The Washington Nationals fired Dusty Baker and hired Davey Martinez because they wanted to win in October. The team has been out of the postseason picture ever since.
Shortly after losing Game 5 of the 2017 National League Division Series, Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo made a bold decree on the organization’s behalf while announcing that Dusty Baker would not return as manager.
“Winning a lot of regular season games and winning divisions are not enough,” Rizzo said. “Our goal is to win a world championship.”
“I think we’ve just got to get over the fact that we’re not here just to win a playoff game,” Martinez said. “We’re here to win the World Series.”
Since hiring Martinez, the Nationals have been nowhere near a postseason berth, let alone the Fall Classic. After winning the division four times in six years, including both seasons under Baker, Washington has been consistently mediocre with Martinez at the helm.
Following consecutive series losses to the lowly Miami Marlins and Colorado Rockies, Martinez was just one game over .500 as a big league manager. That’s in spite of a payroll approaching baseball’s luxury tax threshold. With similar talent, Baker had an excellent .593 winning percentage while twice bringing Washington to the brink of its first NLCS berth.
An even more startling statistic from Baker’s tenure may be that during his two years as manager, the Nationals were only out of first place for a grand total of seven days. Under Martinez, Washington hasn’t led the NL East in any of this season’s first 28 days, let alone most of last year.
After a rookie campaign marred by sloppy play and managerial gaffes, Martinez’s in-game mistakes resumed on his second Opening Day and haven’t let up since. From consistently failing to manufacture runs with men on base to chronically misusing the bullpen and bench, Martinez simply hasn’t proven himself capable of managing at the sport’s highest level.
When the Washington Nationals dismissed a highly respected manager for losing two postseason games, immediate results were demanded of his successor. Not only was Martinez’s team eliminated from playoff contention with more than a week left in 2018, but as this season’s one-month mark neared, the Nats didn’t have a winning record.