Throughout the offseason, The Nats Blog will look back at every player’s 2012 season to summarize and analyze his performance, and we’ll look ahead to his possible role in 2013. We’ll go from #1 Steve Lombardozzi all the way to #63 Henry Rodriguez with about two posts per week until Spring Training 2012. Enjoy.
Roger Bernadina has gone through many roles with the Washington Nationals since he was selected by the Montreal Expos as an amateur free agent in 2001. A fan favorite known as “The Shark,” Bernadina finally showed some promise this year as a bench role player and spot starter.
Even when this season started, I felt that Bernadina’s time with the Nationals was going to be limited. He’s an above-average defender with great speed, but his bat has never shown much promise besides the occasional swing for power or bunt for a hit. That changed this season.
Bernadina probably saw the career pinnacle of his productivity in 2012, finishing the year with a .291/.372/.405 slash line, all of which are career bests by a landslide. He had 261 plate appearances, more than 60 fewer than last season, but he was able to be very effective when given the opportunity.
Despite having far fewer opportunities, Bernadina’s 2012 WAR (1.9) was more than double his 2011 WAR (0.8). That increase is attributed to a few factors. First, his .359 BABIP is astronomical, but not terribly uncommon for a successful pinch hitter. Second, just look at that on-base percentage. The .372 OBP is 81 points higher than his average, which is the largest differential of his professional career in seasons with more than 200 PAs.
Bernadina walked in more than 10% of his at bats, which is up more than four points from last season, while his strikeout percentage went up by fewer than two points. That’s a tradeoff that I would have killed for from a guy with a lot of untapped potential.
Next year: Bernadina is one of the few players associated with this organization from its days in Canada, and he may associate himself with them for a bit longer after a great year this season. His speed alone is valuable as a pinch runner, and he is a good defensive replacement for guys like Michael Morse in late innings. Bernadina is arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career under Super Two status, so he’s probably due for a raise. If he performs even close to his 2012 stats in the future, he will pay for himself in spades.
Next up: #3 Wilson Ramos