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Johnson, Harper, Gonzalez up for NL awards

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Beanballs,Sports,Brian McNally

The Nationals’ season didn’t end the way they wanted it to, but if it’s any consolation they are up for plenty more hardware this month.

The Baseball Writers Association of America has nominated Washington’s Davey Johnson as a finalist for National League manager of the year, center fielder Bryce Harper for N.L. rookie of the year and left-handed pitcher Gio Gonzalez for the league’s Cy Young Award. The finalists were made public on MLB Network on Wednesday evening and the awards will be presented next week.

The three finalists join Adam LaRoche, who won an N.L. Gold Glove last week for his defensive work at first base. Teammate Ian Desmond was a finalist for that honor at shortstop, but did not win. Rookies of the Year for the both the N.L. and the American League will be presented on Monday at 6 p.m. on MLB Network, Managers of the Year on Tuesday at the same time and the Cy Young Awards on Wednesday. The Most Valuable Player award finishes up the week on Thursday at 6 p.m.

Johnson, 69, led the Nats to a 98-64 record and the team’s first N.L. East title since it moved to the District from Montreal in 2005. He previously won the award after managing Baltimore to the American League East title in 1997, but was promptly forced out by owner Peter Angelos that same day. Johnson joked several times about that experience this summer when asked about the possibility of winning again.

Johnson has a career record of 2,283-1,286 in 16 seasons. He has a .564 winning percentage, second among active managers behind only Joe Girardi of the New York Yankees, and ranks 19th all time. The Nats, of course, lost in the N.L. Division Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in five games.

It wasn’t an easy season for Washington despite that gaudy record, which was the best in the majors. Johnson’s club missed several key regulars to injuries, including slugger Michael Morse (lat muscle tear), who didn’t play until June, and outfielder Jayson Werth (broken left wrist), who missed three months. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (shoulder) spent time on the disabled list and shortstop Ian Desmond (oblique tear) missed 28 games in July and August.

Johnson did get lucky with the health of his starting pitchers. But he also had to manage a bullpen that missed closer Drew Storen (right elbow surgery) for three months and that added replacement parts when Henry Rodriguez and Brad Lidge proved ineffective. And the Stephen Strasburg controversy, which was a distraction all season after the Nats said they planned to shut down their ace pitcher in early September.

Johnson is up against Cincinnati’s Dusty Baker, whose team won the N.L. Central with a 97-65 record, and San Francisco’s Bruce Bochy, whose team won the N.L. West at 94-68 and, eventually, the World Series – though votes were tallied before the playoffs. Johnson was named The Sporting News Manager of the Year last month after to a poll of 17 of major league managers.

Follow me on Twitter @bmcnally14

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