Awards show how crucial Daniel Murphy, Stephen Strasburg have been for the Washington Nationals

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Aug 3, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 3, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Washington Nationals earned two more monthly awards yesterday, with Stephen Strasburg being named the NL’s best pitcher and Daniel Murphy the NL’s best player for July.

The Washington Nationals are in the midst of one of their best seasons in franchise history. They’re 20 games over .500 (64-44), they lead the second-place Marlins by seven games in the NL East, and they boast the second-best record in baseball.

And if the Nationals continue to play well and make the postseason, Stephen Strasburg and Daniel Murphy will be a big reason why. Both players have led the Nationals all season long, and they’ve played a big role in the team’s dominance of the National League East (and the rest of the league, for that matter).

Strasburg has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season, going 15-1 with a 2.63 ERA and 161 strikeouts. The right-hander was especially good in July, when he went 4-1 with a 2.08 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings.

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Murphy was equally impressive at the dish, batting .346 with six homers, 23 RBIs and 11 doubles last month. It’s the second time this season that Murphy has been named the NL’s best player, and the third time overall that a Nationals player has taken home the honors in 2016.

Strasburg and Murphy have been so good that they not only stand out in their team, but they also stand out in the league as a whole. Indeed, if Strasburg and Murphy keep playing well down the stretch, they’ll be in the conversation for the NL Cy Young and MVP awards, respectively.

Yesterday, they got a taste of what that might be like when MLB recognized them with prestigious monthly awards. Strasburg was named the National League’s best pitcher, while Murphy took home the honor of being the NL’s best player for July.

These awards are not only a testament to how good Strasburg and Murphy were in July. They are also a testament to how valuable those two players are to the Nationals, the fanbase, and the team’s chances of winning their first ever World Series title in October.

From the beginning of the season, Strasburg and Murphy have spearheaded the Nationals’ winning ways. Strasburg has been the unquestionable leader of one of the best rotations in baseball, while Murphyj has been one of the few consistent contributors to the lineup.

The Nationals aren’t perfect. Their bullpen still has some question marks, their offense is still grossly inconsistent, and the leadoff spot and center field are still a mess.

But through it all, Strasburg and Mruphy have helped the Nationals weather the storm and play awfully well. And if both players stay healthy and productive in the coming weeks and months, there’s no question that the Nationals can do some great things down the stretch and in October.

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