fact Matt Williams has penciled in Ian Desmond as his No. 2 hitter five times in seven total Grapefruit League games to date for the Nationals shortstop.

Desmond has hit second plenty in his career: 112 times, second only to the 146 times he has hit sixth. But most of those came in his early days in the big leagues, 2010 and 2011, when ex-manager Jim Riggleman envisioned Desmond as more of a table-setter than a run-producer.

Davey Johnson believed Desmond was the latter and used him mostly as his No. 5 or No. 6 hitter the last two seasons. The results spoke for themselves: Desmond won back-to-back Silver Slugger Awards while posting outstanding slash numbers from the heart of the lineup (.297/.329/.494 when batting fifth, .289/.343/.511 when batting sixth).

Williams isn’t committing to anything lineup-wise yet, but he did tell reporters in Viera yesterday what he likes about Desmond as a No. 2 hitter.

“One, I like his leadership,” the rookie manager said. “I like it with the ability to steal bases. He’s a smart baserunner. … He can hit the ball to all fields, and he’s got thunder. In the middle of your lineup, you certainly want that. That’s what he brings as a No. 2 hitter.”

A lineup boasting Denard Span in the leadoff spot, Desmond batting second and then some combination of Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman as 3-4-5 certainly has the potential to be quite potent. But that’s only if Desmond continues to produce from the 2-spot the way he has from the 5- and 6-spot the last two seasons.

The biggest knock on Desmond has always been his over-aggressive approach at the plate. If he sees a first-pitch fastball, he’s going to swing. And that approach obviously worked well for him in some really big spots the last couple years, leading to plenty of RBI.

But a No. 2 hitter, traditionally speaking, is a club’s most-patient hitter, someone who can work the count, foul off some pitches and give the leadoff man in front of him an opportunity to run. That’s not Desmond.

Perhaps patience is overrated, and there is a growing philosophy around baseball that a club’s best all-around hitter should bat second to take advantage of the fact he’ll get more plate appearances over the course of the season than he would farther down the order.

Whether Desmond is successful hitting second or not depends on his ability to continue to do what he’s been doing for two years now, no matter his place on the lineup card.

  1. unterp - Mar 10, 2014 at 6:55 AM

    Should Desmond be Nats’ No. 2 hitter?

    No, #5,6, or7…

    • nats128 - Mar 10, 2014 at 7:50 AM

      I agree with 5 or 6. I would not push Desi back to 7.

    • tcostant - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:03 AM

      What unterp said. #2 is out…

  2. unterp - Mar 10, 2014 at 6:58 AM

    also, if Matt Williams bats Ramos 8th, then I really question him as a manager…

    • nats128 - Mar 10, 2014 at 7:49 AM

      I dont think he will be doing that with Ramos.

  3. Joe Seamhead - Mar 10, 2014 at 7:07 AM

    When I saw Williams’ reference about Desi hitting 2nd over the weekend I said to my self,”Self? This will make for some interesting comments on the NI ‘s board.” Personally, I think that Desmond’s maturing as a player negates any perceived weaknesses of him batting anywhere in the order. He is a talented, seasoned veteran now, and like
    Jayson Werth , he will adapt, and be productive, wherever he hits in the lineup. The tougher decision is going to be keeping Wilson Ramos lower in the order if he continues mutilating balls pitched to him like he has been.Oh, woe, to having all of these first world problems!

    • nats128 - Mar 10, 2014 at 7:58 AM

      Desi is a team first player and would bat 9th in a AL game if Williams asked him to. I agree with you that Desi is maturing and can do it rather its where Desi hits best.

      The myth is Desi has more ABs batting 2nd then he does batting 5th. His BA/OBP are fine batting 2nd and the issue is his power drops way off batting 2nd and you can theorize that he changes his approach.

      Bats 2nd and slashes: .283 .324 .393 .717
      Bats 5th and slashes: .297 .329 .494 .823
      Bats 6th and slashes: .289 .343 .511 .854

      • nats128 - Mar 10, 2014 at 8:00 AM

        Should say the “myth is not true Desi has more ABs”

      • natinalsgo - Mar 10, 2014 at 8:51 AM

        Good points on the career OPS and power comparisons.

