For the first time in franchise history, a Nationals player was handed the league's most prestigious individual honor on Saturday night, as Bryce Harper received his National League Most Valuable Player Award at the Baseball Writers' Association of America Awards presented by Esurance.
Harper joined many of baseball's best in swapping his uniform for a tux and heading to the New York Hilton amid frigid blizzard conditions for the annual event, which had to be scaled down to a private ceremony when dangerous weather prompted a New York City transportation shutdown. The proceedings will be broadcast on MLB Network at 10 p.m. ET on Friday.
• MLB's best brave snow for BBWAA event
An emotional Harper took to the stage to accept his award and thanked his family, teammates and fans.
"I remember many nights as a young boy, sleeping with my bat and dreaming of being a great ballplayer for a long time," Harper said. "One of those dreams came true. I play for a great team and great management, with many great fans."
Harper's unanimous NL MVP selection was the culmination of an impressive campaign for the 23-year-old. He hit .330 in 153 games, and his 42 home runs were tied with Colorado's Nolan Arenado for most in the NL. While he achieved immense individual success, Harper lamented the Nationals' inability to reach the postseason.
"Although this trophy represents the great year that I had, I'm still not satisfied as a player," he said. "The most important thing about individual accolades is how those accolades can help a great team become the best team in baseball. However, this year wasn't our year."
Harper has been among the game's top players since he burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2012. His production dipped in '14, a campaign limited by injury, but he bounced back in a big way. In 2015, Harper posted career-best marks in runs (118), doubles (38), home runs, RBIs (99), walks (124), batting average, on-base percentage (.460), slugging (.649) and OPS (1.109).
His efforts not only earned him MVP recognition, but he also took home a Silver Slugger Award and the Players Choice Award for National League Outstanding Player.
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.