Andrew Stevenson ended the 2020 season on quite a run, with a 15 for 36 (.417/.488/.833) stretch in the second-half of September with seven doubles, a triple, and two homers over the final few weeks of the 60-game campaign.
Over his first four seasons in the majors, Stevenson, a 27-year-old, 2015 2nd Round pick, got in 139 games, but in 2021, the outfielder/bench bat appeared in a career-high 109 total, 39 of them as a starter. He finished the year with a .229/.294/.339 line overall, but as a pinch hitter, Stevenson went 15 for 47 (.319/.347/.447), succeeding in a difficult role and providing a reliable bat off the bench for his manager, Davey Martinez, who was impressed with what he saw from the left-handed swinging outfielder.
Stevenson finished the year with the second-most pinch hits in the majors, behind Wilmer Difo (PIT) and Ehire Adrianza (ATL), who ended up tied for the most with 16 each.
“He comes off the bench in big moments, and for the most part he gets the job done,” the skipper said as his fourth season on the bench in D.C. wound down. “He’s got a knack for it, he really does. He understands the whole pinch hit role. He’s definitely one of the guys that goes underneath the radar, but he’s got some big hits for us, he stole a few bases for us in the need, and plays the game the right way.
“He’s one of the guys where, in the game all of a sudden we need him to pinch hit, he’s the first one against right-handed pitching to be called upon, because he’s done such a great job.”
Stevenson said he’s adjusted to the bench role, after playing every day in college at LSU, and in the minors on they way up, and found a way to have some success.
“It’s a role I’ve kind of fell into in the last few years,” he explained in an October 1st Zoom call with reporters.
“You know, definitely kind of want to make that jump into being an everyday guy, but you know, as far as the role I’m in, I’m going to go out there and give you the best at-bat I can, make the play in the outfield, I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team with what I bring to the table, but you know I think the end goal is to definitely be an everyday guy, so we’re just going to keep working towards that and have a little fun while we’re doing that.”
In addition to providing Martinez a reliable left-handed bat off the bench, Stevenson is also a reliable defender, who can play anywhere in the outfield, and has a knack for making the tough plays, diving and sprinting around the outfield grass, and really enjoying himself out there when he gets a chance to take the field either as a starter or late-game replacement.
“Defense it happens a lot faster,” he said when asked if he enjoys the rush of a great catch or a key hit. “You pinch hit and you’re walking up there slowly, you kind of know about the situation you’re getting into, whereas, defense, you don’t know if it’s going to be hit to left, right, go back, you got to be kind of more just on your feet and ready to go.
“So as far as that, I’d say it’s a little bit different mindset in that you just don’t know what’s about to be coming.”
Whatever is coming his way, Stevenson will be prepared. Going into the offseason, he said he’d have a plan for the winter to get himself ready for Spring Training and another season with the team that drafted him six years back now.
“This offseason it’s just the little things,” Stevenson said. “It’s hard to replicate just getting at-bats, but you got to make sure — I think the biggest thing in the offseason is make sure your body is ready for — if your number is called, to play 162. I think that’s — going forward, every player in the offseason is shooting for that, so for me it’s just — it’s you got to get your swing right and all that, but you have a little time in Spring Training to get all that going, but you can’t play catch-up in Spring Training when it comes to conditioning or just your body overall, so I think that’s going to be my biggest thing. I’ve been pretty good at that, but you can always get better.”