Davey Martinez admits to spending a lot of time jotting down possible lineup configurations for the Washington Nationals, and he was asked earlier this spring if he has come up with an options that don’t have Trea Turner (who led off for the majority of games he played during the 2020 campaign) leading off?
“Possibly, yeah,” Martinez said. “We’re running a lot of different lineups, different numbers, talking to a bunch of our analytical people.
“I would like to get [Victor] Robles up at the top of the lineup — even if it’s just against left-handed pitching. So we’ll see how that plays out. I’d like to get Trea somewhere second or third maybe, we’ll see how it plays out this Spring.”
When he wasn’t leading off, Turner, who finished the 60-game 2020 COVID campaign with a .335/.394/.575 line, hit second 15 times, and hit third four times.
Robles, mentioned by Martinez as a potential leadoff hitter if it’s not Turner, led off six times in 2020, but spent the majority of his time in the nine-hole, with the designated hitter in the NL last season.
He’d like to lead off, Robles said this week, having done it often coming up in the minor leagues.
“If it was my decision, obviously I would love to lead off more times than not,” Robles said through interpreter Octavio Martinez on Friday.
“But my main goal once I’m in that lineup, is to do my job, help the team win. So wherever I’m at, any way I can help the team, that’s my main priority.”
Has his manager discussed potentially having him lead off more often?
“I’ve played in that spot, hit in that lineup spot all throughout my minor league career,” the outfielder said.
“So I feel very comfortable hitting leadoff, and, basically, if I get the opportunity, the focus and the main goal is to get on base, because I know that once I’m on base, I can definitely do some damage, helping the team out any way I can.
“But the main goal is to get on base any way I can and using all my tools to do that, and take advantage of it once I am on base.”
Robles’s OBP in 2020 (.293) was down from the on-base percentage he posted in ‘19 (.326), and the .392 OBP he put up in five minor league seasons.
The 23-year-old infielder struggled overall in his fourth season in the majors, after coming in bulked up with muscle. His numbers at the plate and out in center fell off and he tried to get slimmer over the winter after thing didn’t go as planned for him or the club in 2020.
Robles’s manager talked this past week about the young outfielder seeming trying to boost his power numbers by adding significant muscle to his frame.
“As you know, he does have power. For me, you don’t have to be a big guy to have power,” Martinez said.
“He came back this year, he’s slimmer but he’s hitting the ball really well. What I like is that he looks agile. I’m watching him run around in the outfield, going to get balls.”
Robles is also, the skipper said, smiling again, and bringing energy to the team in West Palm Beach.
“That’s the kind of guy that I was used to when I first met him and that’s what I want him to be,” Martinez said.
“We’re going to get him as many at bats as possible. He revamped his swing, and we talk a lot about him going gap-to-gap and using his speed.”
“All I can do is focus on working hard like I have been,” Robles said when asked if did trade off speed for power with last winter’s work.
“Working hard, focusing, and the ability is there,” he added, “... so I know I can do both and just keep working at it and maintaining both of them.”