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Nats-killers series #4: Matt Adams a former villain turned hero for Washington Nationals

Our Nats-killers list continues with Matt Adams at #4, a player who tormented the Nationals before signing with them in 2018 and 2019...

St. Louis Cardinals v Washington Nationals Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Last week, we kickstarted a new series 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, including the introduction and #5 in our list, you can find the links below. The introduction to the series 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.

Let’s continue our countdown with #4 on our list of Nats-killers: Matt Adams.

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

Technically, Adams is still active for now, having spent the first half of the 2021 season with the Colorado Rockies. No club picked him up after that though and it remains to be seen whether he’ll latch on elsewhere in 2022 once a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is agreed upon.

Before the Nationals signed him as a free agent ahead of the 2018 season, Adams has produced a sensational .382/.406/.798 slash line and 218 wRC+ against Washington in his career to that point with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Atlanta Braves.

With numbers like that against them, it’s no wonder the Nationals decided to sign him before the 2018 season. Despite a late-season trade back to the Cardinals, Adams re-joined the Nats ahead of the 2019 season and played a decent role en route to a World Series championship.

After bouncing around again for a few more seasons, Adams now has a slash line of .356/.385/.782 against the Nationals with 11 home runs and 30 RBIs, giving him a wRC+ of 208.

As with everyone else on this list, that’s streaks ahead of his .253/.303/.449 slash line and 100 wRC+ against every other team in the league, making him doubly as productive against the Nationals than he is when he plays any other major league team.

There isn’t much that Adams has done differently against the Nats in his career. Typically, he’s been a high-power, low-walk, high-strikeout guy, and that’s exactly what he did against the Nationals with a similar walk and strikeout rate, just to the extreme end and being able to launch more balls over the fence at a greater rate against them than anybody else.

Signature Moment

While Adams has launched more than his fair share of home runs against the Nationals in his career, his most notable comes from way back in 2014.

Washington Nationals v St. Louis Cardinals Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images

Having established himself as a solid part-time player and lethal pinch-hitter in 2013, Adams became the starter at first base with Allen Craig moving to right field to start the season.

That was the case with Adams at first base in mid-June for the second game of a three-game set between the visiting Nationals and Cardinals who were both tied for a playoff berth just over a third of the way through the season.

As the game reached the seventh-inning stretch, a pitching duel between Stephen Strasburg and Shelby Miller had emerged with the scores tied at 1-1 heading to the bottom of the seventh.

An 0-for-3 Adams led off that inning as the Nationals sent Strasburg back out to the mound to start the seventh at 86 pitches.

After working the count to 3-1, Adams clubbed a home run into the bullpen in right field to give the Cardinals a 2-1 lead. That was a lead that they extended to 4-1 later that inning and went on to win without the Nationals registering another hit the rest of the way.

Because teams didn’t tweet out highlights as much back in 2014, you’ll have to go to YouTube to find the home run if you want to re-live the pain again of Adams going deep off Strasburg.

Funnily enough, Adams actually hit a home run in each of the three games during that series in St. Louis and all three of them were go-ahead shots.

His Friday and Sunday homers were both in the bottom of the second and gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead, the former was the only run of that game. Fair to say that Adams enjoyed a pretty good series that weekend...

Next up...

Adams was a strong candidate on this list and given how he’s taken his power to another level against the Nationals, he almost made it inside the top three with his performances.

No. 3 on the list though has had similar success against Washington in his career but isn’t as accomplished a hitter as Adams, which is why he finds himself a spot above him. If you want a clue as to who’s next, this player somewhat surprisingly picked up a 10th place MVP vote in 2019, the only time he’s ever been voted for any of the major MLB awards...