Washington Nationals All-Time 26-Man Rosterby Jordan Leandre October 25, 2021 1 comment
Like their ‘next-door neighbor,’ the Washington Nationals are a franchise attached to another city. Formerly the Montreal Expos, this franchise has had some great players yet mediocre results on the field. In 53 seasons, the Nationals have made the playoffs just five times but have a World Series win, despite 2019 being their only season with a postseason series win.
Again, it’s not from a lack of star power, and we’ll get into that as we take a look at their all-time roster. There have been household Hall of Fame names to don that uniform. That said, do they all make it as one of the 26-best Nationals players ever?
Stay tuned to find out.
Make sure to check out all of our other All-Time Rosters.
Gary Carter, C
In 12 seasons with the Montreal Expos, Carter slashed .269/.342/.454 with a wRC+ of 121. On top of the great rate stats, he also led all Nationals franchise catchers in fWAR (53.8) by a significant margin (second is Wilson Ramos at 11.3).
It was also an Expos career full of hardware for Carter, as he made seven of his 11 All-Star Games north of the border while also winning three Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers apiece.
He spent more than half of his Hall of Fame career with this franchise and easily got the nod as the best catcher in the organization’s history.
Ryan Zimmerman, 1B
‘Mr. National’ is another no-brainer for the all-time roster.
Were there more talented first basemen that played for Washington? Perhaps. Nine players have netted 500 plate appearances as Washington’s first baseman and have higher wRC+ ratings. However, when you talk about fan favorites to go through that organization, he takes the cake as one of the most beloved.
He stayed loyal despite the Nationals not making the postseason until his seventh full season in the league. He endured injuries, rebuilding teams, and stuck it out to win a World Series in 2019. There’s a reason Zimmerman is nicknamed ‘Mr. National,’ and he is the best first baseman ever to come through this organization.
Daniel Murphy, 2B
Murphy’s time in Washington was more of a pitstop, as he only played 342 games there (15th among Nationals second basemen). However, he was dominant offensively in that span, slashing .329/.380/550 with a .387 wOBA and a wRC+ of 139. On top of that, he was a 4.4 fWAR per 150-game player during his tenure. He was about as one-dimensional in Washington as you can be, posting -30 defensive runs saved at second base. But his offense is just too impressive to ignore.
Anthony Rendon, 3B
This one’s a no-brainer. While Rendon ranks third all-time in fWAR among the Nationals’ third basemen, he is fewer than six wins behind Zimmerman with almost 900 fewer games played. Moreover, he has the numbers to back it up. In 916 games, Rendon slashed .290/.369/.490 with a franchise-leading 128 wRC+ at the position. He also racked up 39 DRS at third base and helped win the franchise’s only World Series title.
Trea Turner, SS
Turner is the positional leader in fWAR (21.4), wRC+ (121), slugging percentage (.486), stolen bases (192), and OBP (.356). Like Rendon, Turner is also a member of the franchise’s only World Series title-winning team. He wasn’t the most prolific defender of the position, but he still netted 11 DRS in over 4,600 defensive innings.
Since there is no designated hitter, we’re going with four outfielders in the all-time Nationals/Expos starting lineup. It is easily the most-contested position of the bunch, as there are a plethora of Hall of Famers (current and future) to grace the outfield for this franchise.
Starting with Guerrero, he is third among Nationals/Expos outfielders in wRC+ (143), ranks first in slugging percentage (.588), first in home runs (234), and second in OPS (.981). On top of that, he’s third in fWAR among outfielders (33.8).
Next, is a former No. 1 overall pick, who isn’t adequately recognized as someone who lived up to the hype. In seven seasons with the Nationals, Harper put up 30.5 fWAR––fourth among Nationals outfielders. In the process, he slashed .279/.388/.512 with a 140 wRC+.
Injuries hampered Harper at times in D.C., but he was a generational, transcendental talent for which they were lucky to have a replacement. He still made six All-Star Games, won Rookie of the Year and MVP, and may have more hardware if not for injuries.
This brings us to Harper’s replacement, Soto. Seldom do you see someone blossom into the best hitter in the sport before turning 25 years old. Soto is becoming that kind of player at just 22. You have to project a little to put Soto on the All-Time roster definitively, but he’s on the fast track to becoming the best player to ever play for the organization.
In 464 games, he’s slashing .301/.432/.550 with a 156 wRC+. He’s coming off consecutive seasons leading the league in on-base percentage and has walked more than he’s struck out in his career (373 to 352). He’s going to be the best National ever; it’s just a matter of when. The 22-year-old is undoubtedly deserving of being on this roster.
Lastly is “The Hawk”. The 11-year Expo slashed .280/.326/.476 with a 121 wRC+. The Hall of Famer is also second in fWAR among outfielders (44.3) and is second in home runs. It was incredibly tough to decide who the fourth outfielder was, and there will be a couple more when we get to the bench later.
Max Scherzer, RHP
The right-hander didn’t arrive in the Nation’s capital until he was 30. All he did from there was dominate, dominate and dominate some more. Scherzer had a 20-strikeout game, multiple no-hitters, and a 2.40 ERA in the 2019 World Series run. Among all Nationals/Expos starters to log 750 innings, Scherzer ranks second in fWAR, first in FIP, first in ERA, and first in strikeout rate.
