How The Nationals Rose To World Series Glory

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The Washington Nationals are the 2019 World Series champions.

A team that started the year 19-31 are walking away with the Commissioner's Trophy this season, while a 107-win Houston Astros have been left empty-handed.

 

So how did this Astros team that had the best wRC+ since the 1927 New York Yankees and a rotation featuring the likely first- and second-place finishers in the American League Cy Young race fail to win a championship?

The reason is simple: the Nationals beat them. So how did they beat them? Here are a few ways.

 

Why the Nationals won the World Series

 

Rendon and Soto were the best position players in the series

This is not up for debate. While Alex Bregman might win the AL MVP, George Springer has a World Series MVP already under his belt, Carlos Correa was a Rookie of the Year and Jose Altuve was the MVP in 2017, Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon were without a doubt the two best players in this series.

These two men combined to go 17 for 56 (.303) with five home runs and 14 RBIs in the World Series. They were constant threats every time they stepped up to the plate and went 12 for 33 (.363) on the road. They hit four of their five home runs at Minute Maid Park.

There is little doubt who the best position players in this series were.

 

Strasburg etched his name into the postseason record books

Stephen Strasburg is basically Sandy Koufax in the playoffs. That is a bold statement but statistically, it is true. Koufax went 4-3 with a 0.95 ERA with 61 strikeouts in 57 innings in his postseason career. Strasburg is now 6-2 with a 1.46 ERA with 71 strikeouts in 55.3 innings. In this postseason alone, he went 5-0 with a 1.98 ERA in six games (five starts). He struck out 47 batters in 36.3 innings.

While Rendon and Soto were the best position players, Strasburg was undoubtedly the best pitcher.

 

They were road warriors

Coming into series, the Nationals were pretty good on the road this season and in the playoffs. They went 43-38 during the regular season away from home and 4-1 on their way to winning the pennant.

That success continued Wednesday as the Nationals won their fourth game in as many attempts at Minute Maid Park this series. That was the absolute difference. The Astros had home-field advantage — which should have mattered considering they were 60-21 at home in the regular season — but the Nationals were the team that played better in Houston.

The Astros were helpless at home, scoring a total of 11 runs in four games. The Astros' ineptitude at the plate had something to do with that, but Washington's pitching did too. While the Astros certainly contributed to the Nationals' road success, tons of credit have to go to Washington for playing their guts out on the road.