It’s been a whirlwind of a decade for baseball in the nation’s capital, starting with a 69-93 season in 2010 and ending with a dramatic World Series title. The Nats went from the butt of many jokes to one of the most consistently good teams in all of baseball.
To mark the best decade in franchise history, we asked readers to vote for our Washington Nationals’ All-Decade Team, commemorating the best to don the curly-W in the 2010s.
In total, we received 1246 votes, but 51 votes were removed for having players in multiple positions, making them invalid according to the rules that we set out before the vote.
Let’s get this started with the player to don the tools of ignorance for our All-Decade Team...
Catcher: Wilson Ramos (89.0%)
2nd: Kurt Suzuki (7.3%)
3rd: Ivan Rodriguez (2.9%)
Behind the plate was a position that looked to be an pretty easy call for the voters. It ended up that way as Wilson Ramos cruised home with an overwhelming 89 percent of the vote.
The Buffalo, as he was affectionately known during his time in D.C., not only had the volume but also had the great performance to back his comfortable spot on our All-Decade team.
Ramos’s 2276 plate appearances were more than three times as many as the next nearest Nats’ catcher this decade. He also sported an impressive .268/.313/.430 slash line with 83 home runs and 320 RBIs, as well as 99 wRC+, the best figure of any backstop in the 2010s.
Pretty good return from the Minnesota Twins for a season and a half of Matt Capps, huh?
Kurt Suzuki came in second, perhaps in large part due to some of his clutch heroics in his second go-around with the Nationals. Finally, though he was well past his prime when he joined the Nats, Hall of Famer, Ivan Rodriguez, rounds out the top three.
My Pick: Wilson Ramos
As I mentioned in the first paragraph above, this one was almost a slam dunk. Ramos was an incredibly productive catcher in his seven seasons in D.C. and fully deserves this honor.
First base: Ryan Zimmerman (86.5%)
2nd: Adam LaRoche (8.8%)
3rd: Adam Dunn (1.8%)
There was no doubt that Ryan Zimmerman had to be in the Nationals’ All-Decade team. He played the most games for the Nationals of anyone this decade, placed sixth in fWAR and third among position players, all while smashing a few franchise records along the way.
The credentials for his placement here are obvious. However, it was just a matter of where he would fit in on the diamond that could’ve easily caused some split among the voting.
In the 2010s, the face of the franchise started 444 games and played 3907.2 innings at first. On the other hand, he started 542 games at third base while playing 4766.1 innings there.
At one point, we considered restricting players to the position that they ended up playing the most this decade. That would’ve caused an excruciating choice at third between Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon, but aren’t you glad we gave some flexibility now?
Overall, Zimmerman appeared on 91.6 percent of votes, the second-most among position players behind Rendon, funnily enough. Given the format, there was never a doubt he’d be here.
Had we restricted, Adam LaRoche likely would’ve come out on top at first base for his four years with the Nationals, including a sensational 2012 in which he placed sixth in NL MVP voting. Adam Dunn just pipped Howie Kendrick and Michael Morse for third.
My Pick: Ryan Zimmerman
Just another set of quick words here given the almost undeniable case for Zimmerman. First base felt like the obvious place for him so we could fit the next player in at second base...
Second base: Daniel Murphy (73.8%)
2nd: Howie Kendrick (12.7%)
3rd: Danny Espinosa (8.5%)
The next couple of selections seemed likely to cause some intrigue, but in the end, they weren’t all that close. At second base, it was Daniel Murphy who came out on top comfortably.
Following a torrid postseason with the division rival New York Mets, teams were clearly skeptical about whether that success was sustainable. Even the Nats were, as they pursued several other keystone options before inking Murphy to a three-year deal in January of 2016.
Though he wasn’t the first choice, he certainly lived up to the hype, sporting a sensational .329/.380/.550 slash line with 54 home runs and 226 RBIs in his two and a half seasons with the Nationals. He even had a second-place finish in the NL MVP voting in his first season.
Yes, his defense was average at best with the Nats, but his excellent bat made up for it.
The only thing that slowed him down during his time in the nation’s capital was the right knee surgery he had before the 2018 campaign, delaying the start of his season. It took him a little while to get going that year and he was ultimately dealt to the Chicago Cubs.
While it’s the right decision for Howie Kendrick to be second behind Murphy, it’s tough after his huge contributions to the team’s World Series title. Though Danny Espinosa played the most at the keystone this decade and fielded well, his bat let him down and keeps him third.
