So far in Spring Training of Matt Williams‘ inaugural season as the Washington Nationals‘ manager, he has toyed around with the lineup almost every game. This makes sense, as the Nationals are looking to rebound from a disappointing 2013 season in which they missed the playoffs in a year that most experts thought would be their chance at making it to the World Series. While Williams tinkers with the team’s lineup, one player’s spot in the batting order that will be crucial is the young phenom Bryce Harper.
Harper spent most of the season last year batting third in the lineup. He finished the season batting .274 with 20 HR to go along with 58 RBI; keep in mind that Harper missed 44 games last year with various injuries to his hip, knee and rib cage. So far this spring, Williams has kept Harper in either the third or fourth spot in the lineup. However, he batted fifth against the New York Mets in their Spring Training game today, going 1-2 with an RBI. He is batting .211 so far this spring.
Having veteran hitters like Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth to surround Harper, wherever he may be in the lineup, helps the team out a lot. It gives Williams flexibility in where he can place Harper in the lineup card. Given the amount of mass he has tacked on in the offseason, I think it would be wise to put Harper in the four spot with the potential to drive in more runs. Right now, Roto World has Harper in the three spot behind Denard Span and Zimmerman in the Nationals’ projected 2014 lineup. This could also be beneficial for Washington, given Harper’s ability to swipe bases and score runs.
Wherever he might be in the lineup this season, look for Harper to make a big impact this year for a Nationals team that is looking to make a World Series run.