Bryce Harper wins first Silver Slugger Award (with quotes)

Bryce Harper blitzed through his breakthrough season on a record-breaking assault of pitchers. Tonight, Harper was recognized for his offensive campaign with his first Silver Slugger Award as one of the National League’s best-hitting outfielders.

Harper-Running-Blue-Sidebar.jpgHarper was honored by his peers on Monday evening with a Players Choice Award for being the NL’s Outstanding Player of 2015. As expected, Harper was named as a finalist for the NL’s Most Valuable Player award the next night. The 23-year-old slugger is the favorite to win his first MVP when the winner is announced on Nov. 19.

“I’d like to say thank you to the managers and coaches who awarded me with this incredible honor,” Harper said in a team-issued release. “Most of all, I’d like to thank my teammates, the Nationals coaching staff and the training staff. I am humbled by their unwavering support and sacrifices, without which this would not be possible. It is a privilege and an honor to be recognized alongside this group of great players.”

Entering his fourth major league season, Harper had not hit more than 22 homers in a campaign. In 2015, Harper mashed 42 longballs, tying Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado for the league lead. He delivered 99 RBIs and scored an NL-best 118 runs.

And with the Nationals lineup banged-up all year, pitchers decided to get stingy with Harper. So the young slugger showed brilliant patience at the plate, setting a new Nationals record with 124 walks, the second-most in the NL.

Harper led the majors in on-base percentage (.460), slugging percentage (.649) and OPS (1.109). He fell just short of an NL batting title, losing out with a .330 average to Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon.

“We are proud to see Bryce earn his first Silver Slugger award,” said Nationals president of baseball operations and general manger Mike Rizzo in the team-prepared release. “Watching Bryce play the way he did this year was a true pleasure. His historic season at the plate is a tribute to the type of talent he is, and I know I’m not alone when I say that I cannot wait to see what is next for this young man.”

The Nationals have now claimed 10 Silver Slugger Awards since the team moved to Washington in 2005. Shortstop Ian Desmond won three straight from 2012-2014 and Ryan Zimmerman took home the hardware at third base in back-to-back years in 2009 and 2010.

Harper’s Silver Slugger makes the Nationals the only NL team with a player earning the award in each of the past four seasons. Only the Tigers (2011-2015) and the Angels (2012-2015) in the American League have active streaks of at least four seasons with a player winning the Silver Slugger.

Here’s a list of the Nationals’ Silver Slugger Award winners

2014 - Ian Desmond, Anthony Rendon
2013 - Ian Desmond
2012 - Ian Desmond, Adam LaRoche, Stephen Strasburg
2010 - Ryan Zimmerman
2009 - Ryan Zimmerman
2006 - Alfonso Soriano

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