If you follow the Washington Nationals closely, you know that the Lerners, owners of the franchise, and General Manager Mike Rizzo have put together a “stars and scrubs” team for the past few years. They designed it to have the majority of the payroll tied up in elite (and marketable) players with minimal money put into depth. It is hard to say it is not working, considering that after nearly 100 games the Nationals have somewhere between three and five MVP candidates and a double-digit lead in the division. With a plethora of injuries testing the limits of that thin depth, stakeholders all over are wondering if they will be able to hold up to losses to key players. With that said, here is a look at the replaceability of key players within the Nationals organization.
Tag Archives: Bryce Harper
Thursday was an off-day for the Nationals, so there was too much time to ruminate about the relationship status of a professional baseball team. Yes, that means this author’s last two posts on The Nats Blog dot com are about assigning (b)romance-related characteristics to baseball relationships, but the Nationals and the Angels truly left me no choice. The two teams packed the most flirting into a two-game series since Alex Rodriguez asked a woman for her phone number during a game in 2012.
The Nationals kick off the second half of the 2017 season tonight on the road against the Reds sitting 9.5 games up in the NL East. While the squad has sat in first place for practically the entire season, it hasn’t been an easy road getting there. Some players have outplayed their expectations while others have been disappointing so far this season.
Aaron Judge fought his way to the Home Run Derby title and further into our hearts like Rambo with a baseball bat for a machete or even like a Great Dane puppy. Maybe both. Gary Sanchez, Cody Bellinger, Miguel Sano — all contestants put up a fight and contributed to the night-long meteor shower of baseballs. God bless the long ball, each and every one. That includes the dingers from Justin Bour, who put up 22 dazzling home runs only to be beaten by Judge’s 23. Bour’s was a joy for Miami faithful on its own, but the most important discovery of the derby, out of all the bombs and celebrations, is the previously undisplayed relationship between Bour and Bryce Harper.
We’ve reached the All Star break, meaning we’ve hit the “halfway” point of the season. At this point, we can typically take a step back and get a good look at baseball thus far this season and maybe get a good prediction of how it’s going to end. Of course, anything can happen between now and October, and I am neither an expert nor am I clairvoyant. But I’m going to give a go at predicting some of the likely candidates to win the National League MVP at the end of the season. Last August I did the exact same thing (albeit with a month and a half more playing time to consider), and I correctly predicted the top five MVP finalists. So here is my early insight into potential 2017 MVP candidates.
Look: I’m sick of talking about the bullpen, you are sick of reading about the bullpen, but we really don’t have a choice. The Nationals have an elite offense (even more so if they get healthy) and an elite rotation, but have been treading water for the last couple months because of a ‘pen that cannot keep runs off the board. Fortunately, the stiffest competition has a bullpen that is nearly as useless, leading to a massive lead in the division all the same. The resulting popular rhetoric has been “the Nats have time” and “why rush into a move, maybe they can figure things out before the last week of July.” I am here to challenge that notion with some thoughts on the hidden costs of the 2017 Nationals bullpen.
With 5 All-Stars so far (#VoteRendon), this year’s version of the Nats is Dolly-Parton-like top heavy. The top 6 Nats all have 2 WAR or higher. There are 2 Nats in the top 10 in baseball in both hitting (Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper) and pitching (Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg). Injuries and the craptastic bullpen have sucked a lot of joy out of this season. Yet the calamities that have befallen the team have allowed a few of scrubs to show their worth.
Ah, the 2017 All-Star weekend: when you’ll watch the likes of Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge try to destroy the Marlins’ hideous statue in left center with homers before baseball fans everywhere can finally enjoy watching the game’s best players without the exhibition deciding home field advantage.
But you, wise and curious Nationals fan, want to know exactly who will be suiting up to play in front of the league’s most consistent fan base. Herein lies this week’s looming question: Which curly-w-clad gentlemen will head to Miami for the Midsummer Classic? The starters will be revealed on the evening of 2 June, with the following all but guaranteed, and thus, not altogether interesting to discuss.
Bryce Harper is an absolute stud. There’s no other way about it. He’s raked since the day he stepped foot into the league, and it doesn’t look like he’s going to slow down anytime soon. But there’s one factor he has that makes him incredibly important to the Nationals: he’s clutch.