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Scherzer, Harper among Nats' best in '10s

@JamalCollier
December 20, 2019

WASHINGTON -- While they returned to D.C. as a baseball franchise during the past decade, the Nationals officially arrived during the 2010s. The Nats ascended from also-rans into perennial postseason contenders and finally World Series champions to close out 2019. But Washington would have not have had so much success

WASHINGTON -- While they returned to D.C. as a baseball franchise during the past decade, the Nationals officially arrived during the 2010s. The Nats ascended from also-rans into perennial postseason contenders and finally World Series champions to close out 2019.

But Washington would have not have had so much success if not for its roster. Below is a list of MLB.com's top 10 Nationals players of the decade.

1. Max Scherzer
Seasons: 2015-present

There is a strong case to be made for Scherzer as the best free-agent starting-pitching signing in MLB history, so consider where the Nationals would be if they did not make that franchise-altering addition at the beginning of 2015. Here is all Scherzer has done since joining the Nationals: win two of his three career Cy Young Awards (and finish in second, third and fifth place the other years), toss two no-hitters, match a Major League record with 20 strikeouts in a nine-inning game, and start Game 5 of the '16 NL Division Series, the '19 Wild Card Game and Game 7 of the '19 World Series.

2. Bryce Harper
Seasons: 2012-18

For years, Harper was the face of the franchise, the super prospect and Rookie of the Year-turned superstar and the youngest player to be named the unanimous Most Valuable Player in NL history. Harper began his career in D.C. on a track looking like a generational player, starting seven strong seasons and slashing a combined .279/.388/.512 with a .900 OPS and a 27.4 WAR. Harper arrived in D.C. as the team ascended into the postseason and although he became a polarizing player later in his career, he was still one of the Nats' most productive.

3. Stephen Strasburg
Seasons: 2010-19

With one electric debut in the summer of 2010, Strasburg officially signaled that the Nationals' organization was on the upswing because of talented players like himself. Injuries consistently interrupted Strasburg’s progress throughout the decade, but when healthy, he was one of the most elite pitchers in the NL. The '19 World Series MVP was one of the most important pitchers in Nats history, especially in October.

4. Anthony Rendon
Seasons: 2013-19

Even if he was underrated on the national stage for most of his career, Rendon's importance to the Nationals since his debut has not been lost on D.C. Rendon slashed a combined .290/.369/.490 with a .859 OPS and a 27.3 WAR in his seven seasons in Washington while playing steady defense at the hot corner and finishing fifth (2014), sixth ('17) and third ('19), in the voting for the NL MVP Award.

5. Ryan Zimmerman
Seasons: 2005-19

Injuries robbed Zimmerman of more than a few precious years of this decade, but overall, he was still a key player for the Nationals as they elevated themselves into the postseason five times during that stretch. Zimmerman slashed .276/.341/.473 in the 2010s with an .814 OPS and a 19.6 WAR while transitioning from third base to left field (briefly), and then to first base.

6. Gio Gonzalez
Seasons: 2012-18

Gonzalez showed up in Washington as an ace, winning 21 games with a 2.89 ERA and 207 strikeouts in his first season with the Nationals in 2012 before starting the first playoff game in team history. He had some ups and downs during his tenure in D.C., but he is still one of the most important pitchers in Nationals history. Gonzalez finished his career with the fifth-highest WAR (21.4) in Nats history, second most wins (86) and most innings pitched (1,253 1/3).

7. Jayson Werth
Seasons: 2011-17

There is, perhaps, no number that can truly encompass what Werth’s arrival meant to the Nationals. He is credited for teaching the team and organization how to win on the field and off and creating a culture of expectations for postseason success. Werth was a productive player in D.C. -- he had a .788 OPS and 8.8 WAR -- and his walk-off homer in Game 4 of the 2012 NL Division Series is one of the biggest moments in team history. But his biggest contribution to the Nats this decade was ushering in an era of Nationals baseball defined by winning.

8. Ian Desmond
Seasons: 2010-15

Desmond was one of the original pieces of the Nationals' core, a player drafted by the Expos in 2004 who extended his career to the postseason with Washington years later. He accumulated a 15.3 WAR during this decade in D.C. Desmond was an All-Star and two-time Sliver Slugger in D.C. who helped lead them to a pair of division titles.

9. Jordan Zimmermann
Seasons: 2009-15

The Nationals have always built around their rotation, and Zimmermann was once a crucial member of a stellar pitching staff. In his tenure in D.C. this decade, Zimmermann posted a 3.20 ERA, was a two-time All-Star and tossed a no-hitter on the final day of the 2014 regular season. And his best start came in Game 2 of the '14 NLDS, when he held the eventual World Series-champion Giants to one run over 8 2/3 innings.

10. Drew Storen
Seasons: 2010-15

Storen’s Nationals career comes with its what-ifs, and there is a section of the fanbase that will always remember him for its low points, especially during the 2012 and ’14 postseasons. But Storen is the best and most-accomplished reliever in Nats history, as the organization still consistently struggles to develop relief pitching. Storen pitched 355 games for Nats, compiling a 3.02 ERA and 95 saves.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.