Top 10 Best Washington Nationals Players of All Time
As a team, the Washington Nationals have only been in existence since 2005. When it comes to their franchise, however, they have been around since 1969. From 1969-2004, they played in Montreal, Canada as the Montreal Expos before moving to the United States Capitol. They never won a World Series in Canada, but they did capture their first World Series title in 2019. Keep reading to learn about some of the greatest players in franchise history, including a few who helped lead them to that title.
Who Are the Best Washington Nationals Baseball Players of All Time?
- Gary Carter
- Steve Rogers
- Tim Raines
- Andre Dawson
- Max Scherzer
- Ryan Zimmerman
- Vladimir Guerrero
- Stephen Strasburg
- Tim Wallach
- Bryce Harper
1. Gary Carter
- Seven All-Star Appearances (1975, 1979-1984)
- Three Gold Glove Awards (1980-1982)
- 2003 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee
Out of all of the great players in the Nationals/Expos franchise, Gary Carter stands out among them all. Carter came up as a 20-year-old rookie, and he spent 11 seasons with the team from 1974-1984. In those 11 seasons, he made the All-Star team seven times (1975, 1979-1984), won three Gold Glove Awards (1980-1982), and three Silver Slugger Awards (1981, 1982, 1984).
As for his ranks in franchise history, Carter ranks number one in WAR (55.8), fifth in runs scored (707), fifth in hits (1,427), sixth in doubles (274), fourth in home runs (220), and fourth in walks (582). While the Expos never made the World Series with Carter behind the plate, he did record 15 hits, hit two home runs, and drive in six runs in his lone playoff appearance with the team in 1981.
He would go on to win a World Series with the Mets in 1986. In 2003, Carter was deservingly inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
2. Steve Rogers
- Five All-Star appearances (1974, 1978, 1979, 1982, 1983)
- 1982 ERA Title
- Finished top Five in the Cy Young Voting three times (1980, 1982, 1983)
Gary Carter’s teammate for his entire career in Montreal, Steve Rogers is undoubtedly the greatest pitcher the Expos ever had. He made his big league debut in 1973 and played all 13 seasons of his career with Montreal from 1973-1985.
During that time, Rogers was selected to five All-Star teams (1974, 1978, 1979, 1982, 1983). Additionally, while he never won the award, he did finish in the top five on three occasions in 1980, 1982, and 1983. 1982 was arguably his best year, when he led the National League in ERA, posting a mark of 2.40.
When it comes to his franchise all-time pitching ranks, Rogers collected the most WAR of any pitcher at 45.1, the most wins with 158, the most innings pitched with 2,837 ⅔, the second most strikeouts with 1,621, and the most complete games with 29. In his lone playoff appearance with the team in 1981, he won three games while allowing just three earned runs in 27 ⅔ innings pitched while striking out 11.
3. Tim Raines
- Seven All-Star appearances (1981-1987)
- 1986 National League Batting Champion
- 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee
While he would eventually win two World Series late in his career with the New York Yankees, Tim Raines had his best seasons with the Montreal Expos. Raines made his debut at 19 with the Expos in 1979 and played 13 seasons for them from 1979 until 1991.
He would make the All-Star team in over half of those seasons, seven to be exact (1981-1987). One of his best seasons was 1986 when his .334 batting average led the National League.
On the all-time Expos/Nationals lists, Raines ranks third in hits (1,622), second in runs scored (947), fifth in doubles (281), first in triples (82), and second in WAR (49.1). In the team’s lone playoff appearance during his tenure with the team in 1981, Raines had five hits, one RBI, and scored one run. In 2017, Raines rightfully earned a spot in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
4. Andre Dawson
- 1977 National League Rookie of the Year
- Three All-Star appearances (1981-1983)
- 2010 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee
A player who actually had his best season with another club, Andre Dawson still had an outstanding time with Montreal. The oldest player so far on this list, Dawson made his big league debut in 1976 and played 11 years with the team until 1986.
