WASHINGTON -- In 1989, Matt Williams was a 23-year-old third baseman with parts of three Major League seasons under his belt when he experienced postseason baseball for the first time. Williams hit .300 with two home runs in the National League Championship Series, helping the Giants reach the World Series against the A's.
Twenty-five years later, Williams has led the Nationals to the postseason in his first year as a big league manager. And standing in their way in the NL Division Series is none other than the Giants, with Game 1 set for Friday at Nationals Park (3:07 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1). It's an interesting coincidence, but one Williams downplayed.
"With regard to playing the Giants, it's a nice feeling," Williams said Thursday, "but we'll try to beat them and see what we can do to accomplish the goal. They've got a good club. They do things right."
Williams made his Major League debut with the Giants in April 1987, and he stayed with the club through '96, making four NL All-Star teams and hitting 247 home runs. He returned to San Francisco for the first time as a manager in June, when the Nats took three of four games at AT&T Park.
Although Washington went 5-2 in the season series, Williams knows his opponent holds the edge in postseason experience. The Nationals are playing the second playoff series in club history, while the Giants won World Series titles in 2010 and '12.
"They're battle-tested, for sure," Williams said. "They have been down this road a number of times, so they've got guys over there that have been here and done that."
Williams also faces the challenge of managing against Bruce Bochy, whom he called "the consummate professional." Bochy has taken a team to the postseason for the seventh time, including three World Series runs.
"He understands his guys. They love to play for him," Williams said. "He's very calm, and that's kind of his natural demeanor anyway, is calm. But in pressure situations, he doesn't show that there's anything going on with him, and his players respond."
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.