August 21, 2018

Internet Baseball Writers Association of DC announces Washington Nationals 2013 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 2013 Player Achievement Awards.

Since District Sports Page is one of the four credentialed independent sites that cover the team, we’re allowed up to three votes. This year Dave Nichols, Editor-in-Chief and Alyssa Wolice, Staff Writer, submitted votes.

Please feel free to leave your opinion on the votes in our comments section!

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2013 WASHINGTON NATIONALS PLAYER ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS

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

1st: Jayson Werth (61 points, 7 first place votes)
2nd: Ian Desmond (39 points, 3 first place votes)
3rd: Jordan Zimmermann (23 points, 3 first place votes)

Others receiving votes: Ryan Zimmerman (8), Bryce Harper (4), Denard Span (3), Tyler Clippard (2).

Dave’s Vote: Werth-Zimmerman-Desmond. What Jayson Werth did this year was nothing short of phenominal.

Alyssa’s vote: Zimmermann-Werth-Clippard.

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

1st: Jordan Zimmermann (76 points, 12 first place votes)
2nd: Stephen Strasburg (42 points, 2 first place votes)
3rd: Gio Gonzalez (18 points)

Others receiving votes: Tanner Roark (8).

Dave’s Vote: Zimmermann-Strasburg-Gonzalez. The stoic righty from Wisconsin opened some people’s eyes this season, both in-market and nationally. He’s every bit as accomplished a pitcher as the other two and does nothing but pound the strike zone. something the other two could pick up on.

Alyssa’s vote: Zimmermann-Strasburg-Roark.

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

 1st: Tyler Clippard (78 points, 13 first place votes)
2nd: Craig Stammen (30 points, 1 first place votes)
3rd: Rafael Soriano (28 points)

Others receiving votes: Tanner Roark (3), Drew Storen (2), Fernando Abad (1).

Dave’s Vote: Clippard-Soriano-Stammen. Clippard was unhittable almost all year. Unless, of course, when facing the Braves. Will have to get over that mental hurdle.

Alyssa’s vote: Clippard-Soriano-Stammen.

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

1st: Jayson Werth (68 points, 12 first place votes)
2nd:  Ian Desmond (37 points, 3 first place votes)
3rd: Ryan Zimmerman (17 points)

Others receiving votes: Bryce Harper (14), Denard Span (8).

Dave’s Vote: Desmond-Werth-Harper. Would you like to see Desmond work a few more walks? Sure. Would you like to see him not force the running game in certain situations? Yes. But his transformation from free-swinging hacker to party guy at the plate has been remarkable. If nothing else, this team can thank Davey Johnson for turning Desmond into the hitter everyone in the organization thought he was going to be. This, after Jim Riggleman almost ruined him.

Alyssa’s vote: Werth-Desmond-Zimmerman.

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

1st: Jayson Werth (76 points, 13 first place votes)
2nd: Bryce Harper (32 points, 1 first place vote)
3rd: Ryan Zimmerman (23 points, 1 first place vote)

Others receiving votes: Wilson Ramos (6), Ian Desmond (2), Adam LaRoche (1).

Dave’s Vote: Zimmerman-Werth-Ramos. The last two months of the season makes you wish Zimmerman had been at full strength from the get-go. He’s a complete power hitter in the prime of his career and hopefully an off-season of rest and normal strength training will have him primed again next season.

Alyssa’s vote: Werth-Zimmerman-Harper.

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

1st: Denard Span (61 points, 12 first place votes)
2nd: Ian Desmond (34 points, 1 first place votes)
3rd: Wilson Ramos (18 points, 1 first place vote)

Others receiving votes: Bryce Harper (7), Adam LaRoche (4),  Ryan Zimmerman (3), Danny Espinosa (2), Jayson Werth (1), Kurt Suzuki (1).

Dave’s Vote: Span-Desmond-Ramos. Denard Span is a musician in center field. He never looks like he’s giving full effort because he knows how to play out there and make it look easy. But when he does makes a difficult catch, it’s that much more spectacular knowing how easy he makes the tough look routine.

