Last season, the Nationals went 55-107. They had the worst record in all of Major League Baseball. As bad as that team was, they still had Juan Soto (for 101 games) and Josh Bell (for 103). It's not like they made massive upgrades to the team in the offseason. I saw them as a team that would easily lose 100 games.
The Nationals are 61-70. I was clearly wrong.
I will defend myself very quickly. I didn't write (or ever say) that the Nats would be the "most obvious 100 loss team ever." I've been saying all offseason that would be the A's. But did I think the Nationals would get to 63 wins? No way.
Anytime you make pre-season predictions, you'll fuck shit up. I thought the Orioles would take a step back this year and maybe go something like 76-86 and then have the year they are having now in 2024. Nope. They currently have the best record in the AL. I thought the Yankees, Padres, Cardinals and Mets would all be in the playoffs. This has been an especially surprising year but even in chalk years, I'll still get shit wrong.
The only fan base who seemed to take affront to my bad pre-season predictions was the Nationals fans. I didn't help myself by doubling down in mid-May.
The Nationals not only aren't losing 100 games, they might not lose 90. They are 16-8 in August and even as the schedule has gotten tougher, they keep winning. Their last 9 games are against the Braves (for 7) and Orioles but that might be the best time to play them. The Braves especially will have everything wrapped up by then except maybe best record in the NL. I don't know if they'll be expecting much of the starters at that point in the season.
So how did I miss so badly on this team? One factor is Davey Martinez. He has that team playing hard every single day. It's rare that you can have a manager who can win a World Series but also be a great skipper with a younger rebuilding team. The other major factor is the Soto trade. Getting back players like CJ Abrams and Mackenzie Gore gave the roster some depth at key positions. The crazy thing is they still have two minor leaguers from that trade that are top prospects especially James Wood. That Soto deal may go down as one of the worst deals in recent history especially if the Padres can't do any better next year. Soto is a free agent after next season.
Lane Thomas is having a very nice season. They got him in the Jon Lester trade in 2021. Catcher Keibert Ruiz keeps showing signs of improvement. They got him and a very solid SP in Josiah Gray in the Max Scherzer trade also in 2021. Having a quality GM like Mike Rizzo who can keep getting strong future MLB players in deadline deals is gigantic.
The Nationals are still pretty lousy. But with each passing month and improvement from key players, that might change soon. Patrick Corbin is off the books after next season. The only people on the books for 2025 is Ruiz (at a bargain $6 million dollars) and Strasburg (owed $35 million dollars a year until after 2026 season but who knows with him retiring?). There were rumors that had Rizzo going to the White Sox but now it sounds like he's staying in DC. Rizzo and Davey Martinez are a great foundation. Mix in Ruiz, Gray, Abrams along with two of the top ten prospects in all of baseball and you have one hell of rebuild.
So there you go Nats fans. I was wrong. They won't lose 100 games. If they lose 90 games or not is sort of irrelevant. It's already been a successful season. The question now is when will they spend again and turn to truly contending again. Seasons like 2021 where they lost 107 games won't happen again for many years.