WASHINGTON -- The Nationals were honored for an accomplishment nearly 80 years in the making on Sunday afternoon, when they received their GIBBY (Greatness in Baseball Yearly) Award for MLB Storyline of the Year from MLB.com.
General manager Mike Rizzo accepted the award on behalf of the organization in an on-field ceremony before the team's series finale against the Braves at Nationals Park. Last season's club earned a share of the GIBBY trophy by bringing postseason baseball back to D.C. for the first time since 1933.
The Nationals won 98 games, the most in the Majors, to capture the National League East title. They clinched a postseason berth last Sept. 20 against the Dodgers, making them the city's first playoff team since the 1933 Washington Senators lost the World Series to the New York Giants.
Although the team did not reach its ultimate goal, falling to the Cardinals in the NL Division Series, the run still capped a monumental rise to prosperity for the franchise. Since coming to Washington from Montreal in 2005, the Nationals had never finished above .500 or in better than third place in the division until last season.
"We appreciate every award we can get, but the one we were looking for as a team award was the World Series," shortstop Ian Desmond said. "But this organization's come such a far way. There's so many people who have dedicated themselves to making this a better place to work."
Desmond was drafted by the organization in 2004, debuted in the Majors in '09 and went through plenty of rough times. Now he sees an organization that can attract outside free agents and keep its own, one that "does things the right way."
"It's great to be a part of it and watch the growth," Desmond said. "I'm fortunate to say I've seen it every step of the way."
The GIBBYs, handed out by MLB.com for the past 11 years, recognize the best players, team personnel, accomplishments and moments from the season. They are awarded based on votes by media, front office personnel, MLB alumni, fans on MLB.com and the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).
"It's pretty cool," Desmond said. "For me, it says that people outside the organization are seeing the things I'm seeing inside the organization. It's come full circle.
"Now it's built for the future. It's built for now, and there's a plan in place and they [the current front office] haven't budged from that since Day 1."
The Nationals shared the Storyline of the Year honor with the neighboring Orioles, who made a surprising postseason run of their own, that organization's first since 1997.