Three Nationals win Silver Sluggers
LaRoche, Desmond, Strasburg earn NL hitting honor
WASHINGTON -- Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, first baseman Adam LaRoche and pitcher Stephen Strasburg were recipients of 2012 National League Silver Slugger Awards at their respective positions on Thursday.Desmond had a breakout season and earned All-Star status, hitting .292 with, 25 homers, 73 RBIs and 21 stolen bases. Desmond also led all big league shortstops in home runs, slugging percentage (.511) and OPS (.845). Desmond became the second Nationals player to match 20 homers with 20 stolen bases (Alfonso Soriano, 2006) and played an integral role as the club ended DC's 79-year postseason drought. Desmond said recently that putting life in perspective helped him perform at the highest level. "This year I put my faith [in God] and said, 'Hey, use my athletic ability whatever way you want. Hopefully, I can glorify you.' It's been great," Desmond said. "That really took a lot of pressure off my shoulders. Going 0-for-4 wasn't so bad. I realized it's part of the process. I'll bounce back from it, and you must learn from that stuff." LaRoche led big league first basemen with a 33 home runs and 69 extra-base hits. He also hit .271, drove in 100 runs, had 29 go-ahead RBIs and 15 game-winning RBIs. LaRoche joined Ryan Zimmerman (2009) and Adam Dunn (2009-10) as the only Nationals to register 30-homer, 100-RBI campaigns since the club arrived in DC after the 2004 season. After winning the first Rawlings Gold Glove Award of his career last week, LaRoche is one of only four big leaguers -- Robinson Cano, Chase Headley, Andrew McCutchen -- to win both a Silver Slugger, presented by Louisville Slugger, and a Gold Glove this postseason. LaRoche also joins Zimmerman (2009) as the only Nationals player to win both of baseball's ultimate individual hitting and fielding awards in the same year. Strasburg is best known for what he does on the mound, but he did quite well at the plate, too, going 13-for-47 (.277) with a home run, seven RBIs and three walks for the Nationals in 2012. He paced Major League pitchers in doubles and on-base percentage (.333), while ranking among the leaders in batting average (second), slugging percentage (second, .426), OPS (second, .759), hits (tied for third), RBIs (tied for third) and homers (tied for fourth).
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. Follow him on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.