A Most Memorable Nat: Nyjer Morgan

As my wife and I were driving home from my family’s Christmas Eve we had a brief discussion about the Washington Nationals. My main thought that led to the conversation was that what the Nats are about to do will be remembered. For the next few seasons the Nationals are going to be a very good team. They may or may not win a championship but that doesn’t matter that much. No one will forget the mid-90’s Indians that included Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, Sandy Alomar Jr., and Jim Thome, and that team failed to win a World Series.

My thought here was that Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman, and all them will be memorable players, but they are also good players. Not that long ago the Washington Nationals was often the last MLB stop in a players career, and while some pride themselves on remembering names like Anderson Hernandez, Junior Spivey, and Alex Cintron they aren’t memorable players. It is hard to think of any moment or play they were involved in.   

Nyjer Morgan wasn’t a great player when he was with the Nationals, but he wasn’t as bad as people remember. His offensive numbers weren’t good. His 2010 OBP of .319 and SLG of .314 are below average for both a centerfielder and lead-off hitter, but his defense was good enough that he was still able to be a 1.0 fWAR player. If Nyjer Morgan only played baseball he may have been given a chance to rebound with the Nationals, but that isn’t what Morgan did and that is what makes him memorable.

Nyjer Morgan led baseball in caught stealing in 2010 by being caught 17 times on 51 attempts for a success rate of 66% and that doesn’t include all the times he was picked off. There were those that said Nyjer Morgan played baseball with a hockey mentality but it is more apt to say he played baseball like someone daydreaming of being a hockey player. Although it was his defense that saved his fWAR in 2010 there were little things that Morgan refused to do right.  

If there was a cut-off man on the field Morgan could overthrow him, and when he missed a catch he wasn’t against throwing a temper tantrum on the field and giving the opposing player an inside the park homer. Morgan also thought he was bigger and tougher than he was like the time he charged Chris Volstad only to have his head clotheslined off by Gabby Sanchez. It was the incident that led to Morgan being thrown at that shows what type of player he was.

With a high throw coming to the plate the night before Morgan instead of making the smart decision and trying to slide instead ran over the catcher to jar the ball loose. Morgan is a tall and skinny centerfielder. He had no chance of jarring the ball loose, but he did break the opposing catcher’s collar bone. If he had slid the Nationals would have scored a run and may have won the game, but because of the chip on Morgan’s shoulder he wouldn’t allow that to happen.

Nook Logan may have been as absent minded on the field as Nyjer Morgan, but if it wasn’t for a great Charlie Slowes call no one would ever bother themselves with a thought of Logan. Morgan on the other hand is the players years from now when friends gather in bars in the DC area to reminisce about the mid-10’s Nats someone will inevitably ask if anyone remembers Nyjer Morgan, and it is then that the conversation will turn and soon all will be laughing recalling the buffoonery that was Nyjer Morgan.  

The current Nats are set up to be very good for multiple years, but as of right now no Nationals is as memorable as Nyjer Morgan.