by Amanda Comak
This is the fourth consecutive season in which the Nationals have had a Silver Slugger Award winner, and the first time the organization has had an outfield honoree since Alfonso Soriano in 2006.
“We are proud to see Bryce earn his first Silver Slugger award,” said Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo. “Watching Bryce play the way he did this year was a true pleasure. His historic season at the plate is a tribute to the type of talent he is, and I know I’m not alone when I say that I cannot wait to see what is next for this young man.”
“I’d like to say ‘Thank you,’ to the managers and coaches who awarded me with this incredible honor,” Harper said. “Most of all, I’d like to thank my teammates, the Nationals coaching staff and the training staff. I am humbled by their unwavering support and sacrifices, without which this would not be possible. It is a privilege and an honor to be recognized alongside this group of great players.”
Harper, who celebrated his 23rd birthday shortly after the 2015 season concluded, led Major League outfielders in a myriad of offensive categories. They included: batting average (.330), on-base percentage (.460), slugging percentage (.649), walks (124), OPS (1.109), and at-bats per home run (12.40). He led National League outfielders in home runs (42), extra-base hits (81) and at-bats per RBI (5.26).
The Las Vegas-native was also tops in Major League Baseball in Wins Above Replacement for the 2015 season with 9.5 (according to Fangraphs.com).
With Harper’s honor, the Nationals are one of only two National League teams (along with the Pittsburgh Pirates) to have a player earn a Silver Slugger Award in each of the past four seasons. Joining them with active streaks in the American League are the Detroit Tigers (2011-2015) and the Los Angeles Angels (2012-2015).
NATIONALS TO WIN LOUISVILLE SLUGGER SILVER SLUGGER AWARDS (2005-2015)
2006 OF Alfonso Soriano
2009 3B Ryan Zimmerman
2010 3B Ryan Zimmerman
2012 SS Ian Desmond, 1B Adam LaRoche, P Stephen Strasburg
2013 SS Ian Desmond
2014 SS Ian Desmond, 3B Anthony Rendon
2015 RF Bryce Harper
by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals named Dusty Baker as manager on Tuesday, agreeing to terms on a multi-year contract that makes him the sixth field manager in Nationals history.
Baker, 66, brings nearly 50 years of professional baseball experience to the Nationals, including 20 years as a Major League manager, six as a coach, and a 20-year playing career that was highlighted by 19 decorated seasons in the Major Leagues.
A three-time National League Manager of the Year (1993, 1997, 2000), Baker is the 17th-winningest manager in baseball history, and his 1,671-1,504 career managerial record slots him second in the win column among active managers behind only San Francisco’s Bruce Bochy (1,702). Washington is Baker’s fourth managerial stop, coming to the Nationals after time in San Francisco (1993-2002), Chicago (2003-2006) and Cincinnati (2008-2013).
“We were looking for a manager to help us achieve our ultimate goal of competing for a World Series championship,” said Theodore N. Lerner, Managing Principal Owner of the Nationals. “During our broad search process we met with many qualified candidates, and ultimately it was clear that Dusty’s deep experience was the best fit for our ballclub.”
Baker, an All-Star, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, and World Series-winning player, has produced seven postseason teams during his 20-year managerial career, including five division championships (San Francisco, 1997 & 2000; Chicago, 2003; Cincinnati, 2010 & 2012), and two wild card appearances (San Francisco, 2002; Cincinnati, 2013). Baker, a coach for the 1989 Giants World Series team, managed the 2002 San Francisco Giants to the World Series, clinching the National League pennant over the St. Louis Cardinals in five games, before falling in seven games to the Los Angeles Angels.
His 1,555 games and 840 victories with San Francisco rank second only to Hall of Famer John McGraw’s 4,405 games and 2,604 wins in Giants history, and his 2003-04 Cubs teams were the first to post consecutive winning seasons in Chicago since 1971-72.
