It was obvious at one quick glance that something was different about Bryce Harper’s stance this Friday evening in Washington. It almost looks as if he tore a page out of Adam Laroche’s book with his new-look adjustment at the plate. He looks more relaxed and was able to get himself into a hitting position by simplifying his hands; not holding them as high as the past Harper would have.
The results were tremendous: a line drive single to right, a single back up the box, and he turned on a 93-MPH Francisco Rodriguez fastball to right field in the bottom of the ninth.
As great as K-Rod has been for most of this season for Milwaukee, this is definitely a good sign.
I watched a good portion of this game, and it was a frustrating one for the Nationals. They banged out 11 total hits, with ten coming off Kyle Lohse. It just seemed they could never capitalize on scoring opportunities. Stephen Strasburg had a weird night. It seemed like his stuff was entirely nasty and he was missing a ton of bats (nine strikeouts), but the Brewers made it hurt when they connected with a couple of home runs and bases clearing double. This too often is the Strasburg the Nationals are getting when they need a true, frontline ace to take hold of their division.
A Friday night in Philadelphia and Bryce Harper is mired in what seems like a one for forever slump. There are whispers that he’s not catching up to fastballs, even some wondering if he has the ever-dreaded ‘diminished skills’ at age 21 from all the injuries.
Nothing quiets these fears into a serenity momentarily like a nice bomb to right field to get some jeers from those brutal Philly fans.
Harper only had one hit tonight, but this was exactly the kind of confidence builder he needed to get something really big going. Something tells us that he’s going to be the driving force behind getting the Nationals past the Braves in the National League East division race. These teams are tied for the division lead as the night ends.
You figure A.J. Burnett will be hanging them up soon – but before he leaves the game forever the kid from Las Vegas touched him up for one. It’s good to see. It’s good for the game when this kid is hitting. We are really pulling for him.
It was the 44th home run of his career. It was his third at Citizens Bank Park. It was the 35th off a righty, and first time he’s gone deep hitting sixth in the Nationals lineup. It was his 28th solo shot.
ESPN is continuing to do what they can to make Bryce Harper a perceived superstar. He’s not holding up his end of the bargain, but hopefully that comes along in due time.
We like Harper, we like everything he stands for, we believe the talent is there. But we watch him night in and night out and it just isn’t happening. Something is off, and has been since he ran into that wall in Los Angeles last season.
I love one of baseball’s newest, best traditions: the 11:00 AM game on the 4th of July in Washington D.C.
When I was a kid, there was baseball on during the day on the 4th of July all day long. This year there’s a lack of it for sure; but this is the one game that kind of highlight’s the holiday. It’s baseball as it should be on Independence Day – in the nation’s capital before the day really gets started.
For giving us Bryce Harper and the star-studded Nationals just after breakfast, baseball deserves a pat on the back. We hope this is a long-standing tradition in the game.
One of our favorite talents in the game is back tonight; freshly-activated from the disabled list to get some swings off some poor bastard who is faceless on all the major sports websites, Yohan Flande. That just sounds like runs, doesn’t it?
I’ll have the game on at my place. And by ‘watch party’ in the title of this post I mean it will be my wife (for a few innings) myself, and my dog. I’m still excited!
Something tells us this is finally the stretch of Harper’s young career that he stays healthy and OPS’s something insane over a half season without issue. And the Nationals are winning that division.
We’re willing to cut a deal with the baseball Gods here: let Bryce Harper stay healthy from his presumptive return on July 1st until the end of the season. Do not let him have one single, solitary issue regarding his body parts or health until the season ends. Give the fans who pay homage to this great game each night one healthy half season of Harper; and we will not use curse words while watching the games for the rest of the season. We promise.
Harper began a rehab assignment last night, going 1 for 1 with a walk. The Nationals plan to activate him a week from today when they play at home against the Colorado Rockies. What a glorious occasion that could be.
Gut feeling is that Harper returns, the Nationals are the most feared team in the game in the second half, and they roll the Atlanta Braves in the National League East. The pieces are coming together for them before Harper even returns. If he comes back, and if he stays healthy; we would be willing to bet that he’s a half season of unstoppable. And that’s good for the game. There’s not much out there we would like to see more.
Bryce Harper not only hits the DL – but will require surgery on his left thumb. This injury will sideline him for at least two months, robbing the fans of baseball of one of it’s better young players; and robbing one of the better young players in the game of his season. This could easily make 2014 a lost year for Bryce Harper, done before it ever really got underway.
And it absolutely sucks. It sucks for everyone involved. It’s the ugly side of the game.
But I want to touch on something that I noticed before Harper got hurt. I don’t think he likes Matt Williams, I’ll come right out and say it. I witnessed a player who was not having fun playing the game, and I think the reason behind it was a manager who did everything he could to hit Harper towards the bottom of the order. Let’s just forget the benching for lack of hustle altogether, since Harper said he agreed with it. I think as Harper hits the DL, he does it with a sense of great relief; and I personally think he was at a point where he wasn’t enjoying something he’s mostly always enjoyed.
Harper has not shown the ability to stay healthy with any regularity in his big league career. Pundits want to blame Matt Williams for this injury and that’s not really fair either; Harper had a lot of trouble staying healthy regularly before Williams wore a Washington uniform. Whether it was a flu, a knee, a ding, a bang, a scrape, Bryce Harper is a magnet for any type of injury big or small. That’s as important of a tool as a player can have, and Harper lacks it.
There is frustration from fans who love the game because this kid should have every opportunity to be an ambassador of the game. Without staying healthy, he’ll never have the opportunity to do it.
We were watching live. Well, almost. MLB.tv had it’s usual lag going. But we’ve already covered that.