My Pick: Daniel Murphy
Once again, my selection matches what the majority of the voters and it wasn’t particularly close for me as Murphy was an MVP-caliber player in his first two seasons with the Nats.
Even though Howie Kendrick’s postseason performance and clutch hits will go down in franchise lore forever, overall, Murphy was far better in a far larger sample size.
Shortstop: Trea Turner (78.2%)
2nd: Ian Desmond (21.5%)
3rd: Danny Espinosa (0.3%)
While it’s hardly a shock that Trea Turner came out on top at shortstop, it is a little bit of a surprise that he was able to come out on top with more than three-quarters of the vote.
That shouldn’t be considered a knock on Turner though, who has been fantastic since he stuck on the major league roster for good late in the 2016 season. His performance this decade has given him a .291/.348/.467 slash line with 63 home runs, 159 RBIs, and 332 runs.
But the trait he’s most known for is the stolen base. Turner leads all Nationals in the 2010s with 159 stolen bases to his name. He also has the three highest single-season stolen base years this decade, with his 2017 (46), 2018 (43), and 2019 (35) seasons coming on top.
Turner’s best years might still be ahead of him in a Nats jersey, but in his four seasons with the club, he’s established himself as a potential franchise cornerstone at shortstop.
If there was a bench for this team, you have to think that Ian Desmond would be one of the first names on the list as a stalwart on the team as it transitioned into perennial contenders. Danny Espinosa rounds out the top three even though this was really a two-horse race.
My Pick: Ian Desmond
There was only one decision on the vote where I was more torn than this one. Even though Turner was a big part of the World Series-winning side, Desmond helped lay the foundation for this franchise to establish itself and has slightly more volume than Turner here.
Desmond’s .263/.312/.420 slash line may be worse than Turner’s but, personally, I thought Desmond’s legacy as a key figure in turning the team around was already established, while Turner’s is still coming into view. This was a tough call though
Third base: Anthony Rendon (94.6%)
2nd: Ryan Zimmerman (5.1%)
3rd: Yunel Escobar (0.3%)
Well, here’s your top vote-getter among position players in the recently-departed Anthony Rendon. Is it still too soon to start talking about him without feeling sad?
Anyway, since his debut in 2013, Rendon gradually grew into one of the best players in baseball during his time with the Nationals. In his final season, not only did he get to hoist the Commissioner's Trophy, he finished third in National League MVP voting too.
All told, Rendon slashed .290/.369/.490 with the Nats while thumping 136 home runs and driving in 546 runs. He somehow exceeded the lofty expectations that were on his shoulders all the way through the draft and the minor leagues with top-tier production for the Nationals.
Though he saw plenty of time at second base after coming up at the keystone and making a temporary move there when Yunel Escobar occupied the hot corner, he was a natural at third base and you could argue that it was criminal he didn’t get a Gold Glove this decade.
Ryan Zimmerman popped up on a few votes at third base as people got creative with their selections despite first base seeming like the best option. The only other eligible third baseman on the vote was Yunel Escobar who picked up a whopping three votes.
My Pick: Anthony Rendon
Much like other earlier picks of mine, I don’t think there’s any need to explain this pick. Rendon was the consensus choice, as shown by him topping the vote among hitters.
Left field: Juan Soto (70.2%)
2nd: Jayson Werth (23.7%)
3rd: Bryce Harper (3.8%)
Now things get interesting in the outfield with several worthy contenders for three spots. Somewhat surprisingly, Juan Soto was the most comfortable outfielder, despite having just less than two seasons worth of big-league time on his resume.
That being said, those two seasons have been nothing short of historic when you consider his age. At 19 and 20, Soto has slashed .287/.403/.535 in the regular season with 56 home runs and 180 RBIs, showcasing plate discipline way beyond his years.
Soto was also incredible in the 2019 postseason. First off, he saved the season in the Wild Card Game with his RBI-single, before posting a 1.178 OPS in the Fall Classic victory with three longs balls and the crucial walk that led to Howie Kendrick’s Game 7 go-ahead homer.
If we were creating odds for who is most likely to be in the All-Decade team for the 2020s, Soto would almost certainly be the shortest odds to do so given his age and production.
Second out in left was Jayson Werth, who shifted there towards the end of his Nationals tenure. We’ll hear more about him later on in this team, but Bryce Harper popped in at third in left field, just beating out Michael Morse.
My Pick: Jayson Werth
If Soto had a season or two more with the Nationals this decade on the back of his baseball card, then he would’ve been the easy choice. But in this case, I went with Werth for all he did both on the field and off it, playing a key part in reinvigorating the franchise.
