Nationals Opinions: Best Shortstops in Nats History
By Nick Engle
The Others: Royce Clayton and Felipe Lopez
Since 2005, the Nationals have essentially had two shortstops: Cristian Guzman and Ian Desmond.
Cristian Guzman filled the six position, when he wasn’t injured, until 2009 when Ian Desmond stepped into the starting role. Desmond has not lost that job since.
So instead of ranking the other two against two All-Stars, I decided to lump them together and give them an honorable mention in this rundown. Since Desmond has been an injury proof rock since his rookie season, the other list consists only of those who filled in for an injured Guzman.
First up is Royce Clayton. He came to the Nats via a free agent signing in 2006 after the club learned Guzman would be out for the year following shoulder surgery. He was entering into his 15th season and only stayed with the team through July when the Nats traded him in a multi-player deal with the Cincinnati Reds that sent Felipe Lopez to the club in return.
During his brief time with the Nats, Clayton posted 338 plate appearances and a respectable .269/.315/.348, but was more of a stop-gap measure until they could upgrade to Felipe Lopez.
Lopez took the remaining reps in 2006 and switched back and forth between second and short during Guzman’s rocky comeback. Fielding errors marked Lopez’s time with the Nationals more than his production at the plate. He managed an abysmal -14.6 and -7.0 UZR for 2006 and 2007 respectively to accompany a league worst for shortstops .954/.957 fielding percentage.
These two do deserve an honorable mention on our list, but cannot come close to the top two candidates for best shortstop in Washington Nationals’ history.
Next: Runner Up