As I like to keep up with what other Nats fans are saying about the team I came across a Bleacher Report article about the batting order. Everyone has their own opinion and that is something that makes sports so great. You don’t have to be in the locker room to have an opinion of the team on the field. That is why I am writing this right now. I get to have my opinion and so does everyone else. I just try to put some statistics behind my opinion each time. Like I will for this topic.
Does Ian Desmond hit 2nd or 5th in this Nats lineup?
Bleacher Report has him hitting 2nd which was kind of shocking to me. His walk rate is around 6%, while his strikeout percentage is over 22%. That is better fit for a five hole hitter more than a two. A two hole hitter needs to be able to see pitches, draw walks and be able to set the table for the inning if needed. I don’t see that as a strong suit for Desmond.
Desmond sees just over three and a half pitches per plate appearance which ranks 9th best for his position in baseball. While on the other hand Jayson Werth sees the most pitches in all of baseball by an outfielder. He sees more than a half pitch more per plate appearance over a complete season. Werth could fit into the two spot, but I see Bryce Harper fitting there with Werth third. That can give Harper a chance to steal more bases and Werth the ability to drive in more runs with his great contact rate.
Desmond has won back to back Silver Sluggers from the five spot in the order so why change it now? He feels comfortable in that spot and he doesn’t really fit into the two hole hitter persona. He does steal 20 bases a year, but if you put Harper in that spot he has the chance to steal 30 or more under new manager Matt Williams.
Needless to say the Nationals have options all the way through their order and pieces can interchange if needed. Just look at the Tampa Bay Rays, they change their lineup each and every night. It has seemed to work out for them here recently. Williams has a lot of great talent on this roster, he just has to be smart in the way he uses each piece.