Results tagged ‘ Rookie of the Year ’
Ever since he blasted 43 homers in the minor leagues back in 2014, nearly everyone around the baseball world has heard of Kris Bryant. Viewed by many as the player that would send the Cubs back to the playoffs — so far, so good — there was no doubt that Bryant was going to be a great player.
But him becoming a great player as quickly as he has become one is somewhat shocking for many people. At only 23 years old, the former first round draft pick from 2013 has already been through some ups and downs in the majors, but Bryant has been swinging a hot bat as of late. Over his last 15 games, Bryant is batting .339 with 6 homers and 14 RBI’s — including a walk off homer on Monday afternoon (already the second of his career).
Collectively so far this season, Bryant is hitting .262 with 20 home runs, 75 RBI’s and 12 stolen bases, leading all rookies in RBI’s by a wide margin. With stats like that, it’s no wonder that the majority of fans around baseball are projecting him to walk away with the National League Rookie of the Year award. But many see even greater things for Bryant and the Cubs in 2015.
It’s far too long into the season for anyone to write off the Cubs’ record as a fluke or a hot streak. The Cubs are good — it’s as simple as that. While young stars Kyle Schwarber, Addison Russell and Anthony Rizzo are helping lead the charge, it’s Bryant who is truly powering the postseason push. Currently holding the second Wild Card spot, the Cubs look to be in good position heading into the final month of the season.
No matter if the Cubs make the postseason or not, Kris Bryant is having an unbelievable season. The amazing thing is, he will get better and better in the years to come. That should be enough to make Cubs fans see visions of playoff runs for the next several seasons, with Bryant leading the way.
Sunday marked the last day of MLB games until after the All-Star break, and although the baseball world is looking forward to seeing baseball’s best sluggers put on a show in the home run derby, I wanted to quickly focus my attention on the players who have posted amazing performances throughout the first half of the season.
For this post, I’m covering the players who I feel stand the best chance right now (given, it’s still early) of winning the three major awards of Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year and Cy Young. All three awards have multiple players who can be argued as being deserving, but I have my own opinion as to who deserves each award the most at this point in the season.
Most Valuable Player Award
After a couple of seasons of getting beaten out for the award by Miguel Cabrera, Trout is finally breaking out into an every season Most Valuable Player. Already having blasted 26 home runs, and well on his way to another 100+ run year, Trout could be picking up another MVP at the season’s end.
National League: Paul Goldschmidt
I nearly went with Bryce Harper for this category, and when all is said and done, he very well may win it. But there is no ignoring what Paul Goldschmidt is doing for the Diamondback’s. With a .340 batting average, 21 homers and 70 RBI’s, Goldschmidt is having an MVP caliber season.
Rookie of the Year Award
Picking Lance McCullers Jr. was by no means an easy choice, as there are a few other pitchers and position players that have stats that stand out, but I decided that he was currently the leader. With a 2.52 ERA over 11 games started, McCullers is really impressing a lot of people around the baseball world.
National League: Joc Pederson
It is somewhat difficult to pick between Joc Pederson and Kris Bryant for who deserves the award, but I ended up going with Pederson. Despite batting in the lower .200’s, Pederson’s 20 home runs so far is extremely impressive for a rookie. In my mind, that’s enough to earn him the award.
Cy Young Award
Although there is a good amount of competition at the break for the American League Cy Young award, Sonny Gray leads the charge. With a 2.04 ERA over 18 games started, and an opponent batting average below .200, Gray is in a good spot if he can keep pitching the way he has.
National League: Zack Greinke
Once again, there’s a Dodgers pitcher out in front of the candidates for Cy Young award, but this time it’s not Clayton Kershaw. Instead, Kershaw’s teammate, Zack Greinke, is the one dominating the league. With an incredible ERA of 1.39 after 123.1 innings pitched, Greinke would have to fall apart to not win the award.
