At every level of his career, from Little League to junior college, Bryce Harper has found a way to excel and become the best player on the field. On April 28, he was unexpectedly thrust into his dream, into the major leagues at the age of 19. And over the next five months, Harper produced one of the finest seasons ever for a teenager, while many his age were in college.

On Monday, the top overall pick in the 2010 draft who became a mainstay in the Washington Nationals' lineup was honored as the National League's rookie of the year. He became the first Nationals player to earn the distinction, validation that all the hype and expectations that have surrounded Harper for years were indeed well placed. Harper received 112 points, with 16 first-place votes, narrowly edging Arizona's Wade Miley who finished with 105 points and 12 first-place votes.

"This is a great award, and I'm so excited and proud of it," Harper said. "But my biggest thing is I want to win a World Series. I want to put that ring on my finger and give that to the town and city of D.C. They deserve that."

Harper, who turned 20 in October, is the youngest position player to win the award and second youngest overall, after New York Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden in 1984, who was one month younger. He became the third player in franchise history to win the award, joining Andre Dawson in 1977 and Carl Morton in 1970, both of whom won it when the team was in Montreal as the Expos.