Anyone who knows anything about baseball knows who Bryce Harper is. First overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft at just age 17. 2015 National League MVP. 23 year-old superstar for the Washington National Batting .251 this season. Wait, what? How is Bryce Harper, the reigning MVP, only hitting .251 this season? This is a question I and many other Nats fans have been asking all season long.
Back in April, it looked like another MVP award was a sure thing for Bryce. He ended the month hitting .286 with 9 homeruns and 24 runs batted in. However, at the beginning of May, the Nationals played a four game series against the Chicago Cubs. The manager of the Cubs Joe Madden decided to pitch around Bryce Harper almost every time he came up to the plate during the series. Harper totaled 13 walks in the four games. This completely threw Harper off of his game, and it started the biggest slump of his career.
During May, June and July, his average continued to fall and fall, while his home run and RBI numbers also dropped off. At one point, his average dipped all the way down to .234. According to sophomore Jacques Nissen, “Even Danny Espinosa was out hitting Harper.” Yeesh. If Danny Espinosa the Nats eighth hitter, is hitting better than you then something is seriously wrong.
Despite his struggles, Bryce is finally starting to turn things around. In the month of August, he hit .310 with 12 extra-base hits and 19 RBIs. The rest of the Nats players are following Harper’s example and are also elevating their level of play. The playoffs are just around the corner and the Nats are definitely ready.
Max Scherzer and Tanner Roark continue to shut down hitters, and with Stephen Strasburg having recently returned, the Nats starting pitching will be near untouchable. Mark Melancon and the rest of the bullpen have looked very solid, and many of the hitters are on fire, or have started to catch fire. Trea Turner is hitting .346 with 21 stolen bases, Daniel Murphy is hitting .345 with 98 RBIs, and Jayson Werth hit 8 home runs in August! With Bryce Harper now beginning to show flashes of his play from last season, this could be the year the Nationals put it all together and finally make it past the first round of the playoffs. Freshman Kevin Oakley said, “The Nats are already a really good team, so if they have Harper playing at his best in the playoffs, they will have a very real shot at winning the World Series.” •
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