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Washington Nationals 2017 Season Preview: Projecting the Nats’ lineup...

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If the Washington Nationals position players play up to their potential, the team’s lineup could be one of the best in the league.

MLB: Spring Training-Washington Nationals at Houston Astros Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, the Washington Nationals finished eighth in the majors in runs scored — they averaged 4.7 runs per game and hit .256 as a team.

Dusty Baker’s crew was more feared by its pitching staff, but the lineup still featured plenty of superstars that found themselves in the conversations for the league’s top awards.

With Spring Training coming to a close, the Nats know who their starters are going to be at each position.

What still remains to be seen, however, is how Baker will be lining them up on Opening Day.

MLB: Spring Training-New York Mets at Washington Nationals Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Leadoff and No. 2 spot

If anyone stands out as the model leadoff man, it’s Trea Turner.

Turner put up a .342/.370/.567 with 35 extra-base hits and 33 stolen bases in just 73 games last season, finishing second in the race for NL Rookie of the Year.

At the top of the order, Turner would have free reign to swipe bases as he pleases without being blocked by a baserunner ahead of him.

The only thing that might prevent Baker from slotting Turner leadoff is his right-handedness.

Adam Eaton, Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy would figure to take up the three spots behind him — and all three hit from the left side of the plate.

Eaton could potentially be swapped with Turner, splitting up the lefty trio.

As a member of the Chicago White Sox last season, he posted a .284/.362/.428 slash line with 91 runs scored and 14 stolen bases.

While Turner is faster, Eaton was the primary leadoff hitter for the White Sox and has plenty of experience at the top of the order. However, Turner has much more upside and could realistically lead the majors in steals if given the opportunity.

Prediction: Trea Turner 1, Adam Eaton 2

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Washington Nationals Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

No. 3 and No. 4 spots

Harper and Murphy — at their best — are the two best hitters on the team.

Turner did put together a stunning rookie campaign, but both Harper and Murphy have proven to be MVP candidates over the course of entire seasons.

Harper, the 2015 NL MVP, is coming off a down year by his standards. He finished the year hitting .243/.373/.441 with 24 home runs and 86 RBIs in 147 games.

Murphy, on the other hand, wrapped up the best season of his career.

He finished second in the MVP voting behind a .347/.390/.595 slash line to go with 25 homers and 104 RBIs.

Most analysts project Harper to have a bounce back year while Murphy is expected see some degree of regression. Harper certainly has the higher ceiling, but Murphy was the best hitter on the Nats last season.

Harper is the best bet to hit in the third spot, as he has shown the ability to be the best hitter on the planet when he’s swinging the bat well.

Murphy hitting right behind him gives the Nationals one of the most formidable duos in the game.

Prediction: Bryce Harper 3, Daniel Murphy 4

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Washington Nationals Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

No. 5 and No. 6 spots

Fresh off picking up the NL Comeback Player of the Year award, Anthony Rendon has quietly become one of the best third basemen in the league.

Last season, the 26-year-old hit .270/.348/.450 with 20 home runs and 38 doubles.

Hitting primarily out of the No. 5 and 6 spots, Rendon returned to his 2014 form when he finished fifth in MVP voting.

Rendon probably deserves more consideration for a spot farther up the order, but with such a deep offense he probably gets bumped down to fifth.

His availability for Opening Day is still up in the air, but even if he does miss the first game, Rendon should take his spot back in the order relatively quickly.

Behind him, Dusty has a few options for rounding out the last three spots ahead of the pitcher.

Jayson Werth is in the final year of the $126 million deal he signed ahead of the 2011 season.

At 37 years old, not many are sure what to expect out of Werth.

After hitting .244/.335/.417 with 21 home runs and 84 runs scored last year, he’s about a league-average player.

In a late-offseason move, the Nats signed veteran catcher Matt Wieters to a two-year deal.

A four-time All-Star, Wieters has had several strong offensive years in the past but hasn’t played a full season since 2013.

In 124 games last season, Wieters hit .243/.302/.409 with 17 homers. If he can remain healthy, there’s no reason to think that he couldn’t outhit Werth.

However, with Werth’s contract and slightly more productive season a year ago, the Beard gets the nod over Wieters for Opening Day.

Prediction: Anthony Rendon 5, Jayson Werth 6

MLB: Spring Training-Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

No. 7 and No. 8 spots

With Rendon and Werth both righties hitting back-to-back, Wieters — a switch hitter — can slide in nicely behind them.

At the No. 8 spot will almost certainly be Ryan Zimmerman.

Zimmerman has watched his numbers plummet over the past few years, ending last season with a .218/.272/.370 slash line in 115 games.

Zimmerman’s struggles are well documented, but he’s still only 32 and theoretically should have a few more good years left in him.

If the Zimmerman of old returns to form, the converted first baseman has the potential to hit 20-30 homers at .280 a clip.

Regardless, he’ll start out the year at the bottom of the order and have to work his way up from there.

Prediction: Matt Wieters 7, Ryan Zimmerman 8