Time to Make a Change at the Top of the Nationals Lineup:

Steve O Speak

Now most Nats fans have been saying this from the beginning of the season, as they’d like to see 2B Danny Espinosa move up to the top spot in the lineup, and SS Ian Desmond move to the bottom of the order. While I understand why they want to make that move, I don’t think it is really the best choice. The move the Nationals should make is to put Espinosa in the leadoff spot, Desmond in the 2-hole and move Rick Ankiel to the bottom of the lineup.

Now I realize that right now Desmond is struggling some, but lets be honest in the long run who is going to produce more, Desmond or Ankiel? Simply put, Ian Desmond needs more at bats than Ankiel especially since he can hit both RH and LH pitching. Desmond in limited time thrived in the 2-hole last season, when he posted a .326/.359/.489 slash line in 201 plate appearances. Also, (and not surprising) he was able to utilize his speed at the top of the lineup, stealing 9 bases in 10 attempts.

Putting Desmond at the 2 spot will make the Nationals very RH heavy through the early part of their lineup, but it is not as if Ankiel is exceptional against righties and there would be a huge difference. Also, when Ryan Zimmerman comes back from injury, both him and Jayson Werth still hit RH pitchers very well, so it shouldn’t have much of an impact at all.

The fact of the matter is both Desmond and Espinosa are good young players, with the potential to be good young hitters, why not give them as many at bats as possible. Keeping one or the other at the bottom of the lineup will only lead to more outs at the top of it.

This move isn’t the answer to all of the Nationals hitting woes, but I think it will be a good first step, and should put the players in their best possible position to help the team. Ideally when Zimmerman is back I would shift the regular lineup to the following:

2B Danny Espinosa
SS Ian Desmond
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
C Wilson Ramos (if Pudge/Flores are starting than either Ankiel or Morse depending on the pitcher)
CF Rick Ankiel (if a lefty is starting than Morse)
LF Mike Morse

That is a pretty dramatic fall for Morse on days when Ramos is catching, but I think he needs to earn his way back up into the lineup. And the difference between him and say Desmond, is the fact that Desmond has always been projected to hit, where Morse kinda came out of nowhere last season. Right now he doesn’t look comfortable at the plate and needs to work his way back into a more prominent position in the batting order.


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