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Howie Kendrick wins NLCS MVP

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Veteran Howie Kendrick won NLCS MVP after going 5-for-15 with four doubles, four RBI, and four runs scored as his Nationals completed an emphatic sweep of the Cardinals to advance to the World Series for the first time in franchise history.

Kendrick, of course, had the biggest hit of the NLDS as well, swatting a tie-breaking grand slam in the top of the 10th inning in Game 5 against the Dodgers. The 36-year-old didn’t stop there. His second-inning leadoff double in NLCS Game 1 led to the Nationals’ first run, the only run they would need in a 2-0 win. He knocked in the second run with a seventh-inning single.

In Game 2, Kendrick went 0-for-4 but the Nationals pulled out a 3-1 win. He rebounded in Game 3, hitting a two-run double to cap off a four-run third inning. He added an RBI double in the fifth and subsequently scored on Ryan Zimmerman‘s double. Kendrick swatted his third double of the game in the seventh inning and came around to score on Zimmerman’s single en route to an 8-1 win. Kendrick was intentionally walked in the middle of the Nationals’ explosive seven-run first inning in a 7-4 win over the Cardinals in Game 4.

Kendrick was quietly phenomenal for the Nationals this season. As he got older, he was used in more of a part-time and bench role, including this season, logging time at first, second, and third base. He finished the regular season batting .344/.395/.572 with 17 home runs and 62 RBI in 370 plate appearances. He racked up 2.6 WAR according to Baseball Reference, incredibly good for a part-time player. His postseason performance this year didn’t come out of nowhere.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).