Nationals Baseball: Perhaps the world will change for Ian

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Perhaps the world will change for Ian

It's been 3 games and what have we learned?


No really - three games tells us nothing. Three games gives us hints, glances, ideas, but nothing firm. I know, I know. We say this every year, but it needs to be repeated because it's sooo damn tempting to read something into games that, you know, actually matter. Games played by guys actually trying to get people out and get on base and not working on stuff.

Anyway - to the column title - if you haven't noticed Desmond struggled terribly in the opening series. He's 0 for 2011 and he's made an out every time he's been up. Getting a lot of outs is kind of a strange quality to look for in the guy you are giving the most at bats to.

So what do you do for this guy? Do you tell him - "Hey you! Don't make so many outs!"? Not if you're the Nats.
The Nationals don't want Desmond to change his approach at the plate.... The team wants him to be the player who hit .326 while batting in the second spot in the order last year.
I want him to be the guy that hit that home run that one time, doesn't mean it will happen. Look Ian did great hitting 2nd, and most of us think it had something to do with being protected by Ryan and seeing a lot of fastballs. But it also had something to do with it being only 46 games and having an abnormally high .371 BABip. It isn't a surprise Ian makes outs. His OBP was .308 last year. .318 two years ago. .326 in the minors. You don't play him because he gets on base, you play him (in theory) because of his defense and moderate power.

What should the Nats do with Ian? Well, if they don't want to mess with his approach they should drop him down in the order. Not to 8th - but down there somewhere. If they want him to bat leadoff, they should work with him to be more patient. What they shouldn't do is keep trying to fit the round peg into the square hole.


Donald said...

Hopefully, they move Espinosa to the lead-off spot and drop Ian to #2. I think he'll do better there, but I wouldn't project too much into just 3 games.

Harper said...

Seems if they want someone at the top of the order who can hit the occasional home run and gapper and ALSO get on base (or at least could in theory if he can hit .260) - that would be the choice. I would just flip spots though - Ian 7th, Danny 1st.

Hoo said...

Espinosa is the only other choice for 1 unless they do something silly with Hairston. I like Werth/Zim at 2-3. It seemed that actually worked for the first series.

Problem is that neither Espi or Dez are real #1 guys and seem more suited to 2 or 7th.

Donald said...

The only issue with flipping spots and batting Ian at #7 is that he didn't do nearly as well there last year as in the #2 spot. Also, I don't really like Werth at #2.

On a different note, how soon until Balester gets the call-up? Gaudin's looked dreadful in both appearances. I'd give Broderick more changes, but it might be getting time for Chad to complain of 'shoulder tightness'.

Harper said...

Hoo - true there is no real #1 guy (high OBP, good speed, not much power to be wasted on empty bases) but I'll go with the guy that can take a pitch.

Donald - I like #7 better this year if Ramos is batting 8th. I don't mind Werth at #2.

He won't get called up before he throws a pitch in AAA, so this weekend at the earliest. I think they give gaudin mop up roles until mid-month just to soak up bad innings.

Anonymous said...

I say leave things as-is for at least the next couple of games. Being lead-off is not an skill since you are the first to see the pitcher. I worry that for Espinosa it would add a lot of pressure to his first full season and could hamper his progress. If Desmond doesn't get a hit in the next couple of games I think we will start seeing a carousel at lead off which may even get to Werth leading off.