Matt Adams hit nine of his 10 doubles and 20 of 21 home runs in the 71 games he started 2018. Adams posted a .251/.319/.517 line in 285 plate appearances a starter, a .170/.250/.255 line (8 for 47 in 52 PAs) as a sub, and a .158/.256/.184 line (6 for 38 in 43 PAs) in his pinch hit appearances for the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals, who re-acquired the first baseman they selected in the 23rd Round of the 2009 Draft in a trade with the Nationals at the waiver deadline in August.
Adams ended up getting more time at first base than expected when Ryan Zimmerman was on the Disabled List for a long, 58-game stretch between early May and mid-July.
From May 9th through July 20th, when Zimmerman returned, Adams appeared in a total of 39 games, 29 as a starter, with a .274/.309/.462 line, four doubles and six home runs in 123 PAs, and in 25 games (11 starts) that followed Zimmerman’s return and preceded the trade to the Cards, the left-handed hitting infielder put up a .148/.233/.278 line with just a double and two home runs in 60 PAs.
As a pinch hitter in his career, Adams now has a .283/.323/.478 line, nine doubles, and nine home runs in 198 PAs, and he signed back on to come off the bench in D.C. in 2019, agreeing to the same 1-year/$4M deal he and the Nationals inked for 2018, telling reporters after the contract for the upcoming season was announced that he’s comfortable in the backup role.
“I think it’s just coming up with that mindset of being ready when your name’s called,” Adams said last week.
“Whether it’s on an everyday basis or whether it’s sporadic, here and there,” he added, “... pinch hitting off the bench and then filling in and giving Zim a blow when he needs it, but I think it’s going into Spring Training in the best shape that I can possibly be in, going into the Spring ready to get better, ready to work. Wherever the season takes me playing-time wise, I’m just excited about being on a winning club and a good chance to go back to the postseason.”
Adams also said he was excited to continue the work he started with Nats’ Hitting Coach Kevin Long and Assistant Hitting Coach Joe Dillon last Spring.
“I’m super-excited,” he qualified. “I think K-Long and Joe Dillon bring a lot to the table from the hitting perspective. Also [Manager] Davey [Martinez has] a pretty good grasp of the hitting philosophy, but he does a good job of letting K-Long and Joe do their thing. I developed a great relationship with the two of them last year in Spring Training and was able to carry that out through the year and spoke with both of those guys, and I’m very, very excited to be in a good spot where those two guys know how my swing works and what I need to work on whenever I get into kind of a little funk.
“It kind of puts me at ease knowing that I’ve got two guys that I respect and look up to in that regard to where I can go into the cage if I feel like something’s off and they know what drill or what to say to kind of get me back on track.”
The clubhouse Adams is returning to in 2019 is going to be a bit different from the one he left, with a number of players traded last summer, and free agents departing and arriving.
“It’s definitely going to be different with some of the guys that are gone, but I think you get Howie [Kendrick] back, he’s going to be in the clubhouse great player, great person,” Adams said.
“[GM Mike] Rizzo and his team, they’re smart,” he continued, “and they make decisions by doing their homework and I think it’s exciting to see so far what they’ve done and there’s still a decent amount of offseason left for them to go out and get some more pieces if they want to.
“I think it’s just going to be exciting to get down to Spring Training and get to work for everybody’s goal is to get back to the postseason and bring that championship back to D.C.”