November 1, 2014

Internet Baseball Writers Association of DC announces Washington Nationals 2012 Player Achievement Awards

The Washington, DC chapter of the Internet Baseball Writers Association is an organization composed of Internet writers, on-line media outlets, and bloggers.

In accordance with its stated goal of promoting the members of the association and increasing awareness and respect as active members of the media that cover the Washington Nationals Major League Baseball club, the DC-IBWA is pleased to announce its member-voted winners of the 2012 Player Achievement Awards.

Below are the awards, and my picks for each award. Please feel free to leave your opinion on the votes in our comments section!
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2012 WASHINGTON NATIONALS PLAYER ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS

Goose Goslin Most Valuable Player (Player most valuable to the success of the Washington Nationals):

1st: Adam LaRoche (68 points, 9 first place votes)
2nd: Ian Desmond (47 points, 5 first place votes)
3rd: Gio Gonzalez (32 points, 53 first place votes)
Others receiving votes: Ryan Zimmerman (18), Bryce Harper (9-one first place vote), Stephen Strasburg (4).

DSP Vote
: Desmond, LaRoche, Harper. This really might be my vote to express how much Davey Johnson has meant to this team. He saw that Desmond was not a leadoff hitter and dropped him down in the lineup and told him to be the run producer he’s always shown signs of being.

Walter Johnson Starting Pitcher of the Year (Excellent performance as a starting pitcher):

1st: Gio Gonzalez (100 points, 205 first place votes)
2nd: Stephen Strasburg (47 points)
3rd: Jordan Zimmermann (16 points)
Others receiving votes: Ross Detwiler (3).

DSP Vote: Gonzalez, Zimmermann, Strasburg. I was one of the biggest skeptics when the Nats traded half their farm system to acquire Gonzalez, who always walked too many batters and benefitted from playing in the biggest ballpark in the league. But he cut down his BBs, increased his Ks, and took advantage of the N.L. the first time through. Legitimate Cy Young contender.

Frederick “Firpo” Marberry Relief Pitcher of the Year (Excellent performance as a relief pitcher):

1st: Tyler Clippard (94 points, 16 first place votes)
2nd: Craig Stammen (38 points, 3 first place votes)
3rd: Sean Burnett (24 points)
Others receiving votes: Drew Storen (17), Michael Gonzalez (2), Ryan Mattheus (2), Tom Gorzelanny (1), Christian Garcia (1).

DSP Vote: Clippard, Storen, Garcia. Despite his struggles at the end of the season, Clippard was magnificent. Hopefully this is just a little slump and not the result of throwing so many innings the last three seasons. Garcia is nasty and will be a dominant set-up man next season.

Sam Rice Hitter of the Year  (Excellence in all-around hitting, situational hitting and baserunning):

1st: Ian Desmond (51 points, 7 first place votes)
2nd: Adam LaRoche (47 points, 5 first place votes)
3rd: Ryan Zimmerman (33 points, 4 first place votes)
Others receiving votes: Bryce Harper (28-three first place votes), Jayson Werth (18-one first place vote), Danny Espinosa (2).

DSP Vote: Harper, Desmond, Zimmerman. Yes, I believe Bryce Harper is already the Nats best hitter. His all-out hustle on the basepaths sometimes ventures into the reckless, but he’s as exciting a player as there is in the Major Leagues. Zim post-cortisone shot: 120 games, .293/.348/.510, 31 doubles, 24 homers, 84 RBIs. MVP-caliber production.

Frank Howard Slugger of the Year (Excellence in power hitting):

1st: Adam LaRoche (90 points, 18 first place votes)
2nd:  Ian Desmond (30 points)
3rd: Ryan Zimmerman (19 points)
Others receiving votes: Bryce Harper (14), Michael Morse (10-one first place vote), Danny Espinosa (2).

DSP Vote: LaRoche, Zimmerman, Harper. LaRoche’s swing is so smooth and effortless it’s easy to miss out on how powerful it is. Rizzo always said when LaRoche got healthy he’d put up his numbers. I was surprised he got out of the gate so fast after his shoulder surgery of last season, but his numbers are proof.

