The Washington Nationals didn’t with their division.
They didn’t win 100 games during the regular season.
They were they eighth best team in the majors, ranked by wins.
They were 12 games under .500, 19-31 on May 24.
To say the least, the Nationals path to the World Series championship was an unconventional one as a wild-card team.
They stunned the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the World Series and became the seventh wild-card team to win the championship.
The road wasn’t easy. They survived five elimination games. They beat Brewers closer Josh Hader, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, Cardinals phenom Jack Flaherty and Astros co-aces Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander.
They also beat a 106-win Dodgers and a 107-win Astros.
“People thought we wouldn’t have been there in the first place and we just happened to come out on top,” third baseman Anthony Rendon said after the game.
It wasn’t until 1995 was that this even a possibility until the wild-card was first instituted. In 2012, the playoff system was modified to add a second wild-card team.
Here’s a historical look at the 13 wild-card teams (in bold) to reach the World Series and the seven to win the World Series:
- 2019: Nationals beat Astros, 4-3
- 2014: Giants beat Royals, 4-3
- 2011: Cardinals beat Rangers, 4-3
- 2007: Rockies lost to Red Sox, 4-0
- 2006: Tigers lost to Cardinals, 4-1
- 2005: Astros lost to White Sox, 4-0
- 2004: Red Sox beat Cardinals, 4-0
- 2003: Marlins beat Yankees, 4-2
- 2002: Angels beat Giants, 4-3
- 2000: Mets lost to Yankees, 4-1
- 1997: Marlins beat Indians, 4-3
SOURCE: USA Today, Scott Boeck