As a player, Baker participated in the postseason four times (1977, 1978, 1981 & 1983), and played in three World Series (1977, 1978, 1981). He earned himself the National League Championship Series MVP award with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1977 (hitting .357 with a .438 on-base percentage and .837 slugging percentage in four games against Philadelphia), and a World Series ring, playing left field for the 1981 Dodgers.
“I am so pleased to welcome Dusty Baker to the Nationals family,” said Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo. “In getting to know Dusty and identifying what we wanted in the next on-field leader of our team, we are excited to have him on board.
“Dusty’s experience, as a winning player, coach, and manager, is vast and varied. We are excited to bring him to Washington and put his steady demeanor, knowledge and many years in the game to work in our favor. I think I speak for the entire organization when I say I am very much looking forward to working with him.”
Baker, a six-time All-Star (twice as a player: 1981 & 1982; three times as a member of the coaching staff: 1994, 1997 & 2001; once as manager: 2003), brings a wealth of experience to the manager’s seat in Washington. His teams have finished first or second 12 times in his 20 years, and won at least 90 games in a season on eight occasions.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the former outfielder is one of just six managers in MLB history to win a division title with at least three teams, joining former Nationals skipper Davey Johnson, Billy Martin, Lou Piniella, Joe Torre, and Tony LaRussa. He is also one of only four in MLB history to produce at least 1,500 hits as a player and win at least 1,500 games as a manager, joining Piniella, Torre and Fred Clarke on that list.
Born Johnnie B. Baker Jr. on June 15, 1949 in Riverside, Calif., “Dusty” Baker currently resides in California with his wife, Melissa, and has two children, Natosha and Darren. A 1967 graduate of Del Campo High School in Carmichael, Calif., Baker attended American River College in Sacramento, Calif. and was inducted into the Sacramento Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.
Baker, who is a prostate cancer survivor (2001), served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve from 1969-75. Baker also has experience as a broadcaster, working for ESPN’s Baseball Tonight in 2007 and, most recently, for TBS as a studio analyst this past postseason.
by Amanda Comak
Following a week in which he carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning and then turned in perhaps the most dominant no-hit performance in Major League history as an encore, Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer was named the National League Player of the Week on Monday. Major League Baseball made the announcement on MLB Network.
In his final start of the 2015 season, Scherzer held the New York Mets hitless in a 2-0 victory on Saturday night, striking out 17 and allowing just one baserunner — on an error by third baseman Yunel Escobar. Scherzer, who also no-hit the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 20 at Nationals Park, became just the sixth pitcher in Major League history to throw two no-hitters in the same season, and just the fifth to throw two in the same regular season.
He is the first, however, to throw two no-hitters in the same season without walking a single batter in either contest. Hall-of-Famer Pud Galvin threw no-hitters in 1880 and 1884 in which he did not issue a single walk.
While Scherzer joined Johnny Vander Meer (1938), Allie Reynolds (1951), Virgil Trucks (1952) and Nolan Ryan (1973) as the only pitchers ever to throw two no-hitters in the same regular season (and including Roy Halladay (2010) if you add the postseason), he is the first to throw no-hitters against two postseason-bound teams in the same season.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Scherzer’s 17 strikeouts (a career high, besting his 16-strikeout performance at Milwaukee on June 14) tied Nolan Ryan for the MLB record for strikeouts in a no-hitter – a record that had stood alone since Ryan struck out 17 Detroit Tigers on July 15, 1973. On Saturday night, Scherzer appeared to grow stronger as the finish line neared, striking out a franchise record (Nationals/Expos) nine consecutive batters from the sixth inning to the ninth inning.
And all of that came on the heels of 7.1 innings of no-hit ball in his penultimate start of the season, an eight-inning performance vs. the Cincinnati Reds on Sept. 28. All told, the final week of Scherzer’s 2015 season featured a 2-0 record and a 0.53 ERA (1 ER/17.0 IP), two hits, three walks and 27 strikeouts.
After Scherzer’s tremendous performances, the Nationals are the first team since the 1960-1961 Milwaukee Braves to throw three no-hitters in a 162-game span (Jordan Zimmermann, Game No. 162, 2014; Scherzer Games No. 69 & 161, 2015).
This is the third Player of the Week award of Scherzer’s career after he earned the honor earlier this season (June 15-21, 2015), when he threw his first no-hitter. He had previously taken home the award on June 24, 2013 as a member of the Detroit Tigers.
As an organization, Scherzer is the Nationals’ 18th weekly honoree. He adds to the haul from Bryce Harper (May 4-10, May 11-17, & Sept. 14-20, 2015), Stephen Strasburg (Sept. 14-20, 2015 & June 7-13, 2010), Zimmermann (Sept. 22-28, 2014; June 2-8, 2014), Adam LaRoche (Sept. 1-7, 2014), Jayson Werth (June 30-July 6, 2014), Ryan Zimmerman (July 16-22, 2012; Aug. 15-21, 2011; July 30-Aug. 5, 2007), Josh Willingham (July 27-Aug. 2, 2009), Cristian Guzman (Aug. 25-31, 2008), and Nick Johnson (May 31-June 6, 2005) as honorees.
by Amanda Comak
Following a week filled with dominance by both players, Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper and right-handed pitcher Stephen Strasburg were named co-National League Players of the Week on Monday.
Harper – who currently leads the National League in several categories, including: batting average (.343), on-base percentage (.470), slugging percentage (.674), home runs (41), OPS (1.143), OPS+ (206), runs scored (116), and WAR (9.6) – had quite a week at the plate. In seven games, Harper hit .519 (14-for-27) with a .576 on-base percentage and a 1.111 slugging percentage. He clubbed five home runs and one double, walked five times, drove in 10 runs and scored 12 times as the Nationals went 6-1. Harper struck out just three times in his 33 plate appearances from Sept. 14-20.
During this stretch, Harper became just the second player in Nationals history to tally 40 or more home runs in a season, joining only Alfonso Soriano (46, 2006).
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Harper’s 96 career home runs are the fourth-most for any player in Major League history before his 23rd birthday, joining only Mel Ott (115), Eddie Mathews (112), and Tony Conigliaro (104). At 22 years, 335 days old, Harper also became the sixth-youngest player in MLB history to hit 40 home runs in a season, again joining Ott (1929: 20 years, 203 days) and Mathews, (1953: 21 years, 316 days), as well as Johnny Bench (1970: 22 years, 249 days), Joe DiMaggio (1937: 22 years, 285 days), and Juan Gonzalez (1992: 22 years, 331 days).
Strasburg, who joined right-hander Pedro Martinez as the only pitchers in franchise history to post back-to-back 13-plus strikeout games with his performances on Sept. 9 and Sept. 15, set a Nationals record (2005-present) by tallying 37 strikeouts in his past three starts – the most for any Nationals pitcher in a three-start stretch.
The right-hander went 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA, allowing just one earned run over 15 innings in two outstanding performances at Philadelphia (9/15) and vs. Miami (9/20). Strasburg struck out 24 batters last week and walked just two, holding opponents to a .135 average, .167 on-base percentage and .192 slugging percentage.
During his season-best eight-inning performance at Philadelphia, Strasburg tied his career high with 14 strikeouts and limited the Phillies to one hit. He generated swings-and-misses on 30 of 55 swings, a 55 percent swing-and-miss rate – the highest by a pitcher in any start of at least 100 pitches in the past 10 seasons.
This is the third Player of the Week award of Harper’s career, following back-to-back honors in May (May 4-10, 11-17), the second of Strasburg’s career (also June 7-13, 2010), and the 16th and 17th such honors for the Nationals organization.
