Bryce Harper’s Spot in the Lineup

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.

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2 thoughts on “Bryce Harper’s Spot in the Lineup

  1. First of all it’s not easy to just rank players from 1-9 and assign them slots, different positions in the lineup see different situations most often and those situations don’t easily fit into the “best” hitters skillset, in fact much of Harper’s power would be wasted batting with the bases empty and one out, most lineup optimzations say your best OBP guys should go 1-2 your best power guys to 4-5 (interesting that the 3 hole, often called the spot for a team’s “best” hitter is actualy best for their 5th best, getting bases empty and 2 outs on many occasions”. Thus, if Davey was asking my opinion I’d trot out this lineup Friday when Zim returns;
    1. Span
    2. Werth
    3. Ramos
    4. Harper
    5. Zim
    6. ALR
    7. Desmond
    8. Espinosa
    9. Detwiler

  2. Not sure if this is something just for now, but if this is your thoughts for the whole season, I think you are a little higher on Ramos than I am.
    I would say your comments on who should go 1-2, 4-5, and 3 is just what Law is arguing against. Basically best OBP/low power guy goes #1, then its just best to worst from 2 on down.
    I still like Harper getting up in the first inning of every game… whether its as #2 or 3, I want him batting in the first inning.

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