Sunday, March 29, 2020

All-Time Teams: Nationals

This All-Time Teams series started seven months ago, or the length of an entire baseball season. And it seems fitting that we're left with the defending World Champions at the finish line. Here's the Washington Nationals' all-time roster:

Manager: Felipe Alou
Home: Nationals Park

Leading off for the Nationals.. the Left Fielder.. Tim Raines

Tim Raines is fifth on the all-time stolen base list with 808, including a major-league leading 71 swipes (in 88 games!) as a 21 year-old rookie in 1981. That kicked off a streak of six straight 70+ steal seasons for the franchise's all-time leader. "Rock" was named to seven All-Star teams, won a batting title and a Silver Slugger in 1986, and won two World Series with the Yankees late in his Hall of Fame career. The career .294 career hitter is the last player enshrined in Cooperstown with an Expos cap on his plaque.

Batting second.. the Second Baseman.. Jose Vidro

Jose Vidro is the only player in this lineup who suited up for the Expos and the Nationals. The three-time All-Star is tied with Tim Raines for the franchise's second-highest career batting average. His .301 mark for the team was boosted by hitting .310 or higher in four consecutive seasons. Vidro has the third-most doubles in team history and places top-ten in several other categories including hits, runs scored, total bases, home runs, and RBI. He won a Silver Slugger with the Expos in 2003.

Batting third.. the Designated Hitter.. Bryce Harper

A once-in-a-generation prospect who burst onto the scene at age 16, Bryce Harper was Washington's first-overall pick as a 17 year-old in 2010. "Harp" lived up to the hype immediately, winning NL Rookie of the Year honors at 19 and an NL MVP award at age 22. The six-time All-Star is second on the Nationals' franchise list in slugging percentage and OPS, and his 184 home runs are sixth in team history. Harper led the Nats to four playoff appearances in his eight years with the team before signing a 13-year contract with the Phillies in 2019. He's too athletic to be a DH but on this roster he'll have to make room for a Hall of Famer.

Batting fourth.. the Right Fielder.. Vladimir Guerrero

The best "bad-ball" hitter in modern history, Vladimir Guerrero was a run-producing machine for the Expos and Angels. The nine-time All-Star and eight-time Silver Slugger winner compiled five straight seasons with over 100 runs scored, over 30 home runs, and over 100 RBI. Guerrero led the league in total bases twice, outfield assists twice, and was one home run away from a 40/40 season in 2002. His 234 home runs for the Expos are the second-highest total in team history and he's the franchise leader in career batting average, slugging percentage, and OPS. "Vladdy" never struck out more than 95 times in a season and hit .300 or above thirteen times.

Batting fifth.. the Catcher.. Gary Carter

A popular player on both sides of the border, Gary Carter is the Expos' career leader with 55.8 WAR. His career mark of 70.1 is second only to Johnny Bench among all catchers. Carter earned eleven All-Star selections, five Silver Sluggers, and three Gold Gloves in his Hall of Fame career. His career defensive WAR is the second-highest among backstops and 15th all-time among all players. Only Tim Wallach played more games as an Expo than the "Kid." He ranks third in Expos/Nationals franchise history in games played, fourth in home runs, total bases, and RBI, and fifth in runs scored and hits. Carter won a World Series with the Mets in 1986.

Batting sixth.. the Third Baseman.. Anthony Rendon

The Nationals built the core of a contending team through first round draft picks including Anthony Rendon in 2011. A two-time Silver Slugger winner, Rendon made his first appearance in an All-Star game in 2019. He led the majors with 129 RBI and helped the Nationals win their first World Championship, then signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Angels. Rendon boasts the fourth-highest career slugging percentage and fifth-highest OPS in franchise history.

Batting seventh.. the Center Fielder.. Andre Dawson

Andre Dawson won the NL Rookie of the Year award in 1977 and NL MVP honors ten years later. His Hall of Fame career included eight All-Star selections, eight Gold Gloves, and four Silver Slugger awards. The "Hawk" led the Expos to their first playoff appearance in 1981, led the NL in total bases twice, and finished second in NL MVP voting twice. He's in the franchise's top-three in WAR, runs scored, home runs, total bases, runs created, runs batted in, triples, and stolen bases. Dawson ranks 40th all-time with 1,591 RBI and 45th in history with 438 home runs.

Batting eighth.. the First Baseman.. Ryan Zimmerman

The franchise's first draft pick in Washington, Ryan Zimmerman debuted for the Nationals in his draft year of 2005. In 15 years with the team, "Zim" has set franchise records for career hits, doubles, total bases, home runs, and RBI. A two-time All-Star, Zimmerman won two Silver Sluggers and a Gold Glove at third base before moving across the diamond in 2015. He signed a one-year deal to return to the Nats in 2020, and has a good chance of breaking Tim Raines' team record for runs scored - assuming a season is played.

Batting ninth.. the Shortstop.. Ian Desmond

Ian Desmond played the first seven seasons of his career as D.C.'s shortstop, before moving to the outfield for the Rangers. The two-time All-Star won three Silver Slugger awards while with the Nationals, launching 20+ home runs in each season. Desmond is 11th in Expos/Nationals history in offensive WAR, home runs, total bases, and hits. His 122 stolen bases are the ninth-highest total in team annals, one behind Vladimir Guerrero.

