Davey goes in-depth on the lineup

By Tom Schad | Associate Reporter

For the second straight night, Nationals manager Davey Johnson was able to fill out a lineup card on Tuesday that was just a catcher short of the ideal order that he has envisioned for weeks. He again slid Jayson Werth into the No. 2 slot and dropped Anthony Rendon to seventh.

As with most managerial decisions, Johnson’s shuffle of the order brought plenty of questions. And as with most good baseball questions, Johnson had an honest and in-depth response.

He took a few minutes before Tuesday night’s 4-0 loss to the Brewers to fully explain his lineup philosophy, the result of more than 48 years in professional baseball. While much of what Johnson said wasn’t earth-shattering, it was the most complete explanation of the topic that he’s given all season.

Here’s what he had to say:

“You want your guys who get on base a lot to lead off, hit second. Ideally, you’d have your highest on-base guy hitting first. But then you’ve got to factor in run-producers, the guys who hit the ball out of the ballpark, get the extra-base hits. So when you put together a lineup, a lot of times the guy who walks and bunts and has a smaller strike zone will have a higher on-base percentage, so those are generally the guys you hit one or two, get them on base. And also, you can get them in motion. Then the category is run-producers.

“It changes. Jayson Werth last year with the bad hand was more of a table-setter than a run-producer, and so he was ideally a leadoff-type guy. I think he was on base about 35 percent of the time. And this year, hitting No. 2, his wrist is back, he’ll have more power. But if he’s doing his thing, he’ll still get on base a lot. And then there’s some run-producers behind him. And also, when you have a bunch of left-handers in the lineup, you want to break them up. You go by the on-base percentage a lot.

“It just depends obviously if you don’t have guys in the lineup that can get on base. The worst thing that can happen is when you’ve got a guy hitting .240 and he’s on base 26 percent of the time and you have him leading off because he can run. It ain’t going to help if he’s never on. And the guys — it’s pretty easy — the guys that don’t get on base and don’t produce runs I classify as kind of second division players.

“I’ve put together a lot of teams just by looking at numbers. I don’t have to look at the player, I can look at his number — putting together an Olympic team, a U.S. team for the World Cup or whatever — you can pretty much look at the statistics on a guy and know [whether] he’s a one-two hitter, he’s a three-four hitter and such before you even see the guy swing.”

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