October 18, 2007 [LINK / comment]

Nationals 2007: Year in review

The Washington Nationals began their third year with decidedly lower expectations, as the new owners made it clear that they were devoting most of their resources to rebuilding the franchise's decrepit farm system. Yet against all odds, the motley crew of nobodies, has-beens, and wanna-be's finished the 2007 season with a better win-loss record than eight other teams. The biggest surprise was that the pitching rotation performed quite well for the most part, as Jason Bergman, Matt Chico, and even Jason Simontacchi earned plaudits. (Some of the rookies will need more practice in the minors.) Dmitri Young, signed as an (unwanted) free agent to fill in for first baseman Nick Johnson (recovering from a broken leg), was leading in the NL batting race for several weeks, and was the sole National chosen for the 2007 All Star Game. At the end of the season he was named the NL Comeback Player of the Year. It was pretty ugly early in the season, however, as the Nationals lost nine of their first ten games, and then lost the first eight games in May. It appeared that the worst-case scenario was coming to pass, with the Nationals doing even worse than the 2003 Tigers (43-119). But from May 11 on, they played very respectably, for the most part, winning exactly half of their games for the rest of the season (64-64). The high point was in early August, when they had a six-game winning streak. The road trip at the end of that month was brutal, however, as they got swept by the Rockies and then the Dodgers. In late September the Nats played the role of spoiler in several key games with the Mets and Phillies, having the final say in who won the National League East divisional title. It brought them a lot of favorable attention, and for the first time they ended up the season out of the cellar, taking fourth place, three games ahead of the Marlins. All in all, not too shabby.

Memorable moments

(Home games unless indicated by "away.") Other moments we would just as soon forget. The following summary table has been included on the new Washington Nationals page, and can also be compared to the table I compiled last year. While I was at it, I also revised the Baseball in D.C. and Baseball in D.C. news chronology pages.

Washington Nationals: 2007 summary
Month Wins Losses NL East place
(at end)
Number of
home games
April 2007 9 17 5 14 299,157 21,368
May 2007 13 15 5 13 291,869 22,451
June 2007 10 16 5 12 295,414 24,618
July 2007 14 12 5 15 373,953 24,930
August 2007 12 17 4 12 338,973 28,248
September 2007 15 12 4 15 362,373 24,158
2007 TOTAL 73 89 4 81 1,961,739 24,219

SOURCE: My unofficial daily tabulations from MLB Gameday stats and Washington Post.

Red Sox in peril

The Cleveland Indians will try to nail down the AL pennant at home in Jacobs Field this evening, and it's a do-or-die situation for the Red Sox. Is Manny Ramirez worried? Not a bit. In fact, he is acting quite nonchalant about the prospect of elimination. See MLB.com.

Hunter to D.C.?

Minnesota Twins star Torii Hunter said he wouldn't mind playing for the Washington Nationals next year, partly because Dmitri Young is a good friend of his. The problem is, the Nationals owners would be reluctant to pay him as much as he could get from other teams. See MLB.com.