December 31, 2021
After their first few games were postponed due to the coronavirus, the Washington Nationals started the year on a very positive note, beating the team that ended up winning the World Series: the Atlanta Braves! After two months of mediocre play, the Nationals got red hot in June, when they went 19-9 thanks in large part to Kyle Schwarber's historic string of home runs. They were above .500 for exactly three days: June 29 through July 1. But then Schwarber pulled a hamstring and went on the Injured List, and the Nats quickly went into an apocalyptic nose-dive from which they did not recover. For the first time since the team was reborn in Washington in 2005, the Nats had a "fire sale" in which most of their most talented players were traded away, including the team's biggest stars: Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, and Kyle Schwarber.
The last two months of the 2021 season were marked by very low expectations, mostly just giving young players a chance to prove themselves in the big leagues. Some of the rookies indeed showed great promise, raising hopes for the future. Nevertheless, the Nationals ended the season alone in last place with a 65-97 record (.401), even worse than their 26-34 record (.433) last year, and in fact their lowest percentage since 2009. Whereas they won seven of the last nine games in 2020, this year they lost eight of their last nine games.
The chart above is now included on the Washington Nationals page, which has frankly become so overloaded with various historical statistics that it will probably soon be pared back, with some of the information moved to new pages.
Even though it was another bleak year, I did at least get to see a game this year -- only one, on June 16, when the Nats beat the Pirates 3 - 1. (See my June 23 blog post.) I'm looking forward to seeing more games next year, hopefully some of which will be in stadiums that I have not yet seen.
On a brighter note elsewhere in the majors, as I pointed out on November 4, once again the World Series championship went to a team that had not won such a title for decades. For eight consecutive years, we had a fresh, new champion team. In fact, 2014-2021 was the first eight-year span in which no team had won the World Series more than once since 1980-1987. In contrast, during the preceding eight-year span (2006-2013), three teams -- Red Sox, Cardinals, and Giants -- won six of those eight World Series -- not very "diverse" at all! (See my annual baseball chronology page.) So there is that. What will the new year bring?
Merry (seventh day of) Christmas, baseball fans!