Alyssa’s vote: Desmond-Span-Ramos.

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

1st: Wilson Ramos (52 points, 8 first place votes)
2nd: Jayson Werth (12 points, 2 first place votes)
3rd: Ross Ohlendorf (11 points)

Others receiving votes: Stephen Strasburg (9, 1 first place vote), Drew Storen (6), Ryan Zimmerman (5, 1 first place vote), Taylor Jordan (5, 1 first place vote), Fernando Abad (1).

Dave’s Vote: Ram0s-Ohlendorf-Werth. Can we get a full healthy season from Wilson Ramos next season? Pretty please?

Alyssa’s vote: Werth-Ramos-Ohlendorf.

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

1st: Ryan Zimmerman (55 points, 10 first place votes)
2nd: Ian Desmond (28 points, 31 first place vote)
3rd: Gio Gonzalez (16 points, 1 first place vote)

Others receiving votes: Bryce Harper (9), Adam LaRoche (3), Denard Span (2).

DSP Vote: Zimmerman-Harper-Desmond. Zimmerman quietly goes about his philanthropic business just like he does on the field and the clubhouse.

Alyssa’s vote: Zimmerman-Span-Harper.

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

1st: Lucas Giolito (20 points, 4 first place votes)
2nd: Anthony Rendon (15 points, 3 first place vote)
3rd: A.J. Cole (19 points, 1 first place vote); Brian Goodwin (19, 1 first place vote)

Others receiving votes: Taylor Jordan (17), Zach Walters (16, 3 first place votes), Billy Burns (13, 2 first place votes), Tanner Roark (6), Robby Ray (2), Nathan Karns (2), Danny Espinosa (1).

Dave’s Vote: Giolito-Cole-Goodwin. Giolito didn’t disappoint this season in his 11 starts between the Gulf League and Auburn. The 19-year old has a big fastball and two other pitches projected to be plus in the bigs.

Alyssa’s vote: Goodwin-Giolito-Cole.

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SURVEY QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

1. Which players on the 40-man roster at the end of the season are least likely to return in 2010? Dan Haren (12), Chad Tracy (9), Xavier Cedeno (4), Ross Ohlendorf (4), Danny Espinosa (4), Ryan Mattheus (4), Scott Hairston (3), Fernando Abad (3), Tyler Robertson (3), Chris Marrero (2), Mauro Gomez (2), Drew Storen (2), Steve Lombardozzi (2), Rafael Soriano (2), Jeff Kobernus (1), Tyler Moore (1), Corey Brown (1), Adam LaRoche (1).

Dave’s Vote: Abad, Cedeno, Haren, Mattheus, Ohlendorf, Robertson, Marrero, Tracy, Hairston, Brown. Obviously, some of these are veterans whose time have run out. Some are failed prospects. Some are journeymen. None will be particularly missed.

Alyssa’s vote: I realize that many in Nats country will disagree with me, but I would still argue that if the Washington Nationals can move his contract elsewhere, Adam LaRoche’s days in the District may be over. Bear in mind, however, that could be quite the “if.” After all, LaRoche signed a two-year deal last winter for a guaranteed $12 million in 2014 and, at the very least, a $2 million buyout in 2015. LaRoche has contributed very little to the batting order – in fact, his peak batting average all season fell shy of .270. While everyone and their mother seemed to shake off LaRoche’s sluggish start to the season with an excuse along the lines of “That’s LaRoche being LaRoche,” his numbers never rebounded – he finished the season with a slash line of .237/.332/.403.

2. Will the Nats sign Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann to a long-term contracts extension before they reach free agency? Yes-both (9), No-both (0), Desmond only (3), Zimmermann only (2).

Dave’s Vote: Going out on a limb here, but I say they re-sign Zimmermann before he hits free agency, but Desmond waits and gets offers. If he has another big year in 2014, he’ll be poised to be one of the biggest free agents available at a very high-demand position.

