Nationals Baseball: Nationals Baseball Left Field Challenge!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Nationals Baseball Left Field Challenge!

Today the Nats are starting their "real" lineup (sorry Kevin Barker fans!). Other than Chris Marrero playing at first for a sore Adam LaRoche this looks like a lineup that the Nats could have on Opening Day.

1. Nyjer Morgan, CF
2. Ian Desmond, SS
3. Jayson Werth, RF
4. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
5. Michael Morse, LF
6. Adam LaRoche, DH
7. Ivan Rodriguez, C
8. Danny Espinosa, 2B
9. Chris Marrero, 1B

There are a couple things of interest here.
  • Ian Desmond is batting 2nd, thank god. He took his most hacks last year at 2nd and at 8th and the differences were stark. 2nd : .326 / .359 / .489 8th : .254 / .304 / .388. He doesn't have to bat 2nd but he's not the type of patient hitter who can work with being pitched around in the 8th position. It's good to see the Nats realize that and not try to bat Pudge 2nd for example.
  • Werth 3rd and Zimmerman 4th looks funny, but I think I like it. Both get on base and hit, so really they are interchangeable, but historically Werth does better at taking the walk so putting him before Zimm makes sense. (for however much batting order matters)
  • Morse is 5th and LaRoche is 6th, but I just can't believe that Riggleman will go R-R-R-R-L 2 through 6. I'm thinking this is just a temporary thing and LaRoche will settle in at 5 once he's over his little soreness.
  • Pudge is 7th and Espinosa 8th. On one hand it makes sense. Espinosa can take a walk, Pudge can't. You need a patient hitter in front of the pitcher. On the other hand, Pudge should get as few at bats as possible.
The most intersting thing is that Mike Morse makes the "real" lineup and not Roger Bernadina. Which leads to the NATIONALS BASEBALL LEFT FIELD CHALLENGE! (Winner gets a 10% off coupon for Woolworth, also redeemable at Caldor) Who do YOU think is going to start in left field for the Nationals come opening day? It's ok to go with a platoon - but you'll only be right if it's called a platoon. "Johnny Baseball is our starter, but Jimmy Hitman will see some time too" is not a platoon. That's a starter and a backup.

Personally I'm going to go with Roger Bernadina to be named flat-out starter. Call me crazy but that's who I think the team wants in there and unless he stinks in Spring Training, I think that's where he'll be, even though Spring Training stats are meaningless. I think his leash might be short but he'll be there Opening Day.

(remember - we're waiting on the results from last year's Guess the Opening Day Rotation post. We're all wrong, because we all had Strasburg, but let's see who gets 4 of 5.)


bdrube said...

Bernadina absolutely will be the strater--in Center Field, with Morse the starter in left and Nyjer either on the bench, traded or DFA'ed.

Book it.

Lee said...

Unless Morse keeps mashing like he did yesterday, it's absolutely going to be a platoon. The Bernadina/Morgan thing will work itself out in CF. If Bernadina wins the spot in CF like bdrube is predicting, then Morse and Ankiel will be platooning to start the season. If Morgan nails down CF, then I won't be surprised if Bernadina starts the season in Syracuse because he still has an option year. So that leaves us with - that's right - Morse and Ankiel platooning in LF. Ultimately, I like Morse to win the spot by the break, but I think Riggleman will take comfort in Ankiel's experience to the point that he (Ankiel) will be the opening day starter in LF.

cass said...

Just to incite the sabermetric gods, I'm gonna go based purely on one day of Spring Training statistics and say that Michael Morse will be the opening day left fielder and will hold down the position throughout the year. Offensively, he'll be a Jayson Werth clone.

While I'm at the crazy predictions, I'll say that Bernadina will start up a nice modeling career on the side.

Hoo said...

Feel good about 3/5 on the starters...surprising how few of us had no Livo in the rotation, much less as a starter. Lot of hope for Maya(I'll win if he's in barring a Lannan collapse!).

I'll go with Morse/Ankiel platoon as I think Bernie's option year hurts him there. The flip side is that his ability to play CF means that the Nats won't be quite as dependent on T-Plush's rebound.