The next year, with the Chicago Cubs, Dawson would win the MVP, likely making Expo fans upset that he was gone. Nonetheless, in his first full season in 1977, Dawson was named the National League Rookie of the Year. He would go on to make three All-Star appearances for Montreal in a row from 1981-1983.
During his time with the team, Dawson collected the third most WAR (48.3), the fourth most hits (1,575), the third most runs scored (828), the second most triples (67), and the third most home runs (225). Moreover, Dawson collected nine hits, scored three runs, and stole two bases in the 1981 playoffs, his only playoff games with the team. In 2010, Dawson earned his spot in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
5. Max Scherzer
- Two Cy Young Awards (2016, 2017)
- Five All-Star appearances (2015-2019)
- 2019 World Series Champion
The first Nationals player on this list, Max Scherzer had an outstanding six and a half seasons in Washington. He came over to the team from Detroit in 2015 and was in Washington until he was traded in the final year of his contract midway through the 2021 season.
In that brief time, he won two Cy Young Awards in 2016 and 2017 and made five All-Star teams in a row from 2015-2019. Scherzer would certainly be higher up on this list if only he had been a National for longer. Despite not even playing seven full seasons with the team, Scherzer still ranks second in pitcher WAR (38.9), fourth in wins (92), third in strikeouts (1,610), and ninth in innings pitched (1,229).
His career in Washington was highlighted by the 2019 World Series title he helped the team win. In that year’s Fall Classic, Scherzer won one game while giving up four earned runs in ten innings pitched and striking out ten batters. Scherzer is still currently pitching for the New York Mets, and he is certainly headed to Cooperstown for the Hall of Fame when his career is over.
6. Ryan Zimmerman
- Two All-Star appearances (2009, 2017)
- Two Silver Slugger Awards (2009, 2010)
- 2019 World Series Champion
Often nicknamed “Mr. National” due to him being the first-ever draft pick by the Nationals, Ryan Zimmerman kicks off the second half of this list. Zimmerman was drafted in 2005 and quickly came to the big leagues at the end of that year. He would end up playing all sixteen of his big league seasons with the team from 2005-2021 (he did not play in 2020 due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic).
During that time, he made two All-Star appearances in 2009 and 2017, won back-to-back Silver Slugger Awards in 2009 and 2010, and won a Gold Glove Award in 2009. Zimmerman is the Nationals/Expos franchise all-time leader in several offensive categories, including home runs (284), hits (1,846), runs scored (963), doubles (417), RBIs (1,061), and total bases (3,159).
After such a long tenure with the club, no player was likely more overjoyed with the team's World Series victory in 2019 than Zimmerman. He hit a home run in that seven-game series, along with four other hits, two RBIs, and two runs scored.
7. Vladimir Guerrero
- Four All-Star Appearances (1999-2002)
- Three Silver Slugger Awards (1999, 2000, 2002)
- 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee
The father of current big league star Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Vlad Sr. had an outstanding career in his own right. He spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Expos from 1996-2003.
He made the All-Star team in half of those eight seasons, all in a row from 1999-2002. He also won three Silver Slugger Awards in 1999, 2000, and 2002. In his relatively short career with the Expos, Guerrero racked up the seventh most hits (1,215), the sixth most runs scored (641), the second most home runs (234), the sixth most total bases (2,211), the eighth most doubles (226), and the third most triples (34).
As for team success, the Expos unfortunately never made the playoffs during his eight seasons north of the border. In his individual career, Vlad Sr. did enough to make it into the Hall of Fame as a 2018 inductee.
8. Stephen Strasburg
- Three All-Star appearances (2012, 2016, 2017)
- Two Top-Five finishes in Cy Young Awards (2017, 2019)
- 2019 World Series Champion, World Series MVP
While injuries have hampered much of his career, when Stephen Strasburg has been healthy, he has been exceptional. He made his big league debut in 2010 and has played all 13 of his seasons with the Nationals, although he has only pitched in eight total games since the Nationals won the World Series in 2019.