For me, this was easily the toughest choice that I had to make during the course of the vote.
Center field: Denard Span (41.0%)
2nd: Bryce Harper (33.1%)
3rd: Victor Robles (12.7%)
The last two outfield spots were the closest races on the vote. Just coming out on top in center field was Denard Span, who is perhaps one of the more underrated Nats this decade.
After being acquired from the Minnesota Twins, Span was a constant for the team in the leadoff spot between 2013 and 2015. In that time, he slashed a solid .292/.345/.404 with 62 steals and 207 runs in 361 games while playing near-Gold Glove defense.
Span was even able to secure a few MVP votes in 2014 when he led the National League in hits.
On a team that was still maturing together, having Span’s steady veteran presence at the top of the order and patrolling center field was invaluable to the Nats in his three seasons.
Bryce Harper was pretty well spread-out across all three outfield positions, but this was the spot to put him if voters wanted Juan Soto, Bryce Harper, and Jayson Werth all in the same team. Victor Robles rounds out the top three despite only just completing his rookie year. I guess a World Series title has given players on the 2019 team a nice bump in the voting.
My Pick: Denard Span
As you can see, a lot of people went for Harper in center so they could squeeze in Harper, Werth, and Soto, but I went against that and wanted to stay pretty close to position.
With that in mind, I went with Span in center given his stellar defense there, putting Werth in left, even if it was his late-career position and you can guess who ends up in right field.
Right field: Bryce Harper (43.4%)
2nd: Jayson Werth (38.9%)
3rd: Adam Eaton (12.6%)
The closest race of all, perhaps due to the top two having multi-position eligibility, was in right field between two Nationals stalwarts. In the end, Bryce Harper pipped it by 54 votes.
Even though plenty of fans have soured on Harper recently given his current status as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, he was always bound to be been a lock to make the All-Decade team, it was just a matter of which position he would end up in.
Harper was fourth in fWAR among all Nats players this decade as he slashed .279/.388/.512 for the team to go with 184 home runs and 521 RBIs. Included in that is his historic 2015 MVP season where he sported an unreal 1.109 OPS with 42 homers.
While many of his seasons failed to live up to that peak MVP-year, he was still a potent offensive force throughout his tenure and his spot on the All-Decade team is well-deserved.
Jayson Werth gets another second-place finish as he has a claim as possibly the biggest snub on this team. Then Adam Eaton, the man who replaced Harper as the full-time right fielder in the nation’s capital comes in third sporting his shiny new World Series ring.
My Pick: Bryce Harper
This was perhaps easier for me than it was for other voters who are a bit more leery of Harper now he wears a P on his hat, however, it was a slam dunk for me.
As was touched on in center field, it was just a matter of whether to have him in center or right. I went with right to keep things truer to player’s actual positions with the team, but won’t begrudge anyone for putting him in center to get both him and Werth in.
Starter 1: Stephen Strasburg (99.7%)
Starter 2: Max Scherzer (99.7%)
Starter 3: Jordan Zimmermann (50.2%)
4th: Gio Gonzalez (34.9%)
5th: Patrick Corbin (9.2%)
6th: Liván Hernández (3.3%)
There wasn’t too much doubt about the top two starting pitchers this decade for the Nationals as Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer were almost unanimous. However, in a relatively close race for third, Jordan Zimmermann nipped in to claim the last spot.
Strasburg, the top vote-getter with 1192 of the 1195 eligible votes, went from phenom with an electric debut to NL Cy Young candidate to World Series MVP all within the 2010s.
Pitching all 10 seasons this decade, Strasburg went 112-58 with a 3.17 ERA, 1.086 WHIP, and 10.6 K/9, helping him secure three top-10 Cy Young finishes. And now that he’s signed his new seven-year deal, he’s almost certain to be a National for life.
Finishing just one vote behind Strasburg was Scherzer. The right-hander was actually better than his fellow ace since joining the Nats, just that it was only for five years rather than 10.
Signing for the Nationals on a seven-year, $210 million deal, Scherzer turned into one of the best free agent signings of all-time. In his five seasons in D.C., he’s gone 79-39 with a pristine 2.74 ERA and a 156 ERA+ to go with two Cy Young awards and two no-hitters.
At one point, it looked as though Zimmermann was destined to be the ace of the future for the Nats. Though that didn’t play out he still had a terrific tenure in the nation’s capital.
Zimmermann departed the Nats with a 70-50 record as well as a 3.32 ERA, 1.159 WHIP, and a 118 ERA+. He also boasts two of the best pitching performances since the team moved to Washington with his dramatic no-no and near shutout in the 2014 postseason.
