The Washington Nationals embarked on the 2010 season fresh off back-to-back, 100-loss campaigns. They’d only lose 93 that year, but the play on the field still wasn’t all that improved.
But there was hope. The Nationals drafted can’t-miss phenoms with back-to-back No. 1 overall picks, signing Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper with hopes of building a dynasty from the depths of the NL East.
Strasburg debut during that 2010 season, striking out 14 batters in his debut to give fans a glimpse at what was to come for the right-hander. Harper joined him two years later, bursting onto the scene and winning NL Rookie of the Year in 2012.
Washington rose to contention that year as well, making the playoffs for the first time since moving to D.C. in 2005. But their fate that October would prove to be the beginning of a pattern for the Nationals. 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017 all ended the same way: a loss in the NLDS.
Stars like Harper, Ian Desmond, Wilson Ramos, Jordan Zimmermann, Jayson Werth and Gio Gonzalez all spent significant chunks of their career in Washington, only to experience bitter disappointment in October. Their tenures in D.C. weren’t failures by any means, but all experienced dominant years with the Nationals before seeing the team fall short of the ultimate goal.
When the Nationals got off to a 19-31 start to their 2019 season, it looked like the decade would be remembered in Washington as one of failed expectations. But that all changed when the team danced, chomped, pitched and slugged its way to its first World Series title in franchise history.
Those previous postseason letdowns made the thrill of victory that much sweeter for Nationals fans. It thrust Washington into contention for one of the best teams of the decade, given their number of regular-season wins was already among the most in the sport.
For a look at the biggest moments of the decade for the Nationals, take a look at a ranking of the 10 best here.
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DC’S ALL-DECADE TEAMS: