WASHINGTON -- His first year in Washington was historic and far exceeded even the loftiest expectations, but Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy finished as the runner-up to Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant in the Baseball Writers' Association of America voting for the National League Most Valuable Player Award.
Murphy received the only first-place vote that did not go to Bryant, and finished with 245 points on the ballots revealed Thursday night, five more than the third-place finisher, Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager.
Murphy spent his breakout 2016 campaign announcing with his bat that his performance from the 2015 postseason was no fluke. Murphy carried the Nationals' offense at times this season as a few of the club's key hitters struggled to provide consistent production.
He set career highs in nearly every offensive category, hitting .347/.390/.595 -- finishing just one point behind the Rockies' DJ LeMahieu for the NL batting title -- while leading the NL in slugging percentage and OPS (.985). Murphy's 25 home runs were 11 more than his previous career high, and his 104 RBIs were 26 more than his previous high.
Murphy was perhaps the best hitter in the NL this season, maintaining his elite contact skills with an ability to wait for his pitch and not miss it. Adjustments to his swing and batting stance helped Murphy improve his power numbers while posting the highest single-season batting average in franchise history and tying the Nationals' record for hits in a season (184).
But Bryant gained the edge in part because his stellar defense gave him a significant advantage in Wins Above Replacement. Bryant finished with an 8.4 WAR compared to Murphy's 5.5, according to Fangraphs.
Still, Murphy enjoyed a historic first season in Washington after signing a three-year, $37.5 million contract as a free agent last winter. It would have been hard to imagine then that Murphy would even be in the discussion for this award.
Washington became the first team in 10 years to have a finalist in each of the four BBWAA Awards categories, although Max Scherzer emerged as the club's lone winner when he was named the NL Cy Young Award recipient on Wednesday. Outfielder Trea Turner was the runner-up for the NL Rookie of the Year Award, and manager Dusty Baker finished third in the NL Manager of the Year Award voting. Murphy was aiming to become the second consecutive Nationals player to win the NL MVP Award, after Bryce Harper took home the honor in 2015.
Two of Murphy's fellow Nationals also received NL MVP Award consideration: Scherzer came in 10th place with 39 points, and catcher Wilson Ramos netted six points.
Murphy has collected some hardware this offseason, winning the NL Silver Slugger Award at second base and being named the NL's Outstanding Player in the Players Choice Awards.
The MLB Awards -- following league-specific recognition by BBWAA voters, whose ballots are based on regular-season play -- include candidates from both leagues (with postseason performance taken into consideration). MLB Awards are based on votes by retired players, broadcasters/reporters, team executives, Society of American Baseball Research members and fans, with each group accounting for 20 percent of the process. Esurance MLB Awards week concludes Friday on MLB Network and MLB.com at 8 p.m. ET. MLB Awards categories include Best Major Leaguer, Hitter, Pitcher, Rookie, Executive and Manager.
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.