Gio Gonzalez was the team’s ace for a period of time but faded a bit towards the end. Despite just one year with the team, Patrick Corbin’s contributions to the World Series run earned him third. Finally, Liván Hernández finished a comfortable 6th over Tanner Roark.
My Picks: Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez
Again, Strasburg and Scherzer were surefire locks for my vote after all they’ve done, but for third, I went with Gonzalez over Zimmermann. Though it is by the very thinnest of margins.
His rate stats were slightly behind Zimmermann, but because Gonzalez only went on the Disabled List in one season (2014), he racked up enough volume to more than make up for the slightly worse rate stats in my book, so I’ve given him the nod here.
Reliever 1: Sean Doolittle (92.8%)
Reliever 2: Tyler Clippard (81.4%)
Reliever 3: Drew Storen (54.5%)
4th: Daniel Hudson (32.0%)
5th: Craig Stammen (16.1%)
6th: Rafael Soriano (7.2%)
The relief corps had a similar situation with the top two in Sean Doolittle and Tyler Clippard seemingly locks, though not as much as Scherzer and Strasburg, while the last spot was between two. It ended with Drew Storen winning the third spot comfortably.
Doolittle has been nothing short of incredible both on and off the field since he was acquired during the 2017 season from the Oakland Athletics along with Ryan Madson.
After being thrust into the closer’s role not long after arriving, the lefty has gone on to hold a 2.87 ERA and 3.13 FIP while converting 75 of his 83 save opportunities. And despite being demoted from the closer’s role late in 2019, he finished strong en route to the World Series win.
Overlooked by some because he only really had one extended run as the team’s closer, Clippard has a pretty strong case that he was the best Nationals’ reliever this decade.
The spectacled one posted a strong 2.63 ERA and 10.41 K/9 in 371 relief appearances, leading all Nats relievers in fWAR this decade with a 6.0 mark. Clippard also made two All-Star teams during his time in Washington, making him another easy choice here.
Yes, Storen’s name still leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of Nats fans after his infamous postseason meltdowns, but his whole resume was clearly worthy of the All-Decade team.
In his six seasons with the Nats, Storen posted a 3.02 ERA and 129 ERA+, converting 95 of his 116 save opportunities. Those 95 saves put him second behind only Chad Cordero since the team became the Nationals in 2005. He’s more than worthy of a spot on this team.
Daniel Hudson was only a National for three months, but becoming a dominant force out of the bullpen and recording the final outs of the Wild Card Game, NLCS, and World Series has him etched in D.C. baseball lore forever. The ever-reliable innings-eater Craig Stammen and the often mercurial closer Rafael Soriano come in at 5th and 6th in the relief vote.
My Picks: Sean Doolittle, Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen
Not too much to disagree on here as these three clearly had the best combination of effectiveness and volume to be the top three. I probably would’ve had Stammen fourth over Hudson though if we extended the vote that far as an often unsung hero out of the bullpen.
Manager: Davey Martinez (71.3%)
2nd: Dusty Baker (19.8%)
3rd: Davey Johnson (8.5%)
How times change. Imagine if this vote took place back when the Nationals were 19-31 in late-May this past season, Davey Martinez probably wouldn’t have made the top three, but now he cruises home by a margin of over 50%.
Up until May 24th, Martinez had endured a pretty dismal managerial career, underachieving with a strong team in 2018, before slumping to the fourth-worst record in baseball early in 2019.
Regardless of his dreadful start as a skipper, he stayed positive despite many thinking he was as good as gone. He preached “go 1-0 every day” and his attitude was clearly infectious as the team bought in and became one of the best teams in baseball from that point.
But it was in the playoffs where he truly shone. Dealing with a sub-standard bullpen, he got his starters to buy into frequent relief appearances and he also constantly kept the faith in his pitchers, perhaps giving them a longer leash than others would have, to great effect.
Oh, and there’s just the small matter of that World Series ring on his finger. This was a lock.
Dusty Baker, the man who many fans pined for while Martinez struggled, comes in at second after winning the NL East in back-to-back years in his only two seasons as manager. Davey Johnson rounds out the top three after bringing the Nats into baseball relevance.
My Pick: Dave Martinez
As much as I do still think that Martinez has some improvement to make with regards to his in-game decisions, his demeanor, and 1-0 mentality were some of the key catalysts to the team’s miraculous World Series run last season.
He fully deserves to be the manager on our All-Decade team and this means that the Nats finally have a manager for more than two seasons again. Woohoo!