5) WHO HITS WHERE?
Overlooked with some of the issues we and others addressed all winter is how does manager Dusty Baker assemble what is a potent lineup.
The addition of Adam Eaton—and the departure of Danny Espinosa—gives the Nationals a stronger offense to terrorize NL pitchers with. A full season of Trea Turner and a healthy Bryce Harper will cause opposing managers and pitching coach’s nightmares. How to put it a lineup together is another story.
The departure of Espinosa and Wilson Ramos cut some of the power from the lineup. Both 20 home run hitters in 2016, replacing that production was an issue. New catcher Derek Norris has double-digit home run power. Turner can hit extra-base hits like a seasoned vet and Harper should return to his 2015 prowess.
Where they bat is something Baker will work on all month. With limited action the first half of the Grapefruit League—more important just to get swings in than strategy—watch how he constructs the batting order over the last two weeks.
As pitchers stretch out into pitching five and six innings, starting hitters will get two and three plate appearances a game. Will Eaton or Turner hit leadoff? How do you protect Daniel Murphy and Harper? Where do you hit Jayson Werth?
Sometimes, there are good questions to have. This fits the description.
Even if things change the first month of the season, the basics will settle before the trip north and we should be excited.