MLB.com hands out Billy Awards
The Nationals have been a disappointment on the field this season, but they still had players who performed up to their capabilities. With that in mind, MLB.com hands out its team awards for the 2010 season.
MVP — The Nationals’ Bullpen: Almost two years ago, general manager Mike Rizzo called the bullpen incompetent. Entering Friday’s action against the Mets, Washington’s bullpen, led by Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard, is one of the best in baseball. The relievers have pitched a combined 530 innings with a 3.33 ERA.
Comeback Player of the Year — Roger Bernadina: He missed most of last season because of a fractured right ankle. This year, Bernadina received his first chance in the big leagues and became one of the best young players on the team.
Best Pitcher — Stephen Strasburg: He came to the big leagues as advertised. He pitched in only 12 games, but he was dominate in almost everyone of them before having elbow reconstruction in early September.
Rookie of the Year — Ian Desmond: You can’t shut manager Jim Riggleman up when it comes to Desmond. The skipper already proclaimed Desmond one of the leaders on the team because he is productive and plays hard for nine innings. For those reasons, Riggleman has allowed Desmond to speak his mind.
Most Improved Player–Michael Morse: He has been in professional baseball for 11 years and most of hit has been spent on the disabled list. He even spent a brief time on the DL this season. But when he came back in mid-May, Morse was a productive hitter off the bench. People are now wondering if he can play every day. He must alter his swing to prove that he can do it on a regular basis.
Chilly Billy–Adam Dunn: It was the best group of guys since the 2004 Expos. No one blamed the media for the team’s problems on and off the field. But Dunn deserves this trophy. Members of the media went to Dunn’s locker on a daily bases to ask about his free-agent status, below average defense or his majestic home runs. Dunn never turned them down.
Best Moment–Strasburg’s debut: Aside from a brief hiccup — a two-run homer — Strasburg was nothing short of astonishing in his big-league debut, whiffing 14 Pirates, including his last seven, over seven innings to earn the win.
Lifetime achievement award — Dave Jageler, Stan Kasten and Charlie Slowes: In his first press conference in May of 2006, Kasten vowed to improve the team’s depleted farm system, and he made good on the promise as the Nationals went from having one of the worst farm systems in baseball to a respectable one, thanks to strengthened scouting and player-development teams.
Despite the inconsistency on the field, Slowes and Jageler have kept Nats fans entertained on the radio with their quick wit and tell-it-like-it-is style. Here’s hoping they stay on the air another 30 years calling baseball games in DC.
Muhammad Ali Award — Nyjer Morgan: On Sept. 1, Morgan charged the mound in the sixth inning and threw a punch at Marlins right-hander Chris Volstad, who threw a pitch behind the left-handed hitter. It marked the second time Volstad threw a pitch at Morgan. Two innings earlier, Volstad hit Morgan in the lower back. Morgan went on to steal two bases in the inning even though Washington was down, 14-3. The Marlins had a problem with Morgan dating back to Aug. 31, when he barreled into catcher Brett Hayes, who suffered a separated shoulder on the play.
Hustle Award — Willie Harris: He is hitting under .200, but that doesn’t stop him from playing hard all the time.
Catch of the Year — Morgan: In the bottom of the third inning on June 25th, it looked like Orioles outfielder Corey Patterson was going to hit a home run off right-hander J.D. Martin, but Morgan climbed the wall and robbed Patterson. Morgan didn’t have much to say about the catch, because Washington lost the game, 7-6.
“It was a nice catch, but the game hurts — losing to the ballclub over there,” Morgan said. “We have a really good team over here. We didn’t bury them. That’s what really hurts.”