June 22, 2021

The Washington Nationals Were Not Magical, Merely Awesome (FanGraphs)

The Nationals relied heavily on their stars to win the franchise’s first World Series title. (Photo: David)

“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell

If someone tells you the Washington Nationals had a storybook season, they’re wrong. The tale of the 2019 Nats is one of science, not magic, one in which they had a team led by superstars and were designed to roll over the opposition in the playoffs. Robbed by fate of the Bryce Harper Hollywood ending in 2018, the Nats moved on from their franchise player, and even at the lowest point of the season, they always projected to have an excellent chance of making the playoffs. Facing teams with better regular season records, Washington leveraged the club’s strengths to even the odds and grabbed the franchise’s first championship.

The Setup

It would feel odd to call 2010s Nationals a dynasty, but from 2012 to 2018, Washington had the second-best record in baseball behind only the Dodgers. For those Nationals, Harper was the cornerstone, the defining player of the team, the 19-year-old former No. 1 pick whose successes and failures…

Read “The Washington Nationals Were Not Magical, Merely Awesome” at FanGraphs