Andrew Stevenson seemingly will open the season as the fourth outfielder. As the Nationals assess his talents they need to give him time to show what he can do.
Where we stand right now, Andrew Stevenson is the starting right fielder and Carter Kieboom is the starting third baseman. We have been told a free agent outfielder would be acquired moving Stevenson into a fourth outfielder role.
We were also told Kieboom would be the third baseman to start the season, then a report surfaced the Nationals were open to trading their former first round pick. Around the same time, news became public the Nationals were interested in Cincinnati Reds third baseman, Eugenio Suarez.
While Carter Kieboom’s present is on a rollercoaster ride, the Nationals would be wise not to treat Stevenson’s future with the same demeanor.
Kieboom has been given 138 at-bats and hasn’t done much with them. He has three extra-base hits and an OPS of .556. Not really enough time to evaluate him and even though the Nationals say they are poised to go into 2021 with Carter as the third baseman, they seem to be talking out of both sides of their mouth.
After a hot hitting end to the 2020 campaign, Stevenson seemed to earn the fourth outfielder job heading into 2021. Prior to starting every game to end last season, Stevenson was used over parts of three seasons mainly as a pinch hitter, pinch runner, or defensive replacement. In 103 career games, he has just 203 at-bats.
Having thought highly enough of the guy to spend a second round pick in the 2015 draft, the Nationals need to give Stevenson time to adapt to the full-time fourth outfielder role. His speed and defensive prowess should allow him a longer leash if he doesn’t get out of the gate hitting as hot as he ended the previous season. Not playing regularly may cause a little rust in the swing, and the Nationals should stand by their man.
In order to properly evaluate him, Stevenson needs the opportunity to get in games enough to get into that groove of a fourth outfielder. Replacing him with a veteran bat with more power after a month, would be a mistake.
Even though he has been at the major league level parts of four years, the Nationals have never seen him in a permanent role. Here is their chance. Just like they need to do with Carter Kieboom, the Nationals need to give Andrew Stevenson time to come into his own.