      • therealjohnc - Mar 10, 2014 at 1:03 PM

        Problem with the career OPS/power by spot in the batting order: as Mark noted, when Desmond hit second was early in his career, and for whatever reason(s) (maturity, change in approach, etc) he was not the same player that he was by the time he was hitting in the #5 or #6 spot. So even though it’s the same player, it’s comparing apples and oranges.

        That said, I like a more patient, higher OBP player in the #2 spot (Rendon or Zimmerman?).

  4. sjm308 - Mar 10, 2014 at 7:39 AM

    Not sure how many times Ramos has even hit 8th this spring. I think the answer is ZERO. Yesterday he batted cleanup. If you take Mark’s theory on Desmond as making some sense, , why would you think he would all of a sudden move Ramos down?

    The one thing I do remember from last year when Ramos was crushing the ball, was his statement that he actually liked hitting 8th.

    Back to Desmond, I think Seamhead has a good point about Desmond growing as a player. As I thought about the lineup, if you have Span-Desmond-Harper as your first 3, you have better than average speed which I have always thought makes a difference, especially if you can score early in a game and feel that is important.

    Nothing I hate more then station to station baseball and that will not happen with those 3 at the top. You can’t have speed all the way through the lineup, but Ramos has also shown more aggressive behaviors running the bases and even LaRoche has stolen a base in the past. It’s not the same group and its not the same manager.

    One last thing, one of the aspects of being a baseball fan (or in any sport I suppose) is the ability to question the strategy and decisions of the manager. If we agree with everything Williams/Rizzo does it would make for a pretty boring season. On lineup construction he is in a lose-lose situation with this group until his team wins consistently and then things quiet down quickly.

    OK – one more – can’t ignore that I have gone months since being able to have a day like yesterday with a huge Maryland win in basketball (& crushing the Cards helped as well even though it was spring training).

    Go Nats!! Go Terps!!

  5. Candide - Mar 10, 2014 at 7:53 AM

    Rendon. Discipline with a little power. Can hit to all fields. Didn’t sound like Williams has any plans to start him at number 2, but I think he’ll be there before the end of the season.

    Good problems to have.

    Heading home this afternoon.

  6. Hiram Hover - Mar 10, 2014 at 7:59 AM

    WIlliams has said that he wants more running and speed on the base paths. Desmond was the teams #1 base stealer last year, with Span at #2. So having both of them at the top of the order makes sense.

    In no other sense that I can see does it really make sense to bat Ian #2.

    • Hiram Hover - Mar 10, 2014 at 8:11 AM

      PS – where Desmond ranked in other categories last year among regular Nats hitters:

      BA – 2d
      OBP – 5th
      OPS – 5th
      ISO – 5th
      K% – 2d
      BB% – 7th

      • natinalsgo - Mar 10, 2014 at 9:07 AM

        5th in OBP with a high BA seems to place him 5 or 6 in an order. His speed is compelling and still works back in the order.

    • adcwonk - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:13 AM

      Combine the following two statements:

      But a No. 2 hitter, traditionally speaking, is a club’s most-patient hitter

      and:

      [Desmond is] 5th in OBP with a high BA

      Put the two together, and that’s why I like Werth #2.

      Desmond swings at a lot of first pitches, and, the important thing: he does well when he swings at those first pitch fastballs! We don’t want to take away he bread and butter.

      OTOH, what’s the best way to ensure that Desi gets a lot of first pitch fastballs? But putting Harper/Werth/Zimm behind him ;-)

  7. alexva6 - Mar 10, 2014 at 8:01 AM

    Span
    Desmond
    Zimmerman
    Werth
    Harper
    Ramos
    LaRoche
    Rendon

    works for me

    • adcwonk - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:14 AM

      I think that this might be Harper’s breakout year. If that’s the case, batting him 5th takes away too many at bats. I’d rather see him 3rd or 4th.

      • lphboston - Mar 10, 2014 at 12:39 PM

        I’m with you, ADC. The first thing you do is find the best spot for your best hitter, and it makes little sense to have Harper anywhere but third. If he’s having trouble with lefties maybe move him down to 5 in certain situations, but not often. The three hole gets him the at-bats you’re talking about, and if the 1-2 guys get on base with any regularity he’ll have plenty of RBI opportunities. Plus, at 3 it guarantees he’ll get up in the first inning.

