Nationals Opinions: Best Left Fielder in Nats History

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Washington Nationals’ Ryan Church rounds third base as he scores on a Nick Johnson double in the third inning against the Florida Marlins Sunday, July 31, 2005, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

No. 3: Ryan Church

The Nationals still made their home north of the border when Ryan Church, who was 25 years old at the time, received his call up to join the Montreal Expos. Over the last two months of the year, Church would perform rather poorly. He batted a meager .175 with an OPS of .495. He had one home run and one double in 71 at-bats, bad enough to earn an OPS+ of a 28 for the 30 games he played in. It was not the debut that you’d expect for the player who’s our number three left fielder in Nationals history.

The next two seasons didn’t go quite as planned, either. Church struggled in the start to the 2005 season. He would eventually get hot before a Bryce Harper-esque collision with the wall at PNC Park and a couple of stints on the DL derailed Church’s shot at Rookie of the Year honors.

It wasn’t until the very end of 2006 that Church finally appeared ready for the show. After returning from the disabled list, Church lit up opposing pitchers. He ended the year with a .276 average and an OPS of .891 with 10 homers.

Church’s final season with the Nationals was also a solid one, with him hitting for a line of .272/.349/.464 with 15 homers over 144 games. It was, one might say, just good enough to get him traded. In November of 2007, Church was dealt to the Mets.

Though Church’s defense was likely some of the best of the players on our list, he gets knocked down a couple of pegs for the fact that he never really managed to consistently produce at a high level. Had he managed to succeed at that, it likely could have vaulted him up another two spots. As it is, though, Church lands at number three.

Next: Number 2