- Mitchell Layton/Getty
According to reports, the Washington Nationals have fired manager Matt Williams after two seasons.
The move doesn’t come as a complete shock, as the Nationals were one of the biggest disappointments in MLB this season.
Expected to walk into the playoffs and fight for the World Series – every ESPN baseball writer predicted the Nats to win the NL East, six predicted them to win the World Series – the Nationals went 83-79 and missed the playoffs.
In recent weeks, Williams’ seat got particularly hot as the Nats not only floundered, but a fight between Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon erupted in the dugout. While the Nationals eventually suspended Papelbon, he was allowed to go out and pitch shortly after the incident – and he blew the save.
Last week, Washington Post’s Barry Svrluga wrote a giant background story on how the Nationals locker room came to turn on Williams. Among the biggest complains with Williams was his lack of communication, and players often felt blindsided by benchings or loss of playing time. At one point during the season, Jason Werth reportedly got frustrated with a surprising benching and went up to Williams and said, “When exactly do you think you lost this team?”
Though Williams can’t be blamed for injuries and poor performances from players, Washington Post’s James Wagner reports that the coaching staff is likely to be overhauled.
The Nationals still have a talented enough roster around Harper to climb back into playoff contention next season, but it’s clear the front office thought at least one change needed to be made after a disastrous letdown of a season.