He must be talented, because apparently everyone hates him. His managers, at any rate. Church was a fourteenth round pick of the Indians in 2000, out of Nevada-Reno, which two years earlier had graced the baseball world with Corky Miller. (Thanks, guys!) He rose up the minor leagues putting up strong numbers — OBPs around .370, SLG around .500 or a little above — but the Indians traded him and Maicer Izturis to the Expos before the 2004 season to get the legendary Scott Stewart. He got a callup to the last, depressing season of the Expos in 2004, but didn’t hit much.
With the Nats in 2005, he blossomed, hitting .287/.353/.466 in 301 PA. In 2006, the Nats looked at his .215 BA and sent him down in May, ignoring a .346 OBP and a .477 SLG; he tore up the league when he returned in July, hitting .305/.376/.550 in the second half. One reason he was sent down was that Frank Robinson apparently hated his guts. Manny Acta gave him a full-time, or nearly so, job in 2007, and he hit .272/.349/.464. He really played too much, as it’s become clear that Church has to be platooned; he hit .287/.360/.506 against righthanders, but only .229/.316/.339 against lefties, and got about a quarter of his plate appearances against them.
He was still one of the Nats’ better players, so being the Nats they dealt him and Brian Schneider to the Mets for Lastings “Jeff Francoeur If He Were An Insufferable Jerk” Milledge. In spring training, Church collided with Marlon Anderson and suffered a concussion. He came back from that, and through May was one of the better players in the league, hitting .311 /.379/.534 through May 20. On that day, his head collided with the knee of Yunel Escobar, as part of the Braves’ secret “Win the division for the Phillies” plan. It was labeled a minor concussion, not as bad as the one in spring, and the Mets kept playing him… and his season fell apart. He went on the DL for most of June and against for most of July and August. The main problem is that his power disappeared; he has hit only five homers since then. He started to have problems with his manager again; I don’t know if he ever had issues with Randolph, but Manuel apparently hates him.
Doesn’t run a whole lot, average success when he does (20 of 30 career SB). Is a really good rightfielder, and probably a better centerfielder than McLouth.