Break up the Nats!

Joel Sherman, baseball columnist for Our Nation’s Newspaper of Record, chronicles the now-systematic underachievement the Washington Nationals have suffered over the past four years:

  • The 2012 Nats won 98 games, won their division, and seemed destined for a run of excellence despite losing a hard-fought first-round series to the St. Louis Cardinals.
  • In 2013, the record fell to 86-76, 10 games behind Atlanta for the division and four out of the second wild card spot.
  • The Nats were back on top of the division 2014, with 96 wins and a roster finally coming into its own – until their bats went cold in the first round of the playoffs and San Francisco beat them in four games.

It’s 2015, and the Nats are in second place again, seemingly stuck in neutral (and under .500) despite big years from Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer. Like a Member of Congress in a safe district, the Nats appear to excel in even-numbered years and coast in between. Sherman correctly warns that without a second-half surge, they are in danger of losing the division to an underwhelming Mets team and becoming the “best team that never was.”

The manager and general manager are on the hot seat, but the house cleaning may have to include players as well. The only thing worse than being a bad team is being a mediocre team – where the limited successes come just frequently enough to avoid the big shake-ups. If they are serious about winning a championship, it’s time for the Nationals to stop tweaking and start looking at turning over their roster.

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