Nationals' Howie Kendrick named MVP of NLCS

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are headed to their first World Series.

Fittingly, the player who led them there is going to his first one, too.

Veteran Howie Kendrick was named MVP of the NL Championship Series on Tuesday, with his big bat helping Washington to a four-game sweep of the Cardinals.

As he received the MVP trophy, fans started chanting "How-ie! How-ie!" and his teammates gave him a huge ovation.

"I can truly say this is the best time of my career, the best moment of my career this year," Kendrick said upon receiving the award.

Kendrick, 36 years old and in his 14th season in the majors, finished the series 5-for-15 with four doubles and four RBIs. He was at his best in Monday's Game 3 win, becoming just the fourth player to hit three doubles in an LCS game as part of a 3-for-4, three-RBI night that put Washington on the brink of a pennant.

He played a huge role in the regular season as well, hitting a career-high .344 in 121 games and 334 at-bats as one of the most valuable bench players in the league.

"When we were down and had a lot of players injured early on, Howie was the one big bat that carried us. He had such a magic season," general manager Mike Rizzo said.

Kendrick also hit the winning grand slam in the 10th inning of the clinching Game 5 of the division series against the Dodgers.

Kendrick came to the Nationals in the middle of the 2017 season in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies and then re-signed with the Nationals after that season. His 2018 season ended in May when he ruptured his Achilles.

After the surgery, Kendrick remained with the team for about six weeks but then returned home to finish his rehabilitation. He told his teammates he'd be back in 2019.

"I told them before I left, 'I'll be ready for spring training.' Some people were like, Yeah, yeah, we'll see. I wasn't joking when I said that. To be able to be back with these guys ... it means a lot to be around those guys. I learn so much from them, and I love these guys just as much as they love me, and I know that 100%. I think that's the big reason why we have success, because we truly care about the next guy."