The Washington Nationals, formerly the Montreal Expos, left the Great White North for the Nation’s Capital in 2004 in hopes of more postseason success. Fifteen years later, they’ve yet to win another playoff series and find themselves with a lineup that’s good but not quite good enough. There’s several intriguing options in the lineup though no big presence. The Nats will contend for a bit but this lineup simply lacks the starpower to be in the top half of the league.
1. Tim Raines, 2B (S)
2. Bryce Harper, CF (L)
3. Andre Dawson, CF (R)
4. Vladimir Guerrero, RF (R)
5. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B (R)
6. Gary Carter, C (R)
7. Tim Wallach, 3B (R)
8. Ian Desmond, SS (R)
9. Max Scherzer, P (R)
Manager: Felipe Alou
1974-84, 92: 707 Runs, 220 HR, 823 RBI, 34 SB, .269 BA/.342 OBP/.454 SLG
While he is a Hall of Famer, Gary Carter is a fairly underrated catcher among the elite ranks. He quickly developed power in just his fourth year in the bigs and he became a middle of the order presence fairly quickly. Carter begin a string of ten straight All Star appearances starting in 1979 as he became known as a great dual threat backstop. He ranked very well defensively each year and was one of the most lethal bats at the catcher position for many years. He wound up winning three Gold Gloves and three Silver Sluggers during his time with Montreal and another pair of Silver Sluggers in New York.
Honorable Mentions: Wilson Ramos
2005-19: 929 Runs, 268 HR, 1,005 RBI, 43 SB, .279 BA/.343 OBP/.475 SLG
After being taken with the 4th overall pick in the 2005 Draft, Ryan Zimmerman has been a mainstay with the Nationals throughout his career. He’s earned only two All Star appearances despite being one of their most consistent bats during his prime. From 2006 to 20113, Zimmerman was a steady presence in the middle of the lineup as he could hit for both average and power. Injury filled seasons in 2014, 15, and 16 limited his production and Zimmerman was moved across the diamond to first base.
Honorable Mentions: Larry Walker, Ron Fairly, Larry Johnson
1979-90: 947 Runs, 96 HR, 556 RBI, 635 SB, .301 BA/.391 OBP/.437 SLG
If you’re a bit confused why Tim Raines is playing second base, I got you covered. The Nationals, formerly the Expos, had four great outfielders with only three spots and someone was going to be left out. However, Raines is the only player who had professional playing time at an infield position and by placing him here, we’ll another lethal bat by fitting all four outfielders in the lineup. After being named Minor League Player of the Year in 1980, Raines developed into a Hall of Fame left fielder and saw his career take off. He’s a great steal threat and contact bat that will make for our ideal leadoff hitter.
Honorable Mentions: Jose Vidro, Ron Hunt, Mike Lansing
2009-15: 424 Runs, 110 HR, 432 RBI, 122 SB, .264 BA/.312 OBP/.424 SLG
Ian Desmond’s career had a bunch of ups and downs as he became known as a shortstop who had a bunch of raw power but not that much contact skills. Desmond had great speed and proved to be a fairly great all around bat though his defense was always in question. He wasn’t a great defensive shortstop and for the Nationals, he evidently wasn’t worth keeping around. After a year in Texas, Desmond was signed to one of the strangest deals in recent free agent memory. The Colorado Rockies gave Desmond $70 million to play first base, a position he’s never played before.
Honorable Mentions: Trea Turner
1980-92: 737 Runs, 204 HR, 905 RBI, 50 SB, .259 BA/.317 OBP/.418 SLG
Tim Wallach served as Montreal’s main third baseman for over a decade and was quite good. He had consistent power throughout the years and earned five All Star appearances with the team. Nevertheless, the Expos continued to struggle during his tenure with the team as they failed to ever finish better than second and only reached the playoffs once. Wallach will be a very consistent bat in the lineup but is likely the least exciting bat among his teammates.
Honorable Mentions: Anthony Rendon, Bob Bailey, Larry Parrish
2012-18: 610 Runs, 184 HR, 521 RBI, 75 SB, .279 BA/.388 OBP/.512 SLG
There was a lot of hype after the Nationals drafted Bryce Harper and he more or less delivered on those promises. While he never really became the superstar sensation of the generation as everyone had though, Harper became a lethal bat in the Washington lineup for many years. He had a career year in 2015 when he won MVP and many thought he was primed for a breakout. Instead, Harper has yet to live up to the lofty expectations people set on him and he’s often labeled with the overrated tag. Whatever you think of him, Harper is a boost to the lineup and his left handed bat should help balance the right handed heavy hitting.
Honorable Mentions: Warren Cromartie, Moises Alou
1976-86: 828 Runs, 225 HR, 838 RBI, 253 SB, .280 BA/.326 OBP/.476 SLG
Yet another Hall of Famer to the Nationals team is center fielder Andre Dawson. An 11th round pick out of college, Dawson quickly proved he was going to become a star in the league. He captured Rookie of the Year honors in 1977 and served as one of Montreal’s premier hitters. He helped in many different categories and should make for a great top of the order bat. He’s got home run potential as well as speed. In the final years as an Expo, Dawson appeared to run out of gas and would ink a contract with the Cubs in 1987. There, he won his only MVP and further built a Hall of Fame case.
Honorable Mentions: Marquis Grissom, Rondell White
1996-03: 641 Runs, 234 HR, 702 RBI, 123 SB, .323 BA/.390 OBP/.588 SLG
While all the talk this year is about Vladimir Guerrero Jr., we can’t forget about his father, Vladimir Guerrero who’s already a Hall of Famer. He enjoyed much success during his eight year run with the Expos which saw him selected as an All Star four times and win three Silver Sluggers awards. Guerrero is a power threat to the lineup and his ability to hit the ball literally anywhere around the strike zone is unmatched. He makes for a great cleanup bat that can knock in a bunch of runs with his contact and power skills.
Honorable Mentions: Rusty Staub, Ellis Valentine, Brad Wilkerson
2015-19: 77-37 Record, 2.67 ERA, 11.7 K/9, 2.0 BB/9
After coming over from the Detroit Tigers, Max Scherzer has seemingly become a totally different pitcher. While he already won a Cy Young with Detroit in 2013, Scherzer has transformed himself into the most dominant pitcher in the past few years and it’s not even close. Scherzer has been a workhorse and led the strikeouts in three straight years from 2016 to 2018. During that time, the ace has won back to back Cy Youngs in 2016 and 2017 while garnering a second place finish last season.
Honorable Mentions: Steve Rogers, Stephen Strasburg, Dennis Martinez
Being in the league 51 seasons, one would expect the Nationals to have already won a World Series title. However, they’ve only been to the playoffs three times and it’s a tough debate over who should take the managerial job. Jim Fanning delivered the franchise’s only playoff series win while several other managers have won Manager of the Year during their tenures. With the Nationals seemingly changing managers every few years now, it’s also hard to go with any of their more recent selections though they have reached the postseason four times within the past eight years. The pick will be Felipe Alou who holds the club record at 691 managerial wins.
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