So, what do we make of Andrew Stevenson’s September? We all know not to put too much emphasis on Spring Training or September stats, right?
Washington’s 26-year-old, 2015 2nd Round pick did put together a sustained stretch of solid at bats at the plate, going 15 for 36 (.417/.488/.833), with seven doubles, a triple, two home runs, four walks, and eight Ks in 12 games (10 starts) and 41 plate appearances over the final weeks of a disappointing 2020 campaign for Washington’s Nationals.
“I’ve always liked the way he’s swung the bat,” manager Davey Martinez said during the last weekend of the 2020 season.
“He pinch hit for us. He had some big hits for us, some big walks, works the count, so he’s doing well.
“Hopefully he can build off of this and run with it and then we get him back next year we’ll see where we’re at.”
Stevenson spent the majority of the summer working out at the Nationals’ Alternate Training Site in Fredericksburg, Virginia, but when he got the call up to join Washington’s big league roster, he made the most of the opportunity to show what he could do given a chance to go out there on a regular basis.
Asked how he stayed focused and confident in himself when the opportunities weren’t there over the first month-plus of the season, Stevenson said it’s all about believing in himself and knowing he could produce when/if he got a shot.
“I believe I’m a great player,” he said, “and if I get an opportunity I can go out and produce, and so that was kind of always in the back of my mind, just to be ready, you never know, and take advantage of the work you’re putting in each day because eventually it will pay off.”
His manager was asked if he saw something in Stevenson over the final four weeks of the season that he didn’t know was there, but he said he’s always believed the outfielder was capable of contributing at the big league level.
“I saw Stevenson when he was young, I thought he swung the bat well, I thought he had potential to really play up here, and hit the ball well,” Martinez explained.
“He’s worked on a lot of different things. His defense, his baserunning, I mean, and kudos to him, like I said he’s worked on it diligently, and now he’s getting an opportunity to play every day, and he’s knocking the door down. And that’s all you can ask for from a young player. And he’s doing well.”
Did his success down the stretch change his manager’s view of where Stevenson sits in the pecking order in the organization?
“This winter, you think about it, we sit down and we start making plans for 2021, he’s a name that we’re going to talk about a lot, because he did so well, and because of what he did this year and how he went about what he needed to do to stay ready,” Martinez said.
“I mean, that Fredericksburg thing was not easy,” he added.
“You’re going down there, you’re not playing against any other team. You’re getting 15 at-bats every day, you know, running the bases, just because you’re hitting the ball — there was no defense.
“The way he prepared himself to come back here and help us was phenomenal. And I appreciate that from him.”
“It’s been a weird year,” Stevenson said of all the time he spent in Fredericksburg. “So you’ve got to take advantage of any work that you could get done at the Alternate Site.
“We’ve got a great staff up there and I was able to get some work in and it’s paying off.”
His own takeaway from what he was able to accomplish overall in the 2020 campaign, at both the Alternate Site and in the majors?
“The biggest thing is just the confidence of just doing it every day and getting thrown into different roles. In the past years I’ve been in that bench [role], coming off the bench, a little pinch hitting role, and I did pretty well and that, and now get a chance to start every day and be in that lineup and you get to see how different teams kind of change their approach to you, as you hit this they might go to this and that, so you kind of get to adjust and kind of see what other teams are doing to you. And it’s kind of been a little different, but it’s been good.”