Washington Nationals: Grading Clint Robinson’s 2016 Season
By Ricky Keeler
Our Washington Nationals player grades continue with a look at Clint Robinson’s 2016 season
One of the major surprises going into the 2015 season for the Washington Nationals was Clint Robinson making the team. Now, fast forward to 2017 and the Nats’ backup first baseman figures to be another key piece to the bench this upcoming season. Before we look forward, let’s take a look back at Robinson’s season.
In 104 games this past season, Robinson had a slash line of .235/.305/.332 with five home runs and 26 RBI’s. For the 32-year-old left-handed hitter, it was a slight drop off from the ten home runs and 34 RBI’s he had in 126 games back in 2015. With that being said, the Washington Nationals had much better health as a team in 2016 compared to 2015, which limited Robinson’s playing time this year.
While Robinson never had more than 46 at-bats in any given month, his best month of the 2016 season came back in August. In the month of August, he was 14-for-40 (.350) with six RBI’s and five walks. He didn’t have a single extra-base hit during that month, but he did find a way to get on base.
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If you look at Robertson’s numbers in pinch-hitting situations in 2016, he had four RBI’s, which was the third most on the team (Stephen Drew and Jayson Werth had six). Despite all those RBI’s, Robinson had just nine hits in 49 at-bats (.184 batting average), but one of those hits was a walk-off home run against the Detroit Tigers (May 9).
Right now, when you look at the Washington Nationals projected bench (courtesy of Roster Resource), Robinson is the lone left-handed option off the bench, though Wilmer Difo and Jose Lobaton are switch-hitters. Robinson does give the Nats a good option to use late in the game as a left-handed bat.
Robinson does have some experience playing left field, but most of his playing time was at first base. However, with players like Difo on the roster, Dusty Baker could always use Daniel Murphy at first base to keep his bat in the lineup when Ryan Zimmerman is either injured or needs a day off.
Yes, Robinson doesn’t have a high batting average, but he does the ability to drive in runners in scoring position. During the 2016 season, 18 of Robinson’s 26 RBI’s came in those specific situations.
On defense, Robinson had a little more success if you go by the advanced numbers. According to Fangraphs, Robinson had -1 defensive run saved, but it was a two run improvement from his 2015 total (-3).
Heading into 2017, Robinson appears to be a key role for the Washington Nationals since Baker likes to use each player off the 25-man roster. Robinson had decent numbers off the bench in 2016, but it remains to be seen how pivotal a role he will have until the rest of the bench is finalized.