Alyssa’s vote: Considering that Ian Desmond has two years left of arbitration, the Nationals are likely to do what it takes to come to terms on a contract extension before their shortstop hits free agency. Mike Rizzo has described Desmond as one of the team’s leaders and he has emphasized the importance of keeping home-grown talent in D.C. Desmond just missed the All-Star roster and finished up the season with 20 home runs, 80 RBIs and a .280/.331/.453 slash line. Keep in mind, there are few solid shortstops available on the market today and Desmond’s two 20-20 season seasons put him in elite company in the MLB history books.

Jordan Zimmermann could be a different story. While it is in the Nats’ best interest to secure a deal with this year’s 19-game-winner, Zimmermann’s strategy to hold off on a long-term deal last year could likely work again if he can boast similar numbers in 2014. With that said, the Nats can’t afford to let this year’s ace slip out of their grasp. Zimmermann finished off the season with a 3.25 ERA – a number that could have been significantly lower had it not been for a sloppy July. And, in many ways, he is getting better with time – he tossed the first two complete-game shutouts of his career – a one-hitter and a two-hitter – and his fastball consistently topped 95 in late September, while his slider reached 90.

3. What player was the biggest surprise for the Nats this season? Tanner Roark (7), Jayson Werth (6), Taylor Jordan (3), Ian Krol (1).

Dave’s Vote: Jayson Werth. I mean, seriously, who saw that coming. He put up the best season of his career and missed a month to boot. I had serious doubts the power would come back after yet another wrist injury last season. If he’s 80 percent of this next year the Nats will be in good shape.

Alyssa’s vote: This one is a bit of a no-brainer – the Nats’ biggest surprise this year has been 26-year-old right-hander, Tanner Roark. Roark finished the season with a 7-1 record and a 1.51 ERA over 53 ⅔ innings. In his short stint, he struck out 40 batters and kept the Nats close enough in the wild card hunt to keep things interesting through the late summer. Roark is certainly a candidate for a starter role next season, but it will be interesting to see if he can enjoy such success after facing opponents for a second and third time. After all, something doesn’t quite add up – this year, he recorded a 9-3 record with a 3.15 ERA at Triple A before his Aug. 9 promotion; however, in 2012, he was 6-17 with a 4.39 ERA. While that, of course, offers signs of development and improvement, it will be interesting to see whether his mid-80s slider continues to dazzle or players will figure out his pitching arsenal.

4. What player was the biggest disappointment for the Nats this season? Dan Haren (9), Danny Espinosa (6), Denard Span (2), Adam LaRoche (1).

Dave’s Vote: Espinosa. This is the second year in a row I’ve voted for Espinosa. It’s a damn shame he’s going to let pride ruin his baseball career. If he’d had the shoulder surgery last August the Nats would have gotten him back healthy at the All-Star break and he wouldn’t have broken his wrist. Now, he’s going to lose three seasons to what should have been a very fixable injury.

Alyssa’s vote: I think Denard Span takes home the title this year. Yes, his 29-game hitting streak brought fans back into the game at a time when the Nats weren’t playing meaningful baseball. And, yes, he had that fantastic catch against the San Francisco Giants on Aug. 14. But, those are essentially the only noteworthy contributions Span made this year – a year in which he was expected to be an explosive add for the Nats’ batting order. It’s true, players often struggle when adjusting to a new league, but Span’s hitting woes – particularly against left-handers – has been a bit mind-boggling. That’s not to say his dismal season is enough to warrant a trade – after all, his fielding has helped make up for what his bat has been lacking – but his .327 OBP is hardly what the Nats expected when they slated Span to be their leadoff hitter. Span’s speed on the base paths saved him a bit – he recorded 11 triples and stole 20 bags. But now, it’s up to Span to prove 2013 an outlier as he enters his second full season in the National League next year.

