Bryce Harper Should Be Leading Off

DC Sports Nexus ---- Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ian Desmond Can't Cut It:

During the 2012 season as the Nationals leadoff hitter, Ian Desmond has gotten on base less than 30% of the time.  That is good for 144th place in the Majors.  His OBP of .290 this season is not far from off his career numbers which is just two fractions of a point above 30% at .302.  Even within the team his OBP is the 11th best, behind pitcher Edwin Jackson.

A leadoff guy needs to get on base.  He needs to get on base with well positioned hits, by drawing walks, NOT swinging at the first pitch, making contact, running out throws, and bunt singles.  Once on base he needs to get in the pitchers head with big leads, stealing bases, great base running, drawing pickoffs, etc.  Desmond can't cut it.

Ian Desmond's goal when he is up to the plate appears to be hitting home runs.  Instead of bunting, or trying to make contact he has been swinging for the fences.  Sure he is second on the team with 4 home runs, but do the homers outweigh the lack of getting on?

Davy Johnson feels like he needs to keep I-Dez at the one slot for his "development".  The manager didn't want him moving around in the lineup and wanted to give him confidence that he is the everyday leadoff hitter.  Well sorry Davy, this guy is not a leadoff hitter.

Bryce Harper Can:

Bryce Harper is going to be a great power hitter, probably early in his career.  But right now he is 19 years old, has only played a few games, and is not only trying to get on base, but is actually doing it.  With experienced guys like Zimmerman, LaRoche, and Morse on this roster, the 3-5 spots are pretty much covered.  So where does Bryce fit in best?

The answer to that question is the leadoff spot.  Batting leadoff will get your developing future superstar the most at bats.  It will give him the ability to focus on figuring out Major League pitching while getting on base and helping the team instead of putting pressure on him to drive in runners.

Everything about the 19 year old Harper SCREAMS leadoff.  The sneak bunts, stealing home, running out every grounder, turning singles into doubles on the bases, and much more.  I'd love to see him bat 3rd and jack out 30 homers, but that isn't this year.


Harper has played in 13 less games than Ian Desmond.  In those 13 less games Bryce has drawn 5 walks and has been hit by a pitch.  That is 6 free bases.  Even with all those extra games Dez has only drawn 6 walks.

It is still really early, and even Desmond had great early season stats, but Harper's OBP is over 40% a full 10% higher than Desmond.  The bottom line is that Bryce Harper gives you the best chance to get on base.

So we will probably see Harper in that 2 slot for awhile, and Davy won't move Desmond, but I think it is the wrong idea.  Let the kid get on base with nobody in front of him and have 3 or more attempts to get him to home plate in the first inning.

1 comment:

  1. I do not want a young guy with the power in his bat that Harper has worrying about hitting lead off and getting on base. I prefer to have a guy with his power hitting further down in the order. Honestly, I rather he hit 5th or 6th over leading off. IMO you do not want a young kid trying to change his approach to meet expectations of a lead off hitter when he is clearly a power guy.