Who will have Nationals' first retired number?
There are four numbers retired from Expos history, but no player from the Nationals has yet to receive that honor since the team relocated to Washington in 2005. That could change in the coming years, thanks to those currently on the roster.
The numbers of former Expos players Gary Carter (8), Rusty Staub (10), Andre Dawson (10) and Tim Raines (30) were retired from 1993-2004. Could 11, 31 and 37 be among the first for the Nationals? Let’s take a look.
Ryan Zimmerman: No. 11
Zimmerman has been synonymous with the Nationals since the team’s inception. The first Draft pick in their history, Zimmerman has played his entire 15-year career in Washington. During that time, he has tallied one leaderboard achievement after another. His 38.5 career bWAR is the highest among Nationals players all time. He also leads the Nats in total games, runs, hits, RBIs, home runs and doubles. Looking at franchise history as a whole, his 270 homers, 1,784 hits and 401 doubles rank first among Expos and Nationals players.
The 35-year-old Zimmerman has come up clutch for Washington time and time again. With 11 walk-off home runs, he is tied for the eighth most in Major League history with David Ortiz and Tony Perez. That number also ties him with Perez for the second most in National League history (one behind Stan Musial’s 12), and is second to Albert Pujols among all active players. And when the Nationals were chasing the World Series title last year, it was Zimmerman who hit their first World Series home run.
A Gold Glove Award-winning third baseman, Zimmerman moved to first base in 2015. He has given the Nationals defensive versatility with 1,133 games at third, 472 at first, 31 in the outfield, one at shortstop and 15 as the designated hitter.
Zimmerman’s resume boasts two Silver Slugger Awards, a Gold Glove Award and two All-Star selections. He inked a one-year contract in January to stay with the Nationals.
“He’s a guy that, someday, there will be a statue with his likeness on it here in center field,” general manager Mike Rizzo said following the signing.
Max Scherzer: No. 31
Scherzer had already won the 2013 American League Cy Young Award when he signed with the Nationals in ‘15, and he was only getting started. The 35-year-old right-hander has dominated on the mound since then.
Scherzer threw two no-hitters in his first season with Washington. He then went on to win back-to-back NL Cy Young Awards in 2016-17. Both years, he led NL pitchers with a 6.2 and 7.2 bWAR, respectively. In winning this honor with the Nationals and Tigers, he joined Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Steve Carlton, Greg Maddux, Clayton Kershaw, Sandy Koufax, Pedro Martinez, Jim Palmer and Tom Seaver as one of only 10 pitchers in baseball history to be a three-time Cy Young Award recipient.
Scherzer, a seven-time All-Star, leads all Nats pitchers with a 34.5 bWAR and a 2.74 ERA as a member of the team. He is first in Expos/Nationals franchise history with a .669 winning percentage, 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings and 6.5 hits per nine innings. Overall, Scherzer ranks second among active players in career strikeouts (2,692), fifth in wins (170) and seventh in ERA (3.20). He recorded at least 250 strikeouts in five straight seasons (2014-18), making him only the second pitcher to do so, along with Randy Johnson. Additionally, Scherzer’s 93 games with 10-plus strikeouts tie him for sixth all time.
Last season, Scherzer grinded it out to help the Nationals win their first championship. He pitched 30 innings with 37 strikeouts in the postseason, including a 3.60 ERA over two starts in the World Series. After being scratched from Game 5 against the Astros because of a neck injury, a determined Scherzer returned to the mound to throw five innings in the deciding Game 7.
The Nationals locked up Scherzer for the long run in 2015 with a seven-year, $210 million contract.
Stephen Strasburg: No. 37
The Nationals drafted Strasburg with the first overall pick in 2009, and they have been committed to keeping him on the roster since then. After his first 10 seasons with the team, the 31-year-old Strasburg signed a record seven-year, $245 million contract in December to stay with Washington.
Over his career, Strasburg has established himself as the Nationals' leader in total wins (112) and strikeouts (1,695). His 32.3 bWAR is third in franchise history among Expos/Nats pitchers. Strasburg ranks second in winning percentage (.659) among all active pitchers and third in strikeouts per nine innings (10.6). Last May, he became Major League Baseball’s fastest pitcher by innings pitched to reach 1,500 career strikeouts. Strasburg has run up these numbers despite undergoing Tommy John surgery in late 2010.
Strasburg also proved he could do damage offensively. In 2012, he won a Silver Slugger Award after batting .277/.333/.426 with 13 hits and seven RBIs in 47 at-bats.
For all of Strasburg’s career highlights, which also includes three All-Star selections, his biggest moments came during the playoffs last year. Coming off a season in which he led the NL with 18 wins, Strasburg became the first Major League pitcher to go a perfect 5-0 in a postseason. Throughout that run, he fanned 47 batters (tied for the second most in a postseason) and recorded an 11.8 strikeout-to-walk ratio (third best in postseason history). His staggering 1.46 career postseason ERA ranks third best (with at least 40 innings) and puts him in the company of Hall of Famers Mariano Rivera and Sandy Koufax.
Strasburg’s ability to adapt proved invaluable during the postseason, as he did damage out of the bullpen in the NL Wild Card Game and as a starter. These high-level performances led up to him winning the 2019 World Series Most Valuable Player Award, adding another chapter to his storied career with the Nationals.