Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper came under scrutiny in the media this week. Reporters asked manager Matt Williams if Harper would be sent down to the minors. Williams responded, declaring adamantly that Harper is part of the major league team and that he wouldn’t entertain those types of questions.
Harper has struggled so far this season. While he did miss a significant number of games due to a thumb injury, Harper is still only hitting for a .250 average. His bat is arguably the weakest link in the Nationals’ starting lineup.
What’s puzzling about Harper is that he is playing well on the road. His batting average is .280 for away games which is second best in the regular starting lineup behind fellow outfielder Jayson Werth. That is compared to an unimpressive .229 average at home. Despite experimenting with a variety of batting stances, Harper is yet to find his groove at home.
2014 is his least productive season yet. Although Harper is just 21 years old and in his third season in MLB, expectations remain high for the young outfielder. The Nationals remain in first place in the NL East despite Harper’s struggles. While there was no pressure on his return from injury, enough time has passed now to where he is expected to produce.
Going into the final stretch of the season, the Nationals need him to find his groove and prove that he can be relied upon in the playoffs.