The Washington Nationals have had nearly every baseball prognosticator consider them to not only be the favorites to win the National League East, but also to be the main contender for a World Series spot.
Well, just like last season, the Nationals have yet to live up to expectations so far in the early season with just a 12-10 record and most of the lack of success can be blamed on a subpar and disappointing offense. The team came into Wednesday with a .243 batting average and a .319 on base percentage.
The Nationals avoided a three-game sweep with an exciting 5-4 victory against the Los Angeles Angels at Nationals Park Wednesday. Jayson Werth smacked a two-run double to tie the game in the ninth and Adam LaRoche subsequently drove home Werth with a walk-off single.
Still, there are varying reasons for this slow start and a lot can be blamed with the constant shuffling of Bryce Harper. Harper has been moved in the lineup three times in the last three games. Harper is considered the team’s best player and needs to be positioned in a place he can feel comfortable.
Analytics explain that placing a team’s best player in the No. 2 spot makes the most sense. The main reasoning is that the player will get the advantage of having a significant number of plate appearances while also having the possibility of moving the lead-off hitter around the bases.
Harper is not necessarily living up to what many people thought would be an MVP-type season, but he also does not have a consistent spot. Manager Matt Williams tends to sway towards old-school ideas, but he needs to think progressively with Harper. Harper actually attempted a bunt in the sixth inning Wednesday despite having two great swings earlier in the game. Harper definitely has all the potential in the world and Williams must utilize him better.
Harper’s inconsistency this season is just one of many reasons for the Nats’ poor start, but if things do not turn around soon, the D.C. area will be left with an empty feeling and no World Series trophy.