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Bryce Harper wins N.L. Rookie of the Year

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Bryce Harper wins N.L. Rookie of the Year

Bryce Harper has been named the 2012 National League Rookie of the Year by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, becoming the youngest position player ever to win the award.

Harper, 20, also becomes the first player to win the honor with the Nationals since the team moved to Washington. Ryan Zimmerman finished second in 2006, missing first place by just four votes.

Harper received 16 first place votes to beat out Wade Miley of the Arizona Diamondbacks who finished with 12. Reds outfielder Todd Frazier placed third with three first place votes.

Afterwards Harper was humbled to be now share a distinction with players he grew up idoloizing.

“Just to be up there with names like Jackie Robinson and Mike Piazza and all the guys that won it is just an honor,” he said. “To be able to have a great team to play with all year, they really made this year fun. This is just icing on the cake, definitely.”

Harper was called up by the Nationals to make his major league debut on April 28 after beginning the season in Triple-A. He was given a chance to make the team out of spring training, but struggled and was sent to play with the Syracuse Chiefs. 

After joking that his initial concern was about the cold weather in Syracuse, Harper said the experience was valuable in his quick adjustment to the major league level.

“All I wanted to do was learn as much as I could down there at that level. I had some guys down there that really helped me out,” he said.

“When I got that call I wanted to be ready and make an impact with this team and this organization.“

Harper singled out Jason Michaels as a player who helped him at Syracuse. With lockers next to each other, the rookie said he relied on the 35-year-old veteran as a mentor before his call-up.

After reaching the majors, Harper made an instant impact with the Nationals and finished the year with a .270 average, 22 home runs, 98 runs, and 18 stolen bases. He helped pace the Nats to 98 wins and their first ever National League East division title.

Harper was named the N.L. Rookie of the Month twice during the 2012 season. In May he took the honor after hitting .271 with four home runs and in September won the award after posting a 1.049 OPS, seven home runs, and 14 RBI.

Despite setting many records for a teenage player, Harper said he fell short of his own personal expectations for the season.

“I didn’t reach them. I’m never satisfied with any of my numbers. I think my biggest goal is winning a World Series,” he said. “This is amazing to win this award and to have this accolade, but I want to bring a title back to D.C. That’s my main goal.”

Harper played the 2012 season at the age of 19 and in July became the youngest position player ever to participate in the MLB All-Star game. He is the second youngest player to win the N.L. Rookie of the Year Award only to Dwight Gooden in 1984. Both players were managed by Davey Johnson.

Only two other players in franchise history have been named the league’s best rookie. Andre Dawson (1977) and Carl Morton (1970) took the honor as members of the Montreal Expos.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo commented on Harper winning via a press release:

“Upon joining us, Bryce’s impact on our lineup and defensive alignment was immediate and came at a great time of need,” he said. “His sustained energy and enthusiasm throughout the summer played a big part in fueling our division title. On behalf of the Lerner Family and the Nationals organization, I’d like to congratulate Bryce on his historic NL Rookie of the Year season.”

Harper received a total of 112 points in the BBWAA voting system while Miley accrued 105. Harper also had eight votes for second place and eight for third place.

Angels outfielder Mike Trout, Harper's teammate in the 2011 Arizona Fall League, won the American League Rookie of the Year award.

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Bryce Harper powers Nationals past Diamondbacks

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Bryce Harper powers Nationals past Diamondbacks

PHOENIX -- The newest additions to the Washington bullpen came through when called upon to help deliver a victory to their new team.

Sean Doolittle stranded the potential tying run by escaping a jam for his second save for Washington, and Ryan Madson tossed a scoreless eighth inning as the Nationals held off the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-3 on Saturday night.

"The game can really speed up on you once you start getting guys on base," said Doolittle, who with Madson arrived in a trade with Oakland earlier in the week. "The crowd and the energy of the stadium can kind of take over and ... you have to be mindful enough to step off the mound, slow the game down a bit, kind of press reset."

Bryce Harper homered and drove in two runs, and starting pitcher Tanner Roark struck out a season-high 11. Roark (8-6) gave up two runs and three hits in seven innings for the NL East-leading Nationals.

"Curveball felt good. Just keep the hitter guessing," Roark said.

Harper hit his 25th home run on a full-count offspeed pitch from Anthony Banda (0-1), who lost in his major league debut.