Whether or not you agree or disagree with my picks for who deserves each award at this point in the season, one thing is for sure: there is still a lot of season left where any player can have anything happen. With 15 of the 30 teams at .500 or better, in terms of wins-losses go, regardless of the award races, the games following the mid-summer classic are sure to make for an exciting second half.
This quite possibly could be one of a million articles written about Kris Bryant making his Major League debut on Friday afternoon, but it was such a big deal that I felt the need to write a little bit about it as well.
As nearly everyone around the baseball world is aware, Bryant has quickly made a name for himself down in the minors to this point in his career. After being the second overall draft pick in the 2013 draft, Bryant proceeded to slug a league leading 43 homers in the minors last season.
This year, he picked up where he left off. Following a great Spring Training showing, Bryant headed to Triple-A where he hit .321 with 3 homers and 10 RBI’s over 7 games before his call up, forcing the Cubs to bring him up.
Now that Bryant is in the majors, I expect him to make a solid run at the National League Rookie of the Year award. It’s truly his to lose, as his power is already as good as any other player in the majors.
But you wouldn’t have known that by just watching the Cubs game on Friday. In Bryant’s big league debut, he went 0-4 with three strikeouts, and simply looked lost at times at the plate. Even so, he made a couple of good plays at third on the afternoon, and finally ended the never ending question of when Bryant would make his debut.
Despite the poor showing by Bryant, the Cubs are off to one of their best starts in years — given, it’s still early. But if Bryant can begin to contribute the way many people feel he can and will, the Cubs could be celebrating a postseason appearance in October after such a long playoff drought.
The Rookie of the Year award was first handed out in 1947 to Jackie Robinson, after he broke baseball’s color barrier and went on to have a great first season of what would become a Hall of Fame career. Given out to a single player again 1948, the award was expanded in 1949 to include a player from each league, and has been that way ever since.
Renamed the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year award in 1987, fourteen players who have won the award have gone on to the Hall of Fame, up until this point, of the 130 players to win it — several of those winners are still active players, however.
Voting for the award is fairly straightforward.
Two writers from each city of both the American League and National League make up the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) voters for the Rookie of the Year award, making a total of thirty voters for each league (fifteen teams, with two voters per city). A first place vote earns a player five points, a second place vote gets three points, with a third place vote receiving one point. Once added up, the player with the highest overall total wins.
The 2014 Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year award winners for both the American League and National League were announced Monday night on MLB Network. Here are the winners, along with my thoughts on each:
AMERICAN LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Original Pick: Jose Abreu
Finalists: Jose Abreu, Dellin Betances and Matt Shoemaker
Winner: Jose Abreu
Thoughts On Jose Abreu Winning
Despite Jose Abreu being two months shy of his 28th birthday, and forgoing the fact that he came to the United States this past season after several years of playing pro ball in Cuba, there is little argument that Jose Abreu most deserves the award for 2014 American League Rookie of the Year.
Batting .317 on the season, to go along with 36 home runs and 107 RBI’s, Abreu showed off his ability to hit for both power and average this past year with the White Sox, and has truly been the award frontrunner since he blasted his way onto the scene in April.
Abreu becomes the first Rookie of the Year award winner in White Sox franchise history since Ozzie Guillen in 1985, as well as the first player since Mike Trout (2012) to receive the award via a unanimous vote; joining the likes of Craig Kimbrel (2011), Evan Longoria (2008) and Albert Pujols (2001), as the most recent.
Picking up 30 out of the 30 first-place votes, Abreu’s 150 points overall easily carry him past the runner up, Matt Shoemaker, who picked up 40 points, and Dellin Betances, who placed third, with his 27 overall points.
Although some players have posted great rookie seasons only to go onto have poor MLB careers, it’s safe to say that Jose Abreu — with his 30-40 home run a year potential — is bound for historic seasons moving forward.
