With six weeks until the Washington Nationals open their 2018 season, here is the first crack at predicting their Opening Day lineup. Hope your eraser is handy.
Opening Day for the Washington Nationals is right around the corner.
Major League Baseball, as part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, starts everyone on March 29. Although games outside the United States started earlier on the calendar, this is the earliest mass start in the game’s history. The Nats get their lone visit out of the way to Great American Ballpark to open against the Cincinnati Reds.
With new manager Dave Martinez, expect a few new wrinkles in lineup construction. Will he bat the pitcher eighth? Where will he place Trea Turner in the order? Will he follow the latest data trends and bat Bryce Harper, as the team’s best hitter, second?
The next six weeks in Florida will shed the most light where Martinez wants to go. He has already said Adam Eaton will leadoff. Where he goes from there depends on how well the rest of the offense meshes together along with Daniel Murphy’s knee.
Although Murphy is walking okay, he remains questionable to start the season. The good news is he will return early in the year if he is not ready from the start.
So, with that caveat out of the way, here is an early projection of the lineup for Opening Day with FanGraphs’ projections for the season. They use three different sources for numbers and should be used as a guide and not as absolute. The Steamer, Depth Charts and projections from smart fans are used.
Remember, the last two Nats squads set the record for most runs scored over a 162-game season. There is not a ton of tinkering to do.
With Murphy unsure, he is not in the lineup, but earns a slide at the end because he is their starting second baseman when healthy. So, here is a possible look at Martinez’s first counting lineup.