Nationals Appear Twice Among Biggest MLB Disappointments in Past Decade

Nationals Appear Twice Among Biggest MLB Disappointments in Past Decade
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

When a sports franchise owner heavily invests top dollar to build a championship-contending team, fans naturally expect a deep postseason run and ultimately the opportunity for their beloved city to lift a trophy.

But sometimes these “championship-contending” teams with high preseason expectations – including those set by Virginia sports betting bookmakers – might even fail to qualify for the playoffs.

Nationals Had Letdowns in 2015 and 2018

The Washington Nationals suffered those exact consequences in 2015 and then again in 2018. The Nationals were MLB’s most disappointing team in those years – they had some of the shortest odds to win the World Series combined with one of the highest payrolls in the league.

But then after years of enduring postseason absences and heartbreaking first-round exits, the Nationals finally clinched their long-awaited World Series title in 2019. They had some of the longest midseason odds to win that year. According to, as late as Aug. 1 that year, Washington was +3250 with BetMGM Sportsbook Virginia to win it all.

Yet those Nationals delivered championship glory to the District, allowing fans to experience a second consecutive parade following the Capitals’ victory in the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs. That 2019 title gave Nats fans relief after years of postseason letdowns, and saw Stephen Strasburg’s pitching gifts on full display before injuries took their toll.

With several expected MLB contenders struggling nearly halfway through the season (Mets, Padres, Cardinals, Mariners), took a look at the most disappointing teams over the past 10 years.

To create this list, used data from, and SteveTheUmp to determine this list. We included teams that were in the top half of the preseason World Series odds, had an Over/Under win total over 85 with oddsmakers and had a payroll among MLB’s top 12. All of these teams missed the playoffs and finished 10 or more wins under their projected total for victories.

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Most Disappointing MLB Teams of Past 10 Years

Year, team WS odds Proj. wins Payroll Results
2013 Angels +800 (T2) 91.5 $127.89M (7th) 78-84 (13.5 under win total)
18 GB div., 13.5 GB wild card
2014 Rangers +1600 (8th) 87 $136.03M (8th) 67-95 (20 under win total)
31 GB div., 21 GB wild card
2015 Nationals +500 (1st) 94 $164.92M (6th) 83-79 (11 under win total)
7 GB div., 14 GB wild card
2015 Mariners +1000 (T3) 87.5 $119.79M (12th) 76-86 (11.5 under win total)
12 GB div., 10 GB wild card
2017 Mets +1300 (7th) 87.5 $155.18M (12th) 70-92 (17.5 under win total)
27 GB div., 17 GB wild card
2017 Giants +1400 (8th) 88.5 $172.35M (7th) 64-98 (24.5 under win total)
40 GB div,, 23 GB wild card
2018 Nationals +800 (5th)93.5$181.59M (5th) 82-80 (11.5 under win total)
8 GB div,, 8.5 GB wild card
2021 Mets +1000 (T4) 90.5 $167.41M (8th) 77-85 (13.5 under win total)
11.5 GB div,, 13 GB wild card
2021 Padres +900 (T3) 94.5 $171.68 (6th) 79-83 (15.5 under win total)
28 GB div,, 11 GB wild card
2022 White Sox +1100 (T4) 92.5 $181.66 (7th) 81-81 (11.5 under win total)
11 GB div,, 5 GB wild card

2015 Nationals Plagued by Injuries and Pitching Struggles

In 2015, Washington had the sixth-highest payroll in MLB and the shortest preseason odds to win the World Series. The Nationals were expected to win at least 94 games but finished 83-79, 11 games under their preseason win total.

Pitching depth is, perhaps, the most important factor to win baseball games nowadays. That season, the Nationals’ starting pitching depth was unquestionably their biggest strength with Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Jordan Zimmerman and Gio Gonzalez on the mound. But the starting rotation’s ERA was a disappointing 3.70, worse than any of the previous three seasons.

Injuries plagued the Nationals, affecting the team’s No. 1-3 hitters. Denard Span, Anthony Rendon and the club’s highest-paid player, Jayson Werth, all missed more than 74 games each. Strasburg was also impacted by injuries, a story that kept cropping up in the latter stages of his career.

Strasburg is still on Washington’s payroll for a whopping $35 million this season but has not pitched since June 2022, and since the end of the 2019 World Series he has made just eight starts. That’s part of the reason the Nationals are last in the NL East in 2023 and have +25000 odds at Caesars Sportsbook VA to win the division.

The brightest spot in 2015 was Bryce Harper’s excellent season, as he was named the NL MVP.

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The 2018 Season Was Another Failure

The 2018 Washington Nationals were the fifth favorites to win the World Series and owned the fifth-highest payroll in the league. They were expected to win 94 games but finished a mere 82-80 and failed to make the postseason.

Injured players, mismanagement behind their recoveries, and terrible executive decisions were the foundation of their problems. Daniel Murphy underwent offseason microfracture surgery on his leg, prolonging his season debut with the Nationals until June. Two months later, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs.

Team captain Ryan Zimmerman struggled to find consistency after an offseason injury prevented his activity in spring training. Lastly, the Nationals relied on an aging bullpen to strengthen their pitching rotation, ruining all momentum in the season.

Juan Soto’s introduction to the majors and Washington D.C’s role as host of the 2018 MLB All-Star Game were among the few highlights of the season.

Customers using Virginia sportsbook promos can get odds on games, futures and a wide variety of other wagers all year as the 2023 Major League Baseball season rolls on.



Felix Veletanga is an experienced reporter who has covered local news, politics, and sports in Northern New Jersey, and now lends his expertise to the Virginia sports betting market. He previously covered the Saint Peter’s men’s basketball team’s 2022 NCAA Cinderella run for HudPost. Felix specializes in combat fighting and soccer betting analysis with a focus on the Premier League.

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