Top 5 seasons in Nationals history

The Nationals were playoff onlookers for their first seven seasons after relocating to Washington in 2005. The highest they climbed in the National League East standings was third place, and they struggled to finish above the .500 mark.

That changed in 2012, when Washington became a playoff contender and eventual World Series champion. This is a look back on the Nats’ five best seasons (ranked by regular-season records in the Washington era) and memorable moments from the club’s playoff performances

1. 2012: 98-64 (.605)
Regular season: First in NL East
Postseason: Lost in NLDS to Cardinals, 3-2

The Nationals began a new chapter in 2012 with a season that featured the Major League debut of Bryce Harper and concluded with their first playoff appearance since relocating in ’05. With the best winning percentage in all of baseball, the Nats took on the defending World Series champion Cardinals in the postseason. In Game 4 of the NLDS, Jayson Werth produced one of the Nationals’ most memorable moments when he battled through a 13-pitch at-bat in the bottom of the ninth to deliver a walk-off home run at an electric Nationals Park.

2. 2017: 97-65 (.599)
Regular season: First in NL East
Postseason: Lost in NLDS to Cubs, 3-2

By 2017, the Nationals had made the playoffs in three of the previous five seasons. Washington moved into first place in the NL East early on April 18, and it won the division by 20 games. That season, Max Scherzer won his third Cy Young Award. The NLDS matchup against the Cubs included a Game 2 victory in which Harper, Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman all went yard. Stephen Strasburg, who had been battling a virus, fanned 12 in seven scoreless frames for a Game 4 win before the Nats lost the series in Game 5.

3. 2014: 96-66 (.593)
Regular season: First in NL East
Postseason: Lost in NLDS to Giants, 3-1

The Nationals earned their second playoff berth in 2014, when they held a 17-game margin to top the NL East. Their impressive regular season concluded with the first no-hitter in team history, tossed by Jordan Zimmermann against the Marlins. The Nats faced the Giants in the NLDS, which included one of the longest battles in postseason history. Game 2 spanned 18 innings and clocked at six hours and 23 minutes, making it the longest game in Major League history (based on time) and tied for the most frames. Washington lost that game, though, and was eliminated three days later.

4. 2016: 95-67 (.586)
Regular season: First in NL East
Postseason: Lost to Dodgers in NLDS, 3-2

After missing the playoffs in 2015, the Nats finished tied for the second-best record in baseball in ‘16. Among the season’s highlights were Daniel Murphy nearly winning the league batting title and Scherzer throwing a 20-strikeout gem en route to capturing his second Cy Young Award. In the postseason, the Nationals took a 2-1 lead in the NLDS, but the Dodgers edged them out with one-run victories in Games 4 and 5 to take the series.

5. 2019: 93-69 (.574)
Regular season: Second in NL East
Postseason: Won World Series vs. Astros, 4-3

The journey to the Nationals’ first World Series began with a 19-31 start that would become a marker of their historic feat. After turning around their season to finish second in the NL East, the Nats topped the Brewers in a dramatic Wild Card Game in which a fielding error on Juan Soto’s eighth-inning single to right allowed Rendon to score the go-ahead run from first base. Howie Kendrick gave a glimpse into his postseason heroics in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Dodgers when he belted a go-ahead, 10th-inning grand slam in Game 5 to clinch the series.

A sweep of the Cardinals in the NLCS set the stage for an epic World Series showdown against the Astros. From historic pitching performances to clutch plays to monster homers, the Nationals won it all with a total team effort. The sound of Kendrick’s go-ahead home run clanging off the right-field foul pole in Game 7 will ring loudly in Nats’ lore. In the end, the Nationals fought back from facing postseason elimination five times, and they became the first team in history to capture the World Series by winning every game on the road.

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