Washington Nationals route to first World Series

Back in May if you had told me that the Washington Nationals would be playing for the World Series, I would have thought you were crazy. On May 24, the Nats had a 19-31 record and were far from playoff contention. The Nats had just missed the playoffs the year prior and superstar outfielder Bryce Harper had signed with the rival Philadelphia Phillies in the offseason.Trade rumors surrounded players like pitcher Max Scherzer and third baseman Anthony Rendon. Not to mention manager Dave Martinez seemed to be on the hot seat, with many fans calling for his firing. The Nats were in crisis mode. The team that had been one of the top National League teams for the last decade seemed to be faltering. But then with their backs against the wall and only a 0.1% chance of winning the NL, the Nats turned their season around. From that point on, the Nats were the best team in baseball, closing out the regular season with a 74-38 record and going 8-2 in the postseason to reach the World Series for the first time in franchise history.. Now it’s time to backtrack to see how they got here.

“Gerrardo Parra played a key part in the Nats turnaround. His stats don’t look like he was an x-factor but his presence brought life back to the struggling team,” senior Jack Danco said.

Parra came to the Nats in late May, right when the turnaround started. Parra was the hype man for the Nats and it all started with his walkup song. Parra picked the famous song “Baby Shark” because his kids loved the song. What Parra didn’t know at the time was that this song would basically turn into the Nationals’ fight song. Whenever he came to bat, the stadium always got hyped up. When a team is hyped up and rowdy in the dugout, it leads to momentum on the field. Although bringing mojo to the team is good, that’s only the start they needed key players to step up to lead them on a playoff push and that is exactly what happened.

“The run was definitely led by Anthony Rendon and their rotations. Rendon had a career year with him being in MVP consideration. Their rotation was the best in the NL, getting them late in the game to not have to rely on that thin bullpen,” senior Owen Porter said.

Rendon put up a stat line of .319 with 36 home runs and 126 RBIs. Those numbers put him among the elite players in the league. His stats are very similar to the other two contenders for MVP, Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger, so we might see Rendon take home the NL MVP award.

The pitching rotation has been absurd all year, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin put up career years, seeming to strike out everyone they faced. Max Scherzer was hurt a lot of the season, but was electric when he did pitch. These top three are great, but the Nats also found a gem in their fourth starter, Anibal Sanchez, who had a nice resurrection season in his 14th year.

With these breakout performers and newfound life, the Nats have rolled through the playoffs so far. The Nats played the Brewers in the NL Wild Card game and were down 3-1 in the eighth inning but thanks to a single from young outfielder Juan Soto and a friendly bounce, they squeaked by with a 4-3 win. They then faced the Dodgers, a team coming off a regular season with the most wins in franchise history and two straight World Series appearances. The series was taken to the decisive fifth game and the Nats were once again down 3-1 in the eighth in a do or die game, so what did the Nats do? Rendon and Soto hit back to back home runs off of pitcher Clayton Kershaw tying it up 3-3 and sending it to extra innings. In the 10th inning with the bases loaded, Howie Kendrick came up to bat. Two pitches in to the at bat, he sent a fastball to the moon for a grand slam, giving the Nats their first series win in the history of the franchise. With that grand slam, the past failures seemed to vanquish with the new-look Nationals coming into existence. The Nats took on the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS, and it was domination from the get-go. The Nats dominated the entire series, taking two no-hitters deep in the first two games on their way to sweeping the Cardinals in four games. Now all that stands in the Nats way of their first championship is the Houston Astros, a team that won 107 games and are led by countless superstars… but Nats fans are still optimistic, especially with a thrilling game one victory last night.

“Nats in six, you heard it here first,” senior Mason Stern said.