Thom Loverro: Nationals await award season

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Photo - BOSTON, MA - JUNE 9:  Gio Gonzalez #47 of the Washington Nationals (R) and manager Davey Johnson #5 congratulate teammates after Washington's 4-2 win over the Boston Red Sox in interleague play at Fenway Park on June 9, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JUNE 9: Gio Gonzalez #47 of the Washington Nationals (R) and manager Davey Johnson #5 congratulate teammates after Washington's 4-2 win over the Boston Red Sox in interleague play at Fenway Park on June 9, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
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Win or lose in the postseason, the Washington Nationals are going to collect some unprecedented hardware after this special 2012 season.

In fact, you could make the case that it could be one-stop shopping for baseball's individual honors in the National League.

The surest thing should be the NL Manager of the Year Award. Davey Johnson should make room for it on his mantle. He not only took a team that had not had a winning season since it arrived in Washington and turned it into arguably the best team in the league, he declared it would happen in the spring when he told reporters he expected to win the NL East.

He has been a brilliant manager over the course of his major league career and finally may be in a place where he can get his just due. The only time Johnson was named manager of the year was with the Orioles in 1997, when he led that team to a wire-to-wire American League East title and the ALCS, only to quit the day after the announcement because he didn't get a contract extension from owner Peter Angelos.

On the mound, the Nationals' bid for a Cy Young winner is a little more competitive. The Mets' R.A. Dickey, with a 19-6 record and a 2.66 ERA, is the sentimental favorite and gets an attention bump for pitching in New York. But Gio Gonzalez has a 20-8 mark with a 2.84 ERA -- every bit Cy Young worthy -- and Gonzalez's numbers in a pennant race should put him on top.

Stick with me on this one: You can make the case Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche is an MVP candidate.

Granted, you can make a better individual case for the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen or the Giants' Buster Posey or the Brewers' Ryan Braun -- if you ignore the questions of the reigning MVP's use of performance-enhancing substances. But LaRoche is right there among the league leaders with 32 home runs, 98 RBIs and 276 total bases.

More importantly, the Nationals would not be where they are without LaRoche, who carried them offensively in the first two months of the season when the rest of the lineup was struggling and the Nats were winning games 3-2 on a daily basis. And he is one of the most important presences in one of the best clubhouses in baseball.

He may not be the NL MVP. But he should be in the discussion.

The discussion may begin and end for the NL Rookie of the Year Award with Bryce Harper. There are other worthy candidates, such as the Reds' Todd Frazier and the Diamondbacks' Wade Miley. But voters will want to hand it to Harper, and he has the numbers -- 19 home runs, 129 hits, 89 runs scored and 100 percent electricity -- to allow them to do so.

To the victors go the spoils.

Examiner columnist Thom Loverro is the co-host of "The Sports Fix" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN980 and espn980.com. Contact him at tloverro@washingtonexaminer.com.

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