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.