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What Should the Nationals do at Second Base?

Brian Dozier

The Washington Nationals upgraded this offseason at second base by signing Brian Dozier to a one year deal. Dozier had a down year in 2018, but was playing through a bone bruise. He was supposed to be 100% entering the season, but is currently day to day with a sore foot. He fouled a ball off his foot earlier in the week. Dozier will miss a few games, but if he continues to falter at the plate, it might be time to find a new second baseman. Here a few options that Washington can pursue.

Let Dozier finish the season

Brian Dozier hit .268 and .271 with 42 and 34 home runs in 2016 and 2017 respectively. His stats took a nosedive in 2018 as he hit .215 with 21 home runs. Washington decided to take a chance on Dozier returning to his 2016-2017 form and signed him to a one year deal, Dozier was brought in to help replace Daniel Murphy’s power as well as be a defensive upgrade.

While Dozier’s bat has disappeared, his defense has been rock solid. The 2017 gold glove winner is one of seven qualified national league second baseman to not commit an error. His range factor has decreased, but he has been able to make up for this by being sure-handed. His defense can only carry him so far though if his bat does not return.

Call up Carter Kieboom

Brian Dozier
Image courtesy of InsideNoVa.com

Carter Kieboom is the Nationals top prospect and ranked 24 on MLB Pipelines top 100 prospects. Last year between Single and Double-A, Kieboom hit .280 with 16 home runs and an OPS of 801. Kieboom had a productive spring training but was sent back to the minors to continue to develop. This year in Triple-A Fresno, Kieboom has taken the next step and is hitting .380 with an OPS of 1.157. While his natural position is shortstop, Washington has Kieboom practicing how to learn second in the minors. Kieboom could get the call up the same way Soto did last year. Washington would prefer to keep Kieboom down in the minors for at least one more year so he continues his development at second.

Platoon Brian Dozier with Howie Kendrick

Dozier has struggled so far this year with Washington offensively. He is hitting .182 with only two home runs, and an OPS of .765. Dozier is Day to Day with a sore foot. Currently, Howie Kendrick has been starting in his place over at second. Kendrick lacks the defensive skills of Dozier, but has been a blessing at the plate this season.

Since returning from the IL, Howie Kendrick has gone on to hit .455, with three home runs, six RBI and an OPS of 1.536 in 22 at bats. He hit his first pinch-hit home run of his career and has provided a huge spark off the bench. If Dozier continues to falter, then platooning the two would be the best move. Kendrick missed most of last year with a ruptured Achilles and re-injured himself during spring training. This would allow for Kendrick to split time so he can ease himself back while Dozier can attempt to bounce back.

Dozier is the better defender, but Kendrick is the better hitter and is currently on a tear. Washington’s offense has been inconsistent this year and could use the consistency Kendrick brings to the plate. Platooning the two would allow for Kendrick’s hot bat to help an inconsistent offense get over the hump. This would also be a smart move so Kendrick can ease his body back into a full-time position. Dozier would be also able to return from his injury. Hopefully, this move would spark a fire under Dozier and give him the motivation needed to return to his former self.

If Washington wants to make a move and bench Dozier, this would be the best move. It would allow for Kieboom to continue to develop in the minors while allowing Kendrick to have more playing time.

 

Feature Image From The Seattle Times.

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