Nationals

It's too early to panic about Carter Kieboom

Nationals

Among the many disappointing elements of the 2020 Nationals season is the trouble top prospect Carter Kieboom has had at the plate. He's a rookie and he's looking like it. And it can't help that he's following in the footsteps of Anthony Rendon at third base, as well as an impressive line of phenoms who have come through Washington.

Nationals fans have seen guys like Juan Soto and Bryce Harper find immediate success at the big league level. But those guys aren't normal and having more than one phenom debut for the same team within six years of each other is especially not normal.

So, maybe Kieboom isn't Soto, but who is? Chances are he will still be a good player based on his pedigree before the majors, including success all the way through the minor leagues.

It's also early, like very early. Kieboom has only played 38 total MLB games between this year and last. That equals less than a quarter of a season. Well, a real season.

And to put it in perspective, compare his numbers to these other players who produced similar stats through their first 38 games:

Carter Kieboom - 38 G, 137 PA, 122 AB, 22 H, 16 R, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 19 BB, 44 SO, .180/.303/.238

Manny Machado - 38 G, 153 PA, 148 AB, 39 H, 17 R, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 3 BB, 30 SO, .264/.276/.426

Javier Baez - 38 G, 166 PA, 155 AB, 27 H, 19 R, 9 HR, 18 RBI, 10 BB, 69 SO, .174/.229/.387

Eloy Jimenez - 38 G, 151 PA, 141 AB, 32 H, 13 R, 6 HR, 14 RBI, 9 BB, 47 SO, .227/.278/.383

Starling Marte - 38 G, 159 PA, 146 AB, 37 H, 14 R, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 6 BB, 40 SO, .253/.293/.418

 

Willy Adames - 38 G, 137 PA, 126 AB, 27 H, 15 R, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 9 BB, 46 SO, .214/.263/.325

Machado, Baez and Marte have since become All-Stars. Jimenez and Adames probably would have been All-Stars this year if the game was played, as both are statistical leaders on winning teams.

Kieboom, to this point, has a higher on-base percentage than anyone on that list. Where he lacks is in particular is with power numbers. Perhaps those will improve with time, as his minor league career suggests they will.

If those comparisons don't move you, here's another. How about Trea Turner? Before he was competing for the batting title and setting himself up for a lucrative contract, he was a rookie just like Kieboom, trying to find his way at the plate as a former first round pick.

Here are Turner's numbers through 38 career games:

Trea Turner - 38 G, 90 PA, 83 AB, 21 H, 11 R, HR, 4 RBI, 6 BB, 27 SO, .233/.311/.386

As you see, the plate appearances are a bit skewed by Turner not playing everyday early on. And it wasn't long after his 38th game that he took off and began putting up numbers that earned him NL rookie of the year votes.

Maybe Kieboom can follow a similar trajectory next season. He has been showing positive signs recently with hits in his last three games.

He's only 23 years old and, as the other names on this list show, it may take some time for him to figure things out. Not everyone is Soto.