Written by Michael Huling
The 2019 MLB season has finally come to a close, with the Washington Nationals winning their first World Series in franchise history. The Nationals defeated the Houston Astros in an electrifying seven game series, winning game seven by a score of 6-2.
While Padres fans were subjected to yet another year of missing the postseason, there is hope that the team will take a big step forward next season. Moreover, there is cause for celebration this year, despite the Padres’ endless struggles.
Former San Diego State University star Stephen Strasburg was awarded World Series MVP. Strasburg has been excellent since making his MLB debut in 2010. He has a 112-58 record, 3.17 ERA, 1,695 strikeouts, and a 1.086 WHIP. If you’re a baseball egghead like me and are more persuaded by the advanced stats, Strasburg has a career 130 ERA+ (100 is average), 2.96 FIP, 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings, and a WAR of 32.6.
As great as Strasburg has been in the regular season, he has been even more dominant in the postseason, which has led Fangraphs to label him a “Postseason God.” And for good reason. In 36.1 innings this postseason, Strasburg was 5-0 with a 1.98 ERA and 47 strikeouts to just five walks. His WHIP was 0.94 and opposing batters hit just .221 off of him. In the World Series, Strasburg was 2-0 with a 2.51 ERA, 1.047 WHIP, 14 strikeouts, and three walks. By one metric (FIP-), Fangraphs ranked Strasburg’s 2019 postseason run as the fourth best ever for a starting pitcher.
Keep in mind that all of this was against an extremely impressive Astros team that won an MLB-best 107 games this season, and has won more games (311) in the last three years than any team has in any three-year stretch in MLB history. They won the World Series in 2017, lost to the eventual World Series Champion Red Sox in the ALCS in 2018, and now lost to the Nationals in an ultra-competitive seven game series.
The Nationals won their first World Series since being created from the Montreal Expos franchise, and are the first Washington-based baseball team to win it since the Washington Senators in 1924. In fact, until this year, the Nationals were one of just two teams to have never made it to the World Series—now leaving the Seattle Mariners as the only current team to never win a pennant.
Strasburg winning World Series MVP is especially notable for San Diego since Los Angeles Clippers forward—who then played for the Toronto Raptors—Kawhi Leonard won his second NBA Finals MVP earlier this year. Leonard was dominant in his own right against the [formerly] formidable Warriors dynasty, averaging 28.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 2 blocks, and 1.2 steals. Ultimately, Leonard’s Raptors defeated the ostensibly invincible—albeit crippled—Warriors in six games.
While being a sports fan in San Diego is rarely rewarding, it’s great to see SDSU alumni dominating at the highest level in their respective sports. For the time being, we’ll have to live vicariously through our homegrown superstars, embracing their success elsewhere as our own.