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Ranking Nationals rookie seasons over the years

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Ranking Nationals rookie seasons over the years

On Monday night Bryce Harper became the first Nationals player since the team moved to Washington to win the N.L. Rookie of the Year award. He was, however, not the first player in club history to have a good rookie year. The Nationals have built a winning team on young talent and have seen several players have success right from the start.

Here are the best rookie seasons since the Nationals moved to Washington in 2005:

1. Ryan Zimmerman - 2006 

157 G - .287/.351/.471 – 20 HR – 110 RBI – 84 R – 47 2B

Zimmerman finished second to Hanley Ramirez in N.L. Rookie of the Year voting in 2006, but with the numbers he posted could have won it almost any other year. After being picked fourth overall in the 2005 draft, Zimmerman needed less than a calendar year to establish himself as a franchise cornerstone. He is still a major part of the Nationals’ operation and signed his second contract extension with the team in 2012.

2. Bryce Harper – 2012

139 G - .270/.340/.477 – 22 HR – 59 RBI – 98 R – 18 SB

Harper became the first Nationals player to win the N.L. Rookie of the Year award on Monday after a tremendous first season. The number one overall pick in 2010 was called up on April 28 and provided a quick spark to a Washington team dealing with major injuries at the time. He and the Nationals won 98 games and their first N.L. East division title. To think he did all of it at just 19 years old suggests he could some day, perhaps very soon, be an MVP candidate.

3. Stephen Strasburg – 2010

12 G - 5-3 – 2.91 ERA – 1.074 WHIP - 92 SO – 68.0 IP

Taken with the number one overall pick in 2009, Strasburg was an instant sensation. He struck out 14 batters in his major league debut and showed immediately he was one of the best young pitchers in baseball. His rookie year was cut short by a torn ligament in his elbow that required Tommy John surgery, but it was a season baseball fans will remember for a long time. 

4. Wilson Ramos – 2011

113 G - .267/.334/.445 – 15 HR – 52 RBI – 48 R – 38 BB

Ramos came over to the Nationals in a trade with the Minnesota Twins. He had played a total of 22 games across 2010 and 2011 before breaking out as the starter for the Nats in 2011. He ended up fourth in N.L. Rookie of the Year voting after exceeding expectations at the plate and playing solid defense. Since his rookie year, Ramos has had a string of unfortunate events with getting kidnapped in Venezuela and tearing his ACL last May. The 25 year old should be back in 2013 and ready to regain his role as the full time starter.

5. Danny Espinosa – 2011 

158 G - .236/.323/.414 – 21 HR – 66 RBI – 72 R – 17 SB

Espinosa placed sixth in N.L. Rookie of the Year voting in 2011 after leading the Nationals in games played with 158. He also finished second on the team with 21 homers and 72 runs. Espinosa’s emergence gave the Nationals another piece in building towards being a playoff team. Though he struggled with his batting average and strikeouts in 2012, he is one of the most talented young second baseman in the majors.

6. Ian Desmond – 2010 

154 G - .269/.308/.392 – 10 HR – 65 RBI – 59 R – 17 SB

In his first full season, Desmond affirmed the talent and potential that had made him a top prospect in the organization. He struggled at times with his batting average and errors in the field, but overall put in a very good season. Desmond flashed the power, speed, and defense that made him an All-Star in 2012. Now that he has raised his batting average and cut down his errors, the sky is the limit for the young shortstop.

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Ivan Rodriguez becomes first former Nationals player to be voted into Hall of Fame

Ivan Rodriguez becomes first former Nationals player to be voted into Hall of Fame

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

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Bryce Harper wants Nationals to invest in Matt Wieters, Greg Holland more than facilities

Bryce Harper wants Nationals to invest in Matt Wieters, Greg Holland more than facilities

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