      • zmunchkin - Mar 10, 2014 at 1:04 PM

        If Harper ends up being the best power/rbi guys the Nats have you put him where he helps the team get the most runs, not where he gets the most at bats. That is the logic that most analysts I’ve heard give as their rationale for putting him 4th, 5th or even 6th. If the guys behind him aren’t as scary to the other team as Harper is, they will pitch around him.

      • adcwonk - Mar 10, 2014 at 3:29 PM

        But getting the best hitter and slugger on the team more at bats helps you get more runs!

      • alexva6 - Mar 10, 2014 at 1:48 PM

        adc, I also think this may be Harper’s breakout year and if that happens I would not hesitate to hit him 3rd and move Zim and Werth back one slot.

        I also think Rendon will progress to where they’ll be forced to move him up as well, maybe all the way to #2.

        my suggestion is for opening the season based on what they have shown to date.

  8. zmunchkin - Mar 10, 2014 at 8:12 AM

    Saturday on Nats Talk on MASN Mike Wallace had (if I remember correctly) Harper, Desmond and Rendon as his 6, 7 ,8 with Ramos either 4th or 5th (can’t remember which). Part of his rationale was that you want good baserunners with some speed hitting before the pitcher for the sac bunt to get to 2nd or 3rd. He also pointed that for the #8 guy you want someone with good strike zone recognition – something he liked in Rendon.

  9. Joe Seamhead - Mar 10, 2014 at 8:14 AM

    My tongue is firmly in my cheek when I say that i don’t care if Adam LaRoche leads of and the pitcher of the day bats second. I just want 78 degree days, beer in hand, and watching some baseball from my seat in the Infield Gallery at Nats Park. Let’s Play Ball!!!

    • zmunchkin - Mar 10, 2014 at 8:44 AM

      +1.

      Also from my infield gallery seats! As long as it is good beer.

  10. Joe Seamhead - Mar 10, 2014 at 8:55 AM

    The beer choices have improved, though my favorite beer is my next one. [And I wish we had an edit button].

  11. Doc - Mar 10, 2014 at 8:55 AM

    Agree with HH.

    Desi is self-programmed to be a slugger.

    His OBP & BBs in this lineup is best down in the order. Traditionally, a #2 is more or a pitch taker, and that is not Desi.

    Utilizing his speed, yeah OK but you have to be on base first. I’d put Rendon in at #2.

    • natinalsgo - Mar 10, 2014 at 9:41 AM

      Good summation and analysis. The bigger part of the formation of the lineup is where you bat Ramos and LaRoche.

      If LaRoche is hitting, Williams will look like a genius.

      Against RHP: Span, Werth, Harper, Zim, ALR, Desi, Ramos, Rendon

      Against LHP: Rendon, Werth, Zim, Ramos, Desi, Harper, Espi, Span

  12. Faraz Shaikh - Mar 10, 2014 at 9:22 AM

    I like Desmond lower in the order. Isn’t he too aggressive for 2nd spot? He has no on base skills I believe. I mean Rendon, a rookie topped his BB% last season. I am not too fond of the idea. Desi has done well in middle of the order, let’s keep him there.

  13. Faraz Shaikh - Mar 10, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    Did y’all see this?

    • natinalsgo - Mar 10, 2014 at 9:56 AM

      Yes, the AL East is tough but I don’t put much stock in the rest as injuries and star players emerge to change the dynamics quickly.

      I think the Mets look better on paper and the Phoolies injury to Hamels where he will miss significant time will hurt them.

      I’m curious about the Medlen injury and the severity. What will the Barves do? Interesting discussion on Ervin Santana yesterday as an alternative if they could pull it off.

      • NatsLady - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:25 AM

        It’s cool graph, but what’s more important to me (and can’t be predicted this early) is how often do we face the No. 1-2 of each team’s pitching staff? We need to clean up against the bad teams and the bad pitchers, and hold our own against the Aces.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:29 AM

        +1 Nats unfortunately matched up with the Dodgers Aces on both series last year while the Braves got the back of the rotation guys.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:31 AM

        that grabbing his elbow is never a good thing. any word on fister from our end?

    • adcwonk - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:22 AM

      If you take the mathematical implications of that — they are projecting the Nats to _have_ the highest WAR in the NL East.

      The logic is like this: the Braves play (almost the exact) same schedule as the Nats — with the major difference is that the Braves don’t have to play the Braves, they play the Nats; and the Nats don’t have to play the Nats, they play the Braves instead. (Follow that?)

