Jacob Young's play gives the Nationals a decision to make when Victor Robles returns

Washington Nationals center fielder Jacob Young has brought a new life into the ninth spot in the lineup. What happens when Victor Robles is thrown into the mix? Let's talk about it.
Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins
Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

24-year-old Jacob Young is quickly making a name for himself among Nationals fans. Lightning speed and tremendous effort make for an exciting baseball player to watch. Young brings a refreshing skillset to the Nationals' lineup and one they have lacked for the past few seasons. The emergence of Jacob Young gives coach Davey Martinez a problem; where does Victor Robles fit in the team?

Victor Robles, 26 years old, seems to have received more chances than most players to succeed in the Majors. At one point in his career, Robles was "untouchable" from any trades due to being such a highly regarded prospect. That has not panned out for Victor or the Nationals, as he has a .238 career batting average. In his eighth Major League season, he still has the base-running errors of an inexperienced player. Robles is a high-caliber center fielder, though, which is likely Davey Martinez's reasoning for playing him so much. But does Victor Robles fit in the Nationals' current lineup?

The short answer is no. Let's discuss why.

Jacob Young was formerly the 30th-ranked prospect in the Nationals' minor league system. Relying on his speed, Young is an "old school" baseball player. He's not projected to hit 20 home runs in a season or have a .800 OPS. What Young brings to the lineup every game is 100% effort, something that Robles has struggled with in his career. On many occasions, Robles has cost the Nationals numerous runs on offense from a lack of effort or just a lapse in focus. Jacob Young on the otherhand has been exceptional on the basepaths and is just as good, if not better than Robles defensively. With Jacob Young in the lineup, Nats fans have something to be excited about.

Hitting in the ninth spot, Young acts as a second leadoff hitter, setting the stage for shortstop CJ Abrams to do damage at the plate. It has worked like a charm, too. As of May 5, Young is hitting .311 with 12 stolen bases and Abrams is hitting .287 with seven home runs and eight stolen bases. As MASN commentator Bob Carpenter says, "Watching the kids run is fun!"

To his credit, in an albeit very small sample size over the past two seasons, Victor Robles has looked much better at the plate, chasing significantly less than he did before. The power he was touted to have as a prospect has not returned, but his hit tool has returned somewhat, so it is not to say Robles would provide no value.

The Nats currently rank tied for first in the Majors with 57 stolen bases. In 2022, the Nats ranked 20th in the league with 75 stolen bases. The brand of baseball has changed in Washington, and for the better too as the offense has really struggled primarily due to the lack of power in the lineup. If it's not broken, don't fix it. The Nats are currently 17-17 after today's win against the Blue Jays and are overachieving in the eyes of some baseball experts. Would replacing Jacob Young with Victor Robles change everything? I don't think so, but it would change the dynamic of the lineup. What do you think, Nats fans?