This was a common sight for Brewers fans in 2012, Nyjer Morgan striking out Photo: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE
This decision was not as easy as I had initially thought it would be. In order to truly define a players “value” (or lack there of in the instance of this article), you must look at every aspect and piece of the puzzle. Primarily, their performance in 2012. I can not stress that enough, because the person who I feel earned this un-prestigious honor was one of my favorite players in 2011.
Nyjer Morgan is many things and many people. In 2011, T-Plush fever was at an all-time high in Brew City and it seemed as if he could do no wrong. Nyjer cemented himself in Brewers history/folklore for all-time, by delivering the series winning single in the NLDS. It capped off a resurgent season for the feisty center fielder, a season that had us all thinking he would be in our lineup for many years to come. Sadly, Morgan’s time in Milwaukee ended with a thud rather than a parade.
Baseball is a fickle mistress that we as fans can only pretend to understand. I for one have never been able to understand how a player can have such a sever drop-off from one season to the next. And yet it is more common in baseball than any other American sport. Here are the first 4 Brewers names that popped into my head that fall under this category; John Jaha, Pat Listach, Casey McGehee, and now Nyjer Morgan. There is no rhyme or reason to it. I have no doubt that Nyjer trained extra hard during the off-season, or that he had enough playing time in Spring Training. Things just never got going for our boy Tony Gumbo.
Just so I can get this out of the way, (because it really had no bearing on my decision) here are his 2012 stats: 122 games, 69 hits, .239 BA, .302 OBP, 63 K’s, and 16 RBI’s. The only stats that I really care about is that he had 6 more hits than strikeouts, and that his WAR went from 3.1 in 2011 to 0.1 in 2012.
Nyjer was not the least valuable because of his stats, he was least valuable because as Nori Aoki and Carlos Gomez started to catch fire…he became…well, less valuable. In fact, he was cast in The Expendables 3 which starts filming in January…ok, that is not real.
By the end of the season he really only emerged from the dugout as a pinch-hitter. His inability to provide the team with impactful plate appearances, lead to the end of his everyday playing time in Milwaukee, and landed him on the pine for the last half of 2012. It got to a point where you almost forgot he was there, unless Roenicke needed a lefty bat late in the game. And that was sad to see.
I love Nyjer Morgan and I wish him nothing but the best. Regardless of how the rest of the nation views him, during his time in Brew City he was a gentlemen and a scholar. That is how I shall remember him. But the reality was that he just was not worth retaining, especially with guys like Brock Kjeldgaard, Caleb Gindl, and Logan Schafer waiting in the wings. Which only added to his lack of value as the final days of September fell of the calendar.
I would also like to point out, that in this case, being the least valuable does not mean “worst”. Tomorrow, when I post the least valuable pitcher of 2012…then it will mean worst. Nyjer Morgan was not the worst position player on the team, he just lost some of that magic he had during the magical 2011 season. With all my heart, I hope he finds it again wherever he lands.
In closing, T-Plush is misunderstood, but ultimately a good guy. Maybe his best days are behind him, but he will always have a home in Milwaukee.
(This article turned into a love letter…for that I make no apologies. Tomorrow’s will probably be classified as a hate letter…for that I make no apologies)