John Lepore | May 13th, 2020
A franchise that has only been around since 1969 has a limited amount of players to choose from. Especially a franchise that hasn’t had much success until recently. Nevertheless, we will choose the four players to have their faces immortalized on the Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos Mount Rushmore.
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Tim Raines (1979-1990, 2001)
Raines debuted in 1979 five days before his 20th birthday. He only appeared in 21 games his first two years but became a starter in 1981. And boy did he make an impact. He led the league with 71 SBs in the strike-shortened season. Raines followed that up with three more years of leading the National League in steals. From 1981-1987 Tim Raines was the NL version of Rickey Henderson. Consider these stats from that seven-year span:
His efficiency on the bases is unparalleled. Raines has the second-highest SB% in the history of baseball (min. 300 attempts) at 85.7%. Carlos Beltran is first at 86.4%. Out of the top 25 all-time leaders in SBs, Raines is joined by only one other player to have more HRs than times caught stealing (Joe Morgan). Rock would call it a career after the 2002 season. He is fifth in career steals and was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2017 in his last year of eligibility. Raines is first on the Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos Mount Rushmore.
Andre Dawson (1976-1986)
“The Hawk” played his first full season in 1977 and promptly won National League Rookie of the Year honors batting .282 with 19 HRs and 21 SBs. His combination of power and speed was evident from the beginning. In five of the next six years, Dawson would go 20/20. From 1980-1985 he won six consecutive Gold Gloves, four in center field, two in right field. Dawson finished second in MVP voting in both 1981 and 1983 to Mike Schmidt and Dale Murphy respectively.
Although Dawson’s best season was in 1987 for the Chicago Cubs, he played most of his career in Montreal. “The Hawk” is fourth in games played for the franchise at 1,443. He is one of only five players in major league history to have 400 HRs and 300 SBs joining Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, Alex Rodriguez, and Carlos Beltran. Dawson’s number was retired in 1997 by the Expos and he was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010.
Gary Carter (1974-1984, 1992)
In his rookie year of 1975, Carter actually played mostly right field. He finished second in the ROY voting to San Francisco Giants starter John Montefusco. A broken finger limited Carter to 91 games in 1976, but he bounced back strong in 1977. Now a full-time catcher, “The Kid” blasted 31 HRs while starting 143 games behind the plate. From 1977-1984, Carter caught 1,125 games out of the team’s 1,229 total games. That’s an incredible 91.5%! During that time Carter also managed to slash .275/.346/.477 while averaging 24 HRs and 85 RBI. He finished second to Mike Schmidt in MVP voting in 1980 and won three consecutive Gold Gloves (1980-1982).
After leading the NL in RBI in 1984 with 106, Carter was traded to the New York Mets. Although he won a championship with the Mets in 1986, he was the first Montreal Expos player inducted into the Hall of Fame, in 2003. His number 8 was retired by the Expos in 2003. He ranks sixth all-time with 298 HRs as a catcher. Sadly Carter passed away on February 16, 2012, but he will always be remembered with that smile and childish exuberance of a kid.
Stephen Strasburg (2010- )
Strasburg was the first overall pick in 2009 out of San Diego State. He came up in June of 2010. His career started off great going 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA and a 92/17 K/BB rate in 68 innings. Unfortunately, he tore his UCL and required Tommy John surgery. He made it back for five starts in September of 2011 and picked up where he left off. In 2012, the righty threw 159.1 innings and was shut down in September despite the Nationals making the playoffs. It was a decision that would haunt the Nats as they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in five games in the NLDS. Strasburg would start 30+ games the next two seasons and established himself as one of the best pitchers in the game.
Although minor injuries would put him on and off the IL over the years, he’s managed to be excellent when he pitches. Strasburg’s 3.17 career ERA is fourth among active starters with 10+ years in the majors. He has an incredible 4.5/1 K/BB rate and a 1.086 WHIP. His 2019 postseason put him firmly on this monument. Strasburg went 5-0 with a 1.98 ERA, 0.826 WHIP, and a 47/4 K/BB rate. He won the World Series MVP award for the Nationals/Expos franchise in their only Championship appearance.
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images