But the season ended all together a little bit earlier for rookie third baseman Carter Kieboom, who was put on the Injured List just hours before the Nationals hosted the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night.
He suffered a bone contusion on his hand when he was hit by a pitch on Monday at Nationals Park.
“Surgery, I don’t think is in the cards for this,” he told reporters on Thursday. “It feels a little better. Swelling is still a little bit there.”
Kieboom is not sure if he will try to play Winter Ball – noting the recovery of his hand could dictate that.
“I am going to go home and give my hand some rest,” he said.
“I plan to go into this offseason like I do any offseason. I don’t feel there is any need to change anything I have been doing.”
Kieboom was drafted as a shortstop, played three infield positions at Triple-A Fresno last season then became the regular third baseman in D.C. this year.
And this season the Nationals did a lot of shifting on the infield.
“It helped me tremendously,” Kieboom told Federal Baseball on Thursday of moving around the infield in the minors. “I felt very comfortable; I didn’t have any problems going back and forth” on shifts.
Kieboom recalls a conversation early in the year with veteran Asdrubal Cabrera, who can play any spot on the infield.
“In the beginning, I was trying to figure out where I wanted to play on the field in terms of my depths” at third, Kieboom said. “I think that was the biggest adjustment I made.”
Offense was his biggest challenge this season.
Kieboom, 23, hit just .202 this year in 99 at-bats with nine RBI and just one extra-base hit, a double.
“There are definitely some positives to take away from the season,” he said. “I was very happy the way defense went this year. (Offense) was not the way I wanted it to go. It was tough to keep (a rhythm), lots of ups and downs.”
He broke into the majors on April 26, 2019, as he was called up from the minors to play shortstop when Trea Turner was injured.
In 11 games last year he hit .128 with two solo homers in 39 at-bats. He was a first-round pick by the Nationals in 2016 out of his Georgia high school.
He went to Spring Training as the favorite to take over at third base for Anthony Rendon, who signed a free-agent deal with the Angels.
Manager Dave Martinez hinted at Winter Ball for Kieboom before the injury took place.
“Like I said before, he’s never struggled (on offense) in the past,” Martinez said Thursday.
Martinez told Kieboom he will head to Spring Training in 2021 with a chance to be the third baseman once again.
“He’s got a lot of swelling in there, and for me, he had an X-ray, it came back negative, but his hand’s swollen. We want to get that swelling down and get him another X-ray. He hasn’t gotten really that much better.
“His mobility is not very good, so we want to make sure,” Martinez told reporters on Wednesday.
“Once we get a second X-ray when the swelling is down to make sure that there’s no significant damage in that hand. I just want to be safe,” Martinez added.
“I don’t want him to go out there and do something not knowing what the prognosis really is. Like I said, his first X-ray came back negative, but his hand’s still swollen. I’ve seen boxers break hands and didn’t know it because their hands were swollen. Two weeks later their hand was broken, so I understand that we talked about it, and we just want to be careful.”