In spite of their success over the last five seasons, which includes three division titles and the second-most wins in the majors over that stretch, the Washington Nationals have not been able to win consecutive NL East crowns.
Dusty Baker told reporters this winter he wasn’t too concerned with history repeating itself in his second year in the nation’s capital.
Though the Nationals failed to defend their 2012 and 2014 division titles, for a variety of reasons, Baker said he, obviously, wasn’t in D.C. for either of those disappointments.
“That hasn’t happened to me too much, in my career,” Baker added.
Baker has led four different teams to the postseason in his 21 years on the bench, but the San Francisco Giants never made it in consecutive seasons during his tenure.
The 2004 Chicago Cubs failed to follow up on their run to the NLCS in 2003, in spite of the fact that the ‘04 Cubs (89 wins) won one more game than the ‘03 Cubbies (88).
The Reds made it to the postseason three times in Baker’s six seasons on the bench in Cincinnati, including in consecutive seasons in 2012-13, though they lost a Wild Card game in 2013.
“We’ve got a good team that won 95 games last year,” Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo told reporters in December.
“I think we’re a better team this year — that we’ll go into this season with than we did last year, so we feel that we’re a confident group with a good team and a deep roster, so we feel that we’re a confident group with a good team and a deep roster.
“And we feel that we’ll have a really successful season this year and our goal is to defend the National League East title, go into the playoffs and the ultimate goal is to always win the World Series.”
Neither Baker or Rizzo are taking anything for granted, of course.
In an MLB Network Radio interview earlier this month, Rizzo talked about the Nats’ NL East foes and the fight ahead as the Nationals try to take the next step in 2017.
Though they spent 179 days (or 152 of 162 game days) in first place last season, taking over sole possession of the top spot on May 29th and never giving it up, their divisional rivals have retooled with the goal of making sure the Nationals don’t repeat.
“It’s going to be a battle,” Rizzo said.
“The Mets are great. They’re healthy. They’ve got those guys [starters], they run a guy out there every day at you. They’ve got a good lineup. [Yoenis] Cespedes is one of the best players in the league. They’re better, just because they’re going to get healthy.
“The rest of the teams: I’ve always feared Miami. They’ve got a great young everyday lineup, as good as anybody’s in the league and the moves that Philly and Atlanta are making are going to make them better in the short-term and in the long-term.
“You’ve got to keep up with the Joneses and try to stay ahead of these guys and it’s tough.
“It’s tough to win on a consistent basis in this league and specifically in this division.”
Which of the Nationals’ NL East rivals do you consider the biggest threat in 2017 and why?
Whose offseason moves impressed you? Is it a two-team race between the Nats and Mets again?
Which of the Nationals’ NL East rivals do you consider the biggest threat in 2017?
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