The Starting Pitcher for the Nationals.. Max Scherzer

In just five seasons with Washington, Max Scherzer has struck out 1,371 batters - already the third-highest total in team history. The seven-time All-Star and three-time Cy Young award winner is the Expos/Nationals all-time leader in strikeouts per 9 innings with a whopping 11.744, and also leads the franchise in strikeout to walk ratio, WHIP and ERA+. Scherzer has led the league in wins four times, WHIP four times, and strikeouts three times. His 2,692 career K's places him 24th on the all-time list, ahead of legendary hurlers like Warren Spahn and Bob Feller.

Now let's take a look at the Nationals' bench and bullpen:

Catcher - Wilson Ramos
1st Base - Andres Galarraga
Infield - Tim Wallach
Outfield - Warren Cromartie
Utility - Bob Bailey

Ramos won a Silver Slugger for the Nationals in 2016 and made two All-Star teams. The Expos/Nats are very deep at third base; not so much at the other infield positions. Galarraga is the only natural first baseman I considered, and his numbers with the Expos weren't as good as Bob Bailey - whom I added as a super utility guy rather than deciding on a fifth outfielder. Wallach made five All-Star teams, won three Gold Gloves, and played more games for the franchise than any Expo or National - but his peak years weren't quite as productive as Rendon's. Cromartie is in the team's top ten in several categories including total bases, hits, and games played.

#2 Starter - Stephen Strasburg
#3 Starter - Steve Rogers
#4 Starter - Dennis Martinez
#5 Starter - Jordan Zimmermann

Strasburg, the first overall pick in the 2009 draft, is first in Nationals history with 1,695 strikeouts. The three-time All-Star won World Series MVP honors in 2019. Rogers holds franchise records for starts, innings pitched, and wins. His career 44.7 WAR is fourth in team history and first among pitchers. "El Presidente" posted 30 WAR over his eight seasons in Montreal, earning three of his four All-Star selections. Zimmerman beat Bryn Smith for the fifth starter spot with a higher K:9 and K:BB rate.

RH Reliever - Tyler Clippard
RH Reliever - Chad Cordero
RH Reliever - Mel Rojas
RH Reliever - Mike Marshall
RH Reliever - Tim Burke
RH Reliever - Jeff Reardon 

Clippard is second in Nats history with 414 appearances and earned two All-Star berths. Cordero is second on the team's all-time saves list with 128, including a major league-leading 47 in 2005. Rojas is fourth among Expos/Nationals relievers in appearances and saves. Marshall was a dominant long reliever in the early 1970's, leading the NL in appearances three times, saves twice, and games finished four times. He won the Cy Young in 1974 after pitching 201 innings in relief for the Dodgers. Burke leads the franchise in appearances and ERA. Reardon saved 367 career games, including a franchise-high 152 for the Expos.

Thank you all for joining me on this season-long look at the all-time greatest players in each team's history. I've got something fun planned for tomorrow's wrap-up post. It's a long one, but I think you'll like it ;)




  1. The Expos had the best record in MLB when the '94 strike ended the season.

    1. I would have loved to see them in the World Series :/

  2. For a team that could never get over the hump until last year, that's a really solid team.

    1. It is. Those Expos teams of the early '80s were stacked. I guess they were just missing one piece.

  3. You know your team is pretty good when Andre Dawson bats seventh and Andres Galarraga is on the bench. Great starting five pitchers, too!

    This series was excellent. Thanks for putting in all the research and writing!

    1. And the Big Cat almost didn't make the team!

      Thanks for reading, I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

  4. Amazing that there's only one player who was there for the changeover from Montreal to Washington. My only quibble is that I'd put Harper fourth in the order to take more advantage of Vlad's speed and break up the run of righties.

    It's been a fun ride through baseball history!

    1. I have Vlad batting cleanup because he's a more consistent hitter and run producer than Harper. But your idea works, too.

      Also I thought I had checked every player to make sure Vidro was the only one. Apparently I missed Chad Cordero.

  5. As a Nats fan I love this post. When they were the Expos I wasn't following baseball as closely not since the Senators left for Texas. Growing up without a Homie baseball team made me more of a football fan. During the Redskins better years.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post. It's great to see DC teams start winning again. I was thrilled when Alex Ovechkin and the Caps finally won the Stanley Cup.

  6. That's a sneaky good lineup. Love the outfield of Harper, Hawk and Rock.
    Thanks again for all of your tireless work in the project. It was lots of fun to follow!

    1. Not to mention Vlad Guerrero!

      Thanks for following along from the beginning, I really appreciate it.

  7. Solid team. Love seeing so many Expos in one post.

    1. I tried to balance it out but I might have leaned into the Expos years a little too much ;)

  8. I like how You were able to get a lot of the Nationals guys to be featured in Expos uniforms. This was such a fun series. Can't wait to see how you follow this up.

    1. I'm glad Topps made some "Expos" cards in 2020, but of course they're either SSP variations or on-demand singles :/

  9. An excellent topper to a great series! You always excel at these series!

    I still have a hard time considering the Expos and Nationals as the same franchise. I don't think a lot of Montreal baseball fans are following the DC squad out of continuity.

    1. I'm not. I've said repeatedly the Nats are the NottheSpos to me.

    2. Thanks so much Matt! I appreciate you reading & commenting. And they do feel like two different franchises, for sure.

  10. Even though I wasn't able to comment on every post, I still enjoyed reading all of them. Kudos to you on wrapping up yet another great series!

    1. Thanks for reading! I'm glad you enjoyed the series.

  11. Because I sort the Expos and Nationals separately in binders, I sometimes have to take a moment and remember they share the same history. Great team & love the Expos throwbacks you featured for Rendon and Scherzer!