HARRIS: Nationals’ superlatives are sign of The Times

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ANALYSIS/OPINION: 

The Nationals tell us they’ve started a new tradition here, one of winning. It is difficult to argue with the results. They’ve won enough to make the playoffs. They hope it isn’t another 79 years before it happens again.

So in the new tradition mode, your friends in The Times’ sports department are going to start one of their own: the simply named TWT Awards (and that’s The Washington Times for anyone left wondering). 

The value of TWT Awards is open for debate. Maybe one day they’ll be worked into incentive clauses for contracts. OK, probably not. They’re not worth a free T-shirt because we don’t have any. No free subscription, either. At $5 a month, that’s basically free anyway.

Without further delay, let’s get to the envelopes that contain the names of the winners of these soon-to-be coveted awards.

Bryce Harper has hit .269 with 22 home runs and 59 RBI in his rookie season. (Associated Press)

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Bryce Harper has hit .269 with 22 home runs and 59 RBI ... more >

TWT STARTER OF THE YEAR — We’ll start with a no-brainer. Whatever the Nationals gave Gio Gonzalez in that contract he signed soon after being acquired from Oakland, he’s earned.

Most Nats fans probably can’t name two of the four prospects the Nats gave up for the man who has won 21 games, put himself squarely into the Cy Young Award conversation and injected a massive dose of personality into the clubhouse (we media types like that kind of thing).

He’s young, he’s proven and he’s locked up long term. One day this award may be named after him.

TWT RELIEVER OF THE YEAR — The Nationals’ bullpen has been pretty strong most of the season. Tyler Clippard, an All-Star last season, did a fine job as a setup man. After Henry Rodriguez imploded, Clippard stepped in and did stellar work as closer. At least until September. We’ll be kind and not mention his astronomical ERA during that month. Drew Storen missed much of the year and seems to be rounding into his old form that made him the closer last year (and again this year). Michael Gonzalez has been a nice find off the scrap heap. Sean Burnett, Ryan Mattheus and Tom Gorzelanny have had their moments.

Let’s go off the grid with this one.

Show of hands: Who had Craig Stammen even making the team out of spring training? You are lying if your hand is up (and that includes you, Mr. Stammen). For daggone sure, no one had him at 6-1 with a 2.40 ERA (and a save).

He doesn’t have the glamour role out of the bullpen, but he’s been indispensable, as his six strikeouts in two innings Monday night attest. He’s an innings-eater among relievers, the type of unsung pitcher every good team needs. Monday night, he struck out six in two innings against the Phillies. The former starter has found a permanent home in the bullpen, it seems. And now he has a TWT Award to brag about to his friends.

TWT ROOKIE OF THE YEAR — Hmmm. Where to go with this one?

Steve Lombordozzi has been versatile, filling in at several positions capably and producing key hits. Tyler Moore is a guy no one envisioned in a major role at this point, and he’s become a trusted bat off the bench. Remember the home run he hit last month in New York to beat R.A. Dickey?

Anyone else we’re missing?

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