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It would have been easy for the Washington Nationals to look in another direction at third base for the 2021 season. With several top third basemen presumably on the trade block, and Justin Turner having been available in free agency, the Nationals had options this offseason.
Instead, they are determined to give Carter Kieboom a chance to prove himself. The one time consensus top 25 prospect was expected to be a building block for the Nationals, someone that they could pair with Juan Soto to have a strong duo in the middle of the lineup. He was the future at the hot corner, someone that would be able to replace Anthony Rendon‘s production.
Washington Nationals hope Carter Kieboom can live up to expectations
Instead, Kieboom has yet to show he can be that player in the majors. His 2020 season was a disaster, as he produced a horrendous .202/.344/.212 batting line in 122 plate appearances. While his ability to get on base, with 17 walks have having been hit by a pitch five times, was a nice bonus, he did not display any power. Kieboom’s one extra base hit was a double on September 8.
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The hope is that Kieboom’s power will begin to manifest during game action. He is still just 23 years old, and had been expected to develop above average power as he continues to mature. Kieboom had belted 32 homers and 55 doubles combined in his 2018 and 2019 minor league campaigns, giving hope that the pop will be there.
But that has not happened in the majors. Kieboom did hit two homers in his 43 major league plate appearances in 2019, but those were also his only extra base hits for the Nationals. Three extra base hits in 165 major league plate appearances are not what the Nationals had in mind.
Defensively, Kieboom is ready. He saved five runs at third last year, ranking fourth in the National League, while showing exceptional range. Likewise, he has displayed an excellent eye at the plate. But eventually, he will need to hit. The Nationals cannot afford to wait indefinitely in the hopes that his bat will come around.
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Carter Kieboom will get another chance in 2021. But the Washington Nationals may want to keep an eye out for other options just in case.