The 2017 regular season is over, and we can wrap it up and tie it with a bow. The Nationals came one win short of tying their franchise-best record, and that happened even given numerous injuries and a flaky first-half bullpen. The regular season was one of Washington’s best, with a dynamite offense and loaded pitching staff, the best Nationals team possibly ever is ready to take on the postseason. But before we embark on that journey, let’s take a look back to reflect on the season that was, not by counting down the best moments for the team, but looking at the best moment for each player.
Daniel Murphy: Walk-off single in the 10th (7/7/2017 vs ATL)
The Nats came back with three runs in the 9th inning to tie the Braves. Then Adrian Sanchez came up with his first career hit to lead off the 10th, setting the table for Daniel Murphy to hit the walk-off single that would finish off an exciting comeback win.
Michael A. Taylor: Inside-the-park grand slam (9/8/2017 vs PHI)
Why do these things seem to keep happening to Michael? Before this, he had hit a traditional grand slam and a Little League grand slam in addition to being on the bad end of an inside-the-park slam. On this occasion, Taylor electrified the crowd by sprinting all the way around the bases. Not only that, but in this game, Taylor went 4-for-5, including a triple and 5 RBI, and made a fantastic throw to home plate to save a run.
Matt Albers: First career save (5/5/2017 @ PHI)
During the period of bullpen limbo, Matt Albers was the most consistent reliever. Dusty Baker was operating on a next-man-up mentality, and Albers was the man on call in this particular game in Philly. On a night that Stephen Strasburg made a strong start and hit a homer, Albers closed down the 9th to achieve his first career save in his twelve years in the big leagues and as many opportunities.
Jayson Werth: Home run upon return from injury (8/28/2017 vs MIA)
This whole season, especially the last month of the season, was a big swan song for Jayson Werth. Werth has reached the end of his seven-year contract that turned the Nationals into the team they are today, and the fans know and appreciate it. Werth was on the DL for a significant amount of time this season, much longer than anticipated, but when he returned, he made his presence felt. In his first game back, he launched a deep home run, and he received a curtain call from the fans. Let’s hope this isn’t his last epic moment in a Nationals uniform.
Adrian Sanchez: Hit in the chest, and then knocks in a run (8/26/2017 vs NYM)
This can be put up there among the scariest moments of the year. Adrian Sanchez took a pitch directly off the chest, and the whole stadium was silent, wondering if he would even be okay enough to get up and walk. Luckily and miraculously, Sanchez was no worse for wear. However, as the ball made contact with his bat, he would have to stay in the batter’s box to finish the at-bat. And in one of the most heart-jerking moments of the year, he knocked an RBI single. In other news: Sanchez is made out of steel.
Wilmer Difo: Faceplants yet still scores (7/26/2017 vs MIL)
Wilmer Difo filled in brilliantly during Trea Turner’s absence. He contributed offensively, and he played Gold Glove-caliber defense at shortstop. However, his most memorable moment may be this iconic trip around the bases. During a 7-run comeback in the 8th inning against the Brewers, Ryan Zimmerman hit a go-ahead double that scored Brian Goodwin from third and sent Difo running from first. However, Difo tripped and took a faceplant while rounding third, got up, and was still able to slide across home plate safely.
Matt Wieters: Walk-off single against his old club (5/10/2017 vs BAL)
On a day in which the Washington Capitals were eliminated in Game 7 and the Washington Wizards lost in Game 5, Matt Wieters saved the DC area from complete sports despair with a comeback and walk-off win. After Taylor homered in the 8th and Werth homered in the 9th, Wieters hit a two-run walk-off single for an exciting win against the team he was a part of for eight years.
Sean Doolittle: Doolittle can’t watch a potential walk-off homer (9/2/2017 @ MIL)
Sean Doolittle has been nothing short of a lifesaver for the Nationals; he, along with Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler, took a terrible bullpen and turned it into a strength. Doolittle had a number of memorable saves throughout his Nationals tenure this year, but perhaps none more memorable than in Milwaukee, when he didn’t turn around to watch what could’ve potentially been a walk-off homer.
Joe Ross: Best career start: 12 Ks over 7.1 IP (6/8/2017 vs BAL)
Joe Ross’s season was unfortunately cut short by injury. Ross had an up and down season, but when he was going good, he was on fire. In June, Ross had the best start of his career, striking out 12 Orioles over 7.1 innings.
Edwin Jackson: Solid team debut (7/18/2017 @ LAA)
Edwin Jackson was a big relief to the team after Ross was lost to injury. Edwin returned to the Nationals for the first time since 2012. Like Ross, Jackson also had an up and down season with the Nats, but most importantly, he ate up innings. He did have a few good starts, and his first one against the Angels was one of the best. He went 7 innings, only giving up 2 runs on 3 hits, backed up by a good offense and the debuts of new teammates Madson and Doolittle.
A.J. Cole: Best outing of the season: 6.0 IP with 8 Ks (8/25/2017 vs NYM)
A.J. Cole has been a saving grace for fill-in starts, coming in and relieving the rotation when they need a rest. Cole is on the cusp of being a full-time big leaguer, and in this start against the Mets, he showed a glimpse of that, striking out 8 over 6 innings, though he got the loss after just giving up one run.