NATIONAL LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Original Pick: Jacob deGrom
Finalists: Jacob deGrom, Billy Hamilton and Kolten Wong
Winner: Jacob deGrom
Thoughts On Jacob deGrom Winning
Heading into the 2014 season, many saw the speedy Billy Hamilton as the likely runaway winner for the National League Rookie of the Year award. And he surely would’ve been, if not for a slow start to the season and a player by the name of Jacob deGrom who made his debut in mid May and took the baseball world by storm.
Although he didn’t post the most impressive stats in MLB history, going 9-6 with a 2.69 ERA over the course of 22 games started, deGrom was more than good enough to win the Rookie of the Year award, striking out eight straight batters to begin a game during one of his starts.
The first New York Met to win the Rookie of the Year ward since 1984 when Dwight Gooden took the honor, deGrom was one of the best pitchers in baseball following July 4th, posting the second best ERA (only Clayton Kershaw was better) in all of baseball over his last 15 starts.
deGrom received 26 out of the 30 first-place votes, coming out to 142 points overall, leading him to a sizeable win over Billy Hamilton, who picked up 92 points and the other 4 first-place votes; and future big league star Kolten Wong’s third place finish with a total of 14 points.
When the Mets receive back their ace, Matt Harvey, in 2015, deGrom should be a great number two starter in their rotation. If things go as planned, the Mets could be a drastically better team next season than they were in 2014. However, whether or not that happens, deGrom is going to be really exciting to watch.
The 2014 Major League Baseball Gold Glove award winners were announced Tuesday night on ESPN2. Given out each year to the players that are judged to have exhibited superior individual fielding performances at each fielding position in both the National League and the American League, the award is voted on by the managers and coaches in each league (managers can not vote for their own players), with sabermetrics now making up around 25 percent of the vote.
Marking the 57th annual Gold Glove Awards, which began back in 1957, there have been some terrific players to receive the honor. However, no other player has won more Gold Gloves in their career or in a row than Greg Maddux, who took home 18 and 13, respectively.
While Maddux’s records seem fairly safe for now, there were some winners for 2014 who could win quite a few Gold Gloves as the years go on. Here’s a recap of the winners, with my thoughts on each:
AL Nominees – Alex Avila, Yan Gomes and Salvador Perez
AL Winner – Salvador Perez (2nd career)
NL Nominees – Jonathan Lucroy, Russell Martin and Yadier Molina
NL Winner – Yadier Molina (7th career)
Picking up his second straight career Gold Glove award, Salvador Perez was by far the best catcher in all of the American League in 2014. On the National League side of things, Yadier Molina takes home his seventh straight Gold Glove award. One of the best at controlling a pitching staff in all of baseball, it’s no surprise that Molina won yet again.
AL Nominees – Mark Buehrle, Felix Hernandez and Dallas Keuchel
AL Winner – Dallas Keuchel (1st career)
NL Nominees – Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright
NL Winner – Zack Greinke (1st career)
Although Mark Buehrle has won his fair share of Gold Glove awards, this season the award went to Dallas Keuchel. Having a great season with the Astros, Keuchel isn’t that well known around baseball, but he’s one of the best defenders on the mound. Zack Greinke, surprisingly, picks up just his first career Gold Glove award for the National League, after years of great performances on the mound.
AL Nominees – Michael Brantley, Yoenis Cespedes and Alex Gordon
AL Winner – Alex Gordon (4th career)
NL Nominees – Starling Marte, Justin Upton and Christian Yelich
NL Winner – Christian Yelich (1st career)
Alex Gordon ended up taking home his fourth straight Gold Glove award. Always very consistent as a defender in left field, Gordon isn’t at all a shocking winner of the award. Christian Yelich on the other hand did come as somewhat of a surprise. But even so, he’s still deserving, becoming the first Marlins outfielder to ever pick up a Gold Glove.
