Washington’s Lineup is in a weird spot right now. They have a good amount of high-level talent, but it’s not as deep as many would like. Once you get past Trea Turner, Juan Soto, Josh Bell, and Kyle Schwarber, the lineup is much less powerful and could use a hitter to really lengthen it out.
Based on Mike Rizzo’s recent comments, it appears that the Nationals are done adding players and they haven’t been outwardly linked to anyone who hits leadoff. Thankfully, they may have the perfect leadoff candidate on the roster in Victor Robles.
The 22-year-old Robles has been a leadoff hitter the majority of his career outside of Washington DC and he has done a very good job in 21 games leading off for the Nationals. During those 94 plate appearances, Robles hit .306/.362/.518. Obviously, a team cannot make this move based on a small sample size, so you have to look at other things as well. Robles can still be a headache on the basepaths and, just like Turner, can turn a walk or a single into a double.
He also saw more pitches per at-bat in 2020 than Turner did and has proven that he can be disciplined at the plate when he wants to be. Getting on base is also very important for leadoff hitters and in the Nats’ case, they need players to be on base when Soto bats.
While Victor Robles’ career .320 on-base percentage in the big leagues isn’t that impressive, when you look at his minor league statistics, where he often hit leadoff, it looks a lot better. Every season in the minors, Robles was getting on base at a rate much higher than league average and his OBP was below .380 only once.
So Robles could be a solution to lengthening the lineup, but what about the all world leadoff hitter the Nationals already have?
There is no arguing that Trea Turner is an elite leadoff hitter. He gets on base, steals plenty of bags and has some sneaky power. He has all the tools that make an elite leadoff hitter, but he might just serve this team better elsewhere. Trea Turner played in 59 games last year and hit leadoff in 40 of those games.
During those games, the Nats averaged a pretty solid 4.6 runs per game, but scored a full run better per game (5.6) during the 19 games that Turner batted elsewhere in the lineup. Turner also posted a higher wRc+ outside of the lead off spot, a higher isolated power and wOBA.
The good news doesn’t just come from 2020. In 111 games batting 2nd throughout his career, Turner has a better average, on-base percentage, slugging, wRC+, K rate, and walk rate than he does from the leadoff spot. Trea has the potential to be much more helpful to Washington hitting second. Putting Robles at leadoff while moving Trea down one spot in the lineup could really benefit the offense and take some pressure off the pitching staff.
Edited by: Jonathan Mailloux