Harper said...

bdrube - fair enough. I guess I'm implicitly saying Nyjer Morgan in CF. Except now I'm explicitly saying it.

Lee - I guess a Morse Ankiel platoon would make sense - though last year Morse hit righties just as well as Ankiel did. (historically Ankiel is better - but not THAT much better). Ankiel on Opening Day is a nice gutsy call. Like it.

cass - Morse a Werth clone? Do they have to pay him the same salary then?

Hoo - I guess the thinking on Livan was if Strasburg was healthy where would LIvan fit? You'd want Lannan, Marquis and ZNN pitching. Would you sign Livan to take away that last spot from Maya or Detwiler or someone else?

Wally said...

For Opening Day, I choose platoon as well, and have it as Morse/Ankiel because of Bernie's option. I never understood the Ankiel signing unless it was a Bernie hedge. Essentially the same player, except Ankiel is older, more expensive with less upside (you may correctly guess that I am not a fan of the signing). But I think it says that they aren't sold on Bernie. I don't think either player is viable for CF over any length of time, so it isn't a Morgan hedge (but Nix is).

The more interesting question (to me) is who plays LF the most over the whole season? I go with Morse. I came into ST thinking Morgan was the key to the offensive part of the season, but more and more I think it may be Morse. Or, let me say that a little differently - if Morse is .280/.350/.450 over 500 ABs with 25 HRs, that has more impact than a Morgan bounceback season of .290/.350/.375 with 40 SBs.

But both would be even nicer.

Donald said...

I'd like to go along with bdrube and have Bernadina in CF with Morse in LF, but I don't know who leads off under that scenario. Morgan has the Nats in a bind which may be why Corey Brown is seeing time early on.

So I'm going to go with a platoon between Morse and Bernadina with Bernadina getting the opening day start against a righty. Ankiel will be on the bench playing the role of Stairs who won't make the final roster.

Jay said...

I'm a Cards/Nats fan and followed Ankiel from when he pitched. With his blow-up as a pitcher and comeback as a hitter, there will be a movie. But, to the point, as a defensive fielder, especially in center, he will be worth one run saved a lot of games. He can run down balls and throw strikes to the plate from deep center or left. He has some quirk in the brain like a golfer (John Daly?) but when he's hot, he's hot. Watch.

cass said...

Nope, that's why Morse will be so valuable. They'll get the same offensive production out of him as Werth for a pennies. That's my crazy prediction based on the first game of Spring Training, anyway.

I'm feeling ok about my rotation predictions - I have three slots virtually locked, I think - Livan, Marquis, and Zimmermann. I'm not so confident on being correct about Maya, but ya never know I guess. He still has a chance and that'd give me 4/5, only missing on Strasburg.

Why did I pick Livan? I donno... I guess cause he was doing so well and I figured he'd want to stay in DC since he's pitched far better here than anywhere else. Didn't realize the Nats would get him so cheap, but I'm happy about it. He's one of the most entertaining pitchers to watch and it's great to have a little piece of 2005 still with us.

Harper said...

Wally - I thought Nix was the Bernie hedge hedge. I too had Morgan pegged last year (I have the post to prove it). Is Morse the key this year... hmmm

Donald - agreed that stairs won't be on this team

Jay - One run a game is HUGE, he'd be playing everyday for every team if that were the case. Even the best fielder is limited by where the balls are hit that day. Three steps one way and anyone could catch it. Three steps the other and no one can.

cass - good call on Livan but uh oh - Lannan looked good today!

Jack said...

I say Morse starts the season in left field. I haven't seen much from Nix or Ankiel so my pick is basically between Morse and Bernadina. Even though I love Bernie's great defense, since the Nats have fairly good D and need more offense, Morse seems like the logical choice to me.

Harper said...

jack - hard to argue against a guy hitting .700 (even if that shouldn't matter)

Zack said...

I definitely have to go with Ankiel in left to start the season out with a steady shift to Morse throughout the season. Riggleman can't ignore the experience factor, and Morse can pick up time as a backup in left as well as in right for Werth, where he played a good bit last year.

Oh, and Jay, there is no way there will be a movie made about Ankiel's comeback with steroid allegations surrounding his comeback