The Bottom Is Known By The Nationals And Their Fans. It’s Not This

On the final day of the 2008 season, Manny Acta’s Washington Nationals fielded a lineup that included Odalis Perez and Luke Montz as the battery. The double play pairing was Emilio Bonifacio and Anderson Hernandez. Ryan Langerhans cleaned up after Kory Casto. Ryan Zimmerman, the lone must-see piece of the team’s brighter but still distant future, was given the day off and was replaced at third base by Alberto Gonzalez.

That is a long way of saying it has been worse. Even worse. Dave Martinez’s ragtag Nationals hosted the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves on the night after they lost their 100th game for the third time since moving to Washington from Montreal 17 years ago.

They were defeated 8-2, their 14th defeat in 18 games against the Braves, with another chance to add to that total on Wednesday. “It’s difficult to accept the losing part of it,” Martinez said. It truly is.”

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Especially since it was previously not accepted here. These Nationals are likely to surpass the 2009 team, which lost 103 games in all shapes and sizes — including when the team issued two of its best players jerseys that read “Nationals.”

Back then, the pit had no bottom. Those Nats finished one game worse than the 2008 team, which went 59-102 despite not playing a 162nd game due to, well, who wanted to watch that?

So, with series remaining against the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, and New York Mets — all National League East rivals vying for postseason positioning — these Nats are almost certain to finish with the worst Washington baseball record since the Senators went 56-106 in 1963. Does anyone remember Claude Osteen and Don Lock? These Nationals have allowed the second-most runs in baseball, scored the fifth-fewest, and committed the third-fewest errors. Yes, it smells like 100+ losses. “I’ve had a lot of fun with this group because they’re into it,” Martinez said.

It’s difficult to put everything aside now, because this season has included the gut-punch trade of Juan Soto and the strange sensation that a World Series parade staged less than three years ago feels a decade behind schedule. There is work to be done, and the Lerner family’s ongoing investigation into selling the franchise — a process with an unknown endpoint — casts a shadow over the future.

However, the record does not always show where a franchise is in its development. Yes, 2019 seems so far away from here. But not as recently as 2008, when the world was at its lowest point.

Aaron Boone at first, Felipe Lopez at second, Cristian Guzman at short, and Zimmerman at third were the most frequently thrown out. Willie Harris, Lastings Milledge, and Austin Kearns were the most common outfielders.

And the rotation included Tim Redding, John Lannan, and Perez — who, you may recall, threw the opening pitch at Nationals Park — with Jason Bergman, Collin Balester, and Shawn Hill filling in the rest of the starts.

Sift through that group — both in real-time and with the wisdom of history — to find pieces that could have contributed to something that could have won. Zimmerman was becoming a veteran. Milledge, a once-coveted prospect, had reason to be optimistic. Lannan developed into a capable pitcher.

What comes after that? Hill was frequently injured. Balester was a first-round pick who never materialized. The present was dismal. Only a NASA-issued telescope could see into the future. As a result, by the end of the 2009 season, it was a small but noticeable step ahead of its predecessor.

For the first time, Zimmerman has been named an all-star. Shortstop Ian Desmond finished the season. Jordan Zimmermann debuted in the major leagues. In a trade with Seattle, Michael Morse arrived. Craig Stammen started the game and Tyler Clippard came out of the bullpen.

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And with the first pick in the draught, the club chose Stephen Strasburg. The team from 2009 lost one more game than the team from 2008. It was clearly in a better position. This brings us to this difficult, at times unsightly summer.

“Obviously, a lot has changed since I first came here,” said lefty Patrick Corbin, one of the characters who represent this deterioration. (Corbin had a 14-7 record with a 3.25 ERA in 202 innings pitched in the World Series in 2019.) Corbin in 2022: 6-18, 6.08 ERA, allowing the most hits and earned runs in the league.)

