Adversity made Strasburg's World Series MVP award sweeter
HOUSTON, USA – Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg says winning the World Series Most Valuable Player Award is sweeter because of the adversity he has overcome in his Major League Baseball career.
The 31-year-old right-hander, who needed tendon replacement surgery only a few months into his 2010 rookie campaign, won twice in the World Series for the Nationals, who beat Houston, 6-2, to win the best-of-seven series at 4-3.
"You learn just as much from the downs as the ups," Strasburg said. "Everything happens for a reason. I've become a stronger pitcher for all the adversity I've gone through."
Strasburg became the first pitcher to go 5-0 in a single playoff run and was named the first World Series MVP pitcher since San Francisco's Madison Baumgartner in 2014.
In Game 2, Strasburg struck out 7 while allowing only two runs over 6 innings. In Game 6, he went 8 1/3 innings, giving up only two runs while striking out 7 and scattering 5 hits and two walks with the Nationals facing elimination.
The Nationals went 5-0 in playoff elimination games, rallying from behind to win every one of them.
"It's almost like we've done it so many times we have to get punched in the face to wake up," Strasburg said. "We never quit during the season despite everybody saying we were done."
The Nationals began the season 19-31 and were written off by many, given only a .01 percent chance of winning the title by oddsmakers.
Strasburg has been defying the odds since he was the first pick of the 2009 MLB Draft and pitched for Washington in 2010 before being shut down in August for Tommy John tendon replacement surgery and a year of rehabilitation.
"Through all the adversity, I've learned a lot about myself," Strasburg said.
"I've really learned to focus on the things I can control. I'm a control freak. The one thing you can control is your approach and how you handle your work off the field."
After battling back to play again in 2011, he was forced to sit out the end of the 2012 season as a precautionary measure to rest his arm, watching in frustration as his team lost to St. Louis in the playoffs.
"It was so long ago," Strasburg said. "You try not to look at the past and you try not to look at the future. It's a challenge not to try to see how it's going to all play out. You have to stay in the moment."
This year, Strasburg led the National League with 18 regular-season wins and was the most dominating pitcher in any playoff run.
And the usually reserved Strasburg admits enjoying the free spirited feel of a team that dances in the dugouts and hugs unreservedly.
"It's the camaraderie. It's the brotherhood that's the most satisfying," he said.
"They have me doing things I never thought I would be doing – hugging and dancing." – Rappler.com