Former Nats' third base coach Bo Porter is now the new manager of the Houston Astros, but despite leaving Washington he hopes to carry over some of the success he and the team shared in 2012. Porter spoke with CSN Houston on Tuesday and said he sees similarities in the current Astros and the Nationals several years back before they became a playoff team.
“I was lucky enough and blessed enough to go through that maturation with the Washington Nationals,” Porter told CSN.
“And a lot of people outside of the Washington Nationals organization, they didn’t know Ian Desmond. They didn’t know Danny Espinosa, they didn’t know Tyler Moore, they didn’t know Craig Stammen, Steve Lombardozzi.”
“We look at the players we have in our organization and we believe we have high quality Major League players that a lot of people just don’t know about,” he said. “But when you look at the Houston Astros today, and when you look at where the Washington Nationals were at three years ago there are a lot of similarities. My experience in Washington will definitely help here in Houston.“
Porter is taking on quite the challenge in trying to lead the Astros back to prominence, Houston managed just 56 wins in 2011 and won only 55 games in 2012. Just going by win totals, the Nationals were never quite that bad. Washington's worst seasons were 2008 and 2009 when they won 59 games each year.
A big part of the Nats' rise was what they got out of those losing seasons. The first 59-win season brought them Stephen Strasburg through the draft and the second landed them Bryce Harper. Both were number one picks.
The Nationals' ascension has had to do with more than just Strasburg and Harper, but they certainly helped. They also give the Nats reason to hope the team can be even better in the future as each is a young star.
The Astros had the first overall pick in 2012 and selected shortstop Carlos Correa out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy. He is a special young talent, but not considered a once-in-a-while player like Strasburg and Harper were. He certainly could, however, provide the youthful boost both of the Nats' young stars gave the club when they reached the majors.
Houston obviously won't be able to follow the exact path Mike Rizzo and the Nationals took to winning their division, but it sounds like they will try to emulate the team's success as much as they can. GM Jeff Luhnow spoke about following the Nats' model in the fall at Porter's introductory press conference and Porter himself has evoked his former team several times since in conversations with the media.
The Nationals' strategy of building from within and developing young talent is nothing new in Major League Baseball, but their recent success has perhaps re-emphasized the philosophy. Who knows, maybe in three years teams around the league will be looking at Porter and the Astros an example to follow.