Who Makes the All-Time WORST Washington Nationals Team?

As a sequel to my All-Time Washington Nationals Team, I decided it was time to recognize the names that make Nationals fans cringe the most as we look back at their forgettable tenures with the organization. (Montreal Expos exempt)
Owner of one of the most disastrous tenures in team history, Nyjer Morgan
Owner of one of the most disastrous tenures in team history, Nyjer Morgan / Ronald C. Modra/GettyImages

For starters, this has been an article that I have been planning on writing since I completed my All-Time Washington Nationals Team back in January, which if you haven't read that one yet, I encourage you to check that one out before or after reading this one. However, for this one, I decided to put out the tweet below out on X for some fan feedback and the opportunity to be shouted out in this article, and the feedback that I received was absolutely tremendous, with almost 40 replies sent in by fellow Nats fans all over X. I will be looking to include some fan replies and activity in my future articles as well, so please be sure to follow me on X, @DCBerk to follow along and have the opportunity to be included!

It also is important to note that, similar to my All-Time Great Nats article, this team is comprised solely of Nationals players, and Montreal Expos players are exempt from inclusion. I would genuinely be surprised if the team I constructed could win 40 games, as I legitimately think this is the worst team ever assembled. Inclusions were made by the players' overall fit in regard to relative position and included many (dis)honorable mentions as well. I took much of the fan feedback as well as primarily personal thoughts, opinions, and biases in selecting this all-time terrible squad.

So without further ado, I present the All-Time Worst Washington Nationals Team:

Manager: Manny Acta

Manny Acta
All-Time good guy, Manny Acta / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

An all-time great guy, Manny Acta had a tough job as being the manager of some pretty brutal Washington Nationals teams from 2007 to 2009. Unfortunately for Acta, being a good man doesn't always translate to success, and during his tenure as the manager of the Nats, he had a 158-252 record, just a .385 winning percentage, while never having a team finish above 4th place. Acta gets the nod here as the team's skipper.

Catcher: Matt Wieters

Matt Wieters
Matt Wieters' move across the Beltway did not pan out / G Fiume/GettyImages

My choice for the backstop of this all-time worst Nats team is Matt Wieters. After coming across the Beltway from the Baltimore Orioles on a 2 year, $21M deal, Wieters was expected to be a steadying presence behind the dish and continue his success that he had in Baltimore. Unfortunately for the Nats, the 2-time Gold Glove winner and 4-time All-Star was anything but, and accumulated a slash line of .230/.303/.355 with a .658 OPS. Additionally, his defense went downhill as well, as he went on to account for -8 DRS with Nats behind the dish. Due to the contract and the overall underwhelming performance, Wieters earns the spot as the team's backstop.

(Dis)honorable mentions: Pedro Severino, Paul Lo Duca, Josh Bard

First Base: Eric Thames

Eric Thames
Eric Thames: The most jacked Nat of all time / G Fiume/GettyImages

In what was a tough decision between Eric Thames and Dominic Smith, I decided to give Thames the nod as the first baseman of this team. In the bizarre COVID-shortened season of 2020, the Nats decided to take a chance on Eric Thames with a 1-year, $4M deal. Needless to say, it did not pan out as expected. In 41 games with the Nats, Thames only homered 3 times and had 12 RBIs to go along with a brutal .203/.300/.317 line with a .617 OPS. For a man who was once nicknamed "God" by fans of the Korean Baseball Organization following his stint overseas, Thames was anything but for the Nats, and is my choice for the first baseman of this band of misfits.

(Dis)honorable mention: Dominic Smith

Second Base: Cesar Hernandez

Cesar Hernandez
Cesar Hernandez: negative pop / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

A guy who hit a career-high 21 homers in 2021 with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox after years of being a serviceable everyday player for the rival Philadelphia Phillies, Cesar Hernandez' tenure with the Nationals was brutal. Despite playing 147 games for the 2022 Nats, Hernandez infamously only hit 1 home run with the Nats, and had a slash line of .248/.311/.318 with a .629 OPS for the dreadful 2022 team, and has been out of baseball since. Hernandez is the pick for the keystone of this team.

(Dis)honorable mention: Alberto Gonzalez, Alex Cora

Third Base: Carter Kieboom

Carter Kieboom
Arguably the largest bust in team history, Carter Kieboom / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

Third base was another position where I had a tough decision to make. While I really wanted to go with Maikel Franco, I was overruled by the folks on X who chose Kieboom. After checking the numbers, it is honestly hard to argue against them. Since being drafted in the first round of the 2016 draft, Kieboom was supposed to be a large part of the team's future. He was the top prospect in the system as recently as 2020, and the #21 prospect in the entire sport. Needless to say he did not live up to that billing. He was recently DFA'd by the Nats this spring who had said that this spring was his last chance, likely spelling the end of Kieboom's chances of being an everyday player.

For his career, Kieboom accumulated an astonishing -1.8 WAR. His .199/.266/.368 career batting line, good for just a .634 OPS, certainly played a large part, as did his porous defensive chops. While his 27 game audition in 2023 was fun for a little while, the Nats have officially declared the Kieboom experiment a failure, and in turn he gets the nod at the hot corner in this experiment.

(Dis)honorable mention: Maikel Franco

Shortstop: Felipe Lopez

Felipe Lopez
Felipe Lopez. That's it / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

This position was a tough one to figure out. I debated moving Kieboom to SS, where he was drafted to play, but settled on him playing third. I debated putting Wilmer Difo here as well, but since he played almost everywhere I cut him a bit of slack. This ultimately led me to settle on Felipe Lopez, who, combined with Cristian Guzman, were the first memories of Nats shortstops I saw in my lifetime.

Lopez somehow convinced the Nats to keep him around for almost 3 seasons, as he played 325 games for the team and had a subpar slashline of .250/.320/.344, good for just a .664 OPS and only 13 homers and 97 RBIs in 1,354 plate appearances. Not great. In addition, Lopez was not much of a base-stealer and also was brutal defensively, as he made 28!! errors in 2006 between Cincinnati and Washington, as well as -23 DRS that season. As for the rest of his tenure, his defense remained terrible, accounting for negative dWAR every season, and his bat remained subpar. He is the shortstop of this team without question.

(Dis)honorable mentions: Wilmer Difo, Humberto Arteaga

Left Field: Ben Revere

Ben Revere
Ben Revere had the worst season of his career in DC / G Fiume/GettyImages

In one of the more under-the-radar lose-lose trades in recent memory, Ben Revere, acquired by the Nationals from the Toronto Blue Jays for Drew Storen, never panned out in the Nation's Capital. In Revere, they imagined they would be getting a younger and speedier version of Denard Span, a member of my All-Time Great Nats Team, but those hopes were soon dashed as Revere put up a line of .217/.260/.300, with just a .560 OPS, almost career-low numbers across the board. He also only homered twice and had 24 RBIs in 103 games, and stole just 14 bags in 19 tries, as it's pretty hard to steal bases if you don't hit or get on base. One of Mike Rizzo's rare trade whiffs, Revere is the easy choice for the first outfield slot on this team.

(Dis)honorable mention: Wily Mo Pena, Nate McLouth

Center Field: Nyjer Morgan

Nyjer Morgan
Tied for my personal least favorite National ever, Nyjer Morgan / Ronald C. Modra/GettyImages

A player that was known more for his antics than his performance on the field during his tenure with the Nats, the infamous Nyjer Morgan was my choice to man center field for this crew. Whether it was the tantrum that led to a little league home run, taking exception to a pitch behind him and quicklycharging the mound against a pitcher who was 10 inches taller than him, or leading the majors in times caught stealing in 2010, Nyjer Morgan was known more for his mishaps than his success in DC.

During his time with the Nats, Morgan had a slash line of .280/.339/.347 with a .687 OPS, the lowest of his career, and also stole 58 bags while being caught 24 times. He was a hothead whose play didn't justify keeping him around, especially when you factor in that he accounted for -8 DRS during his one full season playing center for the team. And leading the league in times caught stealing, being caught a whopping 17 times, as I previously mentioned. When you look at his whole profile with the Nats, Morgan didn't hit for power, wasn't a great baserunner, and played poor defense, all while being on the receiving end of two of the worst moments in team history. Morgan is the easiest selection I had to select for this entire team, and might be the least likable Nat of all time, tied with another guy who will make an appearance later.

(Dis)honorable mentions: Nook Logan, David DeJesus, Jeff Kobernus

Right Field: Lastings Milledge

Lastings Milledge
Lastings Milledge never quite figured it out / Al Messerschmidt/GettyImages

The final outfield spot was a true two man race between Lastings Milledge and Corey Dickerson, but after reviewing overall impact (and being overruled with replies that chose Milledge on X), I decided to give the nod to Milledge. Despite a horrendous 2023 season for Corey Dickerson in which he had a -0.6 WAR, in just 50 games, the short tenure of Milledge in the Nation's Capital was more memorable...for all of the wrong reasons.

