Washington Nationals Editorial: Don’t Make Clint Robinson An Afterthought


Even though he is likely going to be a backup, don’t underestimate Clint Robinson’s role in 2016

With Spring Training less than two weeks away, the Washington Nationals will soon finalize all their non-roster invitees that will be heading to Viera. Every year, there is always that one player that surprises everyone, has a great spring, and earns a roster spot. Last year, that player was Clint Robinson.

When the Nationals signed Robinson last offseason to a minor league game, he only had 13 career Major League appearances. He came to Viera and hit .333 with two home runs and eight RBI’s in 28 games and eventually won a roster spot with the team. For the 2015 season, Robinson had a slash line of .272/.358/.424 with ten home runs and 34 RBI’s

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Heading into spring training in 2016, the Nationals seemed to have some of their outfield depth in place other than Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth. They traded for Ben Revere in the Drew Storen deal, Michael Taylor and Matt den Dekker are slotted in the other two outfield spots, and they also invited Chris Heisey and Logan Schafer to camp as non-roster invitees earlier this winter.

So, where does that leave Robinson? Right now, he would be competing with Tyler Moore for that backup first base position. Last year, Robinson played 44 of his 126 games at first base (42 starts). That was the second most games a Nats first baseman played, behind Ryan Zimmerman (93 games). Moore was right behind Robinson with 39 games played at first (23 starts).

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When you look at Robinson’s 2015 season more closely, he had a much better year away from Nats Park. He had a .329 batting average away from Nats Park (149 at-bats) as opposed to a .219 batting average at home (160 at-bats). Despite that big split difference, Robinson’s .358 OBP was third on the team among players who played in 100 or more games behind Harper and Yunel Escobar.

If you look at the defensive numbers, Robinson had three errors at first base and two in left field. According to Fangraphs, Robinson had -3 runs saved at first base, but he had -5 runs saved as an outfielder.

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With the outfield filled with depth, Robinson’s value to the Nats is likely going to be as the backup first baseman. He gives the team more power off the bench and showed consistency when in the lineup once Zimmerman went down. It will be interesting to watch Robinson and Moore compete in Viera this spring. So, while you are looking for the next non-roster invitee to emerge this year, don’t make one of last year’s surprises, Clint Robinson, an afterthought.