Washington Nationals All-Decade Team

Washington Nationals

This past decade, the Washington Nationals transformed their identity from an up and coming team with hopes of reaching the next tier, to a perennial contender who are the World Series Champions. Entering the 2010s, the Nationals were coming off of two 103 loss seasons. However, there was a reason for optimism in the Nation’s Capital with the emergence of young phenoms like Stephen Strasburg.

The 2012 season was a magical one for the Washington Nationals. After winning 80 games in 2011, there were hopes the Nationals could sneak in as a Wild Card on the back of Stephen Strasburg and a well-constructed line-up. Even with these hopes, no one expected the Nationals to win 98 games and grasp home-field advantage in the National League playoffs. This magical season came to an end after a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals.

After missing the postseason in 2013, 2015 and 2018 and heartbreaking defeats in the NLDS in 2014, 2016, and 2017, the Nationals were on the verge of blowing up the team after a 19-31 start in 2019. With trade rumors of Max Scherzer swirling around the air, the team put together a 74-38 record in the last 112 games to earn themselves a Wild Card spot. The rest was history; heroic performances by Juan Soto, Stephen Strasburg, and Howie Kendrick led the Nationals to their first World Series title since the Washington Senators in 1924.

The All-Decade Roster was created by taking the best individual seasons and placing them on a 25-man roster. Each player can only be used once. Here are the best Washington Nationals seasons of the 2010s.

Starting Pitcher: Max Scherzer (2018)

When Max Scherzer was signed to a monstrous seven-year, $210 million contract in 2015, there were many initial reactions to the contract. Yet, none of them included the possibility of Max Scherzer being a bargain at the price. There was difficulty in choosing Max Scherzer’s best season. In 2015, he had two no-hitters, while in 2016 he had a historic 20 strikeout game against his former team, the Detroit Tigers. To add on to his Cy Young collection, Max Scherzer won his third in 2017, However, his best season in the Nationals uniform may be the one where he didn’t bring home the hardware.

During the 2018 season, Max Scherzer joined a list to become the 19th pitcher in the history of baseball to have 300 strikeouts in a season. He did this, while being a workhorse, pitching over 220 innings. Although it was a disappointing season as a whole for the Nationals, Scherzer went 18-7 while posting a 2.53 ERA and a ridiculous 12.2 K/9 IP. With better health on his side, Stephen Strasburg had an argument for his 2017 season. But, for four straight years of dominance, Max Scherzer was the best pitcher of the decade for the Nationals.

Relief Pitcher: Drew Storen (2014)

Although Drew Storen is known for his blown save in the NLDS in 2012, no one can deny that he was a fantastic relief pitcher in his six-year career with the Nationals. He had a 3.02 ERA in those six years while pitching in 355 games. His best season of them all was his 2014 season, where he had a minuscule 1.12 ERA.

Storen did not assume closer duties until September after Rafael Soriano struggled. With his “wiffle ball” slider and power fastball, Storen constantly kept hitters off balance and induced weak contact throughout his 2014 season. Despite only having 46 strikeouts in 56.1 innings, Storen was effective in keeping the ball low in the zone. Although he struggled in the postseason, Storen’s regular season was one to remember.

Catcher: Wilson Ramos (2016)

Despite his season coming to an awful end in 2016, “The Buffalo” had a season to remember in DC. A fan favorite, Wilson Ramos, had career highs in almost every category, hitting .307, 22 home runs and 80 runs batted in. After finishing fourth in Rookie of the Year voting in 2011, Ramos had a rough couple of seasons where he ended up hitting just .229 in 2015. He bounced back in 2016, earning his first career all-star appearance.

The season came to a crashing end for Ramos, tearing his ACL against the Arizona Diamondbacks, ending his season. Even with the injury, Ramos was the most consistent catcher of the decade for the Nationals, with only Kurt Suzuki in his range. Ramos remains a “what-if” for the Nationals as the outcome of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers could have been altered with him behind the plate.

First Baseman: Ryan Zimmerman (2017)

It doesn’t feel right to have an All-Decade team without “Mr. Franchise”, Ryan Zimmerman. After injuries plagued him from 2014-2016, Zimmerman put together arguably his best season in 2017. He hit .303 and had a career-best 36 home runs and batted in 108 runs. Zimmerman, who typically gets off to slow stars. hit .420 in March/April and followed that up by hitting .319 in May.

After various shoulder injuries, Zimmerman played in 144 games, aided by the emergence of left-handed bat Adam Lind, who ensured that Zimmerman stayed healthy over the course of the season. Zimmerman also played his third full season at first base, after being a third baseman previously, which led him to his first all-star appearance since 2012. The only other first baseman who is in the conversation with Zimmerman is Michael Morse.

Second Baseman: Daniel Murphy (2016)

After a historic run in the 2015 postseason, where he hit seven home runs with the New York Mets, Daniel Murphy signed with the division-rival Nationals. Many questioned whether Murphy could sustain these numbers with the Nationals, and he did just that, and more. Murphy hit .347 with 25 home runs and 104 runs batted in. Murphy was second in the batting title race to D.J. Lemahieu, as Lemahieu sat out the final game of the season to preserve the title.

