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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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Will Mike Rizzo continue to shape the Nationals? The Junkies believe he's too valuable to lose

Will Mike Rizzo continue to shape the Nationals? The Junkies believe he's too valuable to lose

Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, Gio Gonzalez and Matt Wieters aren't the only important guys within the Nationals organization becoming free agents in 2019.

President of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo is also becoming a free agent when his contract expires on October 31st.

In the final year of his five-year contract, the 57-year old is set to make $2.5 million.

RELATED: HOWIE KENDRICK RETURNING TO NATIONALS

Since joining the organization, Rizzo has turned the team into a legit World Series contender. They've won four division titles in the last six years under his guidance, but have been unable to get over the NL Division series hump. And even though that's a glaring red mark on his resume, Rizzo knows the success he's brought to the organization. 

When you look at what we accomplished,’’ Mike Rizzo said in a recent interview, “it’s really unsung and underappreciated. I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished here. I like it here. I love the city. I love the team I put together. I like being a GM in the NL East. And I want to stay here. I just think I deserve to be treated like some of the best GMs in the game are, too.

Rizzo is talking about GM's like Cubs' Theo Epstein and Yankees' Brian Cashman, who've received big paydays over the last year.

I know we haven’t won the World Series, but I get tired of hearing how we can’t win the big one, or we can’t get out of the first round. We haven’t had that many chances.

Does Rizzo deserve an extension? The Sports Junkies think he does, but with GM's like the ones above cashing out, they can also see him wanting to test the open market.

"Why wouldn't they?", said Jason Bishop, noting his track record.

"There's a sense he wants to test the market," said Eric Bickel. That's the vibe I'm getting from him."

Rizzo is a weekly guest on the Junkies and has said that the organization will figure it out. However, the 2018 season may be the last time for a long time the Nats have a real shot at making a run before they lose some of their stars to other teams. If Rizzo does take that into consideration and decides to go elsewhere, the Junkies don't see him having any issues finding employment.

"If there was a time to roll, it would be after this season when you get your last run with this group," said Eric Bickel. And then If they don't pay you what you think you deserve, he'll be snatched up in 22 seconds."

RELATED: BEST OF NATS' RACING PRESIDENT TRYOUTS

If they do decide to sign him to an extension, will it be a long, drawn-out ordeal? The Junkies disagree on that one. 

"He is too valuable, Jason Bishop said. He's too valuable. You gotta ink him to a deal sometime during the season."

Luckily for D.C. sports fans, long, drawn-out extension talks aren't foreign to them.

To see their full discussion, click the media player above. 

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Nationals re-sign Howie Kendrick for two-years

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Nationals re-sign Howie Kendrick for two-years

WASHINGTON  -- The Nationals have agreed to a $7 million, two-year contract with outfielder Howie Kendrick, a deal subject to a successful physical.

Agent Pat Murphy confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on Monday. USA Today was first to report the deal.

Kendrick, 34, hit .293 with seven home runs and RBIs in 52 games with Washington after he was acquired from Philadelphia. The versatile right-handed hitter got just three plate appearances off the bench in the playoffs.

In 12 major league seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, Dodgers, Phillies and Nationals, Kendrick is a .291 hitter with a .755 OPS. He's now primarily an outfielder for Washington after playing left field, second base, first base and other positions throughout his career.