Soto headlines Nationals' annual team award winners

Juan Soto has three more days to make his case to win National League MVP honors. He already locked up a slightly less significant honor today.

Soto was named the Nationals' 2021 Player of the Year, the second straight season the young star won the award given out annually in a vote of media members who regularly cover the team.

Soto is joined by Kyle Finnegan (Pitcher of the Year) and Josh Bell (Good Guy Award) in receiving this year's honors, which are being presented prior to the start of tonight's final series opener against the Red Sox.

Soto-Hitting-White-Sidebar.jpgIt's a no-brainer decision, of course, for Soto, who is making a case as the NL's best player and certainly made his case as the Nationals' best player this season. The 22-year-old right fielder enters play tonight batting .318 with a major-league best .467 on-base percentage, 29 homers, 94 RBIs, 110 runs and 1.010 OPS that trails only the Phillies' Bryce Harper's 1.033 mark heading into the final weekend.

Soto was an All-Star this season for the first time and wound up making headlines with his performance in the Home Run Derby, knocking out pre-event favorite Shohei Ohtani in the first round at Coors Field. Since the break, he has taken his game to new heights, batting .360 with 18 homers, a .532 on-base percentage and 1.194 OPS.

Finnegan earns his first Pitcher of the Year honors after taking over closer duties following the late-July trades of both Brad Hand and Daniel Hudson. The 30-year-old reliever has a 3.46 ERA and 11 saves in 15 opportunities, though two of his blown saves came after some ballots had already been submitted during the Nationals' last homestand.

Only players on the current roster were eligible, so that eliminated any consideration for Max Scherzer, who may win his fourth career Cy Young Award following his trade to the Dodgers on July 30. Scherzer remains the only pitcher who threw more than 75 innings for the Nationals this season and posted an ERA under 4.00.

Paolo Espino, whose ERA recently rose over 4.00 for the first time all season, was also in the running for Pitcher of the Year honors.

Bell earns his first Good Guy Award in his first year with the Nationals. The 29-year-old, who enters the day hitting .256 with 27 homers, 88 RBIs and an .814 OPS, immediately became an important figure within the organization and in the community following his acquisition from the Pirates last winter.

Bell serves as the player ambassador for the Nationals' Youth Baseball Academy, a role previously held by Ian Desmond and Anthony Rendon. He also established the Josh Bell Book Club, ultimately getting 1,500 fans to join him for five separate book discussions during the course of the season.

The Good Guy Award, previously won twice by Ryan Zimmerman and three times by Sean Doolittle, is given to a player for his "always-professional dealings with members of the media, his work in the community and for representing the Nationals organization with class both on and off the field."

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