Mar 29, 2013, 10:31 AM EDT
Yesterday I called the Nationals the best team in baseball. Today Joe Posnanski explains how they got there. But first he reminds us of how truly wretched they were just a few short years ago:
Their right fielder, Elijah Dukes, had been involved in so many off-field incidents, the team hired a former police officer to watch him at all times (though not too well since Dukes would talk later of smoking pot before Nationals games) … Their best player, Adam Dunn, was so bad defensively in left field and at first base that despite hitting 38 homers and posting a .398 on-base percentage, the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) statistic still rated him worse than a replacement player (his minus-43 fielding runs is the worst fielding performance in baseball history).
The starting pitching was such an irreparable mess that, in desperation, they signed 34-year-old Livan Hernandez, who had pitched for five teams the previous four years. And one of those teams was the Washington Nationals.
When it gets this bad, what do you do? Where do you even begin? And how does it then become baseball’s best team in three years?
Joe walks us through how. And, as always, The Big Read is a good read.
- Video: Josh Hamilton hits his first home run of the season 10
- Rockies starter Chad Bettis loses his no-hitter in the eighth inning 1
- Stephen Strasburg exits start in the second inning with an apparent injury 4
- More than half of polled baseball fans prefer having the pitcher hit 46
- The Marlins aren’t happy with the Dan Jennings hire 41
- Andrew McCutchen is doing just fine now, thank you 19
- The schedule: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it 69
- And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights 72