      So, if the Nats have a significantly lower “WAR against” than the Braves, it can only be because the Nats _have_ a higher WAR than the Braves.

      (I hope that make sense!)

      • Faraz Shaikh - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:29 AM

        makes total sense but looking at the graph, difference must be more than just us facing off against braves and vice versa. you are sure our schedules match 100%?

      • adcwonk - Mar 10, 2014 at 3:30 PM

        Truthfully, I didn’t look — I’m guessing part of the difference is the fact that the Nats play the O’s while the Braves play [I dunno]. I’m *guessing* that there’s no difference beyond that.

    • Doc - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:41 AM

      Interesting stuff, Faraz. Just when you think baseball has exhausted its’ limit on stats, it comes up with more stuff.

      Sure says that the Nats have a very advantageous position in playing with WAR teams. Still it’s only on paper, and games have to be played.

      Speaking of stats, it is my early opinion that ol’ Matty is not much of a fan of offensive sabermetrics. Seems to have more of a feeling for the defensive numbers.

  14. Sonny G 10 - Mar 10, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    A pity Matt will waste half a season only to come to realize Desi needs to bat 5th or 6th.

    • Section 222 - Mar 10, 2014 at 9:44 AM

      Well put. “Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.”

      • natinalsgo - Mar 10, 2014 at 9:58 AM

        Tough crowd. I don’t like Desi hitting 2nd but talk of condemnation is a little dramatic this early in the morning. ;)

        Your quote could be Matty’s next quote of the day.

      • Section 222 - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:06 AM

        Hah! Or maybe Werth should cross out the next trite quote Williams puts up and replace it with this one.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:15 AM

        Get it up on the Tweeter! I agree with you. A large sample size of stats can be the past that guides you.

        It’s still the Manager who changes on the fly and adapts does well. Mike Matheny has made odd moves and they worked. He used his bench for pinch runners and defensive replacements because that’s why he had them on the bench.

        I think Matty will be creative and will pay attention to the small details.

      • Section 222 - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:24 AM

        I agree with your confidence about Williams, which is why these trial balloons — Harper 5th, Desi 2nd — are so disappointing. You are exactly right that adjusting on the fly is important. Davey wasn’t good at that, so we saw Chad Tracy and ALR killing rallies all year long, not to mention the Espi debacle. The key thing is not what the batting order is on Opening Day, but whether Williams and Rizzo are willing to make changes to the order, or the roster, if things aren’t going well. I’m hoping they learned from last year and won’t repeat it.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:28 AM

        Somebody who gets it! It’s finding what works. That’s the key. I think part of the problem is Werth sort of said he wanted to hit back in the order. I wish Matt luck as it’s bot easy accommodating everyone but that’s why he’s the boss.

  15. David Proctor - Mar 10, 2014 at 9:46 AM

    FWIW, Williams said while he likes Desi batting 2, he’s batting him 2 in the Spring because he wants to get him as many ABs as possible before the regulars leave. He very much left the possibility open of dropping Desmond down and batting Rendon 2 (he mentioned Rendon by name as a 2 hole hitter). I’m hoping he decides on that ultimately.

    • natinalsgo - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:02 AM

      Harper then Werth or Werth then Harper sure worked in the past.

      I like Rendon in the 2 but it pushes everyone else back in the order and I think Ramos as the team’s best RBI guy has to move up.

      • adcwonk - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:28 AM

        +1

      • Section 222 - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:12 AM

        +2

      • therealjohnc - Mar 10, 2014 at 1:22 PM

        Pushing everyone else back in the order isn’t that big a deal – the lineup is long either way. And it means those guys hitting back in the order are more likely to have runners on base to drive in. Remember all those years when Zim was hitting third and kept coming up with two outs and no one on base? That’s a way to waste a lot of offensive potential.

        Span is a crossroads guy for me; if he can’t keep his OBP up above .335/.340 or so, then I don’t want him at the top of the order. If he can, then he can hit leadoff against LHP and RHP. While he struggled against LHP last year, that was really unusual for him. In his previous seasons he had very little platoon split, and in fact had a couple of seasons where he hit LHP better than RHP.

