Batting Seventh: 2B, Starlin Castro
Before he broke his wrist and missed the rest of the season, Starlin Castro was one of the most productive bats on the team. He was hitting .267, with an OBP of .302, and a .752 OPS. Due to a lack of options, Castro was hitting third which was not his cup of tea. Castro lacks production but excels at getting on base. Moving him down in the lineup adds a sparkplug that can jumpstart the offense.
In 2020, Washington’s offense outside of Turner and Soto struggled to consistently get on base. Castro will help stabilize that issue. Luis Garcia needs another year in the minors, allowing Castro to take over at second for the time being. No longer in the three-hole, Castro can help hurt opposing pitchers from the bottom of the order.
Batting Eighth, C, Yan Gomes
Unless the Nationals go out and sign J.T. Realmuto, Yan Gomes is the projected starting catcher. After two years of primarily only starting when Patrick Corbin is on the mound or when Kurt Suzuki needed a day off, Gomes is the man in D.C. Acquired in a trade from Cleveland, Gomes has been with the team since 2019. After the team won the World Series in 2019, Gomes has his 2020 option declined, but he was brought back on a new two-year deal.
Never known for his bat, Gomes was a pleasant surprise in 2020. In 30 games he hit .284, with four homers, 13 RBIs, and an OPS of .787. A career .246 hitter, Washington’s offense would benefit greatly if Gomes can build upon his 2020 success moving forward.
Defensively, Gomes has slowly started to fall off. In his career, he has 36 DRS and a Frame Rate (FRM) of 18.3. But in his two years with Washington, he only has two DRS and a -1.8 FRM. His framing skills especially took a hit in 2020, seen by his -1.5 FRM. Despite his degrading defense, Gomes provides veteran leadership and has been a great clubhouse fit.
Batting Ninth: 3B, Carter Kieboom
The team’s former top prospect, this is the year Carter Kieboom finally gets a full opportunity to win the starting job at third. After showing he has nothing left to prove in the minors, Washington promoted the youngster, but he wasn’t given a fair chance in 2020. He only received 99 at-bats and went on to hit .202, with nine RBIs, and an OPS of .556.
Giving up on Kieboom now would be a mistake, especially after the performance he put on at Triple-A. Defensively, Kieboom was a pleasant surprise, posting positive defensive metrics. Be it a small sample size (30 games), Kieboom posted five DRS and a .8 UZR. A natural shortstop, Kieboom was forced to learn third base on the fly and it is very promising to see him shine on defense.
Fans have been asking for an upgrade at third, but Kieboom deserves a full opportunity to prove himself. Bryce Harper, Juan Soto, and Stephen Strasburg were able to take the league by storm, spoiling the Washington fanbase. Instead, patience is needed for Kieboom who has a huge upside but has yet to put it together.