Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Roger Bernadina: The Lead-Off Man of Our Dreams?

(Screenshot captured from MLB.com)

One of the major issues that has faced the Washington Nationals lineup this season, and there have been seemingly countless issues, is the lack of a lead off hitter. The Ian Desmond Lead Off Experiment failed (hitting just .180/.212/.300 when batting first), and so did the Danny Espinosa (.184/.250/.329 batting first) Experiment. But Roger Bernadina provides reason for hope.

Bernie's career as a nearly full-time player started last season, where he was an extremely streaky hitter, ending the season with 11 HR, but a disappointing .246/.307/.384 slash line. He found his way back to the minors a couple times during the season.

This year, one wonders if Roger will have to make that lonely trip to Syracuse again. This week in DC has been full of successes. Since replacing the injured Rick Ankiel in CF, Bernadina is hitting .306 and is getting on base at a .405 clip. He's successfully stolen 4 bases without being caught. Sure, Bernadina hasn't hit for power yet (he's homerless this season), but who with the great OBP and stolen base successes, who cares?

Now this is the point where we have to say this: all of this is over a very small sample size. And as we said before, Bernie is a streaky hitter. But everyone that's watched the Nats since Bernadina took over the lead off spot is fully aware of the kind of boost he can provide for the offense, and defensively for that matter. (See image above.)

Bernadina has reached base to lead off the game by bunting in 3 games in the past week. That's the perfect sign of Bernadina accepting his new role and sacrificing his power for it. When he's taking swings, he's choked up on his bat, too. He's trying to make contact and use his speed to get on base and make stuff happen.

While in your ideal world, everyone would have Ichiro or Andrew McCutchen leading off for your ball club, it's not realistically attainable. Roger Bernadina seems to be the right fit for the Nationals, and my guess is that Jim Riggleman will be committed to keeping Roger in that spot, even after Ankiel returns from the DL.

What do you think of The Shark as a lead off man, Cap Ballers?


  1. Roger is best we have and as a young guy he needs to play as much as possible. I'm still not sure why he was sent down while the utterly unproductive Stairs occupies a roster spot.

  2. Here, here, bdrube. Stairs occupying a roster spot is infuriating.

  3. There is literally no one else who is equipped to lead off in this organization. It's a rare and special opportunity for Bernadina to have unchallenged access to this spot for the forseeable future. He'll have as good an opportunity as anyone ever gets in MLB to turn a small sample size into a large sample size. I'm pulling for him!

    Haha, I love Stairs, but you're both right. He is not what the Nationals need right now.