Chris Iannetta hit a two-out RBI double in the bottom half, but the Nationals opened a 4-1 lead with a three-run sixth.

Harper hit a run-scoring double and scored on Ryan Zimmerman's double, and Anthony Rendon beat out an RBI single that sent Zimmerman home.

"They had a young guy out there that throws the ball really hard, has good command. He's going to be really good in the next couple of years for sure," Harper said of Banda. "Just got him this time and got a few runs up there."

A.J. Pollock tripled in the bottom half and scored on Jake Lamb's groundout, and Arizona reliever Jorge De La Rosa got out of bases-loaded trouble in the seventh when he struck out Harper and Zimmerman.

Doolittle, acquired from Oakland last weekend, walked Lamb leading off the ninth. Iannetta hit a broken-bat grounder to third, and Rendon's throw to second went into right field for an error that put runners on the corners.

Paul Goldschmidt hit a sacrifice fly, Chris Owings flied out and Doolittle struck out Ketel Marte for his second save with the Nationals.

"Madson's been great for us. Doolittle ... he never panics. It was great to see. It's a lot of fun to have a back end like that," Harper said.

Banda allowed four runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings, struck out five and walked none. He was optioned back to Triple-A Reno after the game.

"I felt confident. I threw the ball in the zone and kept attacking hitters," Banda said. "I made a couple of mistakes, Harper and the middle of the lineup."

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Nationals lose to Diamondbacks in dramatic fashion

Nationals lose to Diamondbacks in dramatic fashion

PHOENIX -- Three straight homers off Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer in the first inning had the Arizona Diamondbacks set up for an easy Major League Baseball victory over the NL East leaders.

Instead, they needed Brandon Drury's bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth for a 6-5 victory Friday night.

The home runs by David Peralta, A.J. Pollock and Jake Lamb to start their first at-bat helped stake the Diamondbacks to a 5-0 lead against Scherzer.

"We did a great job getting his pitch count up and also putting runs on him," the Diamondbacks' A.J. Pollock said. "Great getting on him early. We would've loved to have (scrapped) a couple of runs in the middle of the game, but the key point is we won the game and we came through in the end."

The first-inning feat was the first in the majors since Baltimore did it against Texas on May 10, 2012. It was the first time in Nationals history (2005 to present) that an opposing team has hit back-to-back-to-back home runs.

The Diamondbacks last hit three straight homers on Aug. 11, 2010, when they had four in a row at Milwaukee.

It was the most runs allowed by Scherzer in a first inning since July 2, 2011, against San Francisco, when he gave up five.

"I had four pitches today. I was using them. They beat me," Scherzer said. "I just couldn't get the ball exactly where I wanted it. When you do that against this type of ballclub and these types of hitters, they are really good and they make you pay."

Scherzer's five runs allowed tied for the most he's given up in a start this season, and the five innings tied for his shortest outing of the season.

Arizona sent nine batters to the plate in the four-run first and the Diamondbacks made it 5-0 in the second on Lamb's RBI double.

Scherzer had allowed just one home run in 34 2/3 innings over five starts before he surrendered the three home runs on his first 10 pitches. The All-Star right-hander and two-time Cy Young Award winner was tagged for three homers in a game for the first time since May 6, 2016, against the Chicago Cubs, when he allowed four.

"I don't think I have ever seen a game starting off with three homers. Max hadn't seen it, either," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said.

Peralta, Pollock and Lamb also each had a double, another historical first for the Diamondbacks.

The Nationals rallied with Daniel Murphy's run-scoring double in the fourth, then added two more runs in the fifth off Diamondbacks starter Zack Godley. A leadoff double for Matt Wieters led to Brian Goodwin's RBI groundout, and Ryan Raburn singled in Wilmer Difo with two outs.

Godley struck out a career high 10 in 5 2/3 innings, and allowed four runs and five hits.

Difo drove in two runs, one to cut the lead to 5-4 in the sixth and the other that tied the game on a groundout to first in the eighth.

The Diamondbacks loaded the bases in the ninth on Pollock's triple and intentional walks to Lamb and Paul Goldschmidt by Enny Romero (2-4). After Gregor Blanco flied out to shallow left, Drury bounced a single into right field for Arizona's third win in four games.