        Span/Zim/Harper/Werth/Desmond/Ramos/ALR/Rendon opens the season for me. It’s a coin toss between Desmond and Ramos for me, and I go with Desmond in the #5 spot so that he’s running in front of Ramos rather than Ramos running in front of Desmond :-)

    • Section 222 - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:27 AM

      Correct. That’s why he had Rendon leading off yesterday. I’ll be suprised if Rendon bats 2nd to start the season. That may very well be his optimal spot later in this career, but not now, with the number of even better hitters this lineup has. Zim, Werth, Harper, Desi, and Ramos should all bat before Rendon, not after.

      • David Proctor - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:32 AM

        Well the thing is. You don’t want to do Harper 2 because of the L/L. Werth has already said he wants to bat 3 and it seems Williams is going to oblige. You obviously won’t do Ramos 2. We’ve discussed Desi. So that basically leaves Zim or Rendon.

    • Jb - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:55 AM

      He’s also batting Desi second in the spring to find out how well things go with him batting second. That’s what ST is for, to try things out and see what works. So far, batting Desi second seems to be working pretty well.

  16. tclr - Mar 10, 2014 at 9:48 AM

    I think you need Desmond’s pop later in the lineup. I don’t understand why the #2 spot isn’t reserved all season long for Werth. He sees so many pitches and is easily our smartest batter. He saw the fifth most pitches per PA in all of the MLB last season.

    My humble opinion:

    Span
    Werth
    Harper
    Zim
    Desi
    Ramos
    Laroche
    Rendon

    • adcwonk - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:30 AM

      I like this (unless ALR hits better). I completely agree that Werth ought to have the inside track on batting second. I also agree with the above comment that Werth-Harper and/or Harper-Werth worked pretty darn well last year.

      I also like that a power hitter is behind Desi — the more first pitch fastballs that Desi sees, the better off the Nats will be.

    • Section 222 - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:31 AM

      As you can see below, I like your humble opinion alot. :-)

  17. Section 222 - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:04 AM

    And while we’re discussing the past, I’ll bet this discussion will go pretty much in the same direction as the discussion we had on Feb. 20 when Mark reported that Williams was considering batting Harper 5th.

    http://natsinsider.com/2014/02/20/williams-considers-lineup-with-harper-batting-fifth/#comments

    The new developments since Feb. 20 are:

    1. Ramos showing a lot of power, more speed, and generally raking. He’s certainly making a case for batting no lower than 6th.

    2. No indication that Williams thinks ALR should be a middle of the order hitter, thank goodness. I could see him batting 7th or even 8th in this lineup.

    As for Desmond– check out the Team Pitches Batting section of our B-R page:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/WSN/2013-batting.shtml

    Desi sees the fewest pitches of anyone in our starting lineup other than Span. He swings at the first pitch more than anyone other than Harper (and both of them far outdistance the others). He sees the lowest percentage of 2-0 and 3-1 counts. He also has the lowest contact percentage. Those are not the qualities of a 2-hole hitter, regardless of his “leadership.”

    So I still think Zim, Werth, or Harper should bat second. Leaning toward Zim right now, with Werth 3rd and Harper 4th. But really, mixing and matching those guys 2, 3, 4 would be fine.Then 5/6 would be Desi/Ramos or vice versa, and ALR/Rendon or Rendon/ALR 7th/8th. Batting ALR 8th might lead to some favorable late inning matchups — a left is brought in to face ALR (8) and Span (1), and Hairston gets his best matchup to PH.

    • natinalsgo - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:34 AM

      I wonder if Matty would bump ALR back in the order against RHPs from the start.

      Ramos must move up is all I know.

  18. adcwonk - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    When Desi does swing on a first pitch, when he puts it in play, he has this slash line:

    .385/.387/.505/.893

    Which is why I don’t want to see any pressure on him to _not_ swing on the first pitch. Swinging on the first pitch is his style, and it works well with him.

    • Hiram Hover - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:24 AM

      +1.

      I was skeptical that Desi could sustain good results with such a free swinging style. But he has, so I see no reason to change it. I just want him to bat in the spot best suited to that style, which ain’t #2.

      I also just think Williams is spitballing and thinking out loud , so I don’t put much stock in what he’s saying.

  19. NatsLady - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    I don’t think much can be assumed from ST line-ups. I don’t think they even qualify as “trial balloons.” They are guys getting their at-bats in before they leave the game (including bench players). You’ll get a better preview of MW’s ideas–about line-up and rotation–after the off-day March 18.

