When the Montreal Expos moved to Washington and became the Nationals, they were coming off seven losing seasons in eight years. Those woes continued as the Nationals finished last in the NL East five of six years between 2005 and 2010.
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However, out of the crumbling ashes came some of the top players in the game. The Nationals drafted Stephen Strasburg No. 1 overall in 2009 and Bryce Harper in 2010 at the same position. They got Anthony Rendon in 2011 at No. 4 overall and 2012 No. 16 pick Lucas Giolito was part of the trade that brought Adam Eaton to Washington.
Now those first-round picks are contributing to the team’s success. Since 2012, the Nationals have finished no worse than second place in the division, winning the division three times before losing in the division series. Harper won Rookie of the Year and NL MVP and Strasburg has been solid when not dealing with injury.
Even 2005 first-round pick Ryan Zimmerman is reviving his career with a 1.118 OPS in 50 games this season.
The Phillies will have to dethrone the Nationals to ever come back in the division and they haven’t had the same success with their first-round picks. They will have to hope their international signings and prospects acquired by trade will make up for their dearth of production from first-round prospects.