On the surface, Milledge was not that bad of a player during his time with the Nationals, posting a line of .263/.326/.387 with a .717 OPS, however it was his atrocious defense that brought his WAR down to a -0.2 for the 2008 season. Milledge was a player that was full of potential and was thought of as a future building block for the young Nats who just needed a change of scenery and to mature a little bit. Unfortunately, he never truly blossomed and realized his 5-tool potential, but in this exercise I chose to move him out of center field and into a corner in an effort to hide his poor defensive chops.

(Dis)honorable mentions: Corey Dickerson, Elijah Dukes

Designated Hitter: Nelson Cruz

Nelson Cruz
Nelson Cruz was a shell of his former self in DC / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

A man once thought of as an ageless hitting machine, father time finally reared its ugly head and caught up with Nelson Cruz in the worst way in 2022. Cruz, a longtime slugger and perennial power threat, finally hit a wall during his lone season with the Nats, posting a career-low .651 OPS while striking out at a near 24% clip. He only homered 10 times in 124 games with the Nats, and played one more season with the San Diego Padres last year before announcing his retirement at the end of the season. By all accounts a good guy and positive veteran presence in every clubhouse he was apart of, Cruz did not live up to the 1-year, $15M deal he got from the team, and the team was unable to flip him at the deadline due to his immense regression. As a true primary Designated Hitter, Cruz makes this team in the spot he occupied for a lot of his career.

(Dis)honorable mention: Yadiel Hernandez

UTIL: Starlin Castro

Starlin Castro
Starlin Castro was dreadful during his time in DC / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

One of the rare misjudgments of character by Mike Rizzo, Starlin Castro makes the team as the utility guy, due to his playing second base, third base, and shortstop during his short time with the Nationals. While Castro wasn't the player he once was as a rising superstar with the Chicago Cubs, he was expected to at least be solid, as his 2019 season with the Marlins was very solid, setting career-highs with 22 homers with 86 RBIs, while playing all 162 games. Unfortunately, Castro found himself in some hot water as he was suspended for 30 games for violating the league's domestic violence policy, which spelled the end of his time in DC. He is the easy selection here as the utility man for this team.

(Dis)honorable mention: Michael Chavis, Wilmer Difo

Starting Rotation - 1. Jon Lester 2. Jeremy Guthrie 3. AJ Cole 4. Erick Fedde 5. Chad Kuhl

Jon Lester
Jon Lester: Thanks for Lane Thomas! / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

The starting rotation and bullpen are where this team really finds its largest faults. The Nats have had a slew of horrible starting pitchers over the years, but these were the 5 that I ultimately settled on.

While all of these pitchers were legitimately terrible, I decided to give Jon Lester the nod as the ace due to his previous track record as a 5-time All-Star and 3-time World Series Champion. His tenure in DC was atrocious, pitching to a 3-5 record and 5.02 ERA over 16 starts, however, the Nats were able to salvage his signing by flipping him to the Cardinals for Lane Thomas in 2021.

Jeremy Guthrie only made one appearance with the Nats, but somehow found a way to surrender 10 earned runs in just 0.2 innings of work, and was DFA'd the next day, finishing his Nats career with a 135.00 ERA. No, that is not a typo.

AJ Cole is the first of two failed homegrown prospects of the Nats that make up the middle of this rotation. Cole, traded to the Athletics back in late 2011 for Gio Gonzalez, was actually traded back to the Nats in 2013 with Blake Treinen, and made his debut with the team in 2015. In 26 appearances and 19 starts with the team, Cole pitched to a 5-8 record with a 5.32 ERA, to go along with a 1.509 WHIP. Cole actually surrendered 118 hits in just 110 innings across 4 seasons with the team, and eventually found footing later on in his career as a reliever. He never lived up to his billing as one of the team's most prized pitching prospects, and slots in as the #3 starter.

Erick Fedde is the 4th member of this rotation, and was a member of the Nationals for 6 seasons. He had a 21-33 record with a 5.41 ERA, appearing in 102 games with 88 starts and a career 1.523 WHIP. A former 1st-round pick and a highly-touted pitching prospect in the organization, Fedde was a major flop, never posting a season ERA lower than a 4.29, and recently had to go to the KBO in order to reinvent himself as a pitcher. He is attempting to restart his career with the Chicago White Sox, but goes down as one of the largest failures in this team's history.