    • Section 222 - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:58 AM

      Fair point. I used trial balloons as a shorthand. The orders did lead to questions from the media about the batting order, and Williams then expressed some views (Desi’s leadership is a reason to bat him, 5th would be a good low pressure spot for Harper) that I don’t agree with. But you’re totally right that ST batting orders don’t tell you much until the last week.

  20. Section 222 - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:46 AM

    Davey first put Zim in the No. 2 hole last year on August 6. He batted second in 42 of the remaining 50 games. That was also right about the time that Davey finally dropped ALR out of the 4/5 spot. In 34 of the remaining 50 games, the 2-3-4 was either Zim, Harper, Werth or Zim, Werth, Harper. Zim’s slashline from 8/7 on was .274/.339/.517 with 14 HRs. Werth’s was .322/.419/.571 with 10 HRs. I’d say that is history worth repeating. I truly believe Rendon is going to be a great hitter someday. But right now, he can’t match that kind of power or production.

    • David Proctor - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:53 AM

      So would you prefer something like:

      Span
      Zim
      Werth
      Harper
      Desmond
      Ramos
      ALR
      Rendon?

      I would be ok with this.

      • Section 222 - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:55 AM

        Yes. That’s my current optimum order. I like Desi batting a ahead of Ramos. As DC Wonk mentioned, with Desi’s speed on the bases, Ramos would be likely to get first pitch fastballs. I forsee Desi scoring from 1st on a Ramos double as a recurring theme of the season. :-)

      • sjm308 - Mar 10, 2014 at 12:15 PM

        this was an excellent way to waste 15 min. reading and thinking about lineups!

        I like David’s lineup at 10:53 but there are so many ways to tweak it and still look pretty damn good.
        You could flip Ramos and Desmond, you could flip Werth & Zim, hell, you could flip Rendon & LaRoche if LaRoche starts slow.

        I would rather see Werth batting 2nd but didn’t he make comments about wanting to hit 3rd at sometime last season? Not crazy about a player making demands but if there was discussion with Williams and an agreement is reached then its fine.

        Just so much fun waiting for real baseball to start – I figure Mark will have that clock up soon!!

        Go Nats!

      • zmunchkin - Mar 10, 2014 at 1:18 PM

        That is similar to what I think Mike Wallace (Nats Talk). Here is what I think he had:

        Span
        Zim
        Werth
        ALR (conditional on his doing well)
        Ramos
        Harper
        Desmond
        Rendon

        When I first heard him say that I was pretty skeptical. But the more I thought about it, it does make some sense – but only if ALR is closer to the ALR of 2012 and not 2013.

      • therealjohnc - Mar 10, 2014 at 1:25 PM

        What team puts their best hitter (Harper) in the #6 spot? I do not like this lineup for that reason.

      • Section 222 - Mar 10, 2014 at 2:40 PM

        Wallace must be smoking something if he thinks ALR should bat 4th and Harper 6th. I think he’s headed for the 7th spot myself.

        Several years ago, Desmond had a terrible time batting 8th, probably because he had a hard time laying off the junk that gets thrown to the guy followed by the pitcher. Hopefully Rendon or ALR, if they end up there, won’t have that problem.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:02 AM

      Not sure how much I would count on those numbers. there was a serious hot streak in there for Zim. he hit like what 9-10 HRs in ten days or something. I doubt that had anything to do with lineup.

      • Section 222 - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:12 AM

        Well, sure, you can’t count on anything. And who knows how much batting orders really matter anyway. Probably not much. But the fact the remains that that order coincided with an extended period of the best baseball the Nats played all year. In the 34 games where the 2-3-4 was Zim, Werth, Harper or Zim, Harper, Werth, the Nats went 21-13 (.617).

      • Faraz Shaikh - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:27 AM

        My 2-3-4 will involve those three players, not sure how exactly.

  21. natinalsgo - Mar 10, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    Just got a glimpse of Nationals Journal and their morning story is “Matt Williams’s Nationals lineup ideas” with discussions of Desi batting 2nd.

    If you read Matt gushing about Rendon in the quotes and paraphrasing then you know there may never really have been a competition at 2nd base with Espinosa or else Matt has already decided Rendon is his starter. Shocking, I know. At least that’s me reading between the lines.

