What should the Nationals lineup look like?


Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

It’s about T-minus 90 minutes, give or take a few minutes, until we find out how Matt Williams will pencil in his first lineup card with a fully healthy lineup. Facing Rockies left-hander Yohan Flande, the Nationals will throw Bryce Harper, Wilson Ramos, Ryan Zimmerman and all the rest of their regulars at the opposition for the first time since opening day. As Wagner covered this morning, the inviting talent provides tough, ongoing choices for Williams.

The potential choices make for great, fun debate. And so why not? Here’s our guess for what will happen, and what we think should happen. Leave yours in the comments.

Predicted

1. Denard Span, CF

2. Anthony Rendon, 2B

3. Jayson Werth, RF

4. Adam LaRoche, 1B

5. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B

6. Bryce Harper, LF

7. Wilson Ramos, C

8. Ian Desmond, SS

9. Jordan Zimmermann, SP

What we would do

1. Jayson Werth, RF

2. Bryce Harper, LF

3. Anthony Rendon, 2B

4. Adam LaRoche, 1B

5. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B

6. Wilson Ramos, C

7. Ian Desmond, SS

8. Denard Span, CF

9. Jordan Zimmermann, SP

Our reasoning: Werth hasn’t been slugging lately, and for the season his slugging percentage has dropped to .374. But he can still get on base at a .350 clip, and the best the Nationals have ever been offensively came in late 2012, when Werth led off and the Nationals chewed up opposing starters like a wood chipper. Harper, despite health issues, remains the Nationals most dynamic offensive player, so second is ideal for him. Span makes for an overqualified No. 8, but hitting lower in the lineup will allow him to use his speed, and he can act as a de facto second leadoff hitter. His .313 on-base percentage is better suited for lower in the lineup, too.

As a first-year manager, Williams will face this same dilemma – a good dilemma for any manager to have, but a dilemma nonetheless – for the remainder of the season. And the debate will last the whole time.

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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James Wagner · June 30, 2014

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