The Mariners season is over, but ten other teams are headed to the postseason. There is no reason we shouldn’t get a little taste of that glory just because we are Mariners fans, so over the coming weeks, we will be inviting a writer from each playoff-bound team to make their most compelling case for the postseason hearts and minds of Mariners fans. So far we’ve had arguments for the Diamondbacks from AZ Snakepit writer Charlie Gebow; for the Twins from Brandon Warne, who writes about Minnesota sports for the Athletic; and for the Cubs, from BP’s Zack Moser. Today, members of the staff from Federal Baseball stop by to tell you why you should bandwagon the Nationals.
1. The short pitch: in a tweet, limerick, haiku, or other short form, tell us why we should bandwagon your team:
Patrick - Haiku (American style):
Imagine a parade down Pennsylvania Ave.
Bryce Harper for President
Will - Limerick:
Rooting for Bryce makes some cranky
We know it may make you angry
But root for him now
Before he finds the cash cow
And ends up being a Yankee
2. The longer pitch: Expand on the most compelling reasons to root for your team:
Patrick - Dusty Baker has never won a World Series. He’s not signed for next season. You’d like to see the Nationals win one for Dusty. Jayson Werth, at 38, is in the final season of the 7-year/$126M deal he signed with the Nationals before 2011, and he’s looking to bring a title back to the nation’s capital. Who doesn’t want to watch Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg go deep in the postseason, just to watch them pitch. Trea Turner is going to be your new favorite player by the time the Nationals beat the Cubs, if they are able to. GM Mike Rizzo tried to sign an elite closer this winter, didn’t get one, had his bullpen implode, and had to go out and fix it... and he did. Adding Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, and Brandon Kintzler in July/August was huge. There is a lot to like about the Nationals; plus, the nation’s capital hasn’t seen a World Series since 1933, and they haven’t won one since 1924. To paraphrase Scott Pilgrim, “There are reasons for you to cheer for the Nationals.”
3. Help us fake it: What's a cool stat we can casually drop to make it seem like we've been following this team all along?:
Will/Patrick - Anthony Rendon has quietly enjoyed one of the best seasons in the NL, and entering play on Sunday, he was at 6.9 fWAR, behind only Giancarlo Stanton (7.0) among NL players, and Stanton just passed Rendon in the last week or so.
4. Our new favorite player: Which under-the-radar player has a particularly cool backstory, social media presence, or is just generally awesome and worthy of our love and admiration?:
Ryan - When it comes to under-the-radar players on the Nationals, the player that jumps to my mind is obviously Anthony Rendon. The third baseman is one of the top third basemen in MLB offensively and defensively, yet he has never made an All-Star appearance.
Rendon has posted a .301 AVG with 25 home runs and 100 RBIs. Rendon is ranked 4th in the majors in fWAR (6.9). He’s played a major role in the Nationals winning their fourth division title and becoming one of the best offenses in the league.
Another player I would highlight is outfielder Michael A. Taylor. When Adam Eaton went down for the season with a torn ACL and Jayson Werth spent time on the disabled list, Taylor really stepped up to be a solid player in the Nationals’ lineup. He has compiled a .272 batting average, 17 home runs and 51 RBIs. Taylor has flashed his defensive ability as he has a .988 fielding percentage, which is 10th in the National League. He also has tallied eight assists in the outfield.
To see Taylor have a season like this compared to the last two years where he was batting below .231 has been truly amazing.
5. Mariners fans love an underdog. What's your team's underdog quotient?
Matt - When you think of the Nats’ playoff history, the first things that pop into your head are probably their three NLDS losses in as many tries since the team moved to D.C. in 2005. The thing is, the Nats aren’t the only team in the District that’s struggled in the postseason. It’s been 26 years since a D.C. sports team from MLB, NFL, NBA or the NHL won a championship.
That’s the longest standing drought among cities with at least one team in all major sports. The last time a baseball team from our nation’s capital won a World Series? That would be 1924, when the Washington Senators beat the New York Giants in seven behind two complete games by Walter Johnson. It’s not as long as the Cubs’ title drought of yesteryear, but D.C. fans are due for a World Series.
6. The happiness quotient: What are the chances your team can go all the way?
Matt - The Dodgers and Indians might have the deeper teams, but nobody can boast star power quite like the Nationals. In the rotation, you’ve got reigning Cy Young winner Max Scherzer and former No. 1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg. The lineup is powered by former NL MVP Bryce Harper, the guy who finished second for the award last year in Daniel Murphy and how-do-you-not-know-who-this-guy-is Anthony Rendon. Closer Sean Doolittle has a 0.72 ERA since July 30.
Injuries have plagued the Nats all season, depriving them of what could’ve been a 100-win campaign. Washington hadn’t played a game this season with its full roster intact until Tuesday, when Harper was activated off the disabled list. Now that their rotation has four playoff-caliber starters, a deep lineup, revamped bullpen and veteran bench, the Nats aren’t a team to sleep on this October.