Eaton will lead off, Turner will bat second, Robles will bat ninth

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Adam Eaton indeed will lead off for the Nationals to begin the season, with Trea Turner right behind him.

And Victor Robles will bring up the rear as the No. 9 hitter, manager Davey Martinez revealed late this afternoon.

Those decisions, though telegraphed at various points of spring training, are now concrete after Martinez pored through stats provided by the Nationals’ analytics team and concluded this is his best lineup alignment.

“After running all the numbers and stuff, I kind of like it,” he said. “(Eaton) is the first hitter they face. He’s pesky as can be. I like the fact he goes up there and sometimes gives you a 7-8 pitch at-bat. And him hitting in front of Trea ... hey, Trea can hit and drive in runs well. Having Robles hitting ninth, Eaton one, Trea two, that’s a pretty good combination.”

The Eaton-Turner combo did prove to be a pretty good combination last season. In 54 games with that order atop the lineup, the Nationals scored an average of 5.24 runs. In 108 games with a different 1-2 combo, they scored an average of 4.52 runs.

Eaton-Hits-White-Day-Sidebar.jpg“Just what’s best as a whole,” Martinez said. “Lineup-wise. Construction-wise. You’ll know more opening day why we want to do it, but I like Adam leading off.”

Eaton (.394) boasted a much higher on-base percentage last season than Turner (.344) but Martinez had some concern that Turner didn’t try to steal as many bases as the No. 2 hitter because he was worried about leaving first base open for Bryce Harper.

With Juan Soto or Anthony Rendon now poised to bat behind him, Turner again might be turned off from running. But his manager made it clear he doesn’t want him preoccupied with such matters.

“We talked; he knows that he’s going to be on his own,” Martinez said. “I really have a lot of confidence in him to get on base and steal when the opportunity arises. We want him to go, and he understands that. I think his biggest fear is maybe hitting in front of Anthony and Soto, but I told him that shouldn’t deter what you do. That’s who you are. We want him to steal bases.”

If Martinez decides to alternate between lefties and righties atop his lineup, Soto would bat third, with Rendon fourth, Ryan Zimmerman fifth and Brian Dozier sixth. The team’s starting catcher on a given day (Yan Gomes or Kurt Suzuki) would bat seventh, with the pitcher eighth and Robles ninth.

By putting the potentially electric rookie at the bottom of his order, Martinez hopes to give the two guys at the top of the order more opportunities to drive in runs.

“I like hitting Robles ninth,” he said. “It flips our lineup over to the top. Those three guys hitting together like that makes for some exciting baseball.”

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