5. Who is your favorite professional Nationals writer? Adam Kilgore (7), Amanda Comak (4), Mark Zuckerman (3), James Wagner (1).

Dave’s Vote: Zuckerman. I’ll just re-post what I said last year — 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.

Alyssa’s vote: Adam Kilgore, for sure. That’s not to say there aren’t other quality writers on the Nats beat – there certainly are – but no other writer brings out the Nats’ personalities quite like Kilgore.

6. Who is your favorite non-professional Nationals writer? Harper Gordek-Nationals Baseball (2), Patrick Reddington-Federal Baseball (2), Citizens of NatsTown (2), Dave Nichols-District Sports Page (1), Luke Erickson-Nationals Prospects (1), Joe Drugan-The Nats Blog (1), Luigi deGuzman-Natstradamus (1), Nationals Archive (1), Nationals 101 (1), Sharkadina (1), Nationals Arm Race (1).

Dave’s Vote: Patrick Reddington-Federal Baseball. 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.

Alyssa’s vote: It’s honestly terribly difficult to pick a favorite Nats blogger, but I’d have to say I really admire the work that everyone at The Nats Blog has done this season. Both Joe Drugan and Erin Flynn provide very well-crafted game recaps that do more than simply rehash big plays – their writing styles make it clear that they still have fun reporting on this team, even when the Nationals offered plenty of reasons to be frustrated beyond recovery.

I’ve also burnt many an hour on the Nationals Archive website – and all of their Twitter feeds – so they certainly deserve a mention.

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Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Nats, Caps, and Wizards and covers college football and basketball for the Associated Press. Dave’s first sports hero was Bobby Dandridge. Follow Dave’s Nationals coverage on Twitter @NationalsDSP or @DaveNicholsDSP.

Alyssa Wolice is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page, covering the Nationals and Wizards. As a former production assistant, she covered the Nationals, Redskins, Capitals, Wizards, D.C. United and local collegiate teams. You can follow her on Twitter @awolice.

DC-IBWA Predictions revisited: What we got right & wrong

For the last several seasons, the members of the D.C. Chapter of the Internet Baseball Writers Association have conducted a pre-season survey and post-season awards based on the current Washington Nationals season. This year’s post-season awards will be announced Friday. But I thought it would be fun to look back at our pre-season predictions group-think to see what we got right about 2013, and where we went horribly wrong.

1) Who will lead the Nats in home runs?  Answer: Ryan Zimmerman–26

Survey Results
Bryce Harper — 15
Ryan Zimmerman — 8
Adam LaRoche — 5
Ian Desmond — 1
Danny Espinosa — 1

Most folks picked Harper, expecting him to explode in his second year. We shouldn’t feel too bad, most of the pros had Harper winning the MVP. Two months of injury after colliding with the Dodger Stadium wall put a dent in Harper’s counting stats, but the quality stats were right where we’d want them to be.

My pick was Ryan Zimmerman.

2) Who will lead the Nats in RBIs?  Answer: Ian Desmond–80

Survey Results
Ryan Zimmerman — 19
Adam LaRoche — 6
Bryce Harper — 3
Ian Desmond — 1
Denard Span — 1

Matt from Matt’s Bats was the only person to pick Desmond. Nice call Matt. Desmond followed up his breakthrough season with another terrific year, cementing his position as one of the top three shortstops in the N.L. Has he priced himself out of a long-term deal in D.C., or will the Nats find a way to sign him to an extension before he becomes a free agent?

My pick was Zimmerman.

3) Who will lead the Nats in Stolen Bases?  Ian Desmond–21

Survey Results
Denard Span — 22
Ian Desmond — 6
Bryce Harper — 3

Desmond beat out Span by one stolen base, though if Span hadn’t taken so long to get adjusted to the N.L., he probably would have topped this list.

My pick was Span.

