The first step to making the Nationals a great franchise is to understand what made this team great and what made this team terrible. The short span of time that Washington had a great baseball franchise was from 1923-1933. This team was composed of strong pitchers and great hitters. The terrible Washington teams have the common theme of no identity, and you can not find a characteristic to describe the teams approach such as power hitting, power pitching, or speed and defense. The current Nationals franchise seems to have an understanding of Washington baseball history.
The only world series by a Washington franchise was captured by the Senators in 1924, and this team was lead by “The Train” Walter Johnson. Despite a 1-2 record in the ’24 series, Johnson won the important game seven in extra innings to give Washington its only baseball championship. Johnson was the obvious face of the franchise and set the precedence for power pitching as he dominated his era in wins and strikeouts. The current Nationals franchise learned from this city’s history that today’s team needs to be built around a dominant pitcher.
The lack of identity from the Nationals since 2005 has been the reason for the current franchise’s dismal performances. Jim Bowden’s lack of direction for the Nationals was clearly illustrated by his hodgepodge development of the rosters. Bowden signed big name free agents who were forced out of position to get into the lineup. Mike Rizzo has only brought in players to play their position and the player meets the needs of the Washington Nationals.
The acquisition of Walter Johnson by the Washington Senators in 1907 gave the franchise one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball history and led to the first and only World Series championship in Washington’s history. Stephen Strasburg will anchor the starting rotation in 2012 and other starters will emerge from free agency or the farm system. The offense will flourish behind the bats of Werth, Zimmerman, and Harper. The defense will lock up teams as Espinoza and Desmond will roam the infield making weekly highlight reels. This franchise is on the brink of a championship, so fans need to get on board now because its coming sooner than later.