Welcome back to the latest in a series, in which we review the previous week in Nationals baseball and power rank the players and events according to their performance. This is an extremely unserious exercise; at no point should it ever be confused with actual baseball analysis. Don’t worry, I will do my best to make sure that is obvious. Without further ado: your Washington Nationals, ranked according to power.
- Bryce Harper: Do I need to spell it out? Bryce Harper leads the sport in WAR and runs and is among the leaders for every statistic you’ve heard of and even the ones you haven’t. He just signed a deal for 2018, setting an MLB record for an arbitration-year contract. He’s rich, he hits, he has a fantastic salad. The man is a legend already and he’s younger than Aaron Judge.
- Ryan Zimmerman: I’m starting to get sick of writing about the same guys each Sunday, but probably not as sick the Phillies are of pitching to these guys.
- Max Scherzer grit: Two classic Max Scherzer moments in one week, from “I f***ing got him” in Baltimore to wearing a comebacker and staying in the game. Scherzer’s toughness is well known throughout the sport. His energy and fire are so visible on the mound that it’s no wonder he is a fan favorite. Each moment had an extra wrinkle that made them even more remarkable: the guy that Max “f***ing got” was not some scrub, but Baltimore’s all-world/MVP candidate Manny Machado, and Max stayed in the game to throw an immaculate inning the very next frame.
- Double trouble: Walk-offs. Blowing leads. Trea Turner bombs. Rainouts. Losses to the Orioles. Sunday games. Turner jump throws. Getting right-handed bullpen arms back from the disabled list. If the Nats did it this week, they liked it so much they did it twice.
- Daniel Murphy. Overshadowed by his two teammates setting the world on fire and a bullpen setting every lead on fire is a second baseman amid a remarkable multi-season run. His numbers this year (.331/.392/.554) are remarkably similar to last season’s, for which he was the talk of the sport.
- Jayson Werth. So far this season, hitting out of the 2-hole has been kind to Werth, as he’s posted a 186 wRC+ in his 43 at bats in that spot, compared to a 117 while hitting 6th and 100 at 7th. This week, Werth reached base in over half of his plate appearances before missing the weekend’s games as a precautionary measure. Unfortunately for Werth, the Nationals will not the Phillies again until September, and he has feasted on their pitching for about six years now.
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- Patience. Have some patience with the bullpen. Not because of their performances, which have been hot garbage, although hopefully Sean Kelley and Koda Glover can give the unit a boost. Don’t have patience with Mike Rizzo. Not signing Greg Holland was a clear error, and Austin Adams should have been with the big team yesterday. This is Rizzo’s mess, and he needs to fix it. That said, the Nationals have built a commanding lead in the division and have some breathing room. The Mets have sputtered out of the gate, the Marlins are a mediocre outfit, and the Braves and the Phillies have not arrived yet. While anything can happen, the Nationals should coast to the division crown. Some blown leads in early summer games are acceptable if the alternative is overpaying in prospects two months before the trade deadline. Enjoy the wins, move past the losses, and hope Rizzo gears up for October baseball.
- Michael A. Taylor. Regular playing time has not always been kind to Michael A. Taylor, who has made the occasional tremendous blunder and has routinely swung over breaking balls in the dirt with two strikes. But this week was a different story, as he went 8-for-21 with 2 home runs, including an 8th-inning game-winner Sunday night after another bullpen misstep. Taylor is either a AAAA guy in over his head, or a quality starter yet to tap his potential, or a steady speed-and-defense 5th outfielder. Which of those he is, remains to be seen. But right now, he’s an easy kid to root for on a tear. Have a week, Michael A.
Missed the cut: Anthony Rendon, Jacob Turner, John Wall, moms, Adam Lind, Stephen Strasburg, pink gear, Erick Fedde speculation, Magnus, Matt Wieters
Tags: Daniel Murphy, Jayson Werth, Max Scherzer, Michael A Taylor, Nationals, Nats, Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals