Comparing the 2012 Washington Nationals to the 1994 Montreal Expos
The Montreal Expos were the best team in the major leagues in 1994, posting a 74-40 record. Unfortunately, that season was shortened by the infamous MLB strike and the playoff aspirations of the team were shut down.
The team was on pace for great things, both as a unit and as individuals.
Larry Walker was on pace for his first 100-RBI season, Ken Hill was on pace to win 23 games, Pedro Martinez was on pace to strike out 200 batters and Moises Alou was on pace to record 200 hits for the first time in his career.
The Expos have since become the Washington Nationals, and the team appears well on its way to making its long-awaited postseason berth.
At 29-20, the team is far away from the 74-40 of the Expos, but they are in first place in the competitive NL East by 1.5 games over the surging Miami Marlins.
Despite the disparity in their records, the 1994 Expos and 2012 Nationals actually have several things in common.
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The 1994 Expos were stocked with young, talented pitching.
Ken Hill was 16-5 with a 3.32 ERA, Pedro Martinez was 11-5 with a 3.42 ERA, Butch Henry was 8-3 with a 2.43 ERA and Kirk Rueter was 7-3 with a 5.17 ERA.
Out of the four pitchers, Hill was the oldest at just 28.
The bullpen was led by two 27-year-olds—John Wetteland and Mel Rojas. Wetteland recorded 25 saves with a 2.83 ERA, and Rojas recorded 16 saves with a 3.32 ERA.
The Nationals have a very similar look when it comes to pitching.
The rotation is headlined by Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez. They own 7-1 and 5-1 records, respectively, with ERAs below 2.75.
Jordan Zimmermann is next in line, owning a 2.80 ERA and a 3-5 record.
Then comes Edwin Jackson, the "old veteran" of the staff at 28 years old, who owns a 3.17 ERA and a 1-3 record.
Ross Detwiler has occupied the fifth spot up to this point, posting a 3-3 record with a 3.88 ERA.
The bullpen is led by Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen, both of whom are under 28 years old.
Clippard has established himself as one of the best setup men in baseball, and Storen is easily one of the top young closers in baseball.
The Expos were a much better offensive club than the Nationals are today, as many hitters in their lineup were capable of posting respectable numbers.
Larry Walker and Moises Alou led the squad, both posting averages above .300 with at least 19 home runs.
Walker mashed 19 home runs and drove in 86 with an average of .322, while Alou hit 22 home runs and drove in 78 with an average of .339.
Marquis Grissom, Sean Berry and Wil Cordero also had solid campaigns, all recording averages of .278 or better.
The Nationals are led this season by Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond.
LaRoche leads the team with a .282 average, eight home runs, 35 RBI and a .378 on-base percentage. After an injury-plagued 2011, he seems back on track.
Desmond leads the team with 57 hits, while also hitting eight home runs and driving in 23 runs.
As the season progresses, Ryan Zimmerman will become more and more like the offensive contributor that Nationals fans have come to expect, and Bryce Harper will continue to solidify himself as an above-average major-leaguer.
In the end, I believe the Expos offense will prove to be the more potent one—albeit by a slim margin.
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The Expos had a talented pitcher/hitter tandem back in 1994.
Pedro Martinez, 22, and Larry Walker, 27, were both up-and-coming stars with Montreal. Not to mention the fact that each player was very important to the team's overall success that season.
Martinez was a big contributor in the rotation after coming over from the Dodgers, going 11-5 with a 3.42 ERA, as I mentioned earlier.
Stephen Strasburg, 23, was the team's Opening Day starter and the rotation's unquestioned leader entering the season.
He is currently 5-1 with an outstanding 2.64 ERA. His start has been so dominant that he earned NL Pitcher of the Month honors for April.
Walker anchored the Montreal lineup, driving in a team-high 86 runs. He led the league with 44 doubles through 103 games played and finished 11th in the NL MVP voting.
Even though Walker was 27 years old in 1994, he had yet to really experience his breakout campaign.
It goes without saying who the young offensive force is on the Nationals.
Bryce Harper has taken the baseball world by storm, hitting .286/.372/.514 with four home runs, 11 RBI and three triples in just 28 games.
At 19, he still has much room to grow and could even end up anchoring the Nationals lineup later on this season.
In the final comparison between the two clubs, it seems as if the Expos were more of a complete team than the Nationals.
While the Nationals may have the slight edge in pitching, the Expos have the clear advantage offensively.
Thus, there is no way that the Nationals will be 74-40 at the 114-game mark. The team would have to lose just 20 of their next 65 games to get there, and it seems like that would be too difficult for a team with such an inconsistent offense.
The potential is there for the Nationals to be one of the top teams in baseball, though. All they have to do is put it all together.
The biggest potential difference between the two things is the end result.
While the Expos had to unfortunately settle for being named "the best team in baseball," the Nationals have an opportunity to be named "World Series Champions."
It has a bit of a different ring to it, don't you think?