Why the Austin Kearns profile at this point in time? He hasn’t worn a Washington Nationals uniform since 2009 and has been out of all of baseball going on ten years now. Kearns didn’t play on any division winning teams in DC and not much about his time with the Nats stands out. Why the love then?
While perusing some other pieces from FanSided contributors, I ran across one written about Kearns on the Miami Marlins site. I remember when Kearns signed his minor league pact with the Fish. Being an avid Nationals fan, I am the definition of a homer. A player doesn’t have to play his entire career with the team for me to latch onto them. If a name of a former Nat pops up in an article, I read it. Even if that player was only on the team a handful of games (looking at you David DeJesus).
I was an Austin Kearns fan. One, because he was a National, furthermore, because of the potential he carried in his bat. A former first round pick. A guy with a career .826 OPS in his first few years in the league, higher than the 2005 Nationals outfield of Brad Wilkerson, Marlon Byrd, and Jose Guillen. In 2006 the deal was made to bring Kearns over from the Cincinnati Reds. A blockbuster or sorts. Seven guys changing teams. Among them, the Nats parted with a first round pick of their own (in Bill Bray), as well as Rolls Royce Clayton.
Austin Kearns struggled to stay on the field during his tenure with the Washington Nationals.
After his first full season with the Nats, where he played in 161 games, the hope was Kearns was going to pay huge dividends. The power numbers were down, though the potential was still there. The main thing, Kearns was playing every day.
Those early Nationals teams were not built to win. Was all manager Manny Acta could do to field a lineup of respectable Major Leaguers. The cliche, injuries and inconsistency, would be a well deserved label for how Austin Kearns’ last two years in Washington went. He struggled to stay on the field and when he did play, he struggled to hit.
He was 28-29 years old, the prime of his ball playing days. Yet, he was hitting around the Mendoza Line, and flaming out. Closing my eyes, I can see his gait as he strolled to the plate. The fierce look in his eyes, even though they hid behind a boyish face. The anticipation I felt when I saw that powerful right handed swing.
His time with the Nats wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, though whenever I see his name come up, a smile will cross my face. Proud for his time with my team.