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Nationals have “reached a near-final decision” to bench Nyjer Morgan for Rick Ankiel

Mar 23, 2011, 4:16 PM EDT

Nyjer Morgan

Last week there was speculation about the Nationals benching Nyjer Morgan in favor of Rick Ankiel and now Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports that they’ve “reached a near-final decision” to make Ankiel the starting center fielder.

Morgan has certainly earned the demotion by hitting like a fifth outfielder, running the bases recklessly, and behaving like a jackass, but the odds of Ankiel actually being an upgrade are pretty slim.

Ankiel grades out considerably worse than Morgan defensively and has hit just .232 with a ghastly .298 on-base percentage and .388 slugging percentage in 196 games over then past two years. Morgan has hit .279 with a .343 OBP during that time, although certainly Ankiel brings far more power to the table.

According to Kilgore the Nationals haven’t decided yet what to do with Morgan, who would wind up back in the minors (or perhaps on the trading block) if they don’t keep him as a bench player.

  1. Utley's Hair - Mar 23, 2011 at 5:03 PM

    Yeah, but can Ankiel pitch any better than Ollie Perez?

    • cur68 - Mar 23, 2011 at 5:09 PM

      And can Roger Bernadia play CF and bar better than Ankiel? I bet he can.

      • cur68 - Mar 23, 2011 at 6:46 PM

        *bat* not ‘bar’. Stooopid no-edit-function!!!

      • Utley's Hair - Mar 23, 2011 at 6:56 PM

        I’ll bet Miguel Cabrera can. Uh-oh…too soon?

  2. spudchukar - Mar 23, 2011 at 7:05 PM

    Don’t believe the UZRs on Ankiel, he is a plus defender. Yeah he can misjudge one over his head and in the gap once in awhile, but he plays shallow, gets a great jump, is fearless to the point of reckless, and will make a number of absolutely great plays. But even if he were just average with the glove, and he isn’t, his arm alone would make him a plus, plus, centerfielder. No centerfielder in the game can match his gun, which allows him to stop many first to third opportunities. Whether he can make enough contact is always the question with him. And he is the opposite of Morgan, a great guy that always plays hard.

    • paperlions - Mar 24, 2011 at 8:09 AM

      That is a great, don’t believe the stats because their are just information justification. Ankiel is not a plus defender. He takes horrible routes to balls, making a lot of plays look harder than they are. His arm is very strong, but he doesn’t always have a great idea where the ball is going…that game where he had two incredible throws is weighted way to much in people’s minds…he is just as likely to make a great throw as he is to over-throw a base or a cut-off man.
      Ankiel is a classic example of a guy that is over-rated in the field because he looks good while doing it…not unlike a certain over-rated NY SS.

      • banksatdixie - Mar 24, 2011 at 9:04 AM

        Don’t you talk about Jose Reyes that way!

    • paperlions - Mar 24, 2011 at 8:15 AM

      Breaking down parts of UZR: ARM which evaluates not just assists but the frequency with which runners advance on each type of play has Ankiel at 3.8 runs above average for his career, and it hasn’t been above average since 2008.
      So, you can claim he stops guys from taking an extra base, but the numbers don’t back that up.

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