Daniel Murphy and Max Scherzer's dominant seasons have made each a candidate for baseball's top annual awards: MVP and Cy Young. Those won't be announced until mid-November, but today each player was recognized as the best the Nationals had to offer in 2016.
Murphy was named winner of the club's first-ever Player of the Year Award, while Scherzer earned the first-ever Pitcher of the Year Award. Ryan Zimmerman was also honored as the first recipient of the "Good Guy" Award, given "to a player who is exceptionally accommodating to the media and the community."
All award winners were selected in voting by media members who regularly cover the Nationals, the first time the club has organized these type of awards in its 12 seasons in town. Winners will receive their awards during a ceremony before Sunday's regular season finale.
Murphy is hitting .347 (one point behind National League batting leader D.J. LeMahieu) with a league-best 47 doubles, .596 slugging percentage and .991 OPS. He set career highs with 25 homers and 104 RBIs.
The veteran second baseman, signed away from the Mets over the winter to a modest three-year, $37.5 million contract, has missed the majority of the last two weeks with a strained buttocks muscle. The Nationals expect him to be ready for Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Friday against the Dodgers.
Murphy figures to be a finalist for NL MVP honors, but he'll have a tough time topping the Cubs' Kris Bryant for the award.
Scherzer enters his final start of the regular season Sunday with a 19-7 record and 2.82 ERA. His 223 1/3 innings and 277 strikeouts both lead the league, as does his .193 opponents' batting average, 0.94 WHIP and 6.5 WAR.
The ace right-hander is seeking Sunday to become only the second 20-game winner in club history, joining Gio Gonzalez from 2012.
Scherzer also faces stiff competition in the NL Cy Young Award race, with the Cubs' Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks, the Giants' Madison Bumgarner and the Mets' Noah Syndergaard among the others in contention.
Zimmerman has been struggling through his worst season on the field, entering play today with a .219 batting average, 15 homers, 46 RBIs and a .646 OPS. The 32-year-old first baseman, though, earned the "Good Guy" Award for his "always-professional dealings with members of the media, and for representing the Nationals organization with class both on and off the field."
Zimmerman is the Nationals' nominee for this year's Roberto Clemente Award, which will be handed out during the World Series.