It’s time again for me to make the decision of what player T-shirt I want to buy this season. I wouldn’t say it’s an annual tradition, but it is a purchase that I think about each spring. Unfotunately, you can’t get custom T-shirts for the Nationals on the mlb.com shop website yet. I’m not sure of the reason, but suspect it’s because of the Nationals jersey re-design. Why that affects a simple T-shirt with the team logo on the front, I have no idea, but I guess I can give mlb.com a pass for at least a couple more days.

Nicole Weissman gave her input on a similar topic at the beginning of hockey season. I respect her decision on buying jerseys of players who have strong work ethic, are active in the community and show good sportsmanship; however, those categories are very low on my priority list as evidenced by my inclusion of Nyjer Morgan on my finalist list this season.

The variables I consider when buying player T-shirts are as follows: ability on the field, projected ability for the life of the shirt, contract length with the Nationals and personality on and off the field. Bonus points are awarded for novelty (e.g. two-sport athlete), notoriety (Canseco) and cool last names (Coco Crisp). There is an art element to this scientific approach. For example, I would’ve done well to choose a Livan Hernandez shirt instead of Jose Guillen. Yes, I realize Guillen seems like a strange choice given the variables above. I was still working out my method.

Last year, I made the simple decision of going with a Stephen Strasburg shirt. I know I’ll feel kind of sad pulling it on this spring and summer, so it’s important that this season I pick a player that gives Nats fans hope.

The finalists this season are: Ryan Zimmerman, Roger Bernadina, Jayson Werth, Jordan Zimmermann and Nyjer Morgan. I know that’s an interesting collection so let me explain.

It may seem like sacrilege that I don’t already have a Zimmerman shirt. Besides the Guillen shirt, I started this tradition in earnest two years ago and chose Dunn first and then Strasburg. There have been a few key reasons that I haven’t sprung for the Zim shirt. One, everyone has one, and two, Dunn’s personality and Strasburg’s hype made Zimmerman a close second both years. In all likelihood, Zimmerman is the choice this season.

I like the way Bernadina plays the game, and as a young guy I think he’s got a bright future with the Nats. Working against Bernadina is the fact that his projected ability is still a little unknown. If he fizzles, there’s nothing keeping his shirt from ending up at the bottom of the drawer.

Werth has the long contract and the ability. It just doesn’t feel like he’s a Nat yet. He’s a more likely candidate for next year’s choice.

Zimmermann is pretty cool, but your t-shirt roster needs to have a good mix of current position players and pitchers. With no position players in my wardrobe, he too will have to wait until next year’s ballot.

Morgan is the wild card of the entire thing. His notoriety and personality off the field makes his shirt the type that would be incredibly cool to wear 10 years from now. I can see it being the crown jewel of the clothing department at the Salvation Army. Despite his horrendous season last year, I’m still a big Morgan fan. I’m scared he won’t be with the team by August, though.

Overall, it looks like Ryan Zimmerman will be this year’s choice. He’s long overdue. Now, let’s hope my choice doesn’t end up being a curse. It didn’t work out so well when I chose Guillen, Dunn and Strasburg.

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