With Zimmerman retired, who’s on the D.C. baseball Mt. Rushmore?


Ryan Zimmerman, a man who has become intertwined with America’s pastime in the nation’s capital, has officially retired. “Mr. National” will no longer appear on the diamond in Nats Park, and thus leaves behind a legacy that few, if any, can touch within the franchise.

But now that Zimmerman has officially hung up his cleats as a Nationals’ legend and indeed a legend of the game itself, who are the best players to ever play the game in Washington? From more recent stars like Juan Soto, Bryce Harper, and Stephen Strasburg to players who laced ‘em up over a century ago, the nation’s capital has fielded some of the most gifted baseball names in history.

If you were building a Mount Rushmore of D.C. baseball players, whose likeness would crack your list? Here is who we would choose:

Walter Johnson

The fact that Johnson retired nearly a century ago and still appears on this list is evidence as to how dominant he was in his day. Nicknamed “The Big Train,” Johnson spent his entire 21-year tenure in Washington with the Senators. His accolades speak for themselves.

Johnson was a starting righty on the mound in D.C. from 1907-27, bringing the Senators the city’s first World Series title in 1924, and went on to manage the squad for four years in the 1930s. He won the AL MVP twice, triple crown three times, and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936 as one of the game’s best pitchers — a compliment that still holds true to this day.


Even with all that said, there are even more statistics stemming from Johnson’s career that seem like folklore. He’s MLB’s all-time leader in shutouts (110) and second all-time in wins (417). Johnson also led the majors in strikeouts a whopping seven times, ERA four times, and WHIP three times. His 3,508 career strikeouts was a record that stood for over 50 years. Nobody touches his legacy in Washington.

Max Scherzer

Scherzer spent seven years in Washington, during which time he became arguably the most unhittable pitcher in baseball. He was the workhorse of the Nats’ rotation during their magical 2019 World Series run, and a huge reason why the squad was able to climb out of their 19-31 start that season.

Scherzer won two Cy Youngs, was named an All-Star six times, led the NL in strikeouts three times and wins twice, and tied the MLB record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game during his time in the nation’s capital. You could argue that he’s the greatest player to ever don a Nationals uniform.

Though ‘Mad Max’ has since transferred to the L.A. Dodgers and now the New York Mets, when he is enshrined in the Hall of Fame, it’ll likely be as a National. Seeing him take the mound at Nats Park — complete with his demon-esque expression and unmatchable intensity — was a treat for all those lucky enough to experience it.  

Ryan Zimmerman

Mr. National. Mr. Walk-Off. The first draft pick.

Ryan Zimmerman’s fairytale career in Washington came to end this week when he officially announced his retirement. The hardware he acquired in D.C. was paralleled by the profound impact he had on the city. Not only does he appear on the baseball Mt. Rushmore of the nation’s capital, but chances are he’s universally considered a top-four athlete in all of D.C. sports in the 21st century.

Zimmerman became the first ever draft pick the Nationals made as a franchise in 2005 and went on to become the squad’s all-time leader in games played (1,799), hits (1,846), home runs (284), RBIs (1,061) and runs scored (963). He took home a Gold Glove, two Silver Sluggers, two All-Star nods and hit the franchise’s first-ever home run in a World Series with this bomb in Houston:

Zimmerman has made his name synonymous with D.C. sports. A franchise icon, city leader and one of the players who Nats fans can thank for their World Series victory, Zim retires an all-time great of the sport. It’ll be a bit weird to not see his name on the Opening Day roster this year.

Frank Howard

The fourth and final face on the side of this mountain was the source of some debate. But in the end, it went to big slugger Frank Howard, and here’s why:

Howard was unquestionably the best player from the Senators’ second era, the one in which they would eventually become the Texas Rangers. A towering presence in the outfield, Howard topped 40 home runs and 100 RBIs in three straight seasons in Washington — extremely impressive considering the pitcher-friendly era in which he accomplished it. 


He earned four straight All-Star nods in D.C. and in 1969 set two city baseball records that still stand: 48 home runs and 340 total bases. Howard would lead the major leagues in home runs, slugging percentage, and total bases at one point or another during his tenure in Washington.

No, he never brought the Senators the World Series. But can you blame him? The team only had one winning season of the seven in which Howard spent in Washington. No single player can change a slump like that. Mike Trout on the Angels is a modern-day example. 

There is a very, very real chance (knock on wood) that Juan Soto could overtake Howard and snag the fourth ridge on the mountain by the time his career in D.C. ends. But for now, it’s Hondo’s spot. Aside from Soto, there are plenty of Washington baseball greats that all have a great argument for their spot on Rushmore. The likes of Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon also qualify for our “Just Missed” list.

Going wayyyy back, old Senators who also have an argument include Hall of Famers Sam Rice, Goose Goslin and Joe Cronin.

Josh Gibson might have the best argument of all of them, though, as the former Homestead Gray's catcher was a staple of D.C. baseball culture when the Grays split time between their home in Pittsburgh and Washington in the early 1940s. Playing in the Negro Leagues, Gibson was one of the finest players from that era and finally inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1972.