They join Max Scherzer (June 15-21, 2015), Jordan Zimmermann (Sept. 22-28, 2014; June 2-8, 2014), Adam LaRoche (Sept. 1-7, 2014), Jayson Werth (June 30-July 6, 2014), Ryan Zimmerman (July 16-22, 2012; Aug. 15-21, 2011; July 30-Aug. 5, 2007), Josh Willingham (July 27-Aug. 2, 2009), Cristian Guzman (Aug. 25-31, 2008), and Nick Johnson (May 31-June 6, 2005) as honorees.
Nationals reinstate 2B Dan Uggla, select the contract of C Pedro Severino, and recall LHP Sammy Solis
by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals returned from rehab and reinstated second baseman Dan Uggla, selected the contract of catcher Pedro Severino from Double-A Harrisburg, and recalled left-handed pitcher Sammy Solis from Triple-A Syracuse. Additionally, right-handed pitcher David Carpenter (right shoulder inflammation) was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.
Uggla, 35, returns to the Nationals after missing 22 games due to back spasms. The veteran second baseman played in seven games on rehab assignment, making stops with Single-A Hagerstown, Single-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg. Uggla hit .217 (5-for-23) with one double, one home run, two walks, six RBI and five runs scored.
In 56 games with the Nationals this season, 34 of them off the bench, Uggla is hitting .191/.294/.291 with four doubles, two triples, one home run, 16 walks and 14 RBI. In his last 87 Major League plate appearances, Uggla is 17-for-74 with two doubles, two triples, a home run, 13 RBI and 12 walks. His lone longball this season, a three-run shot in the ninth inning at Atlanta on April 28, completed the Nationals’ record-setting comeback victory over the Braves.
Severino, an exceptional defensive catcher, joins the Nationals for the first Major League assignment of his career. Signed by the Nationals at the age of 17, the Dominican Republic native entered the 2015 season considered the “Best Defensive Catcher” in the Nationals’ minor league system, according to Baseball America. Severino has thrown out 38 percent of attempted base stealers over the course of 331 minor league games.
The 22-year-old catcher, who was a non-roster invitee to the Nationals Major League Spring Training this year, was hitting .249 with 13 doubles, five home runs, 19 walks, and 34 RBI in 90 games with Double-A Harrisburg at the time of his promotion.
Joining the Nationals’ bullpen for the fourth time this season, Solis returns to the Major Leagues after having posted a 2.03 ERA in nine games at the Triple-A level. The left-hander is 0-3 with a 4.39 ERA in 20 Minor League games this season across Double-A and Triple-A, and is 1-1 with a 5.54 ERA in 10 Major League games.
Solis, 27, returned to the minors after his third MLB stint on July 30 and allowed just three earned runs in 13.1 innings. He earned two saves while holding opponents to a .178 average against during his time with the Syracuse Chiefs.
by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals recalled infielder Wilmer Difo from Double-A Harrisburg, and returned from rehab and reinstated right-handed pitcher Aaron Barrett from the 15-day disabled list on Friday. Center fielder Denard Span was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to July 7, with back tightness and right-handed pitcher Jordan Zimmermann was placed on the paternity list.
Difo, 23, joins the Nationals for the third time this season. Most recently recalled on June 28 as the 26th-man for Washington’s doubleheader at Philadelphia, Difo has appeared in six games at the Major League level in 2015. He collected his first Major League hit in his first MLB at-bat, May 19 vs. New York Yankees.
Difo entered 2015 rated by Baseball America as the No. 7 prospect in Washington’s chain and was cited as the “Best Defensive Infielder” in the Nationals’ Minor League system by the same publication. In 63 games between Single-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg this season, Difo is hitting .296 (74-for-250) with 19 doubles, one triple, three home runs, 32 RBI, 14 walks, 14 stolen bases and 34 runs scored.
Barrett, 27, returns to the Nationals after missing 24 games with a right bicep strain. The right-hander did not allow a run and surrendered just three hits in 3.0 IP over four rehab games with Single-A Potomac. Before his injury, Barrett was 3-2 with a 5.06 ERA in 30 games out of the Nationals’ bullpen.
