Nationals conclude lackluster season


Photo courtesy of Rob Kugler

The 2021 MLB season proved to be disappointing for the Washington Nationals, who experienced very few moments of success.

With the conclusion of the 2021 Major League Baseball season, Washington Nationals fans are now left to reflect on a season full of change and disappointment. 

After an abysmal 2020 MLB season, the Washington Nationals compiled a discouraging 65-97 2021 regular-season record, finishing last place in the National League East. The National’s .401 winning-percentage ranked fifth-worst in baseball, which remains a far cry from their 93-69 record en route to a World Series championship just two years prior.

Despite the team’s underwhelming performance collectively, the season was not completely void of any individual success and highlights. Off-season acquisition Kyle Schwarber, remembered by most as an instrumental contributor to the Chicago Cubs’ 2016 World Series victory, made history with his astounding hot streak behind the plate. In June, Schwarber tied the MLB record for most homeruns in a 10 game span with 12. That same month, Schwarber joined former All-Star sluggers Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa as only the third player in major league baseball history to hit 16 home runs in an 18 game span. Alongside Schwarber, right fielder Juan Soto experienced success behind the plate, finishing the season with 29 home runs while batting a team best .313. Schwarber’s electrifying play, coupled with an All-Star season from Juan Soto, and strong pitching performances from Max Scherzer, provided fans brief moments of enjoyment throughout what has been considered by most to be a disappointment of a season. 

“Even though the season didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, it was still awesome to see different players find success,” said senior Daniel Smith.

The individual success experienced by a select few, could not prevent the franchise from its inevitable slide in standings. Following the month of June, Washington would go on to win only 8 of their next 26 games in July. 

As Washington’s record continued to plummet, General Manager Mike Rizzo came to the consensus that in order to achieve long term success, changes must ultimately be made. On July 18, fans were forced to bid farewell to right-handed pitcher Max Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner, who had both dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The blockbuster trade involved six players throughout both organizations and occurred just 12 days prior to the trade deadline. Scherzer and Turner, who were integral members of franchise’s first and lone World Series championship victory in 2019, were shipped to the Dodgers in exchange for right-handed pitchers Josiah Gray and Gerardo Carillo, catcher Keibart Ruiz, and outfielder Donovan Casey. Extensive rebuilding and organizational restructuring was now a reality, and currently surrounds 22-year-old right fielder Juan Soto, who has proven himself as the new face of the franchise. If there was any doubt as to who fans and members of the front office viewed to be the cornerstone of the organization, it has since subsided. A return of team success now lies in the bat and glove of Soto, who remains at the forefront of the long, and, at times painful, rebuilding process.

“These next few seasons are going to be difficult to watch but I know in the long run the trades will pay off,” said senior Zach Beiro.

The National’s would go on to conclude their lackluster 2021 season with a series against the Boston Red Sox. On October 3rd, the final game of the regular season, Ryan Zimmerman received a standing ovation from fans at home in what was most likely the final game of his 16 year Major League career. Zimmerman, the first ever draft selection of the Washington Nationals, spent the entirety of his career in Washington where he would be named an all-star twice and eventually win a World Series in 2019. As to when exactly Zimmerman retires remains unknown, however his impact on the organization is quite clear.