Harper, Scherzer, Doolittle win Nats’ end-of-year awards

Bryce Harper’s second-half resurgence earned the slugger his first Nationals Player of the Year honor.

Harper, who turned his season around after the All-Star break, was named the Nationals Player of the Year this afternoon. He’ll be presented with his award along with Max Scherzer (the club’s Pitcher of the Year) and Sean Doolittle (winner of the annual Good Guy Award) during a ceremony immediately before Wednesday afternoon’s home finale against the Marlins.

It’s the first time Harper has won this award, which was first handed out in 2016. And it would have seemed a highly unlikely choice only a few months ago, when the 25-year-old star entered the All-Star break batting .214 with a .365 on-base percentage and .833 OPS.

Bryce-Harper-Derby-arms-up-sidebar.jpgBut ever since he won the Home Run Derby in front of an adoring crowd of local fans, Harper has been a dramatically different player. He enters tonight’s game batting .294 with a .430 on-base percentage and .969 OPS in 60 second-half games.

Overall, Harper is now batting .245 with 34 homers, 100 RBIs, a .390 on-base percentage, .885 OPS, 99 runs and a career-high 125 walks in a career-high 154 games played.

The winners for all three awards were selected by media members who regularly cover the Nationals in voting that took place 2 1/2 weeks ago during the club’s previous homestand.

Harper emerged victorious over teammates Anthony Rendon, who has used a September surge including a career-high 32-game streak reaching base to hit .308 with 23 homers, 87 RBIs and a .903 OPS, and rookie Juan Soto, who is hitting .295 with 21 homers, 66 RBIs and a .922 OPS in 111 games since making his major league debut in May.

Rendon won last year’s Player of the Year Award, preceded in 2016 by Daniel Murphy.

Scherzer’s selection as Pitcher of the Year for a third consecutive season was far more cut and dried. The right-hander enters tonight’s start 17-7 with a 2.57 ERA while leading the league in strikeouts (290), innings (213 2/3) and WHIP (0.917).

Scherzer already has topped his wins, innings and strikeout totals from 2017, when he won his third career Cy Young Award. He faces stiff competition this season, though, with the Mets’ Jacob deGrom carrying a 1.77 ERA and record 23 consecutive quality starts (despite a 9-9 record) into his final outing of the year.

Doolittle, meanwhile, supplants two-time winner Ryan Zimmerman as the recipient of this year’s Good Guy Award. The honor goes to the left-hander for his “always-professional dealings with members of the media, and for representing the Nationals organization with class both on and off the field.”

Doolittle, who has a 1.62 ERA and 25 saves despite missing two months with a foot injury, has become active in the community since his acquisition from the A’s last summer. He and his wife, Eireann, spent time visiting the Walter Reed Medical Center, the “Battle of the Skies” World War II Commemoration, the Urban Warrior Challenge and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. The couple also hosted a group during World Refugee Night and purchased 150 tickets for the LGBTQ community on Night Out.

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