A first look at the heart of the Washington Nationals offense together shows tremendous talent. How good are they and what does it mean?
The Washington Nationals offense has the potential to be scary good.
Yes, you already know that. But, if Thursday’s effort indicates how good the first six are in the lineup, the Nats will have the offensive firepower to overcome a bad start by the pitchers or a shaky bullpen.
Although the order will change, and you should never get too excited over a single Spring Training game, the execution shown the first time the offensive core played together is awesome.
More from District on Deck
- Latest DraftKings Sportsbook Promo Code in Maryland: Bet $5, Win $200 Guaranteed
- Nationals Claim Jeter Downs Off Waivers
- Washington Nationals Minor League Spotlight: Robert Hassell III
- Washington Nationals Tuesday Q&A
- 3 Free Agents the Nationals Should Gamble On
Trea Turner really has Tim Raines and Rickey Henderson potential out of the leadoff spot. He stole two bases Thursday and is an instant threat to score any time he reaches base. Adam Eaton can fly, hitting a stand-up triple.
Bryce Harper’s batting eye is real. So far this spring, he lays off pitches he swung at last year. His latest home run was off the end of the bat to right-center field and not on the sweet spot. Anthony Rendon is locked in and Jayson Werth crushed one off the left field foul pole.
Werth forgot the Nats were not the home team and nearly missed his at-bat. Still smashed the homer.
With Matt Wieters and Ryan Zimmerman likely to fill out the lineup with the pitcher in the traditional ninth spot, the Nats will give opposing pitchers nightmares. So far, they have shown incredible plate discipline.
If they continue to lay off bad pitches and make pitchers make mistakes, they will light up the scoreboard this summer at Nationals Park and elsewhere.
The key is taking those pitches. It is a philosophy used so well in the past by the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees to win championships. For a club that can free swing with the rest of them, cutting down the strikeout numbers is a big deal.
With the departure of Danny Espinosa, the contact rate of the team increases. If Harper continues to relax and draw the walks—or wait for a meatball to smash—that sets the table for the rest of the team.
Speaking of table setters, Turner’s ability to steal at will gives another boost. Because the rest of the lineup can hit for extra bases, even the best of pitchers will struggle to focus on keeping Turner still while others hit. As long as he continues to steal effectively, his presence is distracting.
Yes, there are dangers of four left-handed batters in a row. Sure, not every game will feel like batting practice. Sometimes, it is not your night.
What the offense can do is take pressure off the back end of the starting rotation and bullpen to a degree. It will be a boost to Gio Gonzalez and Joe Ross knowing they will have run support. Squeeze an extra inning or two from them and reduce the load on the bullpen.
Over a full season, these items add up. Although nothing is guaranteed, the potential for great things with the Washington Nationals are real. Seriously.