Athletes of the Year - Best of the best in the Mid-Atlantic

Breaking Burgundy's Ben Standig reveals his ballot for the top area athletes of 2015. Yes, you like that.

Most of you know but for those that don't, in addiiton to serving as publisher for Breaking Burgundy, I cover quite a few teams for CSNmid-atlantic.com. With that connection, I was among 25-30 tasked with selecting the "DMV Athlete of the Year for 2015". No criteria, no wrong answers. Since CSN includes the Baltimore area, Baltimore teams counted. Same with the colleges. Rank order didn't matter, though I did slot folks (and did so porely as my submitted top 10 included 11 names). 

With 2015 hours away from saying adios for good, thought I'd post my ballot. React accordingly, but note all votes were due by Dec. 17, which came before the Redskins clinched the NFC East title and Kirk Cousins threw four touchdowns passes in consecutive games. All text unless stated otherwise went with the submitted ballot.

[By the way, here are the D.C. teams that made/qualified for the playoffs in 2015: Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, Mystics, Maryland basketball, Georgetown basketball, DC United. Basically, everyone except the team thought to have the best shot at winning their sport's championship. Sorry, Nats.]

Hononrable mention: Max Scherzer (Nationals), Keenan Reynolds (Navy), Melo Trimble (Maryland), Jordan Reed (Redskins), All Krieger (U.S. women's soccer national teaam)

11. Emma Meesseman - The Belgium native made her first All-Star team last season despite being one of the younger players in WNBA last season. That Meesseman was born without only 50 percent hearing no longer matters. When Washington hears from other teams in trade talks, they want the skilled 6-foot-4 forward with deft touch from all angles.

10. Kirk Cousins - The quarterback's inclusion on this list could look insane if the Redskins fade with the NFC East title in sight. Then again, Cousins' improvement during his first season as starter and ability to navigate through loud media fights over his ability or lack thereof helped put Washington in this position.

[Clearly there was no fade. Sort of crystal balled the three-game surge -- and that going with Cousins over RGIII was indeed the right move, not to mention of the most important moments for the franchise over the last 15 years.]

9. Braden Holtby - Leading the NHL in goal-against average after finishing top-4 the previous season is pretty good, right?

8. Trent Williams - It's not just that the left tackle is playing at a Pro Bowl level. It's that without him on the field, the Washington Redskins offense this season goes nowhere. That's a level of distinction usually reserved for quarterbacks.  

7. Nick Backstrom - Leading the NHL with 60 assists is pretty good, right?

6. Paul Pierce - The most fun I've had covering sports? The one month stretch this spring where the future Hall of Fame forward sank clutch baskets and dropped money quotes while leading the Wizards to an opening round sweep of the Raptors and reminding all in Washington, "That's why the brought me here."

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5. Manny Machado - Don't be shy about calling the 23-year-old a superstar right now. His fourth place finish in the American League MVP was no fluke. The Orioles have roster concerns in some spots, but are locked at third base for years to come.

4. Alex Ovechkin - This is list is about 2015 specifically, but another volume goal-scoring season reminded us that we are probably witnessing the greatest professional modern athlete in the history of D.C. sports.

3. John Wall - The Wizards point made guard was named an All-Star the previous year, but took his game up a notch this past season with consistent high-end performances. Playing in the postseason with a busted wrist only added to the legacy.

[Wall told me his choice for the local athlete of the year and that person is the next name on this list.]

2. Bryce Harper - The 2015 National League Most Valuable Player isn't just another superstar. The Nationals' outfielder might have the best combination of current talent and future potential of any athlete in all of American team sports.

1. Katie Ledecky - The 18-year-old from Bethesda keeps the record book keepers busy. Just this past Sunday she set the American record in the 1000-yard freestyle, which is a mere footnote considering the already rare air she occupies as owner of three different distance world records. At this summer's World Championships in Russia, Ledecky entered five races including four individual. She won gold in all with nearly dominant performances in each. Basically, we're talking about the "most dominant freestyle swimmer on Earth" according to fivethirtyeight.com. If she sweeps the 2016 Olympics we might say Michael Jordan and Ted Leonsis once took a picture with Ledecky rather than the other way around.

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Ben Standig is the Publisher of Breaking Burgundy. You can find him on Twitter @benstandig and on Google+

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