HARRIS: Nationals’ superlatives are sign of The Times

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Oh yeah.

How ‘bout that Bryce Harper? Even the Nats haters out there (and a few do exist) have to concede he’s fun to watch. He plays hard and he (mostly) plays well. He’s in the other Rookie of the Year conversation, maybe at the head of that list now. But his TWT Award will be a fine consolation if that doesn’t work out.

TWT MOST VALUABLE PLAYER — A team that wins as much as the Nationals have will boast plenty of candidates. Ryan Zimmerman, who made cortisone a household word, is putting up marvelous numbers. Adam LaRoche returned from a 2011 season cut short by injury to do what LaRoche does — produce on offense and play strong defense. You can make a strong case for Harper, too,

This one, though, goes to Ian Desmond, who was on the way toward putting himself into the league MVP conversation until an oblique injury cost him some time. He’s had a massive offensive year (.292, 25 HR going into Monday night’s game) and you would run out of fingers and toes counting his clutch hits. He’s also become a top-notch shortstop. He committed 34 errors in 149 games in 2010. He had 15 in 126 going into Monday. He’ll still make some MVP ballots.

NATS IN OTHER AWARD DEBATES — At this point anyway, some other awards carry a smidge more prestige than a TWT Award. We’ll concede that. Gonzalez has had a Cy Young-caliber year, but that one is probably going to the Mets’ Dickey. Washington’s Davey Johnson should be the National League manager of the year and LaRoche, who played only 43 games in 2011, should be the comeback player of the year except you can make a rock-solid case that San Francisco’s Buster Posey has come back even better. LaRoche also will get MVP votes.

General manager Mike Rizzo is a strong candidate for executive of the year, along with Baltimore’s Dan Duquette and Oakland’s Billy Beane. If Rizzo does win, he ought to give a chunk of the award to Beane, who traded him Gonzalez and later catcher Kurt Suzuki.

Harper is a much stronger candidate for rookie of the year than he was a month ago. He’s finishing the season strong and won’t have to rely on the hype that comes with being a very productive teenager. Cincinnati third baseman Todd Frazier and Arizona pitcher Wade Miley will get some love, too. Frazier isn’t finishing nearly as strong as Harper. Miley has won 16 games, but his ERA has risen from 2.85 to 3.32 since Aug. 6. It’s a good bet this award ends up with Harper, who could put it on his shelf next to his TWT Award if there was an actual award that went with winning a TWT.

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