Overall, in his 13 seasons, Strasburg has made the All-Star team three times (2016, 2016, 2017) and finished in the Top-Five in the Cy Young award voting twice in 2017 and 2019. As for his all-time pitching ranks in the history of the franchise, Strasburg ranks third in WAR (30.9), second in wins (113), third in innings pitched (1,470), and first in strikeouts (1,723).
In their run to the 2019 World Series, no player was more crucial to their Fall Classic victory than Stephen. He was named the MVP of the series after winning both games he started and allowing just four earned runs in 14 ⅓ innings pitched while striking out 14.
9. Tim Wallach
- Five All-Star Appearances (1984, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1990)
- Three Gold Glove Awards (1985, 1988, 1990)
- Two Silver Slugger Awards (1985, 1987)
The last of the great Expos players on this list, Tim Wallach is also the penultimate player discussed here. As a 21-year-old in 1980, Wallach made his major league debut with the Expos and went on to play for the club for 13 years from 1980-1992.
Throughout those 13 years, he collected five All-Star appearances (1984, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1990), three Gold Glove Awards (1985, 1988, 1990), and two Silver Slugger Awards (1985, 1987). On the franchise all-time lists, Wallach comes in at number two in hits (1,694), number four in runs scored (737), number five in home runs (204), number two in doubles (360), and number five in WAR (36.9).
In the 1981 playoffs, Wallach saw limited action, as he was in his first full season in the majors. He totaled one hit, one run scored, and four walks in nine total plate appearances.
10. Bryce Harper
- 2012 National League Rookie of the Year
- 2015 National MVP Award Winner
- Six All-Star Appearances (2012, 2013, 2015-2018)
The final player on this list may very well be the most talented of them all, Bryce Harper. Like Scherzer, however, Harper is lower on the list than his talent suggests due to his short tenure with the franchise.
Harper came up as a 19-year-old phenom in 2012 and wound up playing seven years in Washington from 2012-2018 before leaving for rival Philadelphia, one year before the team won the World Series. He racked up the awards during his time with the Nationals, winning the 2012 National League Rookie of the Year Award, the 2015 National League MVP, and making six All-Star teams in seven years (2012, 2013, 2015-2018).
In his seven seasons, Harper had the tenth most hits (922), sixth most home runs (184), the eighth most runs scored (610), the eighth most WAR (27.8), and the ninth most RBIs (521). While they did not win the World Series until Harper was gone, he did play in nineteen postseason games with the team and collected sixteen hits, hit five home runs, and drove in ten runs.
While the ten players listed below did not quite make the top ten, they still deserve recognition as honorable mentions. They are listed in alphabetical order by last name.
- Gio Gonzalez
- Livan Hernandez
- Dennis Martinez
- Pedro Martinez
- Anthony Rendon
- Bryn Smith
- Juan Soto
- Trea Turner
- Javier Vazquez
- Jordan Zimmerman
Who is the best Washington Nationals player of all time?
While there have been a lot of great players in the history of the Nationals/Expos franchise, Gary Carter stands out amongst them all. During his 11-year tenure with the team, Carter won three Silver Slugger (1981, 1982, 1984) and Gold Glove Awards (1980-1982) while also managing to make seven All-Star teams (1975, 1979-1984). Additionally, Carter ranks number one in WAR (55.8), fifth in hits (1,427), and fourth in home runs (220) in franchise history.
Which Washington Nationals player holds the record for most home runs?
Out of all of the players to ever play for the Nationals and the Expos, the one with the most home runs is Mr. National, Ryan Zimmerman. In his 16 big league seasons with the team, Zimmerman hit 284 home runs, meaning he averaged around 18 home runs per season. Rounding out the rest of the top five on the home run list for the franchise are Vladimir Guerrero (234), Andre Dawson (225), Gary Carter (220), and Tim Wallach (204).