4) Who will lead the Nats in wins?  Jordan Zimmermann–19

Survey Results
Stephen Strasburg — 15
Gio Gonzalez — 8
Jordan Zimmermann — 6
Dan Haren — 1

A handful of folks had the stoic righty from Wisconsin as the surprise leader of the staff this season. Except for a few starts after the All-Star break, Zimmermann was consistently excellent. As with Desmond, he’s quickly earning a big payday himself.

My pick was Zimmermann.

5) Who will lead the Nats in bullpen appearances?  Tyler Clippard–72

Tyler Clippard — 20
Craig Stammen — 8
Drew Storen — 1
Rafael Soriano — 1

Tyler Clippard has been the workhorse of the Nats bullpen for three years now. He just finds a way to continue to pump high fastballs and wicked changeups past everyone, lefty or righty. I’ve stopped worrying about overuse, so next year is when he finally gets hurt, right?

My pick was Craig Stammen.

6) Who will lead the Nats in catching at bats?  Wilson Ramos–303

Survey Results
Wilson Ramos — 18
Kurt Suzuki — 13

Ramos narrowly beat out Suzuki due to his hamstring injuries robbing him of two months. His return, coupled with Werth’s, were the catalysts to the Nats second half offensive surge.

My pick was Ramos.

7) Which minor leaguer are you most interested in watching this season?

Anthony Rendon — 13
Matt Purke — 6
Nathan Karns — 3
Lucas Giolito — 3
Matt Skole — 1
A.J. Cole — 1
Eury Perez — 1

Rendon debuted in the bigs much earlier than anyone expected. Nate Karns got a brief tryout. Giolito was terrific in Rookie and Low-A. Purke continues to come back from shoulder problems. Skole missed the entire season after requiring Tommy John for his catching arm. Cole will be on everyone’s top prospect lists next year. Perez had a decent year in AAA but is losing the luster off his prospect shine.

My pick was Purke.

8) What will be the date of Anthony Rendon’s MLB debut?  April 21

Survey Results
Sept. 1 — 9
July 19 — 2
June 1, June 14, June 24, July 1, July 8, July 27, Aug. 1, Aug. 15, Sept. 2, Sept. 3, Sept. 5, Sept. 9, Sept. 13, Apr. 1, 2014 — 1

No one came close. Rendon made his debut in April and was back for good in early June when the Nats finally gave up on Danny Espinosa. Rendon finished his rookie year .265/.329/.396 with seven homers and 35 RBIs in 394 plate appearances.

My guess was June 1. But I did state the reason would be Danny Espinosa’s inability due to injury.

9) How many All-Stars will the Nats have? Who?  2—Jordan Zimmermann & Bryce Harper

Survey Results
4 — 13
5 — 6
3 — 8
6 — 2

Stephen Strasburg — 27
Bryce Harper — 24
Ryan Zimmerman — 20
Ian Desmond — 18
Rafael Soriano — 8
Gio Gonzalez — 7
Jordan Zimmermann — 7
Tyler Clippard — 3
Adam LaRoche — 3
Danny Espinosa — 1
Denard Span — 1

Everyone thought Strasburg was going to dominate, but he struggled some in the first half. He didn’t look dominant, had trouble with unearned runs and visibly showed frustration with things out of his control. Something triggered as some point and he was a much tougher pitcher down the stretch.

My picks were Jordan Zimmermann, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman. Like Meatloaf said, two out of three ain’t bad.

10) Number of wins and finish in the division?  86, second

98 — 6
94 — 4
99 — 4
101 — 3
100 — 2
95 — 2
92 — 2
97 — 2
96 — 1
93 — 1
90 — 1
89 — 1
86 — 1

First — 26
Second — 4

Congratulation to Steven Biel, the artist formerly known as FJB. He correctly predicted 86 wins and second place in the division. He had the lowest prediction of any Nats blogger, or pro for that matter. Remind me to consult FJB when picking lottery tickets next time.

My guess was 98 wins and first place.

Essay: What is the most important development for the Nationals this season?

