The Washington Post

Nationals and Mariners still linked by Stephen Strasburg, Dustin Ackley and the 2009 draft

That season, John McLaren began the season as the Mariners manager. When he was fired on June 19, the Mariners were 25-47, 3 ½ games better than the Nationals in the slog for worst record in the majors. The next day, the Mariners’ bench coach became the interim manager. It was Jim Riggleman.

The Mariners still had the worst record in the majors heading into those final days. On the 24th, the Nationals and Mariners both lost. On the 25th, the Nationals were off and the Mariners lost again. Heading into the last series of the season, the Mariners had a 1 ½ game “lead” in the Strasburg sweepstakes. And then, with Riggleman managing, they won three straight and finished 61-101. The Nationals got swept and finished 59-102.

If the Mariners had lost all three games that final weekend in 2008, Ackley would be a National and Strasburg would be a Mariner (alongside Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda – think about that for a moment).

When he debuted, Ackley became the eighth player from the 2009 first round to reach the majors. Despite not pitching all season, Strasburg still ranks fourth among those players with 1.3 career wins above replacement, per Drew Storen (1.4), Reds starter Mike Leake (1.8) and Royals reliever Aaron Crow (1.9) are the only players who rank above Strasburg.

The end of the 2008 season provides one of the most interesting what-if scenarios of recent baseball history. Tonight, with Ackley manning second base and Riggleman in the Nationals dugout, will provide another reminder.


Michael Morse has become one this season’s breakout stars, a prospect that seemed unlikely back in 2009.


Gwinnett 8, Syracuse 2: Chris Marrero went 2 for 3 with a walk. Ross Detwiler allowed two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings on three hits and four walks, striking out three.

Harrisburg was off.

Potomac and Hagerstown are on their all-star breaks.

Auburn 7, State College 6: Khayyan Norfork went 2 for 4. Bryce Ortega went 2 for 4.

Adam Kilgore covers national sports for the Washington Post. Previously he served as the Post's Washington Nationals beat writer from 2010 to 2014.


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