It’s hard to believe that the Washington Nationals have only been in existence since 2005.
In the 17-year rollercoaster ride since relocating from Montreal, the Nats have had seven NL East last-place finishes, four division titles, four heartbreaking NLDS losses, and one thrilling World Series championship to complete the journey.
Along the way, there has been a varied collection of All-Stars, aces, mashers, and future Hall of Famers. It was no small task to narrow this list of all-time greats down to seven, and many deserving players came up just short.
Here are the top seven players to suit up for the Nats since the team moved to D.C.
7. Juan Soto, OF
By the time his career is finished, there’s an excellent chance that Juan Soto will be number one on this list. But as of right now, the electric and freakishly talented outfielder is only in his fifth season with the team.
Soto already has a batting title and a World Series under his belt, and he is still just 23 years old. The Dominican slugger has never finished a season with an OPS lower than .923 and has quickly racked up 110 home runs and 335 RBIs in his short career.
The sky is the limit for this five-tool outfielder, and he is just starting to scratch the surface of his potential.
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6. Stephen Strasburg, SP
Where does the time go? It seems like just yesterday, the Stephen Strasburg hype train was plowing its way through Washington in anticipation of one of the most highly regarded first overall picks in recent memory.
The Nationals were in a bad place when they drafted Strasburg, and the weight of the world was on the young flamethrower to give the team the spark it needed. He didn’t disappoint.
Strasburg struck out 14 batters in his debut, which was not only a Nationals record at the time but was also the highest total in the MLB that year.
While the San Diego native has had his share of injury troubles through the years, he’s still put together an excellent career in Washington.
In his 13-year career with the Nats, Strasburg has a 113-61 record with a 3.24 ERA. He’s also struck out 1,723 batters in 1,470 innings.
5. Trea Turner, SS
The Nationals received a gift when the San Diego Padres traded them Trea Turner one year after they drafted him in the first round in 2014.
Turner actually started his career in Washington playing center field before transitioning back to his natural position of shortstop. The speed demon had a stellar career in Washington that included 192 stolen bases and 93 home runs in seven seasons.
Turner had a combination of speed, power, and defensive skill that helped the Nationals win their first World Series title in 2019.
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4. Anthony Rendon, 3B
The Nationals selected Anthony Rendon sixth overall in the 2011 draft with the hope of securing the power-hitting third baseman they’d been looking for.
Rendon got off to a bit of a slow start in his rookie season, hitting .265 with seven home runs and a pedestrian .725 OPS in 98 games. However, he took his game to the next level in his second season, boosting his OPS to .824 and smashing 21 dingers and 83 RBIs in 153 games.
Rendon’s steady climb to dominance culminated in the 2019 championship season when he was an All-Star, hitting .319 with 34 home runs and 126 RBIs to go with a flashy 1.010 OPS.
He also led the league in doubles for the second year in a row with 44. Rendon had a historic postseason and was instrumental in bringing home the hardware for the Nats.
3. Bryce Harper, OF
The Nationals snatched up Bryce Harper with the first overall pick in the 2010 MLB draft.
Two years later, he made his debut at 19 years old, won the National League Rookie of the Year award, and became the youngest position player to ever suit up for an All-Star game.
Harper had six great seasons in Washington, helping the Nationals reach the playoffs on four occasions. He had his best season as a National in 2015 when he won the NL MVP by a unanimous decision at the age of 22 – the youngest player in history to win the award.
Unfortunately for Harper, he skipped town the year before the Nats’ World Series championship. He finished his seven-year tenure in Washington, batting .279 with 184 home runs, 521 RBIs, and a .900 OPS.
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2. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B/1B
Ryan Zimmerman, AKA ‘Mr. National’ was Washington’s first draft pick after the relocation from Montreal.
The Nationals lifer came up with the team in its inaugural season in 2005 and played with them until 2021 when he retired.
He was rewarded for his loyalty in 2019 when the Nationals pulled off a storybook World Series championship in the twilight of his career.
The former third/first baseman was beloved by fans and was known for coming through in the clutch time and time again. Zimmerman finished his career with a .277 average, 284 home runs, 1,061 RBIs, and a .816 OPS.
1. Max Scherzer, SP
Mad Max did it all for the Nationals. Everything changed in Washington when Scherzer came to town in 2015 and gave the team the intensity and warrior-mentality that led them to a World Series championship just a few years later.
Two of Scherzer’s Cy Young Awards came as a National, as did two no-hitters, a 20-strikeout game, and six All-Star appearances.
Scherzer went 92-47 as a starter for the Nationals with a 2.80 ERA through seven seasons. He struck out 1,610 batters in 1,229 innings, including a 300-strikeout season in 2018.
The future Hall of Famer will be remembered in Washington long after he finally hangs up the cleats.
AP Photo/Nick Wass