Health for starting pitchers — 5
Managing high expectations — 3
Forgetting how last season ended — 2
Bullpen health — 2
Starters pitching more innings/deeper in games — 2
Getting younger in the minors
Draft without a first round pick
200 innings pitched for Strasburg
Managing the running game/pitchers holding runners
Overall defensive improvement
Continuing the development from 2012
Addition of Rafael Soriano to end of bullpen
Addition of center fielder/ lead-off hitter

Now that we can look back, the most important development for the Nats this season was health from their everyday players. Of the opening day lineup, Werth, Harper, Ramos, Espinosa and Zimmerman all suffered from injury or adjustments following surgery.

My answer was health in the starting rotation. The “Big Three” were all solid, but Detwiler missed four months and Haren spent two weeks on the D.L. as a rescue from being released.

DC-IBWA Announces Preseason Survey Results: 2013 Washington Nationals

The DC Chapter of the Internet Baseball Writers Association announced the results of their annual preseason survey of member blogs on topics pertaining to the upcoming Washington Nationals season. You can find the results here.

Here are my answers for your amusement. Feel free to leave yours in the comments section.

1) Who will lead the Nats in home runs? Ryan Zimmerman. Frankly, if he stays healthy I expect nothing less than an MVP caliber season from Zimmerman.

2) Who will lead the Nats in RBIs? Zimmerman. See above.

3) Who will lead the Nats in stolen bases? Denard Span. That’s why he’s here, though he won’t come close to leading the league. Davey will be very selective when he allows Span to run.

4) Who will lead the Nats in wins? Going out on a limb to say Jordan Zimmermann. I think this is the year he puts it all together and gives the Nats a three-headed ace.

5) Who will lead in bullpen appearances? Craig Stammen. I think his flexibility and Clippard’s use the last two years will prompt Davey to reach for Stammen more often.

6) Who will lead in at bats from a catcher? Wilson Ramos. Three weeks ago I would have said Suzuki, but I think now Ramos will probably do three-fifths of the catching.

7) Which minor leaguer are you most interested in following this year? Matt Purke. Had surgery to clean out the tendonitis in his shoulder and we should finally see some of the talent he has in there.

8) Date of Anthony Rendon’s MLB debut? June 1 or earlier. I have no confidence in Danny Espinosa’s left shoulder.

9) Number of Nats All-Stars and whom? Three: Zimmerman, Zimmermann, Harper.

10) Wins and place in division: 98, first place.

Essay: Most important development for Nats this season? Health in the starting rotation. The Nats have very little depth in the high minors if a starter were to go down. The Nats were very lucky with health to their starters last season, this season it will be critical if they want to live up to their lofty expectations.

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.

DC-IBWA announces 2012 Pre-Season Survey Results

Members of the Washington, DC chapter of the Internet Baseball Writers Association were asked to reply to a survey of 11 questions regarding the Washington Nationals upcoming season. Twenty-one members of the association replied to the survey, which asked for predictions on several position battles, statistical leaders, and win projections for the 2012 Nats.

You can find a link to the survey responses here.

As a founding member of the DC-IBWA, we of course responded. Below were our choices, and we welcome your comments or opinions.

1. Who will lead the Nats in home runs?  Dave: Zimmerman; Cheryl: Zimmerman; Tyler: Morse.

If Ryan Zimmerman can stay healthy all season, he could be in line for a career year at age 27, just entering his prime. 

2. Who will lead the Nats in RBIs?  Dave: Morse; Cheryl: Zimmerman; Tyler: Zimmerman.

As I’ll explain further below, the Nats top of the order lacks in on-base skills, so I went with Morse for the RBI category, who at least will have Zimmerman getting on base ahead of him. Though if Morse missed more than a couple of weeks, this prediction will be off.

3. Who will led the Nats in stolen bases?  Dave: Desmond; Cheryl: Espinosa; Tyler: Desmond.
 
Desmond, Espinosa and Bernadina all are fairly efficient stealing bases, but Desmond takes the opportunity much more often than Espinosa. Bernadina just won’t have the playing time to keep up with the other two.
 
