Matt Williams and small lineup edges


The Nationals’ showed off a regular season lineup last night. It will not necessarily look like the same every day, Matt Williams said, and it will changed based on a number of factors.

For the past two years, Davey Johnson strove for a rubber-stamp batting order. He wanted it to be the same as often as possible, believing players reacted better to hitting in the same spot. Williams has a different idea. He’ll change it up based on several criteria.

It may depend on the opposing starter, which is standard. It may also depend on the opposing team, which is not so standard. Williams may decide his order based on potential bullpen matchups, depending on the composition of the opposing relief corps. He also may consider the way an opponent has pitched certain players. Or he could tweak the lineup based on the way a team shifts — will a speedy runner affect that and potentially open a hole for a hitter behind him?

“It varies from pitcher to pitcher, who we’re facing, team to team,” Williams said. “We can certainly flip-flop guys to different spots within the order.

“All of that sabrmetric information will certainly play a part, depending on how those matchups look and how our guys do against certain pitchers can have an influence as well. It depends on health. It depends on a lot of things – day after night, that type of stuff. It can vary a little bit.”

The value of lineup construction and the difference it makes is arguable. But Williams will be constantly trying to eke out some kind of edge, whether or not that edge exists at all.


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Adam Kilgore covers national sports for the Washington Post. Previously he served as the Post's Washington Nationals beat writer from 2010 to 2014.
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Adam Kilgore · March 19, 2014