So, yes, a lot has changed, Patrick. But this isn’t the end. It felt that way both before and after the Soto trade when players with no past or future here — Maikel Franco, César Hernández, Alcides Escobar, Dee Strange-Gordon, Lucius Fox, and others — threw the ball around with alarming regularity.

But, as the season comes to a close, two things are certain: The Nationals are playing a more appealing brand of baseball than they were when the season began, and they are doing so with more players who could have a positive impact on their future. They’re nowhere near the 2010 team, which went 69-93 — a small step toward contention.

They’re better off in terms of the roster because that group was littered with veterans hanging on: Pudge Rodriguez, Adam Dunn, Adam Kennedy, and Josh Willingham. In CJ Abrams and Keibert Ruiz, the Nationals may have both the shortstop and catcher on a contender right now.

Luis Garcia’s future has been brightened by the arrival of Abrams, who has moved to second base. Josiah Gray has struggled, allowing the most home runs and walks in the league, but if he goes on to have a successful career as a starter, he won’t be the first to reflect on his rookie year.

Cade Cavalli and MacKenzie Gore will finish the year with white gloves, but they will pitch and develop at some point. Furthermore, it’s not difficult to see two or more of the team’s effective relievers — Kyle Finnegan, Hunter Harvey, Mason Thompson, and the injured Tanner Rainey — being useful in the future.

And that doesn’t even get into a farm system that has holes but also new life. “If you watch these guys play, you couldn’t tell me they thought they were out of it or that they had lost 100 games,” Martinez said. “They work hard every day and in every inning….”

“They want to make sure that when we get new players, we have something in place right now so that when players come in, they can say, ‘Hey, look, we’re here to freakin’ compete and win.'” That’s something I like about them because they talk about it. I hear them discussing it.”

Of course, it’s just talking. But, as the year comes to a close, it’s important to remember that it hasn’t been lost. The Nationals and their fans have experienced lost seasons. Baseball in Washington hit rock bottom when the Senators left twice, or during the dreadful summer of 2008. It wasn’t this year, despite how bad it has been.

On the final day of the 2008 season, Manny Acta’s Washington Nationals fielded a lineup that included Odalis Perez and Luke Montz as the battery. The double play pairing was Emilio Bonifacio and Anderson Hernandez. Ryan Langerhans cleaned up after Kory Casto. Ryan Zimmerman, the lone must-see piece of the team’s brighter but still distant future, was given the day off and was replaced at third base by Alberto Gonzalez.

That is a long way of saying it has been worse. Even worse. Dave Martinez’s ragtag Nationals hosted the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves on the night after they lost their 100th game for the third time since moving to Washington from Montreal 17 years ago.

They were defeated 8-2, their 14th defeat in 18 games against the Braves, with another chance to add to that total on Wednesday. “It’s difficult to accept the losing part of it,” Martinez said. It truly is.” Especially since it was previously not accepted here. These Nationals are likely to surpass the 2009 team, which lost 103 games in all shapes and sizes — including when the team issued two of its best players jerseys that read “Nationals.”

Back then, the pit had no bottom. Those Nats finished one game worse than the 2008 team, which went 59-102 despite not playing a 162nd game due to, well, who wanted to watch that? So, with a series remaining against the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, and New York Mets.

all National League East rivals vying for postseason positioning — these Nats are almost certain to finish with the worst Washington baseball record since the Senators went 56-106 in 1963. Does anyone remember Claude Osteen and Don Lock? These Nationals have allowed the second-most runs in baseball, scored the fifth-fewest, and committed the third-fewest errors. Yes, it smells like 100+ losses. “I’ve had a lot of fun with this group because they’re into it,” Martinez said.

It’s difficult to put everything aside now, because this season has included the gut-punch trade of Juan Soto and the strange sensation that a World Series parade staged less than three years ago feels a decade behind schedule. There is work to be done, and the Lerner family’s ongoing investigation into selling the franchise — a process with an unknown endpoint — casts a shadow over the future.