4. Who will lead the Nats in wins? Dave: Gonzalez; Cheryl: Zimmermann; Tyler: Zimmermann.
 
Gonzalez has been a work horse the last two years, starting 33 and 32 games and going over 200 innings both times. Starts and innings pitched are keys for pitcher’s wins. The deeper you pitch into games the more likely you are to be the winning pitcher. Gonzalez might not end up the best or most efficient pitcher the Nats have, but he likely will be the work horse of this staff as well.

5. Which pitcher (Chien-Ming Wang, John Lannan or Ross Detwiler) will make more starts for the Nats? Dave: Detwiler; Cheryl: Detwiler; Tyler: Detwiler.
 
Most of the survey answers came in before John Lannan was demoted on Tuesday, but the Nats really want to see what they have in Detwiler. This is his best, and perhaps last, opportunity to finally prove he belongs in the Major League rotation. Detwiler, 26, is not all that young anymore.
 
6. Which center field candidate (Rick Ankiel, Roger Bernadina or Bryce Harper) will get more at bats for the Nats? Dave: Bernadina; Cheryl: Bernadina; Tyler: Ankiel.
 
It could still be Harper, but my guess is that he ends up playing in the minors to long to have more games at center than Bernie and will eventually be at a corner once he gets up to the bigs anyway.
 
7. What date will Bryce Harper make his MLB debut? Dave: June 19; Cheryl: June 1; Tyler: June 15
 
My response was June 19, but I could envision a bunch of scenarios. Really, it’s going to depend on Harper. If he makes a swift and resounding transition to the more experienced pitchers of Triple-A, we could see him a few weeks earlier, and you know he’d love to be in uniform for the Yankees series June 15-17. I can also picture him playing in the minors all season and coming up when rosters expand. Regardless, it will be fascinating to watch when he does arrive.
 
8. Which minor leaguer are you most excited to watch this season? Dave: Matt Purke; Cheryl: Ryan Tatusko and Eury Perez; Tyler: Destin Hood.
 
To me, Matt Purke is the most interesting minor leaguer the Nats have, other than Harper. Purke was the best pitcher in college his freshman year at TCU and he exhibited top of the first round stuff. If he’s fully healthy after injuries limited him his sophomore year, he could be a real difference-maker for the Nats and wind up being a steal out of the third round of last year’s draft.
 
9. How many all-stars will the Nats have and whom? Dave: One, Zimmerman; Cheryl: Three, Zimmerman, Espinosa, Strasburg; Tyler: Two, Strasburg and Zimmerman.
 
Even though the Nats are seemingly the darling of the national media right now, the trendy pick for a playoff spot, it’s tough for me to envision them getting more than one All-Star representative. They won’t have anyone voted on to the team by the fans, that’s for certain. Zimmerman is the only position player with enough name recognition, and I just don’t think Strasburg will get out of the box quickly enough to merit his inclusion. But if they get off to a hot start, who knows?
 
10. Number of wins and place in division? Dave: 83 wins, third place; Cheryl: 87 wins, second place; Tyler: 87 wins, second place.
 
As I mentioned in my projections post yesterday, I think the Nats are closer to playoff-quality baseball than they ever have been, but aren’t quite there yet. I just don’t think there’s enough offense to push them over the top. We’re going to see a lot of 3-2 games — winning and losing — this season. But I expect the pitching will keep them in the conversation all season long.
 
11. Most important development for 2011? Dave: Top of the order offense; Cheryl: Outfield situation; Tyler: Top of the order offense.
 
If the Nats are going to make strides in their offensive game, it’s got to start at the top of the order. The Nats were 13th in the N.L. is total base runners last season and to score more runs they simply have to get more runners on base. In 2011, Nationals 1-2 hitters OBP’d .285 and .283 for the season. That’s not batting average, that’s on-base percentage, and it’s atrocious. In order to score more runs the top of the order has to do a better job of reaching base.
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