Throughout the offseason, The Nats Blog will look back at every player’s 2012 season to summarize and analyze his performance, and we’ll look ahead to his possible role in 2013. We’ll go from #1 Steve Lombardozzi all the way to #63 Henry Rodriguez with about two posts per week until Spring Training 2012. Enjoy.
Steve Lombardozzi played an enormous role for the Washington Nationals this year, in what many people seem to forget was his rookie season. He had 32 plate appearances as a September call up in 2011, but he came in ready to make his value known in 2012.
With Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa locked into their middle infielder roles, Lombardozzi, a local product from Columbia, Maryland, found his way into the lineup any way he could. Most of his action came in left field except for when he was spelling injuries to Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond. The main point here: wherever he was needed, he filled in admirably. So admirably, in fact, that many fans wanted to see Lombo replace Espinosa at second base as he struggled at the plate.
Lombardozzi finished the season with a .273/.317/.354 slash line. Not exactly staggering numbers, especially in the OBP column, but he filled in in big spots and had a few extremely successful months. He also finished in the Top 8 in offensive WAR (0.8), according to FanGraphs.
To lend some perspective to that number, Danny Espinosa, in a disappointing offensive season, finished with a 3.8 WAR, fourth best on the team and tied with Adam LaRoche. Yes, Espinosa had a lot more plate appearances, but he was still among the most valuable members of the Nats. It is important to remember, though, that Lombardozzi is an extremely valuable role player and utility man, it's just his ceiling is much lower than Espinosa’s. Don’t expect him to replace Espinosa any time soon.
Next year: Lombardozzi has proven himself an invaluable member of a great team, and a playoff team is really only as good as its bench. He was a critical member of the Goon Squad, and he’s available to play at least four positions on the field as a utility player. That’s where I expect to see Lombo come Opening Day 2013.
Next up: #2 Roger Bernadina