Tanner Roark: 11 Ks over 7 IP (7/22/2017 @ ARI)
Tanner Roark has been great during the second half of the season. He’s not going to go out and dominate like a Strasburg, but he’s a horse, and you can rely on him to go out every fifth day, eat some innings, and get people out. Occasionally, though, he does have his moments of dominant brilliance. In July in Arizona, he stifled a potent Dbacks team, striking out 11 batters over 7 innings, his strikeouts only trailing his career-high of 15.
Howie Kendrick: Walk-off grand slam (8/13/2017 vs SF, game 2)
Howie Kendrick was the steal of the year. And on a weekend with three games within a tightly compressed time span, including a postponed game and a delayed game that injured Bryce Harper, Kendrick blasted his first career grand slam to lift the Nationals to a victory.
Brian Goodwin: Two-homer game (6/23/2017 vs CIN)
Goodwin filled in admirably when Taylor went down with injury, doing everything he possibly could to help out the team. On this night, Goodwin blasted two home runs, one to start the scoring and one to tie it late, leading to a Harper walk-off in the 10th.
Adam Lind: Go-ahead pinch-hit homer on Opening Day (4/3/2017 vs MIA)
If there were an award for Best Bench Player, I would give that award to Adam Lind without any hesitation. Lind has been absolutely huge off the bench this season. It seemed like he would always get a big hit and was capable of hitting a home run off the bench when needed. And he would do whatever Dusty asked, even playing in left field for the first time in his career. Nothing encapsulates Lind’s season more than his very first at-bat as a National, hitting a go-ahead pinch-hit home run on Opening Day. Right then and there, we knew Lind would be important to this team. And now, after twelve years of playing in the majors, Lind is going to the postseason for the very first time.
Trea Turner: Hit for the cycle (4/25/2017 @ COL)
Turner can do just about everything, and one of these days, he’s going to be one of baseball’s brightest stars. During a wild series in Colorado, Turner went nuts offensively, like the rest of his teammates, but, unlike his teammates, he hit for the cycle, the first for a Nationals player in nine years. Turner drove in 7 RBI that night, and the next day he came just short of another cycle.
Gio Gonzalez: Near no-hitter (7/31/2017 @ MIA)
Gio Gonzalez had a career year, and no start was more emotional than the last day of July in Miami. Miami is Gio’s hometown, and this particular game was Jose Fernandez’s birthday, whom Gio was close friends with. It was also the first day Fernandez’s family had been back to Marlins Park since his death, not to mention that Gio’s wife was at home moments away from giving birth. And on that day, Gio came oh-so-close to throwing a no-hitter. He went eight no-hit innings before Dee Gordon hit a leadoff single in the 9th, spoiling what would have been a historic day. The Miami crowd and the Marlins gave Gio a standing ovation upon his exit. During his postgame interview, you could see how emotional Gio was and how hard he was fighting to control his emotions. All things were brewing perfectly for Gio to make history, and though he came just short, it will live as a day we won’t forget.
Anthony Rendon: Historic offensive day (4/30/2017 vs NYM)
Anthony Rendon started his MVP-caliber season with a historic day. He went 6-for-6 with 3 HR and 10 RBI, something that has seldom been done before in the history of the game. Rendon, of course, refused to talk about his day in his postgame interview, but it kickstarted a fantastic 2017 campaign for the third baseman. This also highlighted a 23-5 rout against the Mets.
Stephen Strasburg: Complete game shutout plus a home run (8/30/2017 vs MIA)
Strasburg is ready for the postseason. His second-half ERA is 0.86. Nobody can touch him, and there’s a chance he could win the Cy Young this season if it weren’t for some teammates. Strasburg had one of his best starts of the year late August against the Fish, completing his second career shutout and hitting a dinger just to top it all off.
Bryce Harper: Walk off three-run home run (4/16/2017 vs PHI)
Harper was headed for another MVP award before an injury derailed his season. It seems like Harper can do everything and carry his team on his back. Harper loves the spotlight and the big moments, and he has a number of great moments to choose from. But perhaps his best was his walk-off three-run home run against the Phillies, bringing the Nationals back from one run down to come back and win the game. Hopefully, Harper will be ready to take on October.
Max Scherzer: 13 strikeouts over 8.2 innings (5/26/2017 vs SD)
Max Scherzer is the best pitcher in the game right now, and he looks to be on the way to a second straight Cy Young award. He leads the National League in just about every pitching category, and he can shut a team down with the best of them. He hit a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres, and it feels unfair to qualify it as his best moment of the season because he had so many fantastic pitching performances. But as Max says, strikeouts are sexy, ergo here’s your moment.
Ryan Zimmerman: Franchise leader in home runs (7/17/2017 @ CIN)
Zim broke a number of records this season, including becoming the franchise RBI leader and the DC home run king, but perhaps the moment that encapsulates it all is when he became the franchise leader in home runs. The Montreal Expos had a number of great players, including some Hall of Famers, and by the end of his career, Zim is going to pass them all in just about every single offensive category.
Zimmerman has done some remarkable things in his career, and if injuries hadn’t bugged him the last few years, who knows where those numbers would be now. The guy has been with the Nationals basically since they began and has seen the team through thick and thin. Throughout Nationals history, there has always been Ryan Zimmerman. One of these days, number 11 will be sitting in the facade of Nationals Park, and we can look back at all the moments Zim has given to us over the years. Hopefully, there will be some nice shiny jewelry for him to admire along with it.Tags: Nationals, Nats, Washington Nationals