    • sjm308 - Mar 10, 2014 at 12:26 PM

      I read between those same lines and the actual lines had no mention of Espinosa so there is that as well

      • natinalsgo - Mar 10, 2014 at 12:35 PM

        No doubt. The truth usually comes out this time of year as the Manager responds to questions. I wonder if a trade is in the works as Rizzo brought in Carroll I think just in case. I like what I’ve seen overall from Espinosa except I’m concerned that he can revert back at any time. Rendon has star potential and a great attitude and a bright future here.

      • therealjohnc - Mar 10, 2014 at 1:30 PM

        IMHO (hah!) they’re not going to get enough value for Espinosa to offset the value that he adds as utility infielder with an excellent glove as long as his bat isn’t horrible. But I do think that Espinosa has done enough to get a real head start on the backup infielder role.

    • Hiram Hover - Mar 10, 2014 at 12:44 PM

      Thanks for the reference. I never believed there was a real competition at 2B anyway. Danny is competing for backup at best.

  22. philipd763 - Mar 10, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    Ramos should bat cleanup. He’s the Nats best clutch hitter

  23. scnatsfan - Mar 10, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    I’ve always been a proponent of letting your best hitters hit as often as they can.

  24. NatsLady - Mar 10, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    MW is going to do weekly appearances on The Junkies. Davey was funny as all get-out on that show (and at 8 a.m., yet).

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dc-sports-bog/wp/2014/03/10/matt-williams-will-do-weekly-junkies-appearance/

  25. samseymour - Mar 10, 2014 at 1:35 PM

    I’m optimistic about the Nats this year with one big exception — Rafael Soriano. He shouldn’t even be taking up one of the seven BP slots, much less closing for a contender. It’s not personal, it’s just business — he doesn’t have an out pitch. I’m praying Storen makes a comeback. I think Ayala’s better than Soriano, but not good enough game in and game out.

  26. Faraz Shaikh - Mar 10, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    making my list of potential games to attend this season: all bobblehead games and at least one game against Angels (Harper vs Trout) are must watch. has anyone done this or is it too early? haha, I am too excited with lots of free time on my hands today.

  27. NatsLady - Mar 10, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    I know it’s “meaningless,” but the Cards are getting clobbered again, this time by Detroit (15-0 in the 5th inning as I type this).

    Beachy left the ATL-Fillies game after 2 innings with “forearm tightness.”

    Injuries are, as usual, going to be absolutely critical. Stretch, warm-up, NO SHORT-CUTS!!!!

    • natinalsgo - Mar 10, 2014 at 3:09 PM

      Beachy said his UCL IS fine but something isn’t right. Velo is way off.

      Mike Minor is dealing with shoulder soreness and threw gingerly off the mound a few days ago.

      You have to almost certainly rule out Beachy and Medlen and Minor is questionable.

      Teheran, Freddy Garcia, Wood and Hale look like they are their 4 for sure. Still need a 5th and that got a AAA guy today from the White Sox.

    • Section 222 - Mar 10, 2014 at 3:24 PM

      Today’s game is less meaningless than yesterday’s since STL’s lineup includes Carpenter, Jay, Adams, Molina, Holliday, and Peralta. Shelby Miller gave up 5 hits and 2 runs, but the explosion came against lesser pitchers. Looks like Scherzer is in mid-season form.

  28. natinalsgo - Mar 10, 2014 at 3:02 PM

    Crazy news out of Barves camp. Brandon Beachy pulled after 2 innings with bicep tightness. Top velo on fastball at 87 and 88 on some guns.

    They are waiting on MRI reading for Medlen on top of that.

    Looks very much like Teheran, Freddy Garcia and Mike Minor if he is healthy will be their 1-3 to start the season. They have Gavin Floyd available in May/June. Alex Wood and David Hale could be their 4 and 5.

  29. letswin3 - Mar 10, 2014 at 4:15 PM

    With all due respect to Werth’s preference for hitting third, I know he’s a team first guy … and when he sucked it up to hit second and fill a team need before, he was lights out. He would hit 9th to win, and I think he is the answer, at least until Rendon looks to be a better solution. Having said that, I think it should be Span/Werth,Harper/Zim/Desmond/Ramos/Rendon/LaRoach. And Ramos would get a ton of rbi’s with this lineup. Plus, the Nats would start games with a left/right/left/right look. But regardless of the lineup, this team is going to score more runs than the 2013 edition.

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ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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