When putting together a list of names to be considered for the all-time Washington Nationals team, one may have to swallow their pride a bit and realize that the quality of names being considered will not be on par with some of the teams that have had 50 years to a century of tradition. You may have to take into account fan-favorites or one-hit wonders that would be overlooked on other clubs all-time teams due to their storied pasts. With that being said, I’m going to do my best to put together a position-by-position Washington Nationals all-time roster. Here goes nothing:
First base: I have to give this one to my man Nick Johnson. Early on in his career, the guy won a ring with the Yankees. He boasts an on-base percentage of .401, 9th among active players, and 55th all-time. Think about how many people have ever played baseball, and he’s 55th all-time! His only downfall was that he could never remain on the field. In the only season he managed to stay healthy through September with the Nats, he put up an OBP of .428, good for 4th in the NL, before his season ended with a brutal collision with Austin Kearns in right field, breaking his leg and causing him to miss the duration of the 2007 season in the process. Oh Nick, if only you were healthy.
Second base: Jose Vidro eeks out the all-time second-basemen position over Danny Espinosa primarily based on his reputation from Montreal. From 1999-2004, Vidro was easily a top-five second basemen in the game, probably top-three. Jeff Kent and Craig Biggio come to mind as other dominant second-basemen of this era. His 2000 season triple slash line of .330/.379/.540 (BA/OBP/SLG) is one of the best seasons from a second-baseman this century. His production in Washington did not quite rival his Montreal days, but he still managed to hit for a decent averages (.275 in 2005 and .289 in 2006) and his OPS both years were higher than Espinosa’s this year.
Shortstop: Christian Guzman wins this award by default. Yes, he may have had the single worst season by a hitter in Washington Nationals history in 2005 — .219/.260/.314 (Yikes!) – but he redeemed himself with an excellent 2007 campaign before getting injured and an All-Star Game appearance in 2008. There is nothing Ian Desmond has done in these last two years at shortstop that I would argue is grounds for taking away Guzman’s position in National’s history. Hopefully Desmond 3.0 will change our minds a bit.
Catcher: Wilson Ramos. Although Brian Schneider was the National’s every day catcher for the first three seasons and a part of some pretty historic moments in the franchises’ history, I got to give it to the young guy here. Schneider never hit more than 10 home runs as a member of the Nationals, and Ramos hit 15 as a 24-year old. People say that Schneider had great receiving skills and knew how to work with pitchers, but what can you say about a guy who got the bulk of the playing time for arguably the Nats best pitching staff ever this year?
Outfield: Two of these were relatively easy choices to make. Alfonso Soriano’s 40-40 campaign in his lone season in Washington makes him a no-brainer for me. And Mike Morse may easily be one of the most likable faces the franchise has ever known. It doesn’t hurt that last season he hit 31 home runs, but he was going beast mode while few were paying attention all the way back in 2010. The third outfielder is a little more difficult. Because we don’t have the history that other franchises have, I am not looking to pencil in a legitimate RF-CF-LF combination, so instead I looked for the third-best outfielder (really, who would our centerfielder be, without laughing?) I arrived on Jose Guillen, who many may remember in 2005 for his attitude and loyalty to Frank Robinson. What really cements Guillen in this spot for me was the 2005 interleague game against his ex-team, the Angels, where Guillen asked manager Frank Robinson to check Angels’ reliever Brendan Donnelly’s glove for pine-tar. After this prompting, umpires where left with no choice to kick Donnelly out of the game, and a bench-clearing shoving match ensued. Guillen had to be restrained from the scrum, and then in the 8th inning of the game, he hit the go-ahead home run of an eventual 6-3 victory.
Starting Rotation: Ace- Livan Hernandez. This may be more an act of loyalty than anything else, he’s certainly not the most talented guy. But I’m also accounting for historic value on this list, so between throwing the first pitch ever in Nationals history, and the first pitch at RFK, leading the Nationals in all-time starts and innings pitched, I’d say he has a “10” for historic value to the Nationals. At number two, I have to go with John Lannan, the only other multiple-time opening day starter the Nats have had. I was at his first ever major-league game, where he got ejected after breaking Chase Utley’s hand, so this pick has some sentimental value for me. The number three starter would have to be Stephen Strasburg. If all goes according to script, he will eventually go on to become the number one starter in the Aaron Keller All-Time Nationals pitching staff. At the four, we have Jordan Zimmermann, who will hopefully eventually become the number two starter on this list down the road. And lastly, a blast from the past, John Patterson, the former first round pick who put together one super quality season for the Nats in 2005 and not much else, a personal favorite of mine.
Bullpen: How do you start talking about a Nationals All-Time Bullpen without mention of the Chief? With all respect to Drew Storen, Chad Cordero is the Nationals all-time closer through 2011. There was some poise behind those 90 mph fastballs that he threw in big spots. Other favorites like workhorse Luis Ayala and choir boy lookalike Saul Rivera make the cut, as do new cats like Storen and Tyler Clippard, perhaps the most dominant reliever in National’s history. Jon Rauch also makes the cut due to his sheer size, standing 6’11 he is the tallest pitcher in major league history.
There is is. Your thoughts?