Stevenson ends season on a tear

In his September for the Nationals, outfielder Andrew Stevenson got at least one base hit in all 12 games he played, a new career-high.

Stevenson, 26, returned to the Nats on Sept. 18, playing in nearly every game for the rest of the season, which included appearing in three doubleheaders in that span. During the final two weeks of the season, the Nats went 8-4 with Stevenson on the field.

He hit .417 with seven doubles, one triple, two homers and 12 RBIs in those 36 at-bats. For 2020, Stevenson finished slashing .366/.447/.732 and had an eye-popping 1.179 OPS in 15 games.

Stevenson-Diving-Catch-White-Sidebar.jpgThe native of Lafayette, La., also made a diving catch of a Brandon Nimmo sinking line drive in left field for the first out in the top of the ninth as the Nationals ended the season on an upswing with a 15-5 blasting of the Mets. The Nats ended the season going 7-2, missing the postseason by three games.

"We see the glimpses of it when he comes up," said manager Davey Martinez during Sunday's postgame Zoom video session with reporters. "We use him as a pinch-hitter, some defense, but what we saw now, this guy really established what we feel like he could be - a potentially good hitter in this league. It's not easy to do what he did. He was down there, bides some time, gets up here, gets an opportunity to play and he knocked the door down. That's awesome."

To put his current run in perspective, "Double Drew" had seven doubles in 15 games in 2020, compared to five doubles in his previous 124 major league games. His 12 RBIs was second only to his 13 RBIs in 57 games in 2018. He had 10 extra-base hits in his short stint with the Nats in September 2020, versus seven extra-base hits in his previous three years with the club.

It was a small sample size, but the numbers were very encouraging. In the seven times he led off the game, Stevenson hit .571 (4-for-7) with three doubles and did not strike out. When he led off an inning, Stevenson hit .385 (5-for-13) with four doubles. Batting in the No. 1 spot this season, Stevenson hit .370 (10-for-27) with five doubles, one triple, two homers, eight runs scored and seven RBIs. He had an OPS of 1.266. With runners in scoring position, Stevenson hit .500 (6-for-12) in 16 plate appearances with two doubles, one triple and 10 RBIs.

Something good is going on with Stevenson. And that is good for the Nats in 2020 and looking ahead. Just like Max Scherzer said this weekend, you would expect Stevenson to say, "Let's keep going, I don't want to stop now." But unfortunately, the season ended Sunday for the Nats at 26-34.

Now the offseason is here. There are 185 days remaining until spring training in West Palm Beach commences, if all goes well health-wise during the coronavirus pandemic. The approach Stevenson has found at the plate is a big deal. And that will be big for him in 2021 as he vies for a roster spot from the left side of the plate.

"For him, he should be going to the winter with a lot of confidence and continue to swing the bat like he's swinging when we get started and don't change a thing, come back ready to go," Martinez said.

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