With Bryce Harper moved to second in the lineup, should that be where he hits in the Washington Nationals lineup
Before yesterday’s postponement, Dusty Baker kept the Washington Nationals lineup mostly the same from what it was in Game 1 of the NLDS. The only change Baker made was that he had Jose Lobaton behind the plate instead of rookie Pedro Severino. However, there has been one change in the lineup that has stood out.
In Game 1,Bryce Harper hit second in the batting order for the Washington Nationals against Clayton Kershaw. Before yesterday, Harper hit second only five times during the regular season. In those games, he went 2-for-17 (.118) with one home run and two RBI’s.
On Friday afternoon, Baker explained his decision to move Harper in the lineup, which should also apply to today’s game since the Washington Nationals are facing another left-handed starter in Rich Hill:
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In a lineup, the number two hitter is usually a player who is going to take a lot of pitches and get on-base at a high rate. Normally, that spot belongs to Jayson Werth, who is one of the best in baseball at seeing pitches and working the count. In game one, Werth saw 28 pitches in five at-bats.
That being said, is the number two spot the ideal place for Harper to hit in the order? For me, I would like to see Harper hit in the third or fourth spot in the order for his power. On Friday, Harper was able to foul off fastballs, but his timing isn’t fully back.
At the same time, will Harper hitting second cause him to take more pitches and be more selective? During Game 1, Harper saw 23 pitches in five at-bats (second on the team behind Werth). When he hit in the second spot of the lineup during the regular season, he saw 5.1 pitches on average (19 plate appearances).
One of the questions I have about Harper hitting second is whether or not that’s going to prevent Trea Turner from being as aggressive with stealing bases. With Werth in the second spot, Turner can steal without having to worry about taking RBI chances from Harper or Daniel Murphy.
While I don’t think batting Harper second is going to cost the Washington Nationals the NLDS, it’s a little surprising to see Baker go to an option that he hasn’t really tried during the season. With that being said, the Washington Nationals need Harper to have a big series regardless of where he hits in the starting lineup.