There is a very interesting (Insider only) ESPN article written by Keith Law explaining that the numbers show that a team’s best hitter should bat second in the lineup. It’s based on the rather obvious premise that the higher up in a lineup a guy hits, the more ABs he’ll get over the course of the season. If your best player hits second, Law contends, it might add something like a win per season. This is obviously a calculated/projected win, so it could really add 2 wins, or 0, but the point remains.
Although the leadoff spot gets the most ABs, between leading off the games and batting behind pitchers, they actually see the fewest ABs with runners on. So the #2 spot gets the second most number of ABs per year, plus sees just as many people on base as all the other spots do. The second spot in the lineup is, in other words, the ideal combination of maxing out ABs and RBI opportunities.
It is pretty clear that Bryce Harper is this team’s best hitter. If you asked me a month ago, I might not have been ready to acknowledge that, but despite the small sample size, I’m on board with this assessment. So assuming that Harper is the best hitter on the Nats, given the evidence presented by KLaw, does that mean Harper should be batting 2nd?
I’m curious what everyone thinks, so I listed a few choices. The first option is obvious. The second one is if you think KLaw is likely right, but you don’t think its worth it for other reasons (for example: it won’t be a L/R/L/R lineup anymore). The third choice is if you don’t agree with KLaw’s assertions or don’t think there’s enough evidence yet.