Nationals leadoff hitter Nyjer Morgan, who is hitting .244 with a .308 on-base percentage, has become the subject of plenty of fans’ ire recently, just a year after he arrived in a trade and sparked the Nationals’ offense by hitting .351 in 49 games. It’s the way Morgan played last year that has manager Jim Riggleman resolving to stick with the center fielder.
Riggleman said on Friday afternoon he’d have “a lot of patience” with Morgan in the lineup, believing he’s capable of the kind of surge he started just before the Nationals landed him in a June 30 trade with the Pirates.
“One thing we kind of hang our hat on is, last year, when we got Nyjer at this time of the year, Nyjer had been doing OK in Pittsburgh, not having a great start, just kind of treading water,” Riggleman said. “I really was encouraged the last four or five games. He had some better at-bats. He played very good center field. He kind of did some things we saw him do last year, when we got him in the trade. The glass is half-full. He’s just treading water right now, but he knows he hasn’t got it going yet. This is the time he got it going last year. He feels like he’s ready to get it going, and we need him at the top of that lineup. So we’re going to be real patient with him.”
Morgan was hitting .263 on June 25 last year, when he started an 8-for-16 tear with the Pirates in his last four games before the trade.
He is historically a much better hitter in the second half of the season. In April, May and June, Morgan has hit .275, .236 and .246, respectively. Those career numbers jump to .388, .315 and .323 in July, August and September.