WASHINGTON NATIONALS IN THE POSTSEASON
Major League Baseball has a long and storied history in the nation's capitol, beginning in 1901 with the Washington Senators of the American League. The team was known as the Senators until 1905 when the squad changed its name to the Nationals. The squad would win a World Series in 1924 and appear in the 1925 and 1933 series, but by and large, the history of Major League Baseball in Washington D.C. is largely forgettable. After the team moved to Minnesota to become the twins in 1960, the nation's capitol was without a baseball team for decades until 2005 when the Montreal Expos moved to the city and began a new era of Nationals baseball.
While not a true expansion team, the Nationals did not have the strongest roster when they came to the National League East, and the division had become very strong over that time period with the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies all vying for the division crown. The Nationals took their lumps in their first several seasons, finishing in last place nearly every year until 2011 when the team narrowly missed finishing with a .500 record with an 80-81 record. Fortunately for Nationals fans, all those years at the bottom allowed the team to accrue high draft picks and develop their young talent.
In 2012, the Nationals were the most surprising team in baseball, finishing with a 98-64 record, their first winning season ever, as well as capturing their first division title. With the rest of their divisional opponents suffering from down years, the Nationals took advantage of their moment in the spotlight by overwhelming their opponents with quality pitching from Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, as well as the steady bat of third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and catching phenom Bryce Harper.
By the time the Nationals got into the playoffs, they were one of the most heavily-favored teams in the postseason, but a lack of experience in crunch time seemed to catch up with the team, and they were unable to overcome the hot St. Louis Cardinals and were knocked out in five games in the National League Divisional Series. Luckily for Nationals fans, the team has made great strides in recent years to build a contending roster, and they are now widely considered to be one of the best teams in the National League. Only time will tell whether or not they can build on their best season to-date and finally bring a championship back to Washington D.C.
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