All good things must come to an end, and with the retirement of Stephen Strasburg, the greatest era in Washington Nationals history is officially a thing of the past.
As reported by the Washington Post's Jesse Dougherty and Barry Svrluga, the right-hander plans to officially call it quits at the end of the season, marking the end of a remarkable career.
It was truly a magical one from the start — or even before the start, perhaps. He was one of two highly-touted first overall picks made by the Nationals in the late 2000s; he was picked in 2009 while Bryce Harper was selected in 2010, and both were absolute slam dunks. Strasburg was considered by many, including ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, to be the "most hyped draft pick of all time," and he lived up to those expectations from the very beginning.
His MLB debut, made in 2010 at the age of 21 was the stuff of legends, as he tossed seven innings, struck out 14 batters, walked none, and allowed just 2 runs. The eyes of baseball fans across the country were glued on the pitcher's mound in the nation's capital; Strasburg had officially announced himself as a force to be reckoned with.
Unlike Harper, Strasburg stuck it out in D.C. and was there for the franchise's crowning moment: winning the 2019 World Series in one of the great underdog triumphs of the current era. Washington improbably won all four road games to thwart a stacked Houston Astros team, who got there not only with a lot of talent, but also questionable integrity. He put in a herculean effort to get them there, as he recorded a 1.98 ERA across six appearances and 36.1 innings, became the first pitcher to earn a 5-0 record in one postseason, and racked up 47 strikeouts. At the end of it all, he was awarded the World Series MVP, the ultimate prize and the culmination of a true draft day success story.
That time Stephen Strasburg fanned 1??4?? in his Major League debut ???
— B/R Walk-Off (@BRWalkoff) August 24, 2023
Strasburg, who spent his whole career with the Nationals, was a three-time all star and finished in the top-10 of Cy Young voting three times as well, although curiously there isn't too much overlap between those two sets of campaigns. In 2019, he led the NL in both wins and innings in the regular season, making it even more impressive that he had enough in the tank to do what he did in October. Strasburg led the NL with 242 strikeouts in 2014, and three times averaged 11 or more strikeouts per 9 innings. Another piece of an era that is rapidly fading away, Strasburg even picked up a silver slugger from back when NL pitchers swung the bat; he put up a very solid .759 OPS in 2012 to earn that honor.
Now at age 35, over 13 years after that electrifying debut and nearly four since helping the Nats to the top, Strasburg has decided that it's time to go. He hasn't thrown in the majors this year after a medical setback forced him to shut down all physical activity, and only was healthy for one start a year ago, in which he was clearly far from his best. As he retires, he does so as a legend, and a hero to so many in Washington and beyond. For baseball fans everywhere, it was a true privilege to watch him go from exciting prospect to phenom youngster, eventually to champion, and now to a well-earned retirement.
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