October 2, 2012; Washington, D.C., USA; Washington Nationals left fielder Steve Lombardozzi (1) singles in the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Preview: Steve Lombardozzi

Super utility man Steve Lombardozzi was the Nationals’ primary infield utility man during his rookie year in 2012, hitting .273/.317/.354 in 416 PA, along with five home runs, 19 walks, and 46 strikeouts. He got a lot of playing time when Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond went down with injuries, seeing starts at second and third base. Heading into 2013, Lombardozzi will certainly aim to improve upon his production, but in an optimal world, he receives as little playing time as possible. While he will attempt to improve, spotty playing time could hurt his consistency, and he will find it difficult to make any major strides. The projections roughly support this claim:

ZiPS: 584 PA*, .267/.316/.372, 42 RBI, 66 runs scored, 14 SB, 5 HR

MLB.com: 301 PA, .273/.317/.360, 25 RBI, 33 runs scored, 8 SB, 3 HR

CBSSports: 315 PA, .292/.326/.387, 21 RBI, 33 runs scored, 3 SB, 3 HR

ESPN Fantasy: 272 PA, .257/.298/.342, 19 RBI, 30 runs scored, 6 SB, 2 HR

Averages: 368 PA, .272/.314/.365, 27 RBI, 41 runs scored, 8 SB, 3 HR

*ZiPS projects a player’s performance based solely on past seasons, without consideration for playing time. It does not expect Lombardozzi to play a regular role due to an injury to another player, but simply offers the numbers he would put up over a full season.

These projections are fairly scattered, and with some good reason. It can be hard to predict how a player will do in such a small sample size, especially with only one year of Major League experience to base it on. However, they all tell a similar tale. Lombardozzi should have a decent average, mediocre OBP, and poor slugging, with a few runs scored and not much else. He plays defense well at second, but not nearly as well as Danny Espinosa, so his only game action will be for an injury or as a late-inning pinch hitter. His lack of playing time will, as with all bench players, be the main impediment to his having a productive fantasy season, but if Espinosa or Desmond goes down with an injury, he could be an option in deep NL-only leagues, or maybe beyond if he heats up. He’ll continue to provide capable replacement play for the Nats, in the hopefully unlikely event that another infielder is injured.

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