Saturday, March 23, 2013
Fantasy Impact: Harper batting third
By Jason A. Churchill
The Washington Nationals appear set to bat Bryce Harper third this year, skipper Davey Johnson hinted earlier in camp, after the 2010 No. 1 overall pick batted second for most of last season.
If Harper is batting third, Ryan Zimmerman, who served in the role in each of the 145 games he appeared a year ago, likely bats cleanup. The change allows Johnson to use Jayson Werth behind leadoff hitter Denard Span, forming a left-right-left-right balance throughout the lineup.
ESPN Insider Keith Law is expecting a big jump from Harper in his second season, writing that he thinks the 20-year-old "becomes a top-10 player in the NL -- 30 homers, 70-plus walks, 20-plus steals, probably with a batting average in the same range as 2012 but higher OBP and slugging figures. The history of 19-year-olds who do what Harper did doesn't actually exist, because he just had the best season by a teenage hitter in MLB history. And guys who do exceptional things at extremely young ages very often go on to Hall of Fame-caliber careers."
Harper may get a chance to drive in a few more runs than he did a year ago, but how else might hitting third impact his fantasy value? Rumor Central checked in with ESPN's Fantasy Baseball expert Eric Karabell for more:
Harper ready to explode?
"I love Harper hitting third because it confirms that he's going to be Washington's signature player. I think Harper wins NL MVP honors this year. He's that good and Davey Johnson knows it. Now, research tells us a team's best hitter should bat second or fourth, but we can't expect MLB execs to actually know this. From a fantasy aspect little changes; Harper is a 30-100 guy now and he'll steal at least 20 bases, eventually 30. He would do this hitting anywhere in the lineup. Kudos to baseball's best team for realizing this kid is ready to blossom. I've already got him in my fantasy top 20."