One of the main lineup decisions this spring, will be what to do with star shortstop Trea Turner. And there’s plenty of choices for the Washington Nationals.
The beginning of the spring training slate is almost here. Finally, a chance to look at the 2018 version of the Washington Nationals. It will be the first time, new manager Davey Martinez will have to set a lineup and be the main decision maker.
But there’s one lineup decision that currently has a wide variety of opinions. What do you do with Trea Turner?
In the long-term, Turner’s speed will likely see him top the Nats batting order for many years. But, right now while still young and perfecting his approach at the plate, this may not be best.
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As Martinez has said previously, he expects Adam Eaton to be his lead-off hitter. This seems like the right move to start the season.
OBP is a metric used a lot to determine a good table setter, meaning more opportunity for hitters behind them to drive them in. Eaton’s OBP has been .363 since he left the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2014. And Turner’s career .348, all be it from a smaller sample, is noticeably lower.
So what are the other options to consider.
Fifth or Sixth
When predicting the Opening Day lineup, we had the shortstop hitting fifth. Or sixth if Daniel Murphy healthy in time for the start of the season. This position would be the best of both worlds for Turner.
Hitting here would allow him plenty of chances to utilize his ability to barrel the ball up. Also, giving him enough chances to steal in order to get into scoring position for the last batters before the pitcher. Assuming there’s not too much traffic on the bases in front of him.
This is where the speedster hit the majority the brief time he and Eaton were in the same lineup last season. He would act as a another on-base and speed threat near the top of the order should Eaton fail to reach.
However, the downside of hitting second is the man he then likely hits in-front of. Bryce Harper. If Turner gets on base just before Harper steps into the batter’s box, it drastically reduces the need for him to swipe a bag. And, in doing so, taking away his best weapon.
This is the wildcard choice right now, but it does makes a lot of sense. Martinez hasn’t rule out hitting the pitcher eighth, which opens up the ninth spot. The favorite at this point would be Michael Taylor who seems a good fit for the role. But, Turner is also a nice fit.
Were he to bat at the foot of the order, it would virtually guarantee ample opportunities to wreak havoc on the basepaths. With the pitcher hitting eighth, more often than not, there won’t be many base-runners to slow him.
The downside of this approach is that Turner would see a drastic decrease in ABs over a prolonged period of time. And is that really worth doing to one of your offensive spark plugs?
Wherever the Washington Nationals decide to bat Turner, 2018 may be the season he really arrives on the scene. Adding to the Nats large haul of superstars already on the roster.