Joe Judge Defensive Player of the Year (Excellence in fielding):

1st: Ryan Zimmerman (53 points, 7 first place votes)
2nd: Danny Espinosa (38 points, 5 first place votes)
3rd: Ian Desmond (37 points, 4 first place votes)
Others receiving votes: Adam LaRoche (19–two first place votes), Bryce Harper (20–two first place votes), Roger Bernadina (7), Kurt Suzuki (3).

DSP Vote: Desmond, Espinosa, Harper. Desmond elevated his entire game this season. He’s in the top handful on the game in range and arm at the position. Espinosa just keeps getting better defensively and Harper, while still learning the position and may grow out of it, showed he has natural instincts and can play MLB center field. I left Zimmerman off my ballot because of his throwing issues. 

Mickey Vernon Comeback Player of the Year (Player who overcame biggest obstacle in the preceding season to contribute on the field):

1st: Adam LaRoche (75 points, 12 first place votes)
2nd: Stephen Strasburg (46 points, 4 first place votes)
3rd: Jayson Werth (29 points, 3 first place votes)
Others receiving votes: Ian Desmond (6), Ross Detwiler (5–one first place vote), Ryan Zimmerman (3), Chad Tracy (2), Jesus Flores (1), Michael Morse (1), Roger Bernadina (1), John Lannan (1), Sean Burnett (1), Christian Garcia (1).

DSP Vote: LaRoche, Strasburg, Garcia. All three players (and Storen) came back from invasive surgery to perform at the highest levels. Garcia might end up being quite a find and cost the team absolutely nothing in return.

Josh Gibson Humanitarian Player of the Year (Player who meritoriously gave of himself to the community):

1st: Ryan Zimmerman (89 points, 16 first place votes)
2nd: Ian Desmond (12 points, 1 first place vote)
3rd: Gio Gonzalez (9 points, 1 first place vote)
Others receiving votes: Drew Storen (9), Wilson Ramos (5–one first place vote), Bryce Harper (5), Stephen Strasburg (3), Tyler Moore (1).

DSP Vote: Zimmerman, Storen, Harper. Zimmerman is the face of this franchise ont he field and in the community. His ziMS Foundation fundraiser every year is the biggest charity every of the season. Storen is big with children’s charities and Harper used his only day off after a west coast road trip to conduct a free clinic for area kids — only a few years younger than himself.

Minor League Player of the Year (Minor league player most destined for big league success):

1st: Matt Skole (30 points, 3 first place votes)
2nd: Nathan Karns (24 points, 3 first place vote)
3rd: Eury Perez (15 points, 1 first place votes)
Others receiving votes: Brian Goodwin (13–two first place votes), Alex Meyer (12–one first place vote), Danny Rosenbaum (11–two first place votes), Christian Garcia (11–two first place votes), Corey Brown (7–one first place vote), Anthony Rendon (4), Johnatan Solano (3), John Lannan (2).

DSP Vote: Garcia, Skole, Goodwin. The MiLB POY is usually our tightest vote, and this year was no different. Eight different players received at least one first place vote. It says two things: the Nats didn’t have one over-reaching top minor league player this season, and that the quality of top minor league prospects is fairly deep.

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SURVEY QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

1. What player was the biggest surprise for the Nats this season? Adam LaRoche (11), Ian Desmond (5), Ross Detwiler (3), Craig Stammen (1), Bryce Harper (1), Jayson Werth (1), Win/Loss Record (1).

DSP Vote: Harper. I was surprised he came up as early as he did. I was surprised he took to center field as quickly as he did. I was surprised at how he adjusts to how he’s pitched at such a young age. I was surprised at the overall numbers he put up. I was surprised at how mature he handled everything thrown at him this season.

2. What player was the biggest disappointment for the Nats this season? Chien-Ming Wang (5), Wilson Ramos injury (2), Brad Lidge (2), Jesus Flores (2), Henry Rodriguez (2), Danny Espinosa (2), Mark DeRosa (1), Drew Storen injury (1), Strasburg Shutdown (1).

