Best Washington Nationals Of All Time

Ava Flores
• Tuesday, 22 December, 2020
• 9 min read

Before moving to Washington after the 2004 season, the Montreal Expos were known as one of the most star-crossed franchises in baseball history. Despite the team's amazing talent and some of the best players ever, the Expos were never able to win a championship.

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The Expos of the early '80s featured two of the top players in Expos/ WashingtonNationals history in Gary Carter and Andre Dawson. The 1994 Expos team was broken up due to the player's strike and economics.

At the time of the strike, the Expos had the best record in baseball and appeared to be on a collision course with the New York Yankees or Chicago White Sox in that year's World Series. That team featured some of the best players in team history including Pedro Martinez, Larry Walker, Marquis Frisson, John Wetland and Moises Aloud.

After the strike, the team never recovered and moved to Washington and became the Nationals. At this early stage in Nationals history, Zimmerman is considered one of the best players to play in Washington D.C.

The Nationals have their hopes pinned to youngsters Stephen Strasbourg and Bryce Harper, both of whom were a part of the team's first National League East Division title in 2012, the franchise's first since 1981 in Montreal. It also includes the greatest Montreal Expos players in history.

#371 of 511 The Best Baseball Players NOT in the Hall of Fame #53 of 120 The Greatest Third Basemen of All Time After taking a look at the best single seasons by a Nationals position player, it’s time to explore the top individual years by pitchers.

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These rankings were deep with memorable performances, and there are pitchers who could have practically filled up a list on their own. Scherzo also topped National League pitchers in WHIP (0.911), opponents’ batting average (.188), strikeouts per nine innings (12.2), and he tied for first in wins (18-7 in 33 starts).

Scherzo also earned his sixth straight All -Star nod and finished second in the NL CY Young Award voting. Strasbourg set the stage for his spectacular World Series by leading the NL in wins (18-6, 3.32 ERA) and innings (209) over 33 regular-season starts.

He pitched three shutout frames out of the bullpen to advance the Nationals past the Brewers in the NL Wild Card Game. He tallied 47 strikeouts to only four walks, and held his opponents to a .091 batting average with runners in scoring position.

3) Max Scherzo, 2017 Key fact: Won his second consecutive (third total) CY Young Award In his second straight CY Young-winning season, Scherzo went 16-6 over 31 starts with a career- best 2.51 ERA -- the lowest by a Nationals' pitcher with a minimum of 170 innings.

5) Stephen Strasbourg, 2017 Key fact: Led all pitchers with the fewest home runs per nine innings (0.6) His career- best 2.52 ERA (third in the NL) was 0.01 shy of matching Scherzo for the franchise best, and his NL-leading 2.72 FIP was fourth- best in Nationals pitching history.

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Strasbourg also tied Scherzo for the Nat's’ best ERA+ (178) in a single season, led the NL in opponents’ slugging percentage (.317) and was worth 6.4 WAR. Only Johnny Wander Meet (1938), Allie Reynolds (‘51), Virgil Trucks (‘52) and Nolan Ryan (‘73) had accomplished the feat.

Scherzo was the fifth Modern Era pitcher to allow one hit or less in consecutive complete games. After taking a look at the best single seasons by a Nationals position player, it’s time to explore the top individual years by pitchers.

The 10 best players in Washington Nationals history | RUN Skip to main content Imagine if you could go back in time and compile a team based on every player in Nationals history’s most standout single season.

1B: Ryan Zimmerman, 2017 Key stat: Most hits and RBI's by a Nationals first baseman in a single season He led Washington with a career high in home runs (36) and 108 RBI's -- which were also good for sixth in the NL in both categories -- and was second on the team in hits (159).

Turner wrapped up the 2019 regular season on a 12-game hitting streak, batting .352 with five home runs during that stretch. He smacked a go-ahead grand slam on Sept. 24 to clinch the Nat's’ postseason berth, which eventually led to their World Series title.