As Bryce Harper had a down season in 2016, Murphy picked up the slack for the Nationals and led them to the NL East division crown. He was tenth in offensive WAR in 2016, and led the National League in doubles with 47. Murphy scorched his former team in this marvelous season, by hitting seven home runs in just 19 games against the Mets.

Third Baseman: Anthony Rendon (2019)

For the past three seasons, Anthony Rendon has been the most consistent hitter for the Washington Nationals. He has hit .310 over this stretch while hitting 83 home runs. Heading into a contract year, Rendon had his best season to date and led the Nationals to the World Series title. Living up to his nickname “Tony Two-Bags”, Rendon led the league in doubles, hit .319, and launched 34 home runs with an NL-leading 126 RBIs. All of this was done while striking out just 86 times, compared to 80 walks.

Rendon finished third in MVP voting and garnered his first all-star selection, though he elected not to play in the game. His third place in MVP voting was his best mark to date, after finishing fifth in 2014. Defensively, Rendon was above-average as usual and remains one of the best all-around third basemen in baseball. This spectacular season led him to sign a seven-year, $245 million dollar contract with the Los Angeles Angels.

Shortstop: Trea Turner (2019)

This was one of the toughest decisions on the team for starters. Trea Turner‘s 2019 season edged out Ian Desmond‘s 2012 season. Despite only playing in 122 games due to a broken finger and hitting with nine fingers after returning (got surgery to repair finger in offseason), Trea Turner put together a great 2019 season, batting .298 with 35 stolen bases out of the leadoff spot. He also added some pop to the top of the lineup by hitting 19 home runs and slugging .497.

Turner did a lot for the Nationals that did not show up on the stat sheet. With his .353 OBP, pitchers had to respect Turner’s speed on base and players like Adam Eaton, Anthony Rendon, and Juan Soto flourished by receiving more fastballs to hit. Although Turner took a slight step back defensively because of the finger injury, he still shows tremendous range and makes unbelievable plays.

Left Field: Juan Soto (2019)

After getting off to a slow start in the 2019 season, Juan Soto put together a season that exceeded his unbelievable rookie campaign. The 21-year-old hit 34 home runs, with an OBP of .401 and walked 108 times in a season filled with iconic hits. His go-ahead single against the Milwaukee Brewers brought Nationals Park to celebration in a way it had never seen before. On the road, down by one in an elimination game, Juan Soto took future Hall-of-Famer Clayton Kershaw deep to tie the game.

Soto also showed improvement in the field this past season. After taking inefficient routes and misplaying many flyballs in his rookie season, Soto took a step forward in his Sophomore year and improved upon his negative six in the runs saved category to zero. His dances in the clubhouse also provide joy to the clubhouse, and he has quickly become a fan favorite in the clubhouse.

Center Field: Denard Span (2014)

Denard Span, in his second year with the Washington Nationals, put together his second-best season in his career. He led the National League in hits with 184 while hitting .302 out of the leadoff spot. Span also saved countless games with his gold-glove caliber defense and was a ballhawk in center field during his three-year tenure with the Washington Nationals. Although Span only hit five home runs this season, his 31 stolen bases provided a spark at the top of the order.

One of the more consistent hitters for the Nationals, Span always seemed to put the ball into play. He only struck out 65 times in the 2014 season, while walking 50, leading to a .355 OBP. This season also led Span to garner MVP votes for the first time in his MLB career.

Right Field: Bryce Harper (2015)

Bryce Harper had one of the best seasons in recent memory in the 2015 season. Watching Harper play, it was only a matter of time before #34 hit one into the upper decks. Harper put together a ridiculous stat line this season, .330/.469/.649. To cap it all off, he had an OPS of 1.109. The average OPS in the MLB in 2015 was just .738. He blasted 42 home runs and had 99 RBIs which is indicative of the rough season the rest of the team had. His best performance of 2015 was against the Miami Marlins in early May where he hit home runs in three consecutive at-bats.

Despite signing with the division-rival Philadelphia Phillies in 2019, Washington Nationals fans can appreciate the best batting performance in Franchise history with an argument for Alfonso Soriano‘s season in 2006. The only other hitter for the Nationals in 2015 to hit over .272 was Yunel Escobar. Harper carried the offense in 2015, and although he had no postseason to show for it, he put on a magnificent offensive display for Nationals fans.

Lineup

  1. Denard Span
  2. Trea Turner
  3. Bryce Harper
  4. Anthony Rendon
  5. Juan Soto
  6. Ryan Zimmerman
  7. Daniel Murphy
  8. Wilson Ramos
  9. Max Scherzer

Bench

  1. Jayson Werth (2013)
  2. Michael Morse (2011)
  3. Ian Desmond (2012)
  4. Howie Kendrick (2019)
  5. Kurt Suzuki (2019)

Starting Rotation

  1. Max Scherzer (2018)
  2. Gio Gonzalez (2012)
  3. Stephen Strasburg (2017)
  4. Jordan Zimmerman (2014)
  5. Tanner Roark (2016)

Bullpen

The Washington Nationals have quite an All-Decade team, and there was lots of competition among the pitchers. The 2010s brought the Nationals five playoff appearances and one World Series title. That’s pretty good for a team that came into the decade with a 103 loss season!

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