The Washington National’s franchise has had its fair share of Hall of Famers thanks to their time in Montreal. But, which one player would you choose to put on the team’s current roster?
If you could take one player in Nationals history and place him on the team’s current roster, who would you choose? The Nats are a young team, with very few valid answers. Having Anthony Rendon, Daniel Murphy, or Bryce Harper back would instantly make the Nats, the team to beat in the NL East. Arguments could also be made for Jayson Werth or Livan Hernandez. But after that, it gets tough. What if we changed the requirement from Nationals history to franchise history? This opens up a door of completely new possibilities.
When the team was located in Montreal, the organization had multiple Hall of Famers come and go. While some consider the Nationals and Expos two separate teams, they share the same history. So when the question of, what if you could take one player in franchise history and place him on the team’s current roster, it is only natural that plenty of former Expos are in the running. For this piece, players had to have played at least three full seasons with the club. This rule was used to exclude players such as Randy Johnson. (He appeared in 11 starts across two seasons with the club, where he posted a 4.69 ERA with the team before being traded to Seattle.) Here is our take on the question.
Traded from the Dodgers to the Expos right before the 1994 seasons started, Pedro Martinez was at the time thought to be too small to be an adequate starter. Martinez played in Montreal from 1994-1997 and that is where he blossomed into a star and proved the critics wrong. In four years with the club, he went 55-33, with a 3.06 ERA, and 843 strikeouts. He also went on to win a Cy Young, lead the league in ERA, and be named to two All-Star teams. After he was traded to Boston at the start of the 1998 season, Martinez evolved into one of the best pitchers in the game. Choosing Martinez would allow the Nationals to form one of the greatest pitching staffs of all time. But due to the Nationals already having Patrick Corbin, Stephen Strasburg, and Max Scherzer, as well as a glaring Rendon sized hole in the lineup, Martinez doesn’t get the nod.
Tim Raines played 13 seasons with the Expos and was a pivotal part of the team’s success in the 1980s. In his career with the Expos, “Rock” hit .301, with 96 homers, and 556 RBIs. Raines is the team’s all-time leader in stolen bases (635), triples (82), runs (947), and walks (793). He is second in franchise WAR with 49.2. Raines racked up the accolades while playing with the Expos. He was named to the All-Star team seven times, won a Silver Slugger (1986), led the NL in hits (1986), and led the NL in steals from 1981-1984.
Vladimir Guerrero was the face of the franchise in the late 90s and early 2000s. In his eight years with the team, Guerrero hit .323, with 234 homers, and 702 RBIs. With Montreal, Guerrero was named to four of his nine All-Star teams and won three of his eight Silver Sluggers. Vlad is the franchises all-time leader in batting average (.323), OPS (.978), and slugging percentage (.588).
Gary Carter played with the Expos from 1974-1984, 1992, and is the franchise all-time leader in WAR (55.8) and dWAR (21.6). The best catcher in franchise history, the Hall of Famer, would be a huge upgrade over the current platoon of Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes. In his twelve years with the Expos, Carter hit .269, with 220 homers, and 823 RBIs. He also went on to be named to six All-Star teams, won three Gold Gloves, three Silver Sluggers, and led the NL in RBIs (1984).
Larry Walker started his career with the Expos and played with the team from 1989-1994. In those six years, Walker hit .281, with 258 homers, and 848 RBIs. The Hall of Famer was a key part of the team’s 1994 team that had the best record in baseball before the player’s strike ended the season. After the season ended, management was told to cut payroll. Walker wasn’t offered arbitration and was allowed to leave as a free agent, where he signed with the Colorado Rockies. In Colorado is where Walker became a Hall of Famer. While in Montreal, Walker was named to one of his five All-Star teams, won two of his seven Gold Gloves, and won one of his three Silver Sluggers.
Picking Pedro Martinez to team up with the Nationals big three is very tempting. But as stated earlier, the Nats have a huge void in the offense to fill. Guerrero and Raines would both be solid choices because of formers elite bat, and the latter’s skill on the basepath. However, both fell short on defense compared to our choice.
Thanks to his ability to be a threat at the plate and in the field, Andre Dawson gets the nod. In his 11 years with the Expos, Dawson hit .280, with 225 homers, and 838 RBIs.“The Hawk” was named to eight All-Star teams, won eight gold gloves, four silver sluggers, and an NL MVP (1987).
Dawson primarily played centerfield from 1976-1983, before switching to right full time. On the Nats, Dawson would take over for Adam Eaton in right. In his career, Dawson had a dWAR of 1.6 and 151 outfield assists but, accumulated a dWAR of 8.6 while in Montreal. From 1976-1996 (Dawson’s career), he finished second in outfield assists behind only Jesse Barfield. In comparison, Adam Eaton has a career dWAR of 0.1 but, has accumulated -2.5 dWAR with the Nats. He also has 6 career DRS in the outfield. However, Eaton was a top defender as recently as 2016 when he had 25 DRS. In 2017, he tore his ACL and meniscus, which has since hampered him. Dawson and centerfielder Victor Robles will provide the Nats with plenty of defense in the outfield.
After Rendon left in free agency for LA, the question arises on who will protect Soto in the lineup. Dawson would fill that role nicely. Due to the abilities of Trea Turner and Howie Kendrick to consistently get on base, Dawson will have plenty of opportunities to drive runs in. Dawson ranks third in franchise history in WAR with 48.4 and went on to win NL MVP in 1987 with the Chicago Cubs. Adding his bat to the lineup would instantly make the Nationals favorites to come out of the NL East. Since the 2020 season might introduce a universal DH, Dawson could also fill that role.
Despite many losing seasons, the Expos era brought plenty of talent to Montreal. WIth multiple Hall of Famers having called Montreal home at one point or another, arguments can be made for players besides Dawson. But his ability to hurt opposing teams in the field and at the plate made him our choice.