Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Hall of Fame candidates with Nationals ties


Remember this guy?  Photo unk via

Remember this guy? Photo unk via

Hey, how about a Hall of Fame post that doesn’t cause any arguments?

Here’s a fun exercise; after seeing Paul Lo Duca‘s name on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot, I got to thinking; wouldn’t it be interesting to see a list of guys who qualified for Hall of Fame ballots who had actually played for the Washington Nationals?  Mostly by the nature of the question, so far we’re talking mostly about longer-serving veterans who hooked on with the Nats late in their career within the past few years.  Thanks to the mandatory 5 year waiting period after retirement and the Nats inaugural season occurring in 2005, we start by looking at the 2011 ballot and move forward:

2011 Ballot:

  • Carlos Baerga: signed a one year deal as a 36-yr old to join the Nats in their inaugural season and serve as a backup infielder.   Hit .253 in part-time duty and hung ’em up after a 14-year career that can be well described as “journey-man.”   He was an integral part of the early 90s Cleveland Indians as their starting 2nd baseman and a 3-time all-star, and ended up playing on 6 major league teams and spent parts one season in Korea.  Received Zero hall-of-fame votes.

2012 Ballot:

  • Vinny Castilla: signed a two year deal to join the Nats, timed with their inaugural season in Washington, but was traded to Colorado for SP Brian Lawrence when it became apparent that Ryan Zimmerman was set to man the hot corner in DC for the next decade or so.  Played one more season and retired after 2006.  Received Six (6) Hall-of-fame votes.

2013 Ballot:

  • Royce Clayton; signed a contract to be the Nats shortstop during the lean Jim Bowden years, and then was included in the Mega swap of players that headed to Cincinnati in the 2006 season.  He hung around for one more season in 2007 as a backup short stop and retired afterwards.  Received Zero hall-of-fame votes.
  • Mike Stanton was picked up in mid 2005 after being released by the Yankees, and he pitched well enough for the Nats that he was able to fetch a couple of low-level prospects in a late September move to Boston (who was looking for some late season bullpen cover).  The team then re-signed Stanton for 2006, and flipped him again mid-season, this time to the Giants for Shairon Martis.  Stanton toiled a one more season before hanging them up after 2007.   Received Zero hall-of-fame votes.

2014 Ballot:

  • Paul Lo Duca: one of Bowden’s more infamous signings; he went from our opening day catcher in the 2008 season to being released by August 1st.  The highlight of his tenure here was having his name being revealed in the Mitchell Report just a couple days after signing with us.  After his release, he signed on to finish out the season with Florida, took a year off and attempted a come back in 2010 (signing a ML contract with Colorado but never appearing above AAA).   Hard to believe this guy was a 4-time all-star.  Received Zero hall-of-fame votes.

So, thus far the Nats greatest Hall of Fame achievement is Vinny Castilla receiving 6 sympathy votes.

The next few ballots have more of the same: 2015’s features Ron Villone and Julian Tavarez and 2016’s ballot features Cristian Guzman and Jose Guillen.  Not until we  hit 2017 do we get our first, legitimate Hall candidate/former National in Ivan Rodriguez … and of course there’s no way he gets elected thanks to his ties to PEDs.  But i’m sure it’ll be fun to write this post again next year.

Anyway; interesting topic.  Now we know the answer to the trivia question, “What former Washington National has come closest to Hall of Fame election?”  🙂


9 Responses to 'Hall of Fame candidates with Nationals ties'

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  1. Ugh, you just dredged up the memory of yet another awful move by Leatherpants: the Castillia for Lawrence trade. True that Castilla was rapidly losing trade value as his career sputtered to a close, but a team as talent bereft as the Nats were at the time could not afford to get what they got for him, which was essentially nothing.

    Funny that the Reds screamed foul when Majewski got hurt within weeks of “The Trade” in 2006 when just a few months earlier Bowden proved he had no clue about injuries to potential trade candidates by dealing for a guy who never threw a single pitch for the team.


    20 Jan 14 at 12:40 pm

  2. Yeah, Castilla for Lawrence was pretty bad: but to me not as bad as the Milledge trade or the Guillen trade. We’ll call it his 3rd worst 🙂

    Was the vitriol from Cincinnati especially loud because they perceived that Bowden had it out for them as an ex-employee? Never thought of that until right now.

    Todd Boss

    20 Jan 14 at 12:44 pm

  3. When you say Milledge trade I’m assuming you are referring to the one that brought him in from the Mets. Still not sure why Bowden decided to swap a serviceable catcher and halfway decent outfielder for a “prospect” with multiple attitude incidents on his resume prior to the deal. Good ole JimBo.


    20 Jan 14 at 2:13 pm

  4. Indeed yes I meant the trade to acquire Milledge. I recall defending the trade at the time by saying that we acquired a young, talented starting CF for a backup catcher (because Schneider was going to backup Flores) and a 4th outfielder (because Church was going to platoon). Yeah, that was wrong.

    Todd Boss

    21 Jan 14 at 2:34 pm

  5. That is just a sign of how talent starved the organization was. I remember getting excited about Dukes and Milledge. I also thought the team had hit the lottery when they got Olsen and Willingham. I had such high hopes for Olsen. Haha.


    21 Jan 14 at 6:40 pm

  6. The Lo Duca signing was even dumber because it happened ONE DAY before the Mitchell report came out. Incredible.
    Lo Duca was one of those classic examples of someone who made a lot of money from taking steroids. A career minor leaguer (think Maldonado) who couldn’t get over the hump until …………..
    Didn’t realy benefit from all that money he made; his bookies were sending their leg-breakers to Shea stadium to collect.

    Mark L

    22 Jan 14 at 7:56 am

  7. Lo Duca and leg-breakers: that made me laugh, good one Mark L.

    I agree; to me Lo Duca was the classic example of a guy who made a career out of nothing, likely thanks to PEDs. Look at his career; 25th round pick as a college guy … that screams “one year short-season roster filler guy.” He played his fourth pro season in high-A ball despite having debuted there. I’m surprised the guy even made it a 5th season in the Dodger’s system. Then at the age of 29, in the prime PED year of 2001 … he explodes for a monster season. 25 homers (he had hit a total of 29 homers in eight minor league seasons prior to 2001) playing in Dodger stadium. Parlays that into contract extensions, All star appearances, $30M in career earnings.

    Its the classic Bill Simmons conundrum; if you could take a pill that made you 1% better at your job, and by being 10% better at your job you could multiply your pay by 100 times over …. nobody in their right mind would say no. I’d do it right now. No it isn’t quite that simple (i’m leaving out the obvious; steroids being illegal but not banned per se, long term and short term health consequences etc) but in some ways it is. You have the rest of your life to recover but only a few years to cash in on your athletic talents.

    Todd Boss

    22 Jan 14 at 2:52 pm

  8. I’m sure Olsen would have been much better for us if he didn’t have a pack-a-day Marlboro Light smoking habit 🙂

    Todd Boss

    22 Jan 14 at 3:20 pm

  9. […] is the Class of 2017 Version of this post: first one was done after the 2014 Hall of Fame class was announced and the voting results made public, and then the next was done after the Class of […]

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