Can Bernadina back up a strong 2012 campaign?

If you’re looking for some good baseball programming on TV to get you through the weekend, I’ve got a suggestion for you.

Cue up the DVR and record any future airings of a one-hour special that originally aired on MLB Network last night called “The Third Team.”

The show follows around the six umpires that worked the 2012 World Series and gives you a very cool look at the game from their perspective. All six umpires are miked up during the games, and you get to see how the umps handle close calls, deal with the managers and players on both teams, and approach their craft.

I found it incredibly interesting. Personally, I’ve never really thought about the amount of work umpires put in and how difficult it is for them to reach the major leagues, and this show did a good job giving you a window into these guys’ lives during their most intense assignment of the year. I suggest you give it a shot.

There’s a decent chance that Roger Bernadina won’t get much of a shot at significant playing time during the 2013 season. All three of the Nationals’ outfield spots have a full-time starter attached to them (Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth at the corner outfield spots and Denard Span in center), leaving Bernadina as the backup outfielder on the bench.

But you never know what a season will provide. Injuries can always create an opening, and if Bernadina is able to put up the kind of numbers he did last season or even take another step forward, he could really get his career going in a positive direction.

This upcoming season will be a big one for Bernadina, the Nationals’ 28-year-old outfielder who has the physical tools to excel but had yet to put it all together prior to the 2012 campaign. Bernadina got just 261 plate appearances last season, many of which were in pinch-hit situations, but he found a way to post a career year, putting up a slash line of .291/.372/.405 and stealing 15 bases in 18 attempts.

Add in Bernadina’s at-times stellar defense, and you can see why scouts have been wowed by the sculpted outfielder’s potential for years.

The problem with Bernadina, since his major league debut with the Nationals in 2008, has been consistency, both at the plate and in the field. Bernadina has a tendency to make a spectacular play one inning, and then leave members of the Nationals’ organization shaking their heads in disappointment the next.

Bernadina had fewer defensive miscues and mental lapses last season, and coupled with his improved offensive numbers, he was able to create a positive impression on manager Davey Johnson.

The question now is whether Bernadina will be able to back up his strong 2012 with an equally impressive 2013.

If he can continue to be a force defensively and find a way to reach base at a consistent clip even without consistent at-bats, Bernadina might become a sought-after trade chip which the Nationals can use to bolster their roster at another spot. The Nats are set on outfielders for the next couple years, and with Bernadina just reaching his first year of arbitration this offseason, he still is under team control for two more years.

Bernadina has great speed, has the potential to be a solid defender in left or center and possesses some pop in his bat. He wasn’t ready for a full-time outfield job in previous seasons, but if he can put up another strong season this year, he might wind up on a number of teams’ radar in the future.

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