AL Nominees – Jackie Bradley Jr., Adam Eaton and Adam Jones
AL Winner – Adam Jones (4th career)
NL Nominees – Billy Hamilton, Juan Lagares and Denard Span
NL Winner – Juan Lagares (1st career)
Adam Jones has established himself as one of the best outfielders in baseball today, and he extended his argument by picking up his fourth career Gold Glove award — his third straight. On the NL half of the Center Field Gold Glove awards, Juan Lagares ended up receiving the award. While he’s not well known as of yet, he could easily pick up several more Gold Gloves in his career.
AL Nominees – Kole Calhoun, Kevin Kiermaier and Nick Markakis
AL Winner – Nick Markakis (2nd career)
NL Nominees – Jason Heyward, Gerardo Parra and Giancarlo Stanton
NL Winner – Jason Heyward (2nd career)
Nick Markakis of the American League and Jason Heyward of the National League each picked up their second career Gold Glove awards on Tuesday night for their terrific defense in the outfield. Despite the fact that Heyward and Markakis are two very different types of players, they were undeniably the most deserving right fielders of the 2014 season.
AL Nominees – Miguel Cabrera, Eric Hosmer and Albert Pujols
AL Winner – Eric Hosmer (2nd career)
NL Nominees – Adrian Gonzalez, Adam LaRoche and Justin Morneau
NL Winner – Adrian Gonzalez (4th career)
All of the nominees for first base have their ups and downs defensively, but Eric Hosmer winning the Gold Glove this season is the best choice, in my opinion. His second straight Gold Glove, Hosmer showed signs of breaking out into a superstar in 2014. Also picking up his multiple Gold Glove award was Adrian Gonzalez, who hadn’t won one since 2011.
AL Nominees – Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia
AL Winner – Dustin Pedroia (4th career)
NL Nominees – DJ LeMahieu, Brandon Phillips and Chase Utley
NL Winner – DJ LeMahieu (1st career)
Dustin Pedroia is widely known as one of the best second baseman in baseball, and he was recognized for it this season. Winning his fourth career Gold Glove award and second in a row, Pedroia could easily pick up another Gold Glove or two before the end of his career. As could DJ LeMahieu, who isn’t well known in the baseball world, but received the first of what could be several Gold Glove awards.
AL Nominees – Alcides Escobar, J.J. Hardy and Alexei Ramirez
AL Winner – J.J. Hardy (3rd career)
NL Nominees – Zack Cozart, Adeiny Hechavaria and Andrelton Simmons
NL Winner – Andrelton Simmons (2nd career)
J.J. Hardy receives his third straight Gold Glove award for American League shortstop. Known for his slick defense he shows off seemingly every night, Hardy is quietly one of the best fielding shortstops in baseball today. But many would argue that the best defensive shortstop at the moment has to be Andrelton Simmons, who won his second career Gold Glove on Tuesday and could be winning them for years to come.
AL Nominees – Josh Donaldson, Adrian Beltre and Kyle Seager
AL Winner – Kyle Seager (1st career)
NL Nominees – Nolan Arenado, Pablo Sandoval and Juan Uribe
NL Winner – Nolan Arenado (2nd career)
Kyle Seager picked up his first career Gold Glove award while Nolan Arenado received his second in a row. Both are terrific fielding third baseman, and both are early on in their careers. It is very likely that Seager and Arenado could continue to get better and better, picking up multiple Gold Glove awards in the process.
2014 GOLD GLOVE AWARDS FAST FACTS
There were six first-time Gold Glove winners.
- The Royals and Orioles had the most Gold Glove winners, with three each.
- There were nine Gold Glove winners who also won a Gold Glove in 2013.
Also announced last night were the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) award finalists for 2014 Rookie of the Year, Cy Young and Most Valuable Player. For the most part, I agree with the finalists, but there are a few I’m surprised about.
