Soto, Scherzer and Doolittle honored with end-of-season awards

The Nationals announced the winners of the fifth annual end-of-season awards voted on by members of the local media. Outfielder Juan Soto was voted the 2020 Nationals Player of the Year. Right-hander Max Scherzer was named Pitcher of the Year. Reliever Sean Doolittle won the "Good Guy" Award, given to the player for his professional dealings with members of the media and representing the Nats organization with class on and off the field.

Soto, 21, has had a Most Valuable Player-caliber season. Entering the final day of the regular season, Soto leads the major leagues in slugging percentage (.693), on-base percentage (.485) and OPS (1.177). Despite missing 13 games at the beginning of the season, Soto is tops for the Nats in home runs (13), RBIs (37) and walks (40). He is also hitting .346, three points ahead of the Braves' Freddie Freeman for the National League batting title. He edged out Trea Turner by just four votes for Nationals Player of the Year.

"Soto, can't say enough about him," said manager Davey Martinez during Sunday's pregame Zoom video session. "Even though he is so young, he's quietly become a leader in himself as well. He goes out there and he plays the game the right way. Anything I ask him to do or anything I try teach him to do, he applies it and does his best to do it. We talked about him stealing bases. He's a situational basestealer. He learns and he tries and he goes out there and he does it. He does it successfully. He's only going to get better. And he's only going to get better as a leader in that clubhouse. Those three guys exemplify what we want here and what we want our chemistry to be moving forward."

Scherzer, 36, beat out reliever Tanner Rainey by two votes for Pitcher of the Year. He has received the honor four out of the five years the award has been given out. In 12 starts this season, Scherzer went 5-4 with 3.64 ERA with 92 strikeouts. Kyle Finnegan also received several votes.

"Max is just Max," Martinez said. "He's an unbelievable competitor. Yesterday he came in after the game and he just says, 'I don't want the season to be over. I want to play another 100 games.' I told him, 'Well, unfortunately, you're going to save that for 2021 because it's done, and I want you to rest. It's been some trying times for us, so take this extra month of rest and get ready for 2021 and let's go to playoffs and win another championship.'"

doolittle-bullpen-cart-blue-sidebar.jpgDoolittle, 34, won the "Good Guy" award for the third consecutive season, taking the honor by one vote over Turner. Doolittle pitched in just 11 games due to injuries, but was always available to the media and provided insightful answers and descriptions of the team and the state of his game. Doolittle was the Nationals' nominee for the 2020 Roberto Clemente Award. Doolittle and his wife, Eireann, have helped to support veterans discharged with "bad papers," the LGBTQ community, refugees and minority communities experiencing discrimination and inequality.

"Good guy? That doesn't even explain how Sean really is," Martinez said. "He's an unbelievable person. He's one of those guys that makes you feel good every time you speak to him."

During Sunday's pregame Zoom video session, Doolittle expressed his pleasure in receiving the award.

"I'm really excited about it," Doolittle said. "I'm really appreciative to you guys. Well, actually to the people that voted for me on this call. I'm really appreciative of the relationship I had with the media here in D.C. over the last four seasons. I always thought that you guys were more than fair to me and that we had a really good, professional relationship.

"I always appreciated even though we had to talk sometimes at difficult times after a bad game or when I'm going through a rough patch, you guys gave me the opportunity to explain my side of the story and give some context to what was going on. I think that's really important for players to be able to do, to feel like they are able to explain signs and have a voice that connects them with the fans. There's a lot that I have to be thankful for my time here in D.C. over the last four years, and that's definitely one of them."

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