Nationals

Nationals

The Washington Nationals were 19-31 on May 24.

They had lost the face of the franchise to a division rival for a $330 million contract, and could not get the bullpen to maintain a lead.

Baseball fans and media experts alike were counting down the days until manager Davey Martinez would be fired and superstars Max Scherzer and Anthony Rendon would be traded.

But something changed.

The Nationals got hot. Even better, they went a National-League-best 69-38 over the past two months, ultimately securing a spot in the 2019 MLB Postseason after a pair of Tuesday wins against Bryce Harper and the Phillies.

With the Nationals’ incredible midseason turnaround in mind, which Washington area sports teams have pulled off similar feats over the past 20 years?

2007-08 Capitals

Entering December 2007, the Washington Capitals were 8-16-2, good for last place in the entire NHL. By the time the All-Star Game rolled around, the Caps worked their way up to second in the Southeast Division but were still behind nine Eastern Conference teams.

A second-half push was the difference-maker, as the Capitals played their way into third place in the East, thanks to a division title that pushed them ahead of a few teams with more points. March was their best month, as the Capitals lost only four of the 14 games they played.

The Capitals fired coach Glen Hanlon on November 22, 2007, replacing him with Bruce Boudreau. Boudreau led the Caps to a 37–17–7 to finish the season and took home the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s top coach.

 

Superstar Alex Ovechkin led the way on the ice with a league-leading 65 goals and 112 points, earning him the Hart Memorial Trophy for the first time in his career.

The Capitals eventually fell in the first round of the playoffs in a gut-wrenching seven-game series against the Flyers, but their regular-season turnaround was nothing short of incredible.

2007 Redskins

The Washington Redskins’ 75th anniversary season featured highs and lows that extended past the football field. Through Week 9, the 2007 Redskins compiled a 5-3 record, which actually isn’t bad.

On November 27, 2007, star safety Sean Taylor passed away after being shot during an armed robbery attempt. Just days after his death, the Redskins lost against the Buffalo Bills, their fourth loss in a row. The Redskins entered Week 14 with a 5-7 record.

Then the incredible happened. The Redskins, led by veteran backup QB Todd Collins, managed to win their last four games, including victories against the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys, securing just their third trip to the NFL Playoffs since winning the Super Bowl in 1992.

2012 Redskins

The Redskins made another major turnaround in 2012 thanks in large part to rookie QB Robert Griffin III, resulting in their first playoff appearance since the 2007 season.

Entering their bye during Week 10, the Redskins were sitting at 3-6. From last place in the NFC East, the playoffs did not look likely.

Seven straight wins will change that, however, as the Redskins went on to win the division. A Week 13 victory over the Giants was the difference, as the Giants went 3-3 over the last seven weeks, finishing one game behind the Redskins. 

The Redskins were bounced from the playoffs at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks in what is infamously known as "The RG3 Game."

2014 Nationals/Orioles

The Nationals’ 2014 season mirrored that of the Baltimore Orioles, as both teams pulled off eerily similar turnarounds. 

At the end of May, both teams sat at 27-27 and in third place in their respective divisions. The Nats were 2.5 games out of first and the O’s 4.5 games behind.

By the All-Star Game, the Orioles worked their way to 52-42, while the Nationals found themselves at 51-42. A half-game difference.

Both teams ended the season with a win, both teams finished 96-66, both teams won their respective divisions, and both teams’ managers won Manager of the Year. It feels a little spooky.

Their parallel seasons did not continue into the postseason, however. The Nats lost to the eventual-champion San Francisco Giants in the NLDS, while the Kansas City Royals swept the Orioles in the ALCS. 

2016-17 Wizards

Entering December 2016, the Washington Wizards were just 6-11.

Over the course of the final calendar month, the Wizards worked their way from 13th in the East to seventh place with a 16-16 record.

 

Jan. 6 was the turning point, as the Wizards went on several win streaks to finish the regular season 49-33, fourth-best in the East. Guards John Wall and Bradley Beal averaged 23.1 points per game, with which Wall paired 10.7 assists per game.

The Wizards made it to the Conference Semifinals, but a measly 1-6 road playoff record tarnished their 7-0 home record with a Game 7 loss in Boston.

Many Celtics players arrived at the Verizon Center before Game 6 wearing all black, suggestive of the Wizards’ impending funeral. Wall, however, had different plans, as he hit a game-winning three-pointer with less than four seconds left.

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