SportsNation Blog Archives Bryce Harper
Can Nationals make the playoffs?
Remember a few days ago, when the National League playoff picture was all but set -- at least in terms of which five teams would vie for the pennant? Not anymore. The Washington Nationals are soaring, winners of 10 of 11 after their valiant two-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves a day after tragedy struck the nation's capital. The team still sits 4.5 games behind the Cincinnati Reds in the race for the second wild-card spot. But with the kind of talent on the Nats, would it be that surprising if the final 11 games delivered joy to D.C.?
2013 Home Run Derby
Baseballs will fly at the Home Run Derby on Monday night (8 p.m. ET, ESPN), as eight of the game's best sluggers will try to deposit the most batting practice pitches over the outfield wall at Citi Field in New York. Is the Home Run Derby the best skills competition in the universe of All-Star sporting events? Will Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, with 37 homers to his credit in the first half, walk away with the trophy? Vote below!
A bit of Bryce Harper's luster had come off recently, as his long absence from the Nationals allowed other young players to shine. We're looking mainly at Yasiel Puig, whose 2.1 wins above replacement over 26 games is insane and would be a halfway-decent number over a full season. Harper wasted no time at all in re-establishing himself, however -- he homered in his first game back from injury on Monday night. The Nationals aren't a bad team without Harper, but their left fielders could use the boost -- during Harper's 31-game absence, the gentlemen who replaced him hit .200 with two home runs, eight RBIs and a .540 OPS.
We're lucky enough to be living in the dawn of a potential golden age of outfielders, but it remains to be seen which one will rise above the rest.
Harper, Strasburg and the Nationals
Washington Nationals star pitcher Stephen Strasburg <a href="http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=9385258">is set to return to the mound Sunday</a>, after spending time on the DL with a lat strain. Meanwhile, standout outfielder Bryce Harper got good news from Dr. James Andrews on his ailing knee and could be back next week. This, of course, is good news for the Nats, who entered the season as a popular World Series pick but who enter Friday at just 33-32, 5.5 games out of both the NL East lead and a wild-card spot. As for fans, they'll be watching closely to see if their two biggest names can remain on the field.