Bridgewater, NJ – Third baseman Jeff Nettles has been named #1 on the Patriots Top 15 list, a part of the team’s 15th Season Anniversary, designed to celebrate the best players in team history as voted on by fans, Patriots players and coaches, and team officials.
“It feels great to be on top of a list like this, especially since it was decided by fans, players, and coaches who have recognized what I brought to the team the past nine seasons. It really wasn’t something I aimed to do. I just came to the field everyday to do my best and help our guys win. A lot of the Top 15 guys are why I succeeded here. The Pressley’s, Hall’s, Escandon’s, and so many others really helped me get better as a player,” Nettles said.
Since joining Somerset in 2003, Nettles has been one of the top players in Patriots and Atlantic League history.
In his first season with the team, Nettles helped lead the Patriots to the championship, where he was named the Championship Series MVP, hitting .450 with a home run, five RBI and scoring four runs in the series.
“I came here just looking for the chance to play everyday. That was something I wasn’t able to do with the Yankees,” Nettles said. “ I was fortunate to land the third base job the first year and never gave it up. Sparky kept firing me out there everyday and I can’t thank him enough for that. It helped make me the player I turned out to be.”
Nettles hit .319 with 22 home runs and 93 RBI in his second season with the team in 2004 and continued showing power in the 2005 season, setting a then team record with 28 home runs. He also drove in 99 runs that season.
After an unbelievable first half of the 2007 season that saw him leading the Atlantic League with 19 home runs and 60 RBI in 59 games, Nettles was signed by the Kansas City Royals organization. He spent the remainder of 2007 with the Royals before signing with the Baltimore Orioles in 2008, where he played at the Double-A level in Bowie.
Nettles returned to the Patriots in 2009 and once again led Somerset to the Atlantic League title and claiming his second Championship Series MVP Award. In the playoffs that season, Nettles hit three home runs and drove in seven.
“Championships mean everything. They are what you work for from day one, and what as a baseball player, you are gauged on. No matter what level you play at, you want to be the last guys on the field and win the last game of the season. It’s why I come back year after year,” said Nettles.
He continued to be a middle of the line up threat for Somerset from 2010 through 2012, among the team leaders in home runs and RBI in each season.
Nettles is the Atlantic League all-time career leader in games played, at bats, hits, and RBI for his time in the league from 2003 through 2007 and 2009 through this season.
“It’s nice to be recognized for individuals stats, but baseball is the ultimate team game. It’s easy to be an individual. It’s much harder to be a good teammate. I always wanted to make the team better and to do what I had to for us to win,” Nettles said.
In addition to his tremendous offensive numbers for the team, Nettles is highly considered one of the best defensive players in league history. He has made some of the most incredible plays seen in the Atlantic League through his nine seasons in Somerset.
He has been an All-Star in every year he’s been in the league except the 2010 season when he was injured for the entire first half. He is one of just three Patriot players with three Atlantic League Championships and is the only player to be named Championship Series MVP more than once.
Nettles on-field leadership and determination to win made him a team and fan favorite. He became the face of the organization the past nine seasons. His hard work, consistency, and longevity in the league has helped him to earn accolades as part of the team and individually. He came to the Patriots as the son of a famous New York baseball legend, and became one himself for his time in Somerset.
Throughout the 2012 season, the Patriots counted down the Top 15 players in team history and then highlight the chosen players on baseball card giveaways and a special lithograph during the year.