Runner Up: Cristian Guzman
Cristian Guzman started at shortstop for the brand, spanking new Washington Nationals in 2005.
He came over from the Twins on a free agent signing and promptly had the worst year of his career. He was downright awful. He struck out too much because he was swinging at everything, he barely hit above .200, and he never got on base.
These are not good traits for a lead-off hitter.
Guzman sat out the entire 2006 season with a shoulder injury and a subsequent surgery. He also had Lasik eye surgery that off-season.
I guess there was a good reason he chased so many bad pitches…he couldn’t see the baseball!
He returned to the lineup in 2007 and battled injury for most of the year, causing him to not be the majority share holder at the position. However, late in the 2008 season, something clicked and he started mashing the baseball. His stat line over 600 plate appearances was .316/.345/.440.
Compared with his awful rookie season; Guzman was fantastic.
His wRC+ jumped from 48 in 2005 to 106 in 2008. He wasn’t even at replacement level in 2005, but he earned almost three wins for his club in 2008. This jump in performance also earned Guzman a trip to the All-Star Game.
Outside of pure numbers, Cristian Guzman will always hold a special place in the memories of Nats’ fans by recording the first hit and the first run in Nationals Park.
After his injury plagued start, Guzman proved to be a solid position player and a live bat for the Nationals, which earns him the runner-up spot on our Washington Nationals’ shortstop list.
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