WASHINGTON -- The Nationals finished in third place in the National League East this past season, their highest finish since moving from Montreal after the 2004 campaign.
Outfielder Michael Morse and reliever Tyler Clippard played a big role in the team's improvement. In a vote taken by MLB.com editors, Nationals broadcasters (Charlie Slowes, Dave Jageler and Bob Carpenter) and public relations staff (John Dever and Mike Gazda), Morse was selected the team's Most Valuable Player and Breakout Player of the Year.
This past season was the first time Morse was given a chance to play every day, and he took advantage of the situation, leading Washington in almost every offensive category, including home runs (31), RBIs (95) and batting average (.303). He was also an above-average defender at first base and in left field.
"First, I like hitting with men on base," Morse said. "I feel I can contribute a lot to this team. It's being comfortable. I'm getting an opportunity to play."
Clippard was voted unanimously as Washington's best pitcher, going 3-0 with a 1.83 ERA and 38 holds. An NL All-Star, Clippard had 104 strikeouts in 88 1/3 innings.
The Nationals are unlikely to boast any league award winners in 2011. Second baseman Danny Espinosa is a long shot to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award, with Braves closer Craig Kimbrel the favorite.
An excellent defensive second baseman, Espinosa was up and down at the plate, hitting .236 with 21 home runs, 66 RBIs and 72 runs scored.
Washington is hoping to compete for the pennant next year, and maybe 2012 will bring league awards for several Nats players.