Sports Illustrated baseball columnist Tom Verducci - who by the way was in attendance at Monday nights division-clinching Nats game released his MLB awards predictions on Tuesday and the ballot is all over the Nationals. Verducci has the Nats nearly sweeping the National League awards with Mike Rizzo taking home N.L. Executive of the Year, Davey Johnson getting best manager, and Bryce Harper winning N.L. Rookie of the Year.
Realistically, all three are probably the favorites in their respective categories. Rizzo and Johnson deserve credit for building the team and their sudden leap to contender status. And Harper has continued a late-season surge that has him making history as a teenage position player.
Verducci does, however, present two rather bold predictions involving the Nats. For one, he not only doesnt have Gio Gonzalez winning the Cy Young award, he has him placing fourth in voting. Gonzalez isnt the favorite to win the honor with R.A. Dickey simply being better in a few categories, but he isnt expected to finish lower than third. Many think the Nats lefty will come in either first or second with first being an outside shot.
Verducci also has Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel out of the top five which has almost no chance of happening. Kimbrel has had a historic year for a closer, but Verducci claims that voting a relief pitcher in is like valuing placekickers above quarterbacks.
His second surprise involving the Nationals is the prediction that Adam LaRoche will finish as high as fifth in N.L. MVP voting. LaRoche has been the Nationals most consistent hitter all season, but hasnt reached the level of a Buster Posey or Andrew McCutchen. Just placing fifth would be a high honor to receive for the nine-year veteran. LaRoche has never received MVP votes, but should get at least a few after the best season of his career.It is also possible a few other Nationals could show up in MVP votes. Ryan Zimmerman isnt far behind LaRoche in several key categories and Ian Desmond has put together one of the best 2012 seasons for a shortstop.
Check out Verduccis full ballot right here.
Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez became the first former Nationals player (2005-present) to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday. He was inducted in his first year of eligibility, marking the 52nd first-ballot hall of famer in history.
Rodriguez, who was the first free agent signed by current Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, played the final two seasons of his career with Washington in 2010-11. During his time in D.C. he hit .254 six homers and 68 RBI. Pudge's greatest contribution to the Nationals came from his leadership and work ethic. He guided Stephen Strasburg through his rookie season and also helped develop Wilson Ramos so he could pass the torch to him.
During his 21-year career, Pudge made 14 all-star teams, won 13 gold gloves, won seven silver slugger awards, led his league in caught-steeling percentage nine times, and was named American League MVP in 1999 with the Texas Rangers. He became a World Series champion in 2003 with the Florida Marlins. Pudge's 13 gold gloves are the most ever by a catcher, and his 2,844 career hits are the most ever by a player who appeared in 50 percent or more of their career games as a catcher.
In addition to Rodriguez, former Montreal Expos great Tim Raines was inducted to the Hall of Fame. Raines is the franchise leader (Expos/Nationals) in walks (793), runs (947), stolen bases (635) and triples (82). Raines was an all-star seven times and he won a silver slugger in 1986 with the Expos. He is the only player in MLB history with at least 100 triples, 150 homers and 600 RBI in a career, and the only player to steal at least 70 bases in six consecutive seasons.
Related: Bryce Harper wants Nationals to spend money on players, not team store
Bryce Harper isn't one to keep his opinions to himself. The Nationals slugger is outspoken about what he wants, whether that's to "Make Baseball Fun Again" or to make at least $400 million on his next contract.
On Wednesday, he gave his take on how the Nats should be investing their money this summer. Here's Harper responding to a tweet from ESPN's Jim Bowden.
Harper's message: Players over everything else. Sorry, gift shop.
It's plain to see where the 2015 NL MVP is going with this. Obviously, he wants as much talent around him as possible for a chance to win the World Series.
Matt Wieters, a four-time All-Star catcher, and Greg Holland, a two-time All-Star closer, could be significant additions to Washington's roster.
Harper is set to become a free agent in 2018, at which point an organization like the New York Yankees will be prepared to offer him both a massive salary and a massive investment in the players around him.
The slugger probably hopes his current team will try to surround him with winning pieces in an effort to keep him. But if a report about the Nationals' reaction to his contract demands proves accurate, they may have another agenda.
There's Harper drama around the Nationals? Just a regular Wednesday here in Washington.
MORE NATIONALS: Nationals avoid arbitration with Harper, three others