Washington Nationals all-time team: Scherzer joins Pedro in rotation; Expos greats Raines, Carter in lineup
We're picking a 'Baseball Stars' lineup for each team during April
In an effort to avoid going stir crazy with MLB and every other major sports league shut down during the coronavirus pandemic, I've decided to take a look at the best of the best for each baseball franchise. We're going to have a 30-day series creating an all-time team for each MLB club. We'll break down one team per day throughout April, and today it's time for the defending World Series champion Nationals.
As a (hopefully?) fun twist, I'm making a Baseball Stars team for each. That's right, the old-school Nintendo video game "Baseball Stars," which I still consider to be the best baseball video game ever. It allowed you to create teams and I used to make all-time lineups for prominent MLB franchises. There are the eight position players with four starting pitchers, one reliever and five bench position players on each Baseball Stars squad.
As we know, the Nationals transitioned to D.C. from Montreal, where they were the Expos. There will be players from both on this all-time roster.
If we were using just the Nationals, it would be Wilson Ramos, but this is for the entire franchise and it's a blowout for Hall of Famer Gary Carter. In 12 seasons with the Expos, Carter racked up a franchise-best 55.8 WAR, 220 home runs, 823 RBI and 371 doubles. One of the best catchers in baseball history is a nice start to this squad.
A lot of his best work was done on the opposite side of the diamond, but our roster is going to look better if we play Mr. National, Ryan Zimmerman here. He sits fourth in WAR for the franchise and first among those who only played for the Nationals. He's also the franchise leader in hits, total bases, doubles, home runs, RBI, extra-base hits and times on base. Yes, including the Expos.
Remember Jose Vidro? He actually played for both the Expos and Nationals, though his finest work came with Montreal. All told, in 10 years, he hit .301 with a 111 OPS+. Not too shabby. A Nationals-only pick would've been Daniel Murphy.
Remember when Ian Desmond was a shortstop? Man, it seems like it was ages ago. Orlando Cabrera also had a few notable seasons. I'm gonna go with Trea Turner here. He's gonna pass Desmond in WAR for the franchise next season and I like the upside more.
We cleared Zimmerman from here because Anthony Rendon is a better choice than any other first baseman would have been. Roster efficiency at its finest here by yours truly. Tim Wallach could've worked here as well, but I took the bigger upside over the longevity that enabled Wallach to have roughly eight more WAR.
This franchise is loaded with outfield talent, given how relatively young it is. Perhaps the pick out here eventually will be Juan Soto, but he's got a lot of heavy lifting in front of him to get there, because Hall of Famer Tim Raines gets the spot. Apologies to Moises Alou, Bob Bailey, Rondell White and Alfonso Soriano. I would roll with Soto in a Nats-only pick.
Marquis Grissom gets a snub here and I thought about Bryce Harper, given the competition he's facing in right. But it's Andre Dawson. He's third in franchise history in WAR behind Carter and Raines, third in home runs and third in steals. He was a center fielder until 1984 and won four Gold Gloves before the move to right.
There are four big-time names out here. The early Expos years brought us Rusty Staub. The early '90s gave us Larry Walker. The late '90s brought us Vladimir Guerrero and the Nationals years brought on Bryce Harper. Harper's 2015 is pretty easily the best all-around season any of this group had, but the highest volume of great seasons belongs to Vlad. He gets the nod. We didn't even mention Ellis Valentine or Jayson Werth. I told you the outfield was loaded. A Nats-only pick is obviously Harper. Actually put him in center and Werth in right for the D.C.-only bunch.
Steve Rogers isn't the ace, but he's included due to what he meant to the Expos for so long. He's the franchise leader in WAR among pitchers, wins, complete games and shutouts. A lot of that is because he threw more than 1,200 more innings than anyone else. Before him in the rotation, though, I want the upside and we've got it for days with Pedro Martinez, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. That's one of the best top three of any team in his exercise.
Apologies to Dennis Martinez, Ken Hill, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann.
Jeff Reardon is the easy pick. If we had to take one from the Nationals years, I'd go with Sean Doolittle.
Baseball Stars uses six characters for each name. What follows is the Baseball Stars lineup.
- Tim R, LF
- Rendon, 3B
- Vlad, RF
- Dawson, CF
- Carter, C
- Zim, 1B
- Vidro, 2B
- Trea, SS
SP: Pedro, Max, Stras, Rogers
RP: Jeff R
Bench: We'll use a backup catcher this time. (Wilson) Ramos, Tim (Wallach), Bryce (Harper), Larry (Walker), Rusty (Staub)
- Trea, SS
- Rendon, 3B
- Soto, LF
- Bryce, CF
- Zim, 1B
- Murph, 2B
- Werth, RF
- Ramos, C
SP: Max, Stras, Gio, Zimm
Pretty strong all around, knowing the context behind the teams. As always, feel free to hit me up on Twitter with your own team (@MattSnyderCBS).