Top 8 Best MLB Franchise Moves: Are Washington Nationals Better Off?

Top 8 Best MLB Franchise Moves: Are Washington Nationals Better Off?
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

You know time flies when you realize that it already has been 19 years since the Washington Nationals arrived from north of the border. The USA’s capital city got an MLB franchise back in 2005, after a 34-year absence and well before Virginia sports betting was legal and regulated.

The MLB has a long history of franchises moving around, including the Nationals. wanted to see if the Nationals’ move from Montreal improved the team’s fortunes more than other MLB franchises that relocated. We used to find eight MLB franchises that were in their previous city for at least 10 years before changing locales. We ranked the clubs based on the average win-loss percentage change between the previous city to the current city.

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Best MLB Franchise Moves


Team (Past Home/Name)

Avg. Win-Loss % Change


Minnesota Twins (Washington Senators)

.109 up


Oakland Athletics (Kansas City Athletics)

.109 up


Baltimore Orioles (St. Louis Browns)

.072 up


Texas Rangers (Washington Senators)

.071 up


Los Angeles Dodgers (Brooklyn Dodgers)

.009 up


Washington Nationals (Montreal Expos)

.001 down


San Francisco Giants (New York Giants)

.037 down


Atlanta Braves (Milwaukee Braves)

.042 down

The Washington Nationals have had five playoff berths since that inaugural 2005 season at the soon-to-be-demolished RFK Stadium. The Nats made the postseason field in 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2019. The bet365 Virginia Sportsbook has +55000 odds for Washington to make the playoffs in 2024, as of May 29.

The franchise struggled in the first four trips to the postseason, losing in the National League Division Series each time. But in 2019 they broke through in the biggest possible way, not only winning a playoff series at last but running the table to win the franchise’s first World Series. The club’s history dates back 50-plus seasons, including its time as the Montreal Expos between 1969 and 2004.

Are Nationals Better Off in D.C.?

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The Nats/Expos franchise has had more trips to the postseason in 19 seasons in D.C. (five) than in 37 years in Montreal (one). But that’s not to say the Nationals have, on average, been better south of the border.

The franchise’s winning percentage has gone down by .001 since the move to Washington from Montreal in 2005. The franchise currently holding a 56-season total of .483, going 4,218-4,507 in total since that opening season in 1969 (as of May 29).

What D.C. can say is that the city hosted the franchise’s first world championship team, and the first MLB title for the city since the Washington Senators in 1924. For a peek at how oddsmakers assess the team’s current chances and where you can bet on them, check out our Washington Nationals odds 2024 page at Under manager Davey Martinez, the 2019 Nationals stormed through the senior circuit as a Wild Card team to capture the World Series over the Houston Astros in seven games.

But overall, the Nats’ winning percentage dropped by a slim .001 – one of three teams with a worse winning percentage after a move (again only accounting for the past two cities, so for instance the Braves were counted for their years in Atlanta and Milwaukee, not their era in Boston). Of the eight clubs that have changed locations and spent at least 10 years in each city, the Giants (down .037) and Braves (down .042) have declined the most after relocating. The Los Angeles Dodgers are up .009 since leaving Brooklyn and the second version of the Washington Senators, the current Texas Rangers, are .071 percentage points to the good.

The biggest gains are by the Minnesota Twins and Oakland Athletics, both up by .109 since moving from Washington and Kansas City, respectively. The Twin Cities got the original Washington Senators in 1961. For those wondering, the neighboring Baltimore Orioles boosted their overall win percentage by .072 since moving from St. Louis in 1954.

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USA Today photo by Scott Taetsch



Christopher Boan has been covering sports and sports betting for more than seven years, including stops at, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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