Pujols has withstood the test of time, and he deserves his place among the all-time greats who have played this game. It just seems like he has been doing what he did tonight for a long, long time when we think back on our life and first heard about The Great Pujols hitting a couple gargantuan shots in a game.
He’s had his trials too – and if you’ve had a look at him lately it appears that he has fought off Father Time for just a while longer. And for that, good for Albert.
Bryce Harper is no longer a stranger to struggles. He was dropped to seventh in the order this evening, and the Nationals found themselves in a 5-0 hole early against the Miami Marlins against left-hander Brad Hand.
Then Harper put on his cape and won the battle in a ten pitch at-bat with an upper deck three run home run. The Nationals would later get a grand slam from Jayson Werth to cap off a huge rally, overcoming the 5-0 deficit as well as a late 7-6 to win the game 10-7.
The home run was the 43rd of his career, and ninth against a southpaw. It was the 24th time he’s gone deep at Nationals Park.
We really loved this guy’s bat as early as about three seasons ago. But he’s running out of time to turn his career into anything other than an injury-marred bunch of radar blips. You can’t exactly blame Ramos; as these injuries aren’t his fault. They’re just happening. Plus he was kidnapped.
Hopefully he’s back and swinging a strong bat in a month; but we have our doubts. It’s just a shame because while it’s the Strasburg’s and Harper’s that everyone talks about in Washington, Ramos had a chance to be an excellent offensive catcher. He had the look – and had a monster spring (.385 with 1 HR and 13 RBI, see we back our claims up with numbers to quantify ‘monster spring’).
Jose Lobaton assumes the starting catcher duties for Washington. He’s a career .229 bat.
Things looked according to plan two weeks in last year. They swept the White Sox to move to 7-2, before getting swept at home by the Braves and eventually ending April with a 13-14 record. Bryce Harper went from tearing the cover off the ball to running into the right field wall in Dodger Stadium. Things continued to unravel all year long with blown leads by a shaky bullpen and questionable decisions by their Skipper that made observers question his sound-mind. By the time they were ready to start putting the toothpaste back in the tube, it was too late.
They would go on to a noble 86-76 finish. It displayed a lot of the fight and character left in the group that will take the field in 2014. A 23-11 run that began on August 20th scared the bejesus out of a couple other teams who were in the driver’s seat for the Wild Card spots. The Nationals were on fire. But it was too late to save themselves from the sins of their short past.
But all is not lost. They’ve got a new weird manager at the helm in Matt Williams. Bryce Harper’s knee is healthy, and as promised; he got as big as a house. The Nationals return an impressive core and GM Mike Rizzo made a few under-appreciated moves that will have this team knocking on the doors of contention again in 2014.
Major Off-season Moves:
Traded for LHP Jerry Blevins from the Oakland Athletics.
Signed Nate McLouth to a two-year, $10.75 million dollar contract.
Traded for RHP Doug Fister from the Detroit Tigers.
Signed LHP Mike Gonzalez.
Traded for Catcher Jose Lobaton.
Perhaps we should all tamper expectations on everything until the Nationals show us that they’re ready for the big time – but what fun would that be?
The Nationals young star power is what intrigues us. From Harper to Strasburg to Rendon to Ramos to some of the guys in the minors like Lucas Giolito, A.J. Cole, and Brian Goodwin; Washington has a lot to like in their future if they can show us that we’re in the beginning of the run by making another one.
Here’s one of the famous images making it’s rounds on the interwebs today. It’s Bryce Harper at Spring Training, presumably today, carrying two boxes of girl scout cookies.
Harper looks tremendous. We had not previously noticed a big difference in him, but when you look at this picture he looks like a power lifter. He also has tremendous taste in girl scout cookies, I believe that is thin mints and Samoans, and the fact that I can ID those at such a quick glance is why I look nothing like Bryce Harper right now.
On a baseball related note – we just hope his swing plane hasn’t changed at all due to the muscles.
For most Major League players, they have the luxury of being at 100% physically at one point in the Major League season, and that’s spring training. From there, they’ll depreciate either slowly or quickly like a piece of used farm equipment. And whether we’re talking about the tractor on the farm or your team’s star left-fielder, depreciation is an ugly thing.
“As far as I know, he is full-go for spring training,” Williams said. “We’re going to monitor him, though. We’re going to see how his knee reacts. There’s no way, even in a rehab situation, there’s no way to really simulate a game or the stuff that we do on the field until you do it. That’s why guys go out on rehab and play games, because you just can’t do it. So we’ll monitor him every day. If we see anything that’s bothering him, we’ll modify his program first. And if we’ve got to hold him out a day, we’ll hold him out a day to make sure he’s ready to go. As of right now, he’s full-go.”
That’s great news. The only thing that can hold back Bryce Harper is staying healthy and logging his most important stat: games played. If he plays in around 150 games, you’ll see career numbers from him. With a talent like his, you’re only going to slump for so long until someone makes a mistake. As a fan of baseball and someone who would love to see Harper become the game’s brightest star, we are hoping he finds a way to dial it back, pace himself, and spend the majority of the season in the lineup.
Hopefully this is the last time we ever feel the need to mention ‘Bryce Harper’ and ‘depreciation’ in the same post.
We aren’t that far. As bad and as brutal as February is to the baseball fan, we can make it. More tweets like this from players all around the league will be rolling in more frequently as the days roll by. Once we get to March Madness, we’ve basically made it.
And it’s good to see a player like Harper reporting for duty early. Washington Nationals position players weren’t due in until February 18th. It’s safe to assume Harper is spending his Valentines Day in route to Viera, Florida. That’s the kind of player we like – a guy who shows up early ready to dig in and work on getting better.