Washington Nationals Countdown To Spring Training: 18 Days


The off-season is almost over. Less than three weeks until Washington Nationals pitchers and catchers report to Viera. To celebrate this fact, we here at DistrictOnDeck will commence a countdown of sorts pointing out interesting facts about numbers.

Only Old Danny Espinosa days until pitchers and catchers report! [Photo: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports]We start today, with number 18.

The best 18 game streaks in franchise history

August 28-September 15, 1979 (17-1)
Runs Scored: 101/Runs Allowed: 53 (+48)
Started: 69-54 (3 GB the Pittsburgh Pirates)
Ended: 86-55 (Tied for division lead. The Expos lost the second half of the double header to end the day 0.5 games behind Pittsburgh.)

Of course, this was the story of the 1979 season. The Expos were able to get close, but eventually finished two games behind the Pirates for the NL East championship and the Pirates ended up winning the World Series. The next year, the Expos again finished behind the World Series champion finishing second to the Philadelphia Phillies. Had the Wild Card existed at that time, the Expos would have been the team to move on to the playoffs in both years.

The Expos also had stretches of 16-2 in both 1993 and 1994. In 1993, the Expos again finished behind the Phillies. This time Canada got their revenge as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the NL Champion in the World Series. In 1994, the streak was part of their incredible 20-3 run to end the strike-shortened season.

In 2005, the Nationals had their best 18 game stretch in Washington going 15-3 from May 28-June 15.

Started: 24-24, 4th place, 3.5 GB
Ended: 39-27, 1st place, +3 games

This season ended poorly for the Nationals as they finished 42-54 and ended up at .500 with a last place finish. Their run differential, despite going 15-3 was only +19 showing that they probably weren’t as strong as the run suggested.

Now, in more recent (and pleasant) history, last year the best 18 game stretch was 14-4, done several times but the biggest run differential was +35 in their stretch from August 2-19.

Started: 61-42, 1st place, +2.5 games
Ended: 75-46, 1st place, +5 games

On the other side of things, the Expos/Nationals had some bad stretches as well. I won’t go into details but in their 1969 expansion season, they had an 0-18 stretch. It was part of an even longer 20-game losing streak.

Notable Number 18’s in Franchise History
Steve Renko (1969-1976)
Starting pitcher who was one of the longest tenured players from the expansion team. Actually went 34-32 from 1969-1971 before a 1-10 season in 1972. Was one of the best pitchers on the 1973 team that was in the race in an epically bad NL East. Renko was 15-11 with a 2.84 ERA.

Career statistics with Expos: 68-82 (3 saves), 3.90 ERA (97 ERA+), 6 shut outs, 1359.1 IP

Jerry White (1974-1978 as #37, 1979-1983 as #18)
White was an outfielder who often came off of the bench for the Expos and was a part of the great 1979-1981 teams. White was the final out of the 1981 NLDS with two runners on base trailing 2-1.

Career statistics with Expos: 562 games (1176 PA), .254/.336/.369, 19 HR, 96 RBI

Moises Alou (1990-1996)
Alou was known as Felipe Alou‘s son but was actually with the Major League team before his father was after being acquired from Pittsburgh in 1990. Was part of the best outfield in baseball with Marquis Grissom and Larry Walker, and was the last major part of the 1994 team to leave the organization signing as a free agent with the Houston Astros for the 1997 season.

Career statistics with Expos: 608 games (2383 PA), .292/.349/.469, 84 HR, 373 RBI

Orlando Cabrera (1998-2004)
Cabrera was, with Jose Vidro, Vladimir Guerrero and Javier Vazquez the face of the Expos in their final years in Montreal. Cabrera was eventually traded in a three-way trade at the deadline in 2004 and replaced Nomar Garciaparra in Boston. He won a World Series and made the playoffs in six of the seven years after leaving the Expos with five different teams.

Career statistics with Expos: 904 games (3592 PA), .267/.315/.405, 66 HR, 381 RBI

Players to wear 18 with the Nationals: Terrmel Sledge, Matthew LeCroy, Melvin Dorta, Tim Tolman (coach), Rick Eckstein (coach), Danny Espinosa