For 36 years, many All-Stars showcased their talents north of the border – even though there was no championship ring to show for it. The same as held true in the capital of the U.S. over the past decade.
This is the starting lineup of those who best represented either the Montreal Expos or Washington Nationals at All-Star break along with the seasons in which they were most qualified.
C: Gary Carter, 1984
Whether it was the Midsummer Classic or a regular season affair, Carter played with a combination of fierce competitiveness and unbridled joy. He must have been especially pleased about his start in ’84 – which turned out to be his final season in Montreal.
With 60 runs batted in, he was on pace to set a career high in that category. In addition, Carter had 15 home runs, 19 doubles, and a batting average that was exactly .300.
He also had a memorable All-Star Game that year, winning his second MVP award.
1B: Al Oliver, 1982
The hitting champ during this season also held leadership in hits, total bases and RBI. And for the first 84 games, he showed a bit of pop (14 home runs).
That power number would not be replicated. But in nearly all other major categories, his production from the first half nearly mirrored what he accomplished in the second half. His consistency got him the start at first base and would later get him a third-place finish in the MVP balloting.
2B: Jose Vidro, 2000
He was a starter in 2002 and 2003. He probably also should have been in the lineup one other time.
That .375 batting average truly stands out, as does his 200 total bases and 122 hits. Vidro would taper off in July and August – although he still reach the 200-hit plateau. But his early season numbers make him far and away the best first half performer at second base in franchise history.
SS: Ian Desmond, 2012
Desmond’s never been one to be stellar in the field or terribly disciplined at the plate.
Those faults can be forgotten when you connect for 17 home runs, 51 RBI and 98 hits at the halfway mark. That was the case in 2012 – a year that saw the Nationals’ young shortstop break out and the team itself emerge as one of MLB’s elite.
It remains Desmond’s only All-Star appearance and as a soon-to-be free agent, may very well be the only one he’ll qualify for in D.C.
3B: Hubie Brooks, 1986
This had to be a bittersweet year for Hubie. Yes, his first half numbers were impressive. Those 96 hits, 14 homers, 54 runs batted in, and that .333 batting mark were among the best among third baseman in the N.L. As a result, he earned his first All-Star selection.
But an injury shortly after the game in Houston ended his season. Despite the premature end to the year, he was still awarded the league’s Silver Slugger at his position.
LF: Vladimir Guerrero, 2000
During a year in which he would collection career-high totals in home runs and batting average, Vlad made sure of those lofty totals with a scorching start. The combined games of March and April saw him hit .410 with eight round-trippers and 27 runs driven in.
By the break, Guerrero already had 116 hits, 23 bombs and 76 RBI to go along with a .369 average. The Expos of this time may not have had much to cheer about. But Vlad made sure there was something special to watch at Olympic Stadium.
CF: Bryce Harper, 2015
Four seasons, two All-Star appearances…and he’s only reached age 22. It’s hard to believe, but Harper is just getting started.
The hype that began to generate six years ago has truly been fulfilled so far this season. His 26 homers are just behind the league lead. But his .704 slugging percentage, 1.168 OPS, and his .464 on-base percentage rank right at the top.
He was the leading vote-getting in the fan balloting. An MVP award may soon be coming his way.
RF: Andre Dawson, 1983
It took him a while for him to reach the Hall of Fame. It didn’t take long to consider him for this team.
“Hawk” made three straight All-Star appearances wearing the colors of the Expos, the last of them coming at Comiskey Park in Chicago – where he got the starting nod in center field.
His presence at the plate is what made him a star, and he added to his Cooperstown resume with a .321 average, 17 homers and 99 hits over the first half of the ’83 campaign.
Starting Pitcher: Pedro Martinez, 1997
Before he dominated in Boston, Pedro mowed them down in Montreal. Of the 16 games he started, seven wound up as complete games (with two shutouts).
He won 10, lost just four. And in a hitter-friendly era, he allowed only eight home runs, struck out 154, and had an earned run average of 1.74. Suffice it to say, he was sailing towards the first of his three Cy Young Award trophies.