The Nationals captured the first championship in franchise history on Wednesday night, and they did it in epic fashion.
With a 6-2 victory over the Astros in the winner-take-all Game 7 at Minute Maid Park, the Nats became the first team to capture a World Series title without winning a home game. In fact, this was the first time in any best-of-seven series in MLB, NBA or NHL history that the visiting team won every game.
As if that wasn’t dramatic enough, the Nationals did all this after starting the season 19-31. On the morning of May 24, they were only 1 1/2 games ahead of the last-place Marlins in the National League East. The Nats had a .380 winning percentage, while the Marlins were at .340.
And now, they’re World Series champions.
Here are 13 facts and figures about the Nationals’ backs-against-the-wall run from 12 games below .500 to being the last team standing.
Started from near the bottom
1) The Nationals lost to the Mets on May 23, falling to 19-31. Previously, going back to the beginning of the Wild Card era in 1995, only one team had posted such a poor record through 50 games and come back to make the postseason. That was the 2005 Astros, who went from 18-32 to 89-73, capturing the NL Wild Card berth and advancing to the World Series. The Nats finished the regular season on a 74-38 run to earn the NL’s top Wild Card spot this season.
2) The Nationals’ 19-31 record was the worst 50-game start of any team to win the World Series. They’re only the fifth team to be below .500 through 50 games and win the World Series, and the first since the 2003 Marlins, who started 21-29. The previous worst record through 50 decisions for a team to win the World Series was 20-30 by the 1914 Braves (who also had one tie).
3) The Nats join the 1914 Braves as the only teams to win the World Series in a season in which they were at least 12 games below .500 at any point, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
4) The Nationals sealed the first championship in the franchise's 51-season history (Expos/Nats), since Montreal debuted as an expansion team in 1969. It’s the second championship for a Washington team in Major League history, and the first since the '24 Senators beat the New York Giants in Game 7 at Griffith Stadium.
Their road to the pennant
5) Just how tough was the Nationals’ road? They took down two teams that won 105 or more games to win the title: the 106-win Dodgers and the 107-win Astros. They were only the second team to face two 105-plus-win teams in a single postseason, along with the 1998 Padres, and they're the only ones to beat both of those teams en route to a title.
6) The Nats went 8-1 on the road this postseason, tying the 1996 Yankees’ record for both total postseason road wins in a year and consecutive road wins in a single postseason, which was also eight.
The World Series
7) The Nationals made it difficult, losing all three World Series games at Nationals Park. They counteracted that by becoming the first champion to capture each of its World Series wins on the road. Yet they also continued a recent trend of road success in the Fall Classic, making it the sixth straight year that the Series winner has clinched on the road, and the fourth straight World Series Game 7 in which the road team has prevailed.
8) The streak of six straight World Series winners clinching on the road is tied for the longest in postseason history. The 1954-59 World Series were also all clinched on the road.
9) The Nats are the seventh Wild Card team to win a championship since the Wild Card era began in 1995, but only the second since 2012, when the Wild Card Games debuted. The only other team to advance past that winner-take-all affair to begin the postseason and then go on to win the championship was the '14 Giants.
10) Washington was fighting against the odds in Game 7, when it fell behind, 1-0, on Yuli Gurriel’s second-inning home run. Coming into 2019, teams were 25-14 when scoring first in winner-take-all World Series games.
11) Game 7 marked the fifth time this October that the Nationals trailed in an elimination game and came back to win, a record for a team in a single postseason. Washington already held the record with four such wins prior to Wednesday. The Nats trailed, 3-1, in the eighth inning of both the NL Wild Card Game (to the Brewers) and the winner-take-all NL Division Series Game 5 (to the Dodgers).
13) How huge was Rendon's impact this postseason? As pointed out by Sam Fortier of The Washington Post, before Rendon flied out in the eighth inning of Game 7, he had come to the plate seven times this postseason in the seventh inning or later of an elimination game, and he had gone 6-for-6 with three doubles, three home runs and a walk.