At 30-years old, the name Clint Robinson isn’t tossed around much in the Rookie of the Year conversation. The former 25th round pick entered the 2015 season with 13 major league at-bats to his name. Signed to a minor league deal with the Washington Nationals over the offseason, not many outside the Nats’ front office gave the signing much thought. Then Spring Training came to an end, and the 25-man roster was finalized: Robinson had made the team. Fans and analysts alike scrambled to answer the burning question. Who was this guy?
Drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 2007 amateur player draft, Clint was a standout hitter at Troy University. He worked his way up Kansas City’s farm system until 2012 when he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates as a part of the Vin Mazzaro deal. Pittsburgh designated him for assignment the following year, resulting in him being claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays. Robinson was then granted his unconditional release and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers, only to be released again at the end of the 2014 season.
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Now playing in his first full major league season, Clint Robinson has blown away expectations and excelled in his bench role for the Nats. Coming off a game Tuesday night in which he went 1-for-4 with a home run, two RBIs, and a walk, the seasoned rookie is hitting .274/.346/.419 with three home runs and 13 RBIs in 117 ABs. With Washington’s offense suffering from a string of injuries, Robinson has been thrusted into a starting role, filled in admirably. Entering play Tuesday, Clint Robinson boasted a .290 batting average as a starter, tied for the fourth highest mark among position players on the team.
Moving forward, his days left as an everyday player are seemingly numbered. Ryan Zimmerman is making progress, and is within weeks of a return. While being relegated back to his bench role may not be preferable, he will still remain a vital piece to the ballclub. Coming off the 2012 season in which Washington pinch hitters led the league with a .288 batting average, the bench has been one of the biggest Achilles heels for the Nats. Placing poorly in 2013 (19th) and 2014 (29th), GM and President of Baseball Operations Mike Rizzo’s biggest offseason needs included adding a bat for the bench. He got what he was looking for in unlikely hero Clint Robinson, and the Nationals have thrived behind his impact.