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Privity? Or fresh start?

One question that arises with the Washington Nationals' fanbase is whether the records, statistics, and achievements of the former Montreal Expos carry over now that the franchise has relocated to DC. The question is frequently debated, and I've seen both sides argued:

  • Yes, they carry over. It's the same franchise, only relocated. And, beyond that, you can't just let the Expos die like that.
  • No, they shouldn't carry over. This is Washington's team, not Montreal's. If anybody or anything from the past should be recognized---and it should---then we should be recognizing the past Washington teams.

I've seen the latter position argued more fervently, though part of that could be selection bias: I certainly interact with more people from the DC area than fans of the former Expos.

Regardless of what the policy should be, I wonder what the policy is. Reference websites like (the aptly-named) tend to commingle the statistics and records of the two teams, presumably because they represent one continuous franchise, and it's easier this way.

But what is the official policy? More to the point, does this notes column shed light on the answer to the question?

Here's the question: Who holds the team record for the most at-bats in a season? (See answer below)

And the answer is: Surprisingly, the franchise record doesn't go back far. The record was set last season when Brad Wilkerson went to the plate 565 times for the Nationals.

Notice the use of the phrase "team record." Is this a reference to a distinction between a "team record" (Washington) and a "franchise record" (Montreal/Washington)? Now read on:

Did you know? The franchise has a history of some pretty good sluggers, players like Rusty Staub, Larry Walker, Andre Dawson and Gary Carter, but did you know that Vladimir Guerrero holds the team record for highest slugging percentage for a career. Guerrero finished his career with the organization with a .588 slugging percentage.

So the "team"/"franchise" distinction apparently does not exist. And, if so, we're back to square one---while Wilkerson would hold the "Washington Nationals team record" for at-bats in a season (based on one season's worth of history), he would most certainly not hold the "franchise record" for at-bats in a season, much less the "team record" as defined in the Vlad Guerrero squib. One need only go back to 2004 to find not one (Tony Batista, 606 at-bats), but two (Wilkerson again, with 572), who topped Wilkerson's '05 at-bat total.

You tell me: Is there something I'm missing and/or not reconciling correctly here, or is this notes column merely wrong? I suppose it could be the former, certainly, but it also could be the latter; the writer of the column was not the regular beat writer and might not be as familar with the team (or franchise) as the man he was temporarily replacing.