Kyle Schwarber batting out of the leadoff spot over the weekend turned out to be a great move. I think I’d like him there more often. I know what you are thinking. He had two games with leadoff home runs, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. That is true, was just two games, though how nice was it for the Washington Nationals to be playing with the lead in those games?
The prototypical leadoff hitter is a fast, on-base machine, who sets the table for those behind him. Well, if Schwarber is going to get better pitches to hit with Trea Turner and Juan Soto behind him in the order, I want him batting atop the lineup on a nightly basis. Schwarbes may not look the part, though if he can play the part, make the move.
After a hot weekend batting leadoff, the Nationals should use Kyle Schwarber in that spot more often.
Schwarber has started 99 games in the leadoff position over the course of his career, and entering play Sunday he was a career .212 hitter with an OBP of .306. These are both slightly worse than his overall totals for his career.
Why not bat Turner leadoff? He is a career .301 hitter when he bats from the number one spot. Well, he is a career .301 hitter when he bats from the number two spot in the lineup as well. Even though he has cooled off some, he is still a very dangerous hitter. Even though Juan Soto is struggling of late, he is the most feared hitter in the Nationals lineup and is drawing a fair share of walks still.
The last three times Schwarber has batted fourth in the lineup, a different National has hit behind him. There is no consistency there. There is no reason for opposing pitchers to throw him hittable pitches, the guys batting behind him aren’t going to do much. The player who has hit fifth most this season is Starlin Castro, and his numbers are atrocious when it comes to hitting with runners on base. Castro is hitting .242 with runners in scoring position and is hitless in eight at bats with the bases loaded.
It’s more than just the leadoff home run, as we know Turner is capable of hitting these as well. With Schwarber batting leadoff, the three best (I use the term best loosely here) hitters are atop the order. With Schwarber hitting fourth, Josh Bell hits third, and the flavor of the day hits fifth, breaking up the string of feared hitters.
A more dominant lineup for the Nationals is one with Kyle Schwarber batting leadoff, followed by Turner and Soto.