However, the record does not always show where a franchise is in its development. Yes, 2019 seems so far away from here. But not as recently as 2008, when the world was at its lowest point. Aaron Boone at first, Felipe Lopez at second, Cristian Guzman at short, and Zimmerman at third were the most frequently thrown out.

Willie Harris, Lastings Milledge, and Austin Kearns were the most common outfielders. And the rotation included Tim Redding, John Lannan, and Perez — who, you may recall, threw the opening pitch at Nationals Park — with Jason Bergman, Collin Balester, and Shawn Hill filling in the rest of the starts.

Sift through that group — both in real-time and with the wisdom of history — to find pieces that could have contributed to something that could have won. Zimmerman was becoming a veteran. Milledge, a once-coveted prospect, had reason to be optimistic. Lannan developed into a capable pitcher.

What comes after that? Hill was frequently injured. Balester was a first-round pick who never materialized. The present was dismal. Only a NASA-issued telescope could see into the future. As a result, by the end of the 2009 season, it was a small but noticeable step ahead of its predecessor.

For the first time, Zimmerman has been named an all-star. Shortstop Ian Desmond finished the season. Jordan Zimmermann debuted in the major leagues. In a trade with Seattle, Michael Morse arrived. Craig Stammen started the game and Tyler Clippard came out of the bullpen.

And with the first pick in the draught, the club chose Stephen Strasburg. The team from 2009 lost one more game than the team from 2008. It was clearly in a better position. The brings us to this difficult, at times unsightly summer.

“Obviously, a lot has changed since I first came here,” said lefty Patrick Corbin, one of the characters who represent this deterioration. (Corbin had a 14-7 record with a 3.25 ERA in 202 innings pitched in the World Series in 2019.) Corbin in 2022: 6-18, 6.08 ERA, allowing the most hits and earned runs in the league.)

So, yes, a lot has changed, Patrick. But this isn’t the end. It felt that way both before and after the Soto trade when players with no past or future here — Maikel Franco, César Hernández, Alcides Escobar, Dee Strange-Gordon, Lucius Fox, and others — threw the ball around with alarming regularity.

But, as the season comes to a close, two things are certain: The Nationals are playing a more appealing brand of baseball than they were when the season began, and they are doing so with more players who could have a positive impact on their future. They’re nowhere near the 2010 team, which went 69-93 — a small step toward contention.

They’re better off in terms of the roster because that group was littered with veterans hanging on: Pudge Rodriguez, Adam Dunn, Adam Kennedy, and Josh Willingham. In CJ Abrams and Keibert Ruiz, the Nationals may have both the shortstop and catcher on a contender right now.

You can also check 

Luis Garcia’s future has been brightened by the arrival of Abrams, who has moved to second base. Josiah Gray has struggled, allowing the most home runs and walks in the league, but if he goes on to have a successful career as a starter, he won’t be the first to reflect on his rookie year.

Cade Cavalli and MacKenzie Gore will finish the year with white gloves, but they will pitch and develop at some point. Furthermore, it’s not difficult to see two or more of the team’s effective relievers — Kyle Finnegan, Hunter Harvey, Mason Thompson, and the injured Tanner Rainey — being useful in the future.

And that doesn’t even get into a farm system that has holes but also new life. “If you watch these guys play, you couldn’t tell me they thought they were out of it or that they had lost 100 games,” Martinez said. “They work hard every day and in every inning….”

“They want to make sure that when we get new players, we have something in place right now so that when players come in, they can say, ‘Hey, look, we’re here to freakin’ compete and win.'” That’s something I like about them because they talk about it. I hear them discussing it.”

Of course, it’s just talking. But, as the year comes to a close, it’s important to remember that it hasn’t been lost. The Nationals and their fans have experienced lost seasons. Baseball in Washington hit rock bottom when the Senators left twice, or during the dreadful summer of 2008. It wasn’t this year, despite how bad it has been.