WASHINGTON -- Even though the Nationals did not achieve their collective goals in 2018, missing the postseason for the first time in three years, they still featured two of the top performers in the National League, both of whom were announced as finalists for Baseball Writers' Association of America awards on Monday night.
Juan Soto is a finalist for the Jackie Robinson NL Rookie of the Year Award and Max Scherzer is a finalist for the NL Cy Young Award, both of which come as no surprise considering both players were frontrunners all season. The NL Rookie of the Year will be announced Nov. 12, and the NL Cy Young, Nov. 14.
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Scherzer is vying for his third consecutive NL Cy Young Award and fourth of his career, a chance to further cement a growing Hall of Fame case. He is facing stiff competition in the Mets' Jacob deGrom and Phillies' Aaron Nola.
Only one player in Nationals history has won the Rookie of the Year Award: Bryce Harper in 2012. Soto put together the best season by a teenager since then and perhaps the best from a 19-year-old in MLB history. Soto is up against Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Braves and Walker Buehler of the Dodgers.
After winning the Cy Young Award the past two seasons, Scherzer was even better in 2018. He became the fifth pitcher since '01 to record 300 strikeouts, complementing a 2.53 ERA and an NL-best 0.911 WHIP and 220 2/3 innings. While deGrom is a heavy favorite for the award, the case for Scherzer stands by his strikeout total, historic and dominant at times as he overpowered hitters for the best strikeouts per nine innings (12.24) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.88).
Meanwhile, this season's NL Rookie of the Year Award has been one of the tightest races in baseball, with Soto and Acuna jockeying for position.
Only one player in MLB history hit more homers before his 20th birthday than Soto's 22. Soto had the most walks (79), highest on-base percentage (.406) and OPS (.923) for any teenager in history, and he led all NL rookies in each category.
Washington has become a staple during awards week in MLB each November. The Nationals have had a winner in each of the past four seasons, with Scherzer capturing the Cy Young Award in 2016 and '17, Harper winning the Most Valuable Player Award in '15 and Matt Williams being named Manager of the Year in '14. They are hoping to continue that streak next week.