DSP Vote: Espinosa. If someone said you can have a second baseman that played Gold Glove quality defense and go 20/20 every year, you’d take that every day, right? Sure you would. But that’s the tantalizing thing about Espinosa, there seems like there could be more in there. His refusal so far in his career to adjust in the box to different hitting situations is troubling. He has more power left-handed (HR/33 PAs as LHB vs. HR/61 PAs as RHB) but sacrifices average and OBP to do it. Like Desmond last season, hopefully Danny takes that next step next season. Wang, Hot Rod and Lidge didn’t disappoint me as they performed (or didn’t) pretty much how I expected.

3. Will the Nats sign Adam LaRoche and/or Edwin Jackson to a long-term contract extension before they reach free agency? Yes-both (2), No-both (7), LaRoche (8), Jackson (0), One or the other (1).

DSP Vote: LaRoche yes; Jackson no. I can envision the Nats and LaRoche tearing up the mutual extension clauses in his contract and working out a three-year deal. If he wants more than that, he’ll end up on the free agent list. With his track record and injury history, I’m not sure he’ll get more than three on the open market. Jackson’s free agent foray will be fascinating to watch. He’s a quality pitcher that hasn’t caught on anywhere long-term. He took a gamble on a one-year deal with the Nats this season. We’ll see if that gamble paid off.

4. Which players on the 40-man roster at the end of the season are least likely to return in 2010? Chien-Ming Wang (11), Mark DeRosa (10), Edwin Jackson (7), Jesus Flores (6), Adam LaRoche (5), Michael Gonzalez (5), Tom Gorzelanny (4), Zach Duke (3), Chad Tracy (3), Henry Rodriguez (1), Michael Morse (1), Tyler Clippard (1).

DSP Vote: Jackson, Lannan, Duke, Wang, Flores, DeRosa. Turnover this year won’t be like in years past, but it’s tough to imagine at this point any of these folks coming back. Lannan’s the tough one. He was a good soldier this year, but unlikely to be tendered a contract due to his arbitration salary last season.

5. Who is your favorite professional Nationals writer? Mark Zuckerman (6), Adam Kilgore (6), Dan Steinberg (2), Amanda Comak (1), Tom Boswell (1), Thom Loverro (1).

DSP Vote: Zuckerman. The “People’s Beat Writer” is affiliated once again, but Mark’s perspective having been with the team since Day One is invaluable. It’s obvious from the community he’s built at Nats Insider that D.C. baseball fans appreciate his style and openness in covering the team. Because of his unique situation, he can blend analysis, commentary and opinion in his game stories much easier than the other beat writers, and his work is better for it — and better for the fans.

6. Who is your favorite non-professional Nationals writer? Dave Nichols-District Sports Page (5), Nats Enquirer (3), Harper Gordek-Nationals Baseball (2), Patrick Reddington-Federal Baseball (1), Andrew Kinback-Nationals Inquisition (1), Luke Erickson-Nationals Prospects (1), Joe Drugan-The Nats Blog (1), Rachel Levitin-WeLoveDC.com (1).

DSP Vote: Patrick Reddington-Federal Baseball. I’m absolutely humbled and thrilled that my peers think I’m contributing to the discussion in a meaningful way. But Patrick chronicles the daily, hourly and really, up-to-the-minute dealings of the Nats in such excruciating detail that it’s hard to fathom how he does it. His daily links post alone must take two hours to produce, let alone transcribing EVERY SINGLE radio, tv or podcast spot that has anything to do with the Nats. Then he conducts a live Game Thread and still manages to get a recap out minutes after the game ends. He’s a true workhorse for the advancement of dialog about the Nationals.

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Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Nats and the Caps, and previously wrote Nats News Network and Caps News Network. Dave’s first sports hero was Bobby Dandridge. Follow Dave’s Nationals coverage on Twitter @NationalsDSP.

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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