Since his Major League debut on Opening Day in 2014, Barrett’s 11.18 strikeout-to-walk ratio is the 15th-best mark among National League relievers.
Span, 31, ranks 10th in the National League in batting average at .304 through 59 games this season. He’s collected 15 doubles, five home runs, 22 RBI, 24 walks and 37 runs scored while going 11-for-11 in stolen base attempts.
Zimmermann, 29, is 7-5 with a 3.05 ERA this season. The two-time All-Star has been particularly strong of late, allowing just one earned run in his previous three starts, a 0.40 ERA (1 ER/22.2 IP). Zimmermann and his wife, Mandy, are expecting their second child.
by Amanda Comak
Washington Nationals right-handed pitcher Max Scherzer was named to the 2015 National League All-Star team on Monday night. Scherzer joins right fielder Bryce Harper, who was announced Sunday as a fan-elected starter, as the Nationals’ selections to the National League squad. The 2015 AL and NL All-Star rosters were unveiled during the “Esurance All-Star Selection Show” on ESPN on Monday night.
“We are thrilled that Max and Bryce will be representing our team at this year’s All-Star Game in Cincinnati,” said Nationals Managing Principal Owner Theodore N. Lerner. “The performance of both of these players during the first half of this season has not only contributed directly and significantly to our team’s success, but it has been historic in nature as well.
“We are so fortunate to get to watch both of these talented players on a nightly basis, and we are honored to call them ours. We can’t wait to see them get the credit they so richly deserve on a stage with so many of baseball’s brightest talents.”
Scherzer joined the Nationals this past offseason, signing as a free agent on January 21, and the 2013 American League Cy Young Award winner has had quite a memorable start to his career in a Nationals uniform. Scherzer threw the second no-hitter in Nationals history (2005-present) on June 20 vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates, carrying a perfect game into the ninth inning before pinch hitter Jose Tabata was hit with a pitch on his left elbow with two outs in the frame.
The no-hitter was one of three consecutive games in which Scherzer took a perfect game into at least the sixth inning, including his start ahead of June 20 (June 14 at Milwaukee) and the one that followed (June 26 at Philadelphia). Combining his no-hitter with his complete-game, one-hit shutout at Milwaukee, Scherzer became the fifth pitcher in the Modern Era, and the first since Jim Tobin (Boston Braves, 1944) to allow one hit or fewer in back-to-back complete games.
All told, Scherzer faced 54 batters between hits allowed (7th inn. at MIL on 6/14 – 6th inn. at PHI on 6/26), and opponents were 0-for-52 in that stretch (BB, HBP). Scherzer also ran his personal consecutive scoreless innings streak to 24.0 during that three-start stretch. He completed his third game of the season on Thursday night in Atlanta, despite suffering the loss.
Twice named the National League pitcher of the Month (May and June), Scherzer was also the National League Player of the Week for June 15-21.
The 2015 All-Star Game will be played at Great American Ball Park on Tuesday, July 14th. The 86th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries.
by Amanda Comak
Following a month that featured his first career no-hitter and in the midst of one of the most dominant stretches in Major League history, Nationals right-handed pitcher Max Scherzer was named the National League Pitcher of the Month for June on Thursday.
The Nationals’ right-hander was 3-2 with a 2.33 ERA over the course of the month, but after allowing four earned runs in each his first two June starts, Scherzer carried a perfect game into at least the sixth inning in all of his final three outings.
Scherzer threw the second no-hitter in Nationals history (2005-present) on June 20 vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates at Nationals Park, and that feat only came after 8.2 perfect innings were interrupted when a slider hit pinch hitter Jose Tabata on the left elbow. That bit of history happened one start after Scherzer allowed just one hit and struck out 16 in a shutout over the Milwaukee Brewers on June 14.