Here are the finalists, with who I have winning (click their names to find out why):
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
American League: Jose Abreu, Dellin Betances and Matt Shoemaker
National League: Jacob deGrom, Billy Hamilton and Kolten Wong
CY YOUNG FINALISTS
American League: Felix Hernandez, Corey Kluber and Chris Sale
National League: Johnny Cueto, Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER FINALISTS
American League: Michael Brantley, Victor Martinez and Mike Trout
National League: Clayton Kershaw, Andrew McCutchen and Giancarlo Stanton
The winner of each award will be announced next week on MLB Network.
Here’s the schedule:
AL & NL Rookie of the Year: November 10th
AL & NL Cy Young: November 12th
AL & NL Most Valuable Player: November 13th
As stated in a previous blog post, I plan on posting a recap of each winner, along with a look at how well I did with my predictions, in a blog entry after each award is officially announced. So be sure to check back for that at some point next week.
Before I begin my recap of my votes for the major MLB awards, I want to take a second to acknowledge both the Royals and the Giants on advancing to the 2014 World Series. Both teams were outstanding in their given league championship series, with the Royals sweeping and the Giants losing just once. And thus, it should make for a very entertaining World Series, which begins in Kansas City on Tuesday. But while I’m going to make some World Series predictions in my next blog post, this post is meant to focus solely on the major MLB awards.
Over the past week, or so, I’ve been typing up individual posts on who I feel most deserves the awards of American League and National League Rookie of the Year, Cy Young and Most Valuable Player.
Some of the choices were easy, while others took a great deal of debate. But in the end I went with my gut of who I feel deserves each award the most.
In case you missed a few (or all) of my Major League Baseball award posts, I wanted to do a brief recap. Here are my picks that I made for each category:
American League Rookie of the Year: Jose Abreu
National League Rookie of the Year: Jacob deGrom
American League Cy Young: Felix Hernandez
National League Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw
American League MVP: Mike Trout
National League MVP: Clayton Kershaw
Feel free to click the links associated with each award to be taken to my post on it, giving the full reasoning behind my picks. I’m planning to post a blog entry covering the winners of each award when they’re announced towards the middle of next month, comparing my original picks to the winners and giving my overall thoughts, so be sure to check back for that.
As I stated in my American League Rookie of the Year post, watching young players succeed upon their first year in the majors is always fun. Though it never guarantees that any given player will carry that early success throughout their career, it’s always a good indication of which players are going to be stars for years to come. We certainly had a fair share of those type of players in the National League this season, with players such as Ken Giles, Jeurys Familia, Billy Hamilton and Jacob deGrom all having seasons worthy of recognition. However, in the end, only one player can win the coveted Rookie of the Year award.
Ken Giles came up in June for the Phillies and was terrific through the rest of the season. Over 44 games pitched, Giles posted a 1.18 ERA and limited batters to a .164 batting average against. With the poor season the Phillies had as a whole, Giles was one of the few players you could count on night in and night out. And thus, he should be one of their biggest bullpen pieces moving forward. However, while he had a tremendous rookie campaign, not pitching the entire season and being a reliever hurts Giles, taking away his chances of the R.O.Y. award.
Another dominant reliever who spent the entire year in the big leagues was Jeurys Familia, who isn’t exactly a household name but will be a potential star for years. Familia, like the previously mentioned Giles, was one of the few bright spots on his team (the Mets), posting a 2.21 ERA over the course of 77.1 innings pitched. Though he didn’t strike out a ton of guys through the season, he was still very effective at getting batters out, and deserves praise for his achievements. Still, Rookie of the Year is a bit beyond what he was able to achieve.
The player many people felt had the Rookie of the Year locked down for the National League before the season even began was the speedy Billy Hamilton. Gaining national attention after stealing a minor league record 155 bases back in 2012, Hamilton quickly earned a name for himself as one of the fastest players in the game today. But although he stole a fair share of bags this season in the big leagues, with 56, that’s not good enough, in my mind, to earn him the Rookie of the Year award, especially when it goes along with a mere .250 batting average.
