Washington Nationals: Grading Wilmer Difo’s 2016 Season
While Wilmer Difo made the final out for the Washington Nationals this season, he had a productive year at the major and minor league levels
The last Washington Nationals image from this season that fans remember is Wilmer Difo striking out against Clayton Kershaw in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Dodgers, which was the final out of the game. Difo’s season didn’t end with the big hit, but that shouldn’t take away from the good year that the infielder had.
Difo spent most of the minor league season in double-A Harrisburg, where he played in 104 games. He had a slash line of .258/.318/.354 with six home runs, 41 RBI’s, and 28 stolen bases in 39 attempts. At double-A, he had eight games in which he had three hits or more, including a 4-for-5 game with seven RBI’s on June 28 against Bowie (Baltimore Orioles)
Back in September, Mick Reinhard, who covers the Senators, gave his biggest surprise from this season in our Harrisburg year in review. He talked about how Difo’s success this season goes past the numbers he put up:
“This may be an odd response considering the offensive numbers don’t necessarily reflect it, but Wilmer Difo was a different player for the Senators this season. He brought an improved attitude to the field every day, worked his butt off, and became a real leader on this team with his infectious personality.”
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On July 7, Difo got the call up from Harrisburg to the Major Leagues. The 24-year-old infielder did play one game at triple-A Syracuse this season, but he spent the bulk of the second half at the big league level. In 31 games, he hit .276 with one home run and drove in seven runs. Plus, he had three stolen bases and a .364 on-base percentage.
At the Major League level, Difo only had one multi-hit game in the 31 games that he played in. On August 2 against the Diamondbacks, Difo went 3-for-5 with a RBI as the Nats beat Arizona by a final score of 10-4. His lone home run of the season also came against Arizona (September 29).
From a defensive standpoint, Difo did make 19 errors at double-A when playing shortstop. However, with the Nats, Difo only made one error at short, but he showed his value by being able to play different positions. He played nine games at second base and three at third base in addition to shortstop.
INF, Washington Nationals
Heading into 2017, Difo could be a versatile option for Dusty Baker off the bench like he was toward the end of the season. On the other hand, he could also be a trade chip with Trea Turner and Danny Espinosa on the roster at shortstop. For right now, Difo deserves an average grade for his good year in the minors and his small contributions in the majors this year.