Scherzer became the fifth pitcher in the Modern Era, and the first since Jim Tobin (Boston Braves, 1944), to allow one hit or fewer in back-to-back complete games (6/14 at MIL; 6/20 vs. PIT). All told, Scherzer faced 54 batters between hits allowed (7th inn. at MIL on 6/14 – 6th inn. at PHI on 6/26). Opponents were 0-for-52 in that stretch (BB, HBP) and Scherzer went 24.0 consecutive innings without surrendering a single run.
The month also included Scherzer’s 100th career victory, making him the third pitcher to notch that milestone while in a Nationals uniform. He joined Livan Hernandez (5/9/05 vs. ARI) and Jason Marquis (5/10/11 vs. ATL).
Scherzer is the first National League pitcher to take home back-to-back Pitcher of the Month awards this season, and the first since Los Angeles’ Clayton Kershaw did so in June and July, 2014. Houston’s Dallas Keuchel got the nod in the American League in April and May this year.
Since the award’s inception in 1968, 19 National League pitchers have secured back-to-back awards, including September of one year and April of the next, and just 17 have done it in the same season.
The only other pitcher in franchise history to win this award in back-to-back months was Jeff Fassero, who earned the distinction with the Montreal Expos in June and July of 1996.
This is the ninth time a Nationals player has been honored with a monthly award. Scherzer and Bryce Harper swept the awards in the month of May and they joined Chad Cordero (June, 2005), Stephen Strasburg (April, 2012), Gio Gonzalez (May, 2012), Jordan Zimmermann (July, 2012) and Jayson Werth (July 2013, July 2014) as honorees.
by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals returned from rehab and reinstated right-handed pitcher Doug Fister on Thursday, and optioned right-handed pitcher Taylor Hill to Triple-A Syracuse.
Fister, who will start Thursday night vs. Tampa Bay at Nationals Park, rejoins the Nationals after missing 29 games with right forearm tightness. The 31-year-old was 0-1 with a 0.93 ERA (1 ER/9.2 IP), no walks and 10 strikeouts in two rehab starts that spanned Triple-A and Double-A.
After leading the Nationals’ starting staff with 16 wins and a 2.41 ERA in 2014, Fister went 2-2 with a 4.31 ERA in seven starts this season before being placed on the disabled list on May 15. Despite missing the past month, Fister’s 2.71 ERA since the 2014 All-Star break ranks eighth in the National League and his 10 wins in that time span are tied for 10th.
Hill, 26, posted a 3.75 ERA in six appearances (12.0 IP) out of the Nationals’ bullpen. Four of Hill’s six appearances were multi-inning outings.
by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals added another veteran arm to their bullpen on Thursday, acquiring right-handed pitcher David Carpenter from the New York Yankees in exchange for Minor League infielder Tony Renda. Additionally, outfielder Nate McLouth was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.
Carpenter, 29, joins the Nationals in his fifth Major League season, coming to Washington after stops with Houston, Toronto, Atlanta and the New York Yankees. The veteran reliever has appeared in 210 games over the past four-plus seasons, working to an 11-11 record with a 3.73 ERA.
No stranger to the National League East, Carpenter was 10-5 with a 2.63 ERA in two seasons (2013, 2014; 121 games) with the Braves. During his time in Atlanta, Carpenter posted a 10.0 strikeouts-per-nine-innings mark, and over the course of his career (885 batters), Carpenter has worked to a 26.2 percent swing-and-miss rate.
Acquired by the Yankees from Atlanta this past January, along with Chasen Shreve, in exchange for left-hander Manny Banuelos, Carpenter appeared in 22 games for New York this season (18.2 IP) and worked to a 4.82 ERA. He was designated for assignment by the Yankees on June 3.
Renda, 24, was a second-round selection of the Nationals’ in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. The right-handed-hitting second baseman entered the season as the organization’s No. 12 prospect, per Baseball America.
A 2014 Carolina League All-Star and Arizona Fall League Fall Star, as well as the inaugural recipient (2013) of the Nationals’ “Bob Boone Award”, Renda was hitting .267 with a .333 on-base percentage with Double-A Harrisburg at the time of the trade.