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Nats-killers series #5: Anthony Santander rakes against the Washington Nationals in a small sample size

First up in our series looking at the best active hitters against the Nationals is Orioles outfielder, Anthony Santander...

Baltimore Orioles v Washington Nationals Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

At the end of last week, we introduced a new series here at FBB where we’re going to be looking at the Top 5 active Nats-killers, the players who continue to torment the Washington Nationals at every opportunity on the field.

If you want to catch up on the series so far, admittedly, it’s just the introduction right now, check out the link below for an introduction to the series. This will give you the criteria we’re looking for in the Nats-killers and some of the near-misses who won’t be on the list.

Now you’re all caught up, let’s get our countdown started with #5: Anthony Santander.

In this series, we’re going to take a look at their numbers against the Nationals and then revisit their “signature” moment against the team where they truly changed the game.

The Numbers

Santander has only been in the big leagues for five seasons yet has managed a solid 56 plate appearances in 13 games despite not sharing a division with the Nationals thanks to the Baltimore Orioles and Nats playing in interleague play every season.

In those 13 games though, he’s made his mark with five home runs, 15 RBIs, and a powerful .365/.393/.750 slash line against Washington.

That’s leaps and bounds above his career .248/.290/.454 slash line, particularly in the power department, which is emphasized when you notice that the Nationals account for less than 5% of his games as a big leaguer, but he has 5 of his 50 career home runs against them.

As one of the key criteria in this list, Santander has an exceptional 198 wRC+ against the Nats.

To put that into some perspective, while that figure is the lowest in the top five of this list — the rest of the list are all above the 200 mark — a 198 wRC+ is one better than Bryce Harper’s 197 wRC+ from his MVP season in 2015.

So every time Santander has stepped to the plate so far against the Nationals, it’s been like facing the equivalent of the best offensive season since the franchise moved to the nation’s capital.

Against everyone else in his career, Santander has just an 89 wRC+, a decent way below the league-average wRC+ of 100.

The difference between his career wRC+ of 94 versus the 198 wRC+ against the Nationals is 104 and bettered by just two other players on this list, so for one reason or another, Santander has managed to step it up against the Nats more so than the rest of the league.

Signature Moment

Santander doesn’t have as many plate appearances as others on this list, yet even in the limited playing time, he’s still had a couple of impactful moments in games against the Nats.

During the shortened 2020 season, he had a pair of big hits. One was a game-tying home run off of Max Scherzer in Baltimore, the other was a huge go-ahead three-run home run off of Daniel Hudson at Nationals Park in early August.

Coming into the top of the 8th, the O’s trailed 3-0 as a struggling Sean Doolittle entered the game. However, the left-handed could only record one out between two solo home runs which cut the deficit to one and forced the Nats to bring in Hudson to steady the ship.

Hudson didn’t fare much better though as he walked Austin Hays and then allowed a single to Hanser Alberto which allowed Santander to come to the plate in a huge spot...

That home run gave the Orioles a 5-3 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish as they sent the defending-champion Nationals to 4-7 in the young season.

To make matters worse, the Orioles completed a three-game sweep at Nats Park the next day.

While the game itself likely wasn’t the biggest that will appear on this list in terms of a signature moment that had ramifications on the Nats and their playoff hopes, within the game itself, it was a huge blow and kept up Santander’s strong pace against the Nationals.

Next up...

The main thing that held Santander back in this list was his lack of sample size, otherwise, he would’ve been much higher.

No. 4 on the list has nearly double the number of plate appearances as Santander, and if you need a bit more of a clue, he was actually awarded a 2019 World Series ring with the Nationals too...