- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Baseball Writers Association of America, an organization of which I am a member, is responsible for handing out all of MLB’s major postseason awards: MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year.

And in some towns, the local BBWAA chapter votes on postseason awards for an individual team. Here in Washington, though, we haven’t gotten around to that yet. (Perhaps by the time the Nationals move into their new ballpark next year, we’ll finally get it done.)

But never fear because this beat writer has decided to take it upon himself to dole out awards in a variety of categories. A wide pool of voters (one) was asked for opinions, and the results were tabulated and sealed by the fine folks at Price Waterhouse Coopers.

And now, the envelopes, please …

Team MVP: There really isn’t much debate over this one. Ryan Zimmerman did turn things around with a nice second half to lead the Nationals in most offensive categories, but Dmitri Young was the most significant player on the roster in 2007.

He consistently remained near the top of the NL in batting, with an average that only recently dropped below .330. He represented the organization at the All-Star Game. And he became a clubhouse leader, an influential veteran who could be both funny and serious depending on the situation.

Winner: Dmitri Young

Pitcher of the Year: The Nationals brought 37 pitchers to spring training and used 26 guys during the season, so there’s no shortage of candidates. Of course, only a handful of guys made enough appearances to really qualify.

Chad Cordero again was solid at the back of the bullpen, as was Jon Rauch. But the most pleasant development of the season was Shawn Hill’s emergence as the future ace of the staff. Despite battling left shoulder and right elbow injuries, Hill was among the dominant starters in the NL and positioned himself to start Opening Day 2008.

Winner: Shawn Hill

Rookie of the Year: Plenty of candidates here, with 15 rookies appearing on the roster this season. Matt Chico showed impressive consistency for a guy who hadn’t pitched above Class AA. But Jesus Flores hadn’t played above Class A and look what he managed to do. The Nationals have found their catcher of the future.

Winner: Jesus Flores

Biggest Surprise: Obviously, no one expected Young to do what he did. Cristian Guzman was having a great comeback season until he got hurt. But here’s one to consider: Based on how he looked in spring training, who would have guessed Tim Redding would post a 3.73 ERA in 13 starts and put himself in the mix for a spot next year?

Winner: Tim Redding

Good Guy Award: These are often given out to players who do a particularly good job dealing with the media. It may not mean much to the average fan, but it means a whole lot to those of us who cover this team.

Truth be told, the Nationals’ clubhouse is filled with good guys, any of whom are deserving of this award. So honorable mention goes out to Young, Hill, Brian Schneider, Ryan Zimmerman, Austin Kearns, Robert Fick, Jason Bergmann and Mike Bacsik.

The award, though, goes to the guy who always makes himself available to speak to reporters, win or lose, and never alibis when he is to blame. He’s also one of the friendliest, most down-to-earth major leaguers.

Winner: Chad Cordero

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