Today, the Washington Nationals released outfielder Rick Ankiel. Ankiel was released after the Nationals decided to designate him for assignment.
In his two, well...one and a half, year career with the Washington Nationals, Ankiel was never quite the player they hoped they'd get.
A once 25 homer in a season outfielder, Ankiel managed just nine home runs in 122 games for the Nationals in 2011 and just five in 68 games this season. Ankiel's strikeouts have been close to an all time high since entering the majors.
Many of you remember Ankiel being the pitcher turned slugging outfielder who had an impressive 2007 season and followed that with an even better 2008 season. Since then, his numbers have been on the decline.
The only thing, at least for me, that kept Ankiel on the MLB roster, was his ability to pinch hit and his cannon for an arm. Having Ankiel and Harper in the outfield would have been an incredible defensive combination had Ankiel been able to hit. Those two easily are in the top 10 for outfield arms in the MLB.
The only problem, like I said before, was that the man couldn't hit. Prior to being sent down, Ankiel had a .228 average with a .282 on base percentage. With bats like Jayson Werth, Michael Morse, Tyler Moore, and Bryce Harper, Ankiel just couldn't keep up and was eventually going to get lost in the Nationals system.
I am slightly saddened by the departure of Rick Ankiel. He was a great story back in 2007 and really had, still has, potential. His ability at the plate just wasn't cutting for the Nationals. I don't expect Ankiel to be on the market for very long. While he may not have made it with the Nationals, I'm sure that there is another team out there that is willing to take a chance on him.
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Source: Nationals PR