With veteran first baseman Adam LaRoche moving on as a free agent over the offseason, it was no secret that the Nationals were looking to add some left-handed power in 2015.
You can see it at third base, with the possibility that the left-handed hitting Ian Stewart could get a shot because of the knee injury to Anthony Rendon. Stewart has done pretty well in spring training, batting .270 in 18 games with three homers and four RBIs. He has played most of his career with the Rockies, and last season played in just 24 games for the Angels.
Another lefty swinger making big noise this spring is Clint Robinson. The 30-year-old made a big splash in a short two-week stay with the Dodgers last season after again tearing it up in the minors.
Following his game-winning hit against the Indians last season, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly compared Robinson to 17-year veteran John Olerud, the 1993 American League batting champion.
Robinson has certainly proven at the minor league level that he can hit and play. He was the Rookie-level Pioneer League MVP in 2007 at Idaho Falls. He was the organizational Most Valuable Player for the Royals for three straight seasons from 2010-2012. Robinson also was a three-time minor league postseason All-Star at Idaho Falls, Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha. His best two seasons were 2010-11, when he combined to hit 52 home runs with 198 RBIs.
Those numbers seem very similar to that of the Nationals right-handed hitting first baseman Tyler Moore, a player Robinson is competing with for a spot on the Nationals’ 25-man roster. The 28-year-old Moore hit 62 homers with 201 RBIs in the minors from 2010-11.
The pair could provide some serious pop off the bench for the Nationals early this season, with the likes of Jayson Werth, Rendon and Denard Span possibly starting the season on the disabled list due to injury.
Kevin Frandsen, a veteran of 507 major league games, can play multiple positions, from first base to the infield and the outfield. He may get a bench spot based on his versatility.
But Robinson’s lefty bat is intriguing. He has hit .349 (15-for-43) in spring games, with a .417 on-base percentage. He has five doubles, one triple, two homers and eight RBIs.
Of the 657 minor league games played by Robinson, only 10 were played not at first base. Robinson could be that lefty bat to replace LaRoche while Moore also has the ability to play left field, having logged 73 games at that spot. This helps with insurance for another lefty bat in Nate McLouth, whose recovery from shoulder issues continues to linger, his status for opening day being “in jeopardy.” according to manager Matt Williams