It’s time for the final installment of our Nats-killers series and we look at the player who has dominated the Washington Nationals the most out of those we looked at for this list.
To catch up on the series so far, including the introduction and the first three players 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.
Without further ado, let’s finish off the countdown with the #1 Nats-killer: Brad Miller.
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.
A lot of names first come to mind when people think Nats-killers, such as Freddie Freeman, Miguel Rojas, and Andrew McCutchen.
However, when you look at the actual statistics behind it, Miller is by far the best Nats-killer who is still active in the league.
In 32 games against the Nationals, Miller has posted an utterly astounding .362/.476/.754 with seven home runs, 18 RBIs, and an unbelievable wRC+ of 219 across 84 plate appearances.
Maybe this ancient Lookout Landing tweet was just missing “...against the Nationals.”
Mariners. Stop the charade. Brad Miller isn't just the starting shortstop, he could be a future superstar. Not star. Super. Star.— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) March 19, 2014
For perspective, the last person to post a wRC+ above 219 in a season was Barry Bonds in 2004 when he had a wRC+ of 233. In his small sample size against the Nats, Miller has hit like prime Barry Bonds. Let that sink in for a minute.
Since the Nats moved to D.C. in 2005, only two players with at least 50 plate appearances have a higher wRC+ against them than Miller: Carl Crawford (233) and Jim Edmonds (229). That’s it.
Against every other team in his career, Miller slashes just .236/.313/.417 and has a wRC+ of 100, meaning that he has been a league-average hitter when not facing the Nationals.
One of the biggest differences is that, for one reason or another, Miller’s plate discipline has been much better against the Nationals.
Facing Washington, Miller has an impressive 17.9% walk rate compared to his 9.8% walk rate against everyone else.
All in all, it’s still a relatively small sample size. But in that sample, Miller has been dominant.
I’ll be completely honest, Miller’s signature moment was actually the inspiration for the whole Nats-killers series, but I didn’t even know it would be at the time it happened.
On July 29th, 2021, following a COVID postponement the night before, the Nationals were set to face the Philadelphia Phillies in a doubleheader of seven-inning games to close out a four-game series that left the visitors teetering on the brink of a trade deadline sell-off.
Following a win in the first game behind Max Scherzer, in what ended up being his final start as a National, Washington raced out to a 7-0 lead after the top of the third inning.
The Phillies though kept chipping away before tying the game off of Wander Suero and Tanner Rainey in the seventh inning to take the game to extras. Yet despite loading the bases with one out in the first extra inning, the Nationals could only push across one run.
The Nats sent Sam Clay out to try and close the game in the bottom half of the inning.
Instead, he loaded the bases, including a walk to pinch-hitting pitcher Aaron Nola. Step up, Brad Miller, who sent the home crowd home happy with a walk-off grand slam...
Just a few hours after Miller’s home run, the Nationals dismantled their roster, trading away the likes of Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber, and others, and they started their “retooling” process for the final two months of the season.
It wasn’t Miller’s home run that made the front office decide to sell at the deadline, that decision was made a few days beforehand. What the walk-off grand slam ended up being was a loud and abrupt closing of a long competitive window for the Nationals.
After winning three of four in this series in dramatic fashion, the Phillies bought at the trade deadline but wound up falling away as the season went on and missed the postseason.
That wraps up our short Nats-killers series, just as Spring Training gets underway.
Mission accomplished for trying to find content in a dry spell while we all waited for the CBA.
How did we do? Did we get the list right? Was there anyone that we should’ve put into the top 5 who we didn’t? Or should we have had slightly different criteria perhaps? Let us know in the comments...