Adam Kilgore: ‘Nationals Should Win Division Easily’

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WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 1: Manager Matt Williams #9 of the Washington Nationals looks on during a baseball against the Colorado Rockies on July 1, 2014 at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. The Nationals won 7-1. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Matt Williams (Credit: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Everybody knows that Bryce Harper loves to speak his mind, and this week was no exception. Harper, who came off the disabled list Monday, said that he should play centerfield – as opposed to left – and that Ryan Zimmerman, who plays third base, should take his spot.

The odd man out? That would be current center-fielder Denard Span.

“I don’t think Harper’s got any agenda that’s hidden,” Washington Post Nationals beat writer Adam Kilgore said on The John Feinstein Show. “I think he’s pretty much put his cards on the table. I don’t think there’s any sort of malicious intent. I don’t think he’s trying to shoot an arrow at Matt Williams. I think he’s just sort of expressing a pretty honest opinion in that he would like to play centerfield. He feels like his team is best when he’s in centerfield and the other guys are in other spots. He’s got a right to that opinion, but he went about it in a very inelegant way that sort of ruffled teammates a little bit.

“I don’t think that the room views him as a bad guy,” Kilgore continued, “and Bryce Harper’s not a bad guy. I think he’s a good person. He’s a polite kid. He’s a good kid. But this is probably a misstep. I don’t know if he realizes that or not or would agree with that or not, but in the eyes of teammates, it’s certainly a misstep. It’s not respectful to Denard Span. He’s got to understand that the things he says have consequences and they’re going to be perceived in a certain way – and all that matters. People are going to talk about this instead of the fact that the Nationals have won four games in a row.”

But is Harper right? Should Span get benched?

“In my opinion, I think no,” Kilgore said. “I think the way (Williams has) it now is probably the best first try just because it does give them their best offensive lineup. But I don’t think this lineup they have now is going to be the everyday lineup. I do think there’s going to be a lot of change.”

Indeed, there are off days, injuries, fatigue, favorable match-ups, unfavorable match-ups – the Nationals’ starting lineup figures to be in flux.

“It’s going to be fun every day,” Kilgore said. “But it’s incumbent upon Matt Williams to make sure his payers are not curious, that they sort of know what the deal is and that they’re prepared to do different things on different days.”

Regardless of who plays where, the Nationals (45-38) have won four straight and eight of 11 (entering play July 2) and trail Atlanta (46-38) by just a half game. Kilgore fully expects Washington to win the division.

“There’s really not much of an argument to make that Atlanta is the better team,” he said. “I think the Nationals, on paper, should be able to eventually pull away and take the division pretty easily just based on pure talent. (They are) a really good team when they’re going on all cylinders. They should be able to start to separate themselves this month and in the coming months.”

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