Washington Nationals: Projecting The 2018 Starting Lineup
Baseball fans rejoice, the 2018 MLB season is not too far away. While free agents such as J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Yu Darvish and others remain unsigned, we are just over a month away from Major League Baseball Spring Training games. So with baseball drawing closer, let’s take a closer look at the Washington Nationals and their projected 2018 starting lineup.
Now things could certainly change from now until Spring Training, given how many free agents are out there still, but as things stand now, this is how we see the Washington Nationals starting lineup shaking out.
- Adam Eaton, Center Fielder – Last Winter, the Nats acquire Adam Eaton to be their leadoff hitter. After playing 23 games, he would miss the rest of the season because of torn ACL. In that short span, however, he proved why he is a solid leadoff hitter, as he reached base .393 percent of the time. He should enter this season fully healthy, and should regain that top spot of the order. He should be a solid table setter for what is a stacked lineup on paper.
- Trea Turner, Shortstop – This lineup can certainly shake out a few different ways, especially considering Anthony Rendon could slot anywhere from two to six. Thanks to Rendon’s .401 on-base percentage a season ago, he is a strong candidate for this spot. However, there is no better spot for Trea Turner’s electrifying speed. Arguably the fasted man in MLB, he is a guy the Nats want on base for their heavy hitters.
- Bryce Harper, Right Fielder – Simply put, one of the best hitters in MLB. While it was tempting to slot him in the cleanup spot, as Rendon could also slot here, the team will simply want to generate as many at-bats as possible for the MVP-candidate. That means he needs to occupy the third slot, which is always reserved for a team’s best hitter.
- Ryan Zimmerman, First Baseman – While the team’s best hitter goes third, their most powerful hitter tends to go fourth. In this case, the aging Ryan Zimmerman would fit that bill, as he led the team with 36 long balls a season ago. Now, he is not just power either, as he is coming off a season in which he hit .303. Now, that came a bit out of the blue, considering he hit .218 the season prior. He hit .268 in the second half, and signs point to a regression there. But considering the season he is coming off of, the Nats should do their longtime star right. Let him open the season in the cleanup spot.
- Anthony Rendon, Third Baseman – As mentioned earlier, Rendon could easily slot in a number of spots in this order. As a result, his flexibility allows him to slide down to the five-hole without batting an eye. He is a .300 hitter who is good for over 20 homers. The third baseman is entering his age 27 season and is poised for another strong year, no matter where he finds himself in the order.
- Daniel Murphy, Second Baseman – Coming off knee surgery in October, Murphy is no lock to be a full go for Spring Training. The soon to be 33-year-old enters his final season under contract with Washington and might be eased back into things. While his numbers match up with Rendon’s, his potential delayed start will knock him down one notch in the order for the start of the year. No matter how things shake out, the top six of this order looks absolutely stacked.
- Michael Taylor, Left Fielder – Michael Taylor got more playing time than most expected a season ago because of the injury to Eaton. In his 118 games, he hit .271 with 19 homers, 17 stolen bases, and .806 OPS. Overall, he put up a respectable campaign, likely earning him a starting role in 2018. But even if he cracks the starting nine, he won’t hit any higher than seventh.
- Matt Wieters, Catcher – Wieters’ first season as a member of the Washington Nationals did not go very well. So let’s keep this simple. He is the worst offensive player in this lineup. So the eight spot is a pretty likely destination.
How do you see the Washington Nationals starting lineup shaking out for the upcoming 2018 MLB season? Tell us in the comments!