Washington Nationals: Predicting the 2018 Opening Day lineup
By Ron Juckett
SS TREA TURNER
.298-.299 Avg. 16-18 HR 65-74 RBI .347-.348 OBP 48-60 SB
You can make a case for Turner hitting first, second, sixth or ninth if Martinez experiments with the pitcher at eight. Again, if Murphy is ready by Opening Day, slide Turner to six.
His power numbers are better than Wilmer Difo’s and his batter’s eye tops Michael Taylor, giving him the predicted nod batting fifth. Once Murphy becomes a regular, watch for the experimenting to begin.
But, if Turner uses better plate discipline this spring, do not be surprised if he hits second from the start. Yes, with Harper up immediately, it puts a huge damper on Turner’s speed game. But, in an ideal world, he is a leadoff hitter who will steal 65-80 bases while swatting 20 home runs.
Expect Martinez to ease him up the lineup as the season passes. Turner has a tendency to press too hard at the plate. The playoffs last fall were exhibit “A.”
An early season swap of Rendon and Turner’s spots takes pressure off. It is important in his third season to let the game come to him and not force tempo and mistakes. Yes, the fractured wrist stopped his momentum. This is the first year he should play over 100 regular season games.
Using Turner later in the lineup gives his speed a chance to shine. A rare element turning walks and infield hits into doubles. But, a strong spring moves him up the chain. Pencil him in at five with an eraser handy.