Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is a two-time All-Star. While he is still just 21-years-old, the young outfielder has a lot to live up to.
The expectations are for Harper to be one of the Nationals’ key power hitters. The 2014 season, however, has not unfolded that way. An early season thumb injury put Harper out of the lineup and left fellow outfielders Denard Span and Jayson Werth to make up for the loss. Both have had good years at the plate; Harper, on the other hand, has struggled.
He is experimenting with multiple batting stances, and the Nationals have seen varied production from him at the plate. Harper started the season hitting just .244 before the All-Star break. Along with that, he only accounted for 12 runs, 11 runs batted in, and two home runs. While the injury had a lot to do with his lack of production, his batting average and OBP were still far below what the Nationals need from him.
Recent weeks have been more favorable to Harper. His average has seen a spike, as he was productive during the Nationals’ 10-game winning streak. Since the All-Star break, he has posted a .275 BA to go with 20 runs, 15 RBIs and six home runs. Harper’s season batting average is still just .260, however.
The Nats need more from the young outfielder. His production at the plate is especially crucial while the team is missing the bat of Ryan Zimmerman. The third baseman is hitting .282 on the year and is a key piece to the team’s lineup. The Nationals need Harper to continