The Nats are the first team since the '06 Twins to have a finalist for all four major BBWAA awards
While the Nationals failed in their quest to win a World Series, their 2016 campaign was plenty successful. Thanks to a club absolutely stacked with talent, the team won the NL East with a tied-for-second-best 95 wins. That talent will be plenty represented in the BBWAA awards, with finalists in four different categories: Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, Manager of the Year and Most Valuable Player.
This becomes even more impressive when it lacks last year's MVP winner,
But the Nationals aren't the first team to pull this feat off. Let's look at the last team that managed it: the 2006 Twins, who, coincidentally, also lost in the Division Series.
Rookie of the Year
Acquired just one year ago along with
Liriano followed a similar process -- kind of. Starting the year in the Twins bullpen, the left-hander was finally unleashed on the public in May of '06. From there, he simply replicated the performance of that year's Cy Young winner in teammate Johan Santana. Liriano posted a 2.16 ERA in 121 innings, while unleashing a slider that caused batters to question whether baseball was really for them.
Cy Young Award
Twins: Johan Santana
What did Scherzer do this year? Well, gee, he did have that one game when he struck out 20 batters. Pretty sure getting batters to strike out 75 percent of the time is about the peak of pitching dominance.
Of course, Scherzer's performance in 2016 is simply an extension of the last four years. This will be the fourth-straight season that Scherzer will finish in the top-five of Cy Young voting and it's the third time he's led the league in wins.
For Santana, 2006 may have been his best as he collected his first Cy Young Award. Armed with a deadly changeup, he led the league in innings, strikeouts and had the lowest hits per nine innings rate. It was enough that he was a unanimous selection, collecting all 28 first-place votes to beat out
Manager of the Year
Nationals: Dusty Baker
Twins: Ron Gardenhire
After leaving the Reds in 2013 following a 90-72 finish, Baker was out of the dugout since then. That may explain his rustiness when it came to things like high-fives:
The man who has "ampedness" in his personal dictionary helped use that power to lead to a division title.
Meanwhile, Gardenhire, who finished second to Jim Leyland, had his own way of thinking about things, too, as evidenced by this 2012 Twins ad when he advocated for umpires to dress like his grandmother so they would get along better.
When Murphy turned into the home run monster in the 2015 postseason, some thought it was a mere blip; a hot streak on baseball's grandest stage. Turns out that, no, it was merely the start of something greater. Murphy finished second in the NL batting race with a .347 average, while hitting 25 home runs, driving in 104 runs and leading the league with 47 doubles.
He also proved to be the master of the deke:
Back in 2006, Morneau won the MVP amid a crowded field. With a .934 OPS and 34 home runs, the first baseman beat out a .343-hitting Derek Jeter, a 54-home run crushing
His MVP win may have a little to do with this opposite-field laser beam, which you certainly won't see very often.
While the Twins are the most recent team with four awards finalists, they're not the only ones, though:
Will the Nationals be able to match the 2006 Twins and win at least two of the awards? They face some stiff competition, with