Finishing out the rotation, Chad Kuhl's short tenure in DC was nothing short of a disaster. While undoubtedly having a more difficult time focusing on pitching due to circumstances off the field, Kuhl definitely deserves his flowers for trying to pitch through it to help the team. However, his decision to step away from the game came while in the midst of the worst season of his career, which unfortunately was the only one he would spend with the Nats. He had an 0-4 record in 16 appearances and 5 starts, to go along with an 8.45 ERA and 1.957 WHIP. It is unclear if Kuhl will ever step foot on a mound again, but he takes the spot as the fifth starter on this team.

(Dis)honorable mentions: Scott Olsen, Jerome Williams, Austin Voth, Mike Bacsik, Chien-Ming Wang

Bullpen: Jonathan Papelbon, Trevor Rosenthal, Henry Rodriguez, Brad Lidge, Kyle Barraclough, Sam Clay, Sammy Solis, Alberto Baldonado, Matt Grace, Anthony Banda

Trevor Rosenthal, Dave Martinez, Kurt Suzuki, Anthony Rendon
Trevor Rosenthal infamously had an ERA of infinity at one point / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

There have been so many awful relievers who have donned the Curly W over the years that it was almost impossible to cut this list down. In terms of choosing the arms for an actual team, I chose to go with the guys who made the worst overall impression on me, as well as taking in some feedback on X. For the construction of this bullpen, I started with the righties and then dove into the lefties.

Jonathan Papelbon is the player tied with Nyjer Morgan for the honor of my least favorite National of all-time. While he actually wasn't that bad for the team, saving 26 games with a 3.84 ERA, his reputation preceded him in DC, and the dugout dust-up with Bryce Harper in 2015 was the signal that Matt Williams had lost the clubhouse, as the team significantly underachieved. He gets the hypothetical nod for the 9th inning for this team.

Trevor Rosenthal literally could not make an out, infamously taking 5 outings to record a retire a single batter, and finished his Nats tenure with a 22.74 ERA and 3.632 WHIP. By pure performance, he might be the worst reliever in team history, especially consider the contract he was signed to as well.

Henry Rodriguez couldn't throw a strike but was given an abundance of opportunities by Davey Johnson to be the guy in the 9th inning. He had a 4.22 ERA and 1.504 WHIP, which wasn't as bad as some other members of this bullpen, but he always had an issue throwing strikes, and was a guy who just could never figure it out.

Rounding out the righties with the final two, Brad Lidge was also terrible for the Nats, a shell of his former self, and was DFA'd after only 11 appearances for the team. He had a 9.64 ERA and a 2.464 WHIP and was clearly not the guy he used to be. Kyle Barraclough was a solid reliever for the Marlins over his first 4 years, posting a 3.21 ERA, however, he came to DC and instantly regressed, pitching to a 6.66 ERA over 33 appearances. Brutal stuff from the righties in this bullpen.

As for the lefties, I'll try to keep this short, as many of them were pretty similar and downright awful. The Nats seemingly had a never-ending need for a reliable lefty reliever after the departure of Sean Burnett which resulted in a plethora of terrible lefties that were all inexplicably terrible and given way too long of a leash. Between Sam Clay, Sammy Solis, and Matt Grace, I will never be able to forget the sinking feeling I would get in my stomach seeing that one of them was coming into the game, and I was often left wondering when they would finally be gone from the team. Finally, I am fully convinced that Anthony Banda and Alberto Baldonado were not real people, as I pushed them so far from my memory that I almost forgot who they were. Every lefty I listed was a brutal watch for me personally, and I sure am glad that I do not have to ever see them pitch for the team ever again.

(Dis)honorable mentions (among others): Joe Blanton, Jason Bergmann, Levale Speigner

Final Lineup:

Jonathan Papelbon
Jonathan Papelbon likely wouldn't get many save chances with this lineup / Mike Zarrilli/GettyImages

1. CF Nyjer Morgan (L)

2. RF Lastings Milledge (R)

3. 1B Eric Thames (L)

4. DH Nelson Cruz (R)

5. C Matt Wieters (S)

6. 3B Carter Kieboom (R)

7. SS Felipe Lopez (S)

8. 2B Cesar Hernandez (S)

9. LF Ben Revere (L)

SP: LHP Jon Lester

Once again, this team was comprised of personal selections and fan picks as well. So please follow me on X @DCBerk to keep up with my takes about the Nats, let me know who I missed, and to provide feedback or debate on how this team turned out!

All stats in this article were provided by Baseball Reference.