Bryce Harper has battled injuries throughout his young career, but the slugging phenom is back healthy for the Washington Nationals and must be the second half National League MVP.
Everyone still believes Harper has all the tools to be one of MLB‘s best players, and if that is the case, he must starting flashing that potential now. Harper was slated into the No. 2 spot in the lineup during the Nationals’ 7-2 loss Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park on Friday. Cubs starter Jason Hammel continued his dominance over the Nats as he went six innings, allowed two earned runs on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. Harper went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, but his insertion back into the lineup has immediately amped up the offense. The Nats have won five of their last six, and it has been the offense doing the damage. Since Harper returned, the Nats have scored 20 runs.
Sabermetricians tend to agree the best player on a team should bat second because of the various scenarios that can play out with plate appearances, setting up sluggers and being a disruptive force on the bases. Harper has given glimpses of just how great he can be, but there is still something missing for from the 21-year-old outfielder. Harper can put up a 20-homer, 50-RBI second half, and there is no better time than this season to show it off. The rest of the lineup is set up to rack up numbers, and Harper needs to be the catalyst of this attack.
The Atlanta Braves are not going anywhere, and if the Nationals are serious NL pennant contenders, it is time for Harper to make the leap.