For me, the player who deserves the 2014 National League Rookie of the Year award the most is the Mets’ Jacob deGrom. Though he didn’t blow away the competition like a lot of award winners do, deGrom was consistent enough all season long to earn the honor. Putting together a stat line of a 2.69 ERA over 22 games started to go along with 144 strikeouts, deGrom gave the Mets something to look forward to moving forward. Once their ace, Matt Harvey, returns in 2015, Jacob deGrom should be a strong number two starter in that rotation, likely having a Rookie of the Year award under his belt.
Watching young players succeed upon their first year in the majors is always fun. Though it never guarantees that any given player will carry that early success throughout their career, it’s always a good indication of which players are going to be stars for years to come. We certainly had a fair share of those type of players in the American League this season, with players such as Masahiro Tanaka, Collin McHugh, Dellin Betances and Jose Abreu all having seasons worthy of recognition. However, in the end, only one player can win the coveted Rookie of the Year award.
Masahiro Tanaka came over from Japan in the offseason, where he had previously dominated the opposition. Picking up right where he left off for the Yankees, Tanaka put himself well in line to become the starting pitcher for the American League in the All-Star game, and began to be seen as the favorite to win the R.O.Y. award. However, shortly before the All-Star break, things fell apart. Getting hit with injuries, Tanaka wasn’t able to return until the very last portion of the year. And therefore, while he should be one of the top vote getters, with his 2.77 ERA over 20 starts, Tanaka will ultimately not receive the award.
Another pitcher who’s in the mix for Rookie of the Year, having stayed healthy throughout the season unlike Tanaka, is Collin McHugh. Pitching for an Astros team that had very few standout players, McHugh went 11-9 with a 2.73 ERA over the course of 25 games started. While he had a few poor outings this season, for the most part McHugh had a dominant string of performances. Any other season McHuch would be a top candidate for the Rookie of the Year, but this season the talent level of American League rookies was simply too great.
Dellin Betances was by far the most impressive rookie of the pitchers on my list. Posting a mere 1.40 ERA over the course of 70 games pitched, in which he held opponents to a mere .149 batting average, Betances was one of the most successful players on the Yankees in 2014. In addition to the low ERA, Betances struck out a staggering 135 batters, setting the new Yankee strikeout record for a relief pitcher, formerly held by Mariano Rivera. While I feel Betances should be seen as the top young relief pitcher in baseball, he unfortunately just misses out for top A.L. rookie of 2014.
For me, there’s no other choice for 2014 American League Rookie of the Year over the White Sox’ Jose Abreu. Getting signed out of Cuba during the offseason, Abreu came to the Sox with high expectations surrounding him. But instead of buckling under the pressure, Abreu thrived on it. Batting .317 on the year, along with 36 home runs and 107 RBI’s, Abreu had a season you very rarely see out of a rookie. Although he didn’t reach the all-time home run mark by a rookie of 49, Abreu did more than enough to deserve the American League Rookie of the Year award.
Although it didn’t result in a victory for the Mets, Jacob deGrom — given a no decision in a 6-5 Mets loss — was as good Monday night as he’s been all season long. Striking out the first eight batters he faced to start the game, deGrom was not only dominant, but he also made some history, setting the Mets’ franchise record for most consecutive batters struck out to begin a game.
Unfortunately, deGrom didn’t surpass the MLB modern day record of eight straight batters retired to kick off an outing, set back in 1986, merely tying it. But even so, deGrom showed why he’s regarded by many as one of the top young up-and-coming pitching stars in the game today.
Now with a season ERA of 2.68 over the course of 21 starts — 7 of which were scoreless outings — and 134 strikeouts on the year, the 26-year-old deGrom is quickly becoming a household name.
Once the Mets get their ace, Matt Harvey, back in 2015 — who reportedly topped out at 95 on his fastball with great movement on his curveball in a simulated game at Citi Field on Monday — they should have a very formidable rotation, with deGrom as their strong number two starter behind Harvey.
