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The List: Good-Glove/No-Bat Nationals CFs

The Washington Nationals have a long, storied history of speedy (back in the day, we would have said "toolsy") center fielders who, alas, come up short with the bat -- a legacy that appears to have found its heir apparent with Tuesday's trade for Nyjer Morgan, a terrific defender who has hit just three homers and compiled a .376 slugging percentage in 614 big league at-bats.

Still, Morgan -- who, upon his debut, will become the 21st player to appear in center fielder for the Nationals since 2005 -- will have a long way to go to get his name onto this list: our favorite speedster glove-men from the past five years of Nationals history.

5. Kenny Kelly, 2005. While it's true he never technically saw time in center field during his brief time with the Nationals -- which saw him make 17 appearances (10 as a pinch-runner) but collect only five plate appearances -- Kelly was the quintessential Jim Bowden "tools" player. He was a former University of Miami quarterback with speed to burn and decent power in the minors, but he hasn't seen the majors since 2005 and currently plays for the White Sox's Class AAA affiliate.

4. Justin Maxwell, 2007, 2009. We're still holding out hope for this personable, physically imposing kid out of the University of Maryland. Before getting hurt in 2007, he was putting up good numbers, but in parts of two big-league seasons, spanning just 56 plate appearances, he is a mere .200/.286/.340 (BA/OBP/SLG) hitter, and he's now back at Class AAA Syracuse.

3. Brandon Watson, 2005-07. He played in 39 games for the Nats, spread out over three seasons, collecting a total of four extra-base hits (one homer) in 96 plate appearances. Though he hit .300 or better in six different minor league seasons, and set an International League record with a 43-game hitting streak in 2007, his big league batting line is an unsightly .198/.250/.279. He is now toiling for the Arizona Diamondbacks' Class AAA affiliate.

2. Endy Chavez, 2005. A holdover from the old Expos, Chavez's time in Washington lasted a mere seven games and 12 plate appearances. But he has since taken his good-glove/no-bat act to three other teams, including the Seattle Mariners, for whom he is currently a reserve outfielder. He is a lifetime .270/.312/.367 hitter and is perhaps best known for his homer-stealing catch above the wall for the New York Mets during the 2006 NLCS.

1. Nook Logan, 2006-07. Exavier Prente "Nook" Logan played 137 games for the Nationals over two seasons, all of them in center field. In those 137 games, he hit exactly one home run and posted a .272/.312/.354 batting line. And then, somehow, he wound up being named in the Mitchell Report. Out of the majors since 2007, he was last seen playing for the Atlantic City Ducks of the independent Atlantic League.

(Also receiving consideration: Preston Wilson, Alex Escobar, Damian Jackson, Marlon Anderson, Luis Matos, Henry Mateo, Lastings Milledge.)

By Dave Sheinin  |  July 1, 2009; 10:40 AM ET
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Justin Maxwell is currently improving his stats slowly but surely at Syracuse. I would not be suprisd if he starts for the NATS next season.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | July 1, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

May be a bit early for Maxwell on the list, but what about Bernadina? .300 OBP in 90 MLB ABs? Our very own homegrown Endy Chavez.

Ah, the joys of toolsiness. Maybe if we put Dunn on a Segway, he could play CF.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | July 1, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, Dave, but Lastings does not deserve consdieeration for any list that starts with "good glove."

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | July 1, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Dave, why didn't you post this over at NJ, instead of here? I thought you would be posting Nats stuff over there.

Also, I think you know this, but you are misusing the term "toolsy." It doesn't just mean fast or "athletic guys who can't play baseball very well." Toolsy is not a negative term. In fact, toolsy is the ideal when used accurately, to describe a player who has all 5 tools (hit, hit for power, run well, field well, good arm). It is only pejorative when overused on players who are excellent athletes but not, in fact, actually able to play the game of baseball very well.

I still don't think anyone would ever describe Nook Logan, Endy Chavez, Brandon Watson, or Nyjer Morgan as toolsy, however. No one ever even pretended that any of those guys had any power.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | July 2, 2009 11:10 PM | Report abuse

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