Nationals: The Perfect 2021 Lineup
By Max Rayman
Leading Off: CF, Victor Robles
Now is the time for Victor Robles to take the leadoff reigns from Turner. After an impressive rookie season where he hit .255, with 17 homers, 65 RBIs, and an OPS of .745, Robles took a major step back in 2020. He could never get going and was trying too hard at the plate to crush everything. He finished the season hitting .220, with three homers, 15 RBIs, and a .608 OPS. He needs to settle down and take the Juan Soto approach. Instead of always aiming for the fence, just put the ball in play.
It wasn’t just at the plate where Robles took a step back. After emerging as one of the best defensive centerfielders in 2019, Robles stumbled in 2020. During his rookie season, he had 12 outfield assists and 25 DRS, but this dropped to 1 outfield assist and -4 DRS in 2020.
Recently, he has been playing in the Dominican Winter League, leading off for Águilas Cibaeñas. If Robles can consistently put it together, he will become the leadoff hitter Washington needs and in turn, will allow for Turner to move down in the lineup to provide more power. Robles has the speed to lead off but will need to be more consistent at the plate.
Batting Second: SS, Trea Turner
Last season, Trea Turner finally came into his own, hitting .335, with 12 homers, 41 RBIs, and an OPS of .982. He has always been a speed threat, but thanks to injuries, has been inconsistent at the plate. Finally putting it all together, Turner went on to lead all shortstops in BA, SB, OBP, SLG, OPS, OPS+, and wRC+. Impressive stuff. The 27-year-old has primarily hit leadoff for Washington, but moving him down a spot in front of Soto adds extra pressure on opposing pitchers early.
After battling injuries in 2017 and 2019, Turner was finally able to stay healthy and finally lived up to his hype. He took a step back in the stolen base department, but expect him to be back to his aggressive self moving forward. After all, from 2016-2019, he posted 30+ steals, peaking with 46 in only 98 games during the 2017 season.
Turner has two years left on his contract and is only 27. Expect the speedster to build upon his breakout year, especially after he was snubbed from the All MLB Team.
Batting Third: RF, Juan Soto
After making his presence felt on the biggest stage, Soto continued to exceed expectations. In 2020, Juan Soto emerged as a threat to Mike Trout for the best hitter in baseball. The 22-year-old only appeared in 47 games due to a positive COVID test that made him miss the beginning of the season. Despite that, he still won the NL batting title, hitting .351, with 13 homers, 37 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.185. He was ineligible to qualify for NL MVP but was named to the All MLB first team for outfield. Soto is the heart and soul of the lineup and will carry the Nationals as far as he can.