But before all of that happens, people are focusing their attention on the present, placing Jacob deGrom as a top candidate for 2014 National League Rookie of the Year. However, while deGrom has been good and should be good for years to come, I’m not fully convinced the award will be his by a landslide as some are suggesting.
The stats deGrom has posted this season have been impressive, racking up a 28 inning scoreless streak before allowing three earned runs in the seventh inning on Monday, but an outfielder for the Reds by the name of Billy Hamilton is sure to give deGrom a run (no pun intended) for his money.
While Hamilton has cooled off drastically as of late after hitting at a fairly high clip for a portion of the season, his 56 stolen bases and fantastic defense in center are sure to earn him a number of votes for the Rookie of the Year in the National League.
Citing the fact that Hamilton wouldn’t be a candidate if not for his stolen bases, it’s certainly understandable to find yourself thinking deGrom has the edge in the race for the award. Neither side is truly the right or wrong answer, as both Hamilton and deGrom have good arguments both for and against.
In the end, however, the final handful of games of the season will tell the tale. Whichever player has the stronger finish will likely gain the edge when it comes to the voting for who deserves the title of Rookie of the Year.
The Washington Nationals are somehow finding a way to win, despite the fact that some of their key players are posting disappointing numbers due to either injuries or a long stretch of struggles. Currently riding a four game winning streak, the Nats amazingly find themselves in first place for the National League East division, six games in front of the second place Braves, who were on top less than a month ago.
Ryan Zimmerman, who has been dealing with injuries all season long, is out until at least September, which is obviously a big blow to the team, seeing how much of an affect he’s had over the course of his career. In addition, Stephen Strasburg, while he’s been healthy, still hasn’t been that over dominant pitcher that he has been hyped to be, currently possessing a mid 3.00 ERA, though he’s been showing signs of a turn around. Those two players alone not playing to the best of their ability would understandably be enough to make the Nationals under perform.
But the one player who is hyped the most of anyone on the team, and arguably is the one player that the Nats need the most in order to be the best their team can be, is their 21 year old, Bryce Harper, who has also been struggling, after coming off the disabled list due to a thumb injury.
Putting up numbers so bad that there were rumors that Harper could be sent down to the minors — rumors that were quickly set straight by Nationals’ manager, Matt Williams –, Harper hadn’t been able to find his overall groove through a couple of weeks since his return.
Having struggled in 2013 after a knee injury, and threatened with bench time, Harper stated that the Nationals should “play [him] or trade [him]”. By pressuring the Nationals to keep him in the lineup, Harper worked that slump out, and he’s beginning to show signs that he’s working out of this one as well.
Following a two RBI night on Thursday, coming off of a home run, Harper went 2-4 with a couple more RBI’s on Friday. Batting .282 with 3 homers and 9 RBI’s in his last ten games, Harper’s stats for the season now stand at 6 home runs and 23 RBI’s with a .259 average. Though that’s not very good, with this set to be the first season in his young career without 20 homers, the two-time All-Star is recently starting to contribute like he’s expected to.
And the Nationals are going need Harper’s bat to continue to stay hot if they hope to make any sort of deep playoff push with the talent level that October baseball brings. After reaching the postseason in 2012 for the first time since 1933, the Nationals were quickly eliminated, and failed to reach the postseason at all in 2013.
Though they’re on track to make it once again this year, whether or not Harper produces in the clutch will likely make a big difference in how they fare down the stretch.
Two years removed from his rookie of the year season, in which everything seemed to go right, Bryce Harper has definitely seen his fair share of trying situations. From injuries to slumps, Harper has been scrutinized in the headlines of nearly every major publication across the country for not playing in a consistent manner.
But despite all of that negativity coming his way, there are signs that the Nationals are once again getting the type of player that was anticipated when they drafted Harper number one overall back in 2010. If Harper can get things clicking, the Nats could be in for a strong final month and a half to the season.