Eric Fisher of Sports Business Journal reports that the Washington Nationals are going to place retired outfielder Jayson Werth in their Ring of Honor.
As Fisher notes, Werth’s resume for high honors in a Nationals uniform is . . . a tad thin. He had two pretty darn good seasons in 2013 and 2014. A good partial season in 2012 and was a below league average in his other four Nats seasons. Indeed, he was either a replacement-level or worse player in three of his seven years in D.C. and, like every other Nats player, never helped the Nats win a playoff series.
Still, Werth was on the scene when the Nats transformed themselves from a doormat to a perpetual contender, with his signing before the 2011 season representing the biggest investment the Nats had ever made in a player to that point. He was not necessarily a great player in Washington, but he meant a lot to a lot of Nationals fans, who finally saw a winning baseball team on a regular basis beginning with Werth’s second season in Nats colors.
And it’s not like the making a team’s Hall of Fame or Ring of Honor or whatever else they have requires outstanding play. The Braves have Ralph Garr in their Hall of Fame. Unlike Werth he won a batting title one year and made the All-Star team, but his numbers in Atlanta, at least measured by OPS+, were around the same and measured by WAR worse. His Braves never made the playoffs, let alone won a playoff series. The Mets have a bunch of below average hitters in their Hall too, largely because they were either fan favorites or because they were on Mets clubs that were memorable like the 1969 or 1973 teams. Most clubs have similar inductees into their franchise honor societies.
And, of course, it’s not like the Nats have a ton of history to draw on when it comes to such things. The franchise has only been in D.C. since 2005. Their current Ring of Honor includes six members of the Homestead Grays, four members of the Montreal Expos, depending on how you count Frank Robinson, who managed both the Expos and the Nats, ten members of the original Washington Senators, which later became the Minnesota Twins and two members of the expansion Washington Senators which later became the Texas Rangers.
Actual Washington Nationals players in the Ring: Werth and Pudge Rodriguez, who played 155 games in his final two seasons, each of which were forgettable.
So hey, let us not mock Werth’s induction into the Nats’ Ring of Honor. Especially given how many other reasons there are to mock the Nats.