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Bolstered by a .302/.355/.416 slash line, Span holds the highest single-season WAR (4.3) of a Nat's center fielder (min. That year among NL players, Span tied for first in hits and outfield putouts (377), fourth in doubles (39), and fifth in runs scored (94).

RF: Bryce Harper, 2015 Key stat: Unanimously named NL Most Valuable Player Award winner He also led the NL in homers (42) and runs scored (118) while setting career highs in batting average (.330) and hits (172).

SP: Max Scherzo, 2018 Key stat: Earned highest WAR in a single-season among all Nat's pitchers He led NL pitchers in WHIP (0.911), opponents’ batting average (.188) and strikeouts per nine innings (12.2), and he tied for first in wins.

RP: Chad Cordero, 2005 Key stat: Holds the Nationals record for most saves in a single season That year, Cordero was named an -Star, finished fifth in the NL CY Young race and received MVP votes.

Imagine if you could go back in time and compile a team based on every player in Nationals history’s most standout single season. Earlier this week, MLB Pipeline’s Jim Calls and Jonathan Mayo rolled out their list of the Top 100 prospects for the 2021 Draft, offering fans a comprehensive look at the best amateur players in the country.

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Beyond those rankings, they also applied their expertise in putting together a mock draft for the Top 10 slots in 2021 and answered fans’ questions during a recent Twitter Q&A. As part of MLB Pipeline’s ongoing Draft coverage, we thought that it would be interesting to explore past successes in the annual event by highlighting the best pick in each team’s history.

Additionally, only players who were taken in a June Draft were eligible, which is why, for example, you don’t see Tom Server (a 1966 January Draft-Secondary Phase selection by Atlanta) included in the list. 17 overall, 1995) Selected by Toronto out of the Colorado prep ranks, Halliday earned eight All -Star nods, tossed a no-hitter in the NL Division Series against the Reds, threw a perfect game vs. the Marlins and won the CY Young in both leagues during his 16-year career, capturing the prestigious award with Toronto (2003) and Philadelphia (2010).

48 overall, 1978) The Orioles obviously didn’t know Ripen would go on to break one of the seemingly most unbreakable records in baseball when he surpassed Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played streak. Ripen was actually the fourth player selected by Baltimore that June, following Robert Boyce, Larry Sheets and Eddie Hook.

Only Sheets made the big leagues from that group and Ripen went on to the Hall of Fame while leading all 1978 draftees with his 95.9 WAR. 3 overall, 2006) The Long Beach State product made quick work of the Minors' en route to AL Rookie of the Year honors and an 11th-place MVP finish in 2008, when he also helped lead the Rays to their first World Series appearance.

6 overall, 1992) The first five selections in the 1992 Draft were college players before the Yankees were able to nab Peter from his Kalamazoo, Mich., high school. 29 overall, 1971) After getting his first taste of the Majors at age 20 in 1973, Brett launched his Hall of Fame career in earnest the following year and garnered the first of his 13 consecutive All -Star nods in ’76.

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99 overall, 1975) Whitaker was the AL Rookie of the Year as a 21-year-old in 1978 and went on to earn five All -Star selections, four Silver Sluggers and three Gold Glove Awards, spending his entire 19-year career with the Tigers. 55 overall, 1969) Born in the Netherlands, Eleven went to high school in California, attracting the attention of the Twins, who took him in the third round in 1969.

That turned out to be a wise move as he’s in the Hall of Fame and the Big Hurt is the only player in history to record seven straight seasons of 20-plus homers, 100 RBI's, 100 walks and a .300 average. After not getting seen enough at his New Jersey high school and not getting selected until close to the end of the first round, Trout has already built some serious Hall of Fame credentials, with a 74.6 WAR that ranks second among all active players behind only teammate Albert Pupils.

96 overall, 1976) The 1976 Draft produced four Halls of Farmers (and a fifth, Ozzie Smith, was taken but didn’t sign), all picked in the second round or higher. Henderson was a fourth-rounder taken by the A’s in their own backyard at Oakland Technical High School, and he went on to lead the entire class with his 111.2 WAR.

