Sep 22

One blogger’s votes for the Nats’ 2014 awards

Each year, the D.C. chapter of the Internet Baseball Writers Association polls members of the Nats blogosphere to determine its Player Achievement Awards. The voting is organized by District Sports Page Editor and fellow MASN guest blogger Dave Nichols. This year’s winners will be announced on Monday, Sept. 29 on the DC-IBWAA website.
This blogger is honored to have a ballot this year. Here are the submissions in a few categories, with explanations. A player receives five points for a first-place vote, three points for second place and one point for third.
Goose Goslin Most Valuable Player: 1. Denard Span. 2. Anthony Rendon. 3. Adam LaRoche.
At the midpoint of the season, this vote would have gone to Rendon. But Span’s surge since the All-Star break has been responsible for the Nats’ domination of the league in that time. While Span has hit .340/.397/.453, the Nats have gone 40-22, moving from an NL East tie with Atlanta and the fourth-best record in the National League to a 15-game rout of the Braves and the league’s top mark. Of the 37 runs he has driven in this year, ten have given the Nats the lead, and 19 have come in high-leverage situations, where his line is .391/.438/.467. Throw in defense that should win him a Gold Glove this season and 31 steals, and you have not only a team MVP but consideration for league honors as well.
Rendon’s .286/.347/.471 line is nothing to sneeze at, and his league-leading 110 runs are more than just a testament to the guys who hit behind him. He was a major reason the season did not fall apart in May and June when many of the other starters were injured. His versatility in switching from second base to third, and back again, is also a major factor in this vote. Rendon’s time for major accolades is coming, and soon.
La Roche’s resurgence at age 34 has been nothing short of remarkable. He leads the team in home runs and RBIs, with 25 and 88 respectively, despite injuries and ailments that have limited him to 135 games this season. The best news is, his bat is still hot. He had little left in the tank at this point in his 33-homer, 100-RBI 2012 season.
Walter Johnson Starting Pitcher of the Year: 1. Doug Fister. 2. Stephen Strasburg. 3. Tanner Roark.
Fister missed the first month of the season with a strained lat muscle but still leads the team in wins with 15 and has the best ERA on the starting staff at 1.55. He has been on the mound in key situations all season, including a 3-0 shutout of Atlanta on June 21 that turned the tide of the season for the Nats; two of their ten straight victories in August; and the 4-2 win over the Braves on Sept. 15 that brought the Nats to the brink of the division title. He has pitched at least six innings in all but four of his starts, five innings in all but one. He is the model of consistency and durability that the Nats wanted him to be when they traded for him last year.
Strasburg earned his second-place vote in the past month, when he has gone 3-1 in five starts, allowing just five earned runs. He pitched at least six innings of shutout ball in three of those starts, and went four straight without allowing a walk. In a season where he leads the NL in strikeouts with 238, he would have easily topped this list by pitching consistently.
Roark battled to make the rotation in Spring Training, but opposing hitters have faced the real battle since then. He has the second-lowest ERA among starters at 2.85 and leads the rotation in WHIP with 1.10. He has failed to last five innings just once this season, and has a dozen starts of seven innings or more. His 3-0 complete-game shutout against San Diego on April 26 was the team’s best starting performance of the year.
Frederick “Firpo” Marberry Relief Pitcher of the Year: 1. Drew Storen. 2. Tyler Clippard. 3. Rafael Soriano.
Storen has been the team’s best reliever throughout the season. His stats were only slightly behind Soriano’s during the former closer’s stellar first half, and he actually had fewer walks (five vs. 11) and the same number of earned runs (4) in that time. Since filling in as closer, though, and even before, he has been lights out. He has not allowed an earned run since Aug. 5 and has yielded just 13 hits in 18 innings since then.
As a setup man, Clippard is the middle child of the bullpen, overlooked and under appreciated. But his body of work throughout the season has been as consistent as ever. His ERA at the All-Star break was 2.03, and it’s been 1.95 since. His opponents’ batting average of .184 for the season and .138 in the second half are both the lowest on the team.
Yes, Soriano gets a vote, even though he pitched so horribly in July and August that he lost his closing job. He was arguably the best reliever in baseball in the first half of the season with 22 saves, an 0.97 ERA, an 0.84 WHIP and a .153 OBA. However, he is now in danger of missing the postseason roster.
Be sure to watch for the results in these and other categories on Sept. 29.