While there have been other Ace-caliber arms to go through that organization, there’s no question that Scherzer takes the cake as their best pitcher ever.
Stephen Strasburg, RHP
Like Harper, Strasburg is a player who won’t be recognized for living up to the hype, despite his performance indicating that he did. Injuries destroyed what was sure to be a Hall of Fame career, but the production was there when he was on the field. Among starters with at least 750 innings, Strasburg is second in FIP, third in fWAR, and first in xFIP. Not to mention that, when he debuted in 2010, he brought baseball back to Washington D.C. Who knows if the Nationals are even still in D.C. if it weren’t for the hype surrounding Strasburg and the aforementioned Harper.
Pedro Martinez, RHP
Of the three, Martinez is the best all-time. However, Martinez didn’t ascend into Hall of Fame status until he left Montreal for the Red Sox ahead of the 1998 season. As for his career north of the border, Martinez ranks third in FIP, ERA, and strikeout rate. He didn’t have a lengthy career in Montreal, as he ranks 16th in innings pitched for the franchise.
Steve Rogers, RHP
Between 1974 and 1983, Rogers posted a 3.11 FIP and a 3.15 ERA. Moreover, he’s also the franchise leader in fWAR for starting pitchers. The right-hander never won a Cy Young Award but did win an ERA title and made five All-Star Games. There was even a season where he had a 3.21 ERA and led the league with 17 losses.
Gio Gonzalez, LHP
The southpaw is the only left-hander to make the cut. However, he’s not just a token southpaw; he put up numbers to back his selection. In 1,253.1 innings, Gonzalez posted a 3.45 FIP and a 3.62 ERA. While he didn’t bring home much hardware, he did make an All-Star Game with the Nationals in 2012––a year he finished third in Cy Young award voting after leading the National League in FIP.
John Wetteland, RHP
Wetteland comes in second among all Nationals/Expos relievers (min. 100 innings) in fWAR at 6.1. On top of that, he’s first in ERA and FIP, third in strikeout rate, and fourth in strikeout-to-walk rate.
Ugueth Urbina, RHP
Urbina was one of the best relievers to go through the organization. He leads the franchise in reliever fWAR, second in strikeout rate and strikeouts-per-nine, third in strikeout-to-walk rate and saves.
Drew Storen, RHP
Storen gets a little bit of a bad rap in D.C. for the collapse in Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS against the Cardinals. However, he had a good career for the Nationals overall. He ranks seventh in franchise history in saves and second in holds, on top of 3.02 ERA and 23.4 strikeout rate.
Tyler Clippard, RHP
Tied with Wetteland for second in fWAR among Nationals relievers, Clippard had a successful career in many roles. Closer, setup man, middle reliever, it doesn’t matter; Clippard was going to get the job done. His 2.64 ERA ranks third in franchise history and, while his peripherals weren’t the best, he posted a 3.02 SIERA in 453.2 innings.
Jeff Reardon, RHP
You can’t have an all-time bullpen without the franchise leader in saves. Reardon posted a 2.84 ERA and a 3.29 FIP for the Expos from 1981 to 1989. While he didn’t strike out many guys and walked over three per-nine, he was great at run prevention––which is the name of the game for someone whose job is to finish the game.
Craig Stammen, RHP
After two subpar seasons, the right-hander converted to the bullpen, where he blossomed. In 280 innings, Stammen posted a 3.02 ERA, a 3.17 FIP, and a 3.39 xFIP to round out his 3.0 fWAR. He was never a superstar reliever, but he was incredibly dependable from 2012 to 2014. It is because of that that he finds himself on the roster.
Rusty Staub, OF
Among all Nationals/Expos with at least 500 plate appearances, Staub ranks second with a 146 wRC+. While power was never a proficient strength (23 per 150 games), he certainly was no slouch for the long ball. Staub is tied for 13th in fWAR in franchise history for position players while ranking 43rd in games played.
Tim Raines, OF
Though he’s second in franchise history in fWAR, Raines didn’t make the cut as a starting outfielder. However, his 133 wRC+ ranks seventh in franchise history, and his 634 stolen bases are the most by far. The only issue is that Dawson was a more imposing power threat, and the other three starting outfielders bested him in wRC+.
Adam Dunn, 1B/OF
Dunn played just 317 games for the Nationals, but he left a significant impact on them. His 139 wRC+ is tied for fifth in franchise history (min. 500 plate appearances) and fifth in walk rate. If you need someone to reach base or hit a home run, Dunn was your guy.
Tim Wallach, 3B
Wallach ranks fifth in franchise history with an fWAR of 35.3. While none of his numbers truly jump off the page (104 wRC+, .735 OPS), he’s second in defensive value, according to FanGraphs (90.5).
Nick Johnson, 1B
Johnson didn’t play in Washington for long but ranks second in franchise history in OBP and walk rate. On top of that, his 131 wRC+ is 11th and his OPS is ninth.
Alfonso Soriano, OF
Like Dunn, Soriano didn’t play much of his career in D.C. In fact, he only spent one season on the Nationals. That season, he slashed .277/.351/.560 with a 129 wRC+. He also had posted north of 40 home runs, 40 stolen bases, and 40 doubles. He was so unbelievable in his lone season for Washington that it’s enough to get him into the All-Time roster.
Follow Jordan Leandre on Twitter @JordanLeandre55
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images