The Washington Nationals are a professional baseball team based in Washington, D.C. The Nationals compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) East division. From 2005 to 2007, the team played in RFK Stadium; since 2008 their home stadium has been Nationals Park on South Capitol Street in Southeast D.C., near the Anacostia River.
The Nationals are the eighth major league franchise to be based in Washington, D.C., and the first since 1971. The original Washington Nationals played in the American Association in 1884. Another Washington Nationals team also played in the Union Association during its only season in 1884. The first Washington Nationals of the National League played from 1886 to 1889. The Washington Statesmen played in the American Association in 1891, before jumping to the National League the following season. The Washington Senators, who were often referred to as the Nationals, played in the National League from 1892 to 1899. They were followed by another Washington Senators franchise in 1901, a charter member of the new American League, who were officially named the Washington Nationals from 1905 to 1956. The first American League Senators franchise moved to Minnesota in 1961 and became the Minnesota Twins. They were replaced that season by a second Senators franchise, who eventually moved to Arlington, Texas, after the 1971 season and became the Texas Rangers.
The current National League club was founded in 1969 as the Montreal Expos, part of the MLB expansion, which included the Seattle Pilots (now the Milwaukee Brewers), Kansas City Royals, and San Diego Padres. Based in Montreal, the Expos were the first Major League team in Canada. Home games were played at Jarry Park Stadium and later in Olympic Stadium. During the strike-shortened 1981 season, the Expos won a division championship and made their only post-season appearance in Montreal, defeating the Philadelphia Phillies, 3–2, in the National League Division Series, but losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers, 3–2, in the National League Championship Series.
The franchise had its highest winning percentage in the strike-shortened season of 1994, when the team had the best record in baseball. The team's subsequent shedding of players caused fan interest to drop off, and after the 2001 season, MLB considered revoking the team's franchise, along with either the Minnesota Twins or the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. After being purchased by MLB in 2002, the team was moved before the 2005 season to Washington, D.C., and renamed the Nationals, the first franchise relocation in Major League Baseball since the third Washington Senators moved to Texas in 1971.
While the team initially struggled after moving to Washington, the Nationals have experienced considerable success in recent years, winning division titles in 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2017, although they have yet to advance out of the first round in the playoffs. Two of the team's first overall picks in the MLB Draft, Stephen Strasburg in 2009 and Bryce Harper in 2010, attracted new levels of attention to the team. At the time of his selection, Strasburg was called the "most-hyped pick in draft history," and Harper later became the youngest position player to be selected to the MLB All-Star Game. Including their time in Montreal, the Nationals are one of two franchises, and the only one in the National League, never to have won a league pennant and played in a World Series, along with the Seattle Mariners of the American League.