The Washington Post

Notes on the Nationals lineup

On a quiet Sunday morning, a few quick notes on the Nationals’ lineup today:

>>> Danny Espinosa is out of the lineup just to get him a day off, and he’ll be back in tomorrow against Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner. Espinosa has appeared in every game this year, and he has not been absent from the starting lineup since April 5 at Florida.

>>> Jim Riggleman is weighing how much to use Laynce Nix as compared to Michael Morse in left field. He’s considering using Morse at third base in order to inject a bit more offense into the slumping lineup, but Jerry Hairston and Alex Cora have provided such good defense it would be difficult for him to not play them. Morse will play left Monday and Tuesday, and then Riggleman will make more decisions from that point on.

>>> Without Ryan Zimmerman, the Nationals were forced to move Jayson Werth to third in the order and open the second spot. They decided to fill it with Rick Ankiel, who this season has a .306 on-base percentage and, over the 2009 and 2010 seasons, had a .298 on-base percentage. So far in 2011, the National League average OBP for batters hitting second is .331.

Riggleman accurately pointed out that statistical analysis suggests batting order is generally overrated. But he also said he’s comfortable with Ankiel hitting second until Zimmerman returns.

“I think on-base percentage is the key,” Riggleman said before yesterday’s game. “First and second is an area we wanted to improve this year in terms of on-base. Right now, we’re not getting on base a lot. But, I really like the second spot for Ankiel. You kind of like to have somebody who can juice the ball there a little bit. He certainly can. … You can make the case for a lot of guys hitting second. I think it’s a good spot for him. I like Ankiel there, and I want him to get it done there.”

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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