Considered the greatest lea doff hitter of all time, Henderson is the career leader in stolen bases and runs scored. Rodriguez made 14 All -Star teams, won 10 Silver Sluggers, three MVP's and two Gold Glove awards.

He also paced the NL in ERA in both '96 (1.89, Marlins) and 2000 (2.58, Dodgers) and eclipsed the 200-inning mark in nine of his 19 seasons in the big leagues, finishing with 67.8 WAR. He also leads all Braves draftees in that statistical category, while he finished with more career walks than strikeouts and hit 468 homers, the most by any National League switch-hitter.

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He received three of his five All -Star nods with San Diego and ultimately recorded eight Top 20 finishes in the MVP voting across 15 seasons, leading the Majors in hits (’11) and RBI's (’14) along the way. When his 27-year career was all said and done, Ryan, who pitched for four different organizations before retiring after his age-46 season, had compiled 324 wins and more strikeouts (5,714) than any pitcher in history.

36 overall, 1985) Johnson originally turned down the Braves as a fourth-round pick in 1982 before signing with Montreal in ’85, after three seasons at the University of Southern California. He appeared in 11 Major League games with the Expos before they dealt him to Seattle as part of a three-player package for Mark Langston in '89.

The rest, of course, is history, as the Big Unit became a five- time CY Young Award winner -- including four straight with the D-backs ('99-2002) -- a 10- timely -Star and a World Series MVP with Arizona in ’01. He also spun a no-hitter and a perfect game during his 22-year career and ranks second in MLB history in strikeouts with 4,875 and 22nd in wins with 303.

Both were amateur shortstops who made it to the Hall of Fame as third basemen, Schmidt taken out of Ohio University while Brett was a high schooler. Schmidt spent the entirety of his career in Philadelphia, amassing a 106.9 WAR while being named to 12 All -Star teams, winning 10 Gold Gloves, six Silver Sluggers and three MVP awards.

3 overall, 1973) Young reached the big leagues less than a year after being drafted, debuting with Milwaukee as an 18-year-old on Opening Day in 1974. Though it took him several years to settle in at the highest level, Young eventually blossomed into a two- time American League MVP Award winner (’82, ’89) who topped 3,000 hits over 20 seasons in a Brewers uniform en route to Cooperstown enshrinement in ’99.

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What’s more, the 40-year-old, future Hall of Fame is one of four players (Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez) in baseball history to reach the 3,000-hit (3,236), 600-homer (662) plateau. 31 overall, 1984) The Valley (Las Vegas, Nev.) High alum is one of two pitchers to win four straight NL CY Young's.

That mark tops all drafted catchers and the Hall of Fame was a 14- timely -Star who won 10 Gold Gloves, a pair of MVP's and the Rookie of the Year Award. 11 overall, 2006) The University of Missouri standout pitched to mixed results early in his career with Arizona but blossomed after the Tigers acquired him in Dec. 2009, winning the first of his three CY Young Awards in ’13.

He won the other two with the Nationals in back-to-back seasons ('16-17), highlighting a seven-year stretch for Scherzo in which he made seven straight All -Star Games while also recording a top-five finish in the CY Young race. 7 overall, 2006) Hershey was regarded as the best high school prospect in the 2006 Draft and subsequently breezed through the Minors, making just 44 starts before reaching Los Angeles shortly after turning 20.

86 overall, 1977) Drafted out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Smith was a 15- timely -Star who captured 13 Gold Glove Awards during his 19-year career, the final 15 of which he played in St. Louis. The 2002 Hall of Fame inductee racked up 76.9 WAR along the way, slashing .262/.337/.328 with 580 steals and 1,257 runs scored in 2,573 games.

8 overall, 1995) Elton is third in WAR in his Draft class, behind Carlos Beltrán and Hall of Fame Roy Halliday. But the former Tennessee quarterback easily leads all Rockies draftees with his 61.8 WAR, and the first baseman retired in 2013 with five All -Star nods, four Silver Sluggers, three Gold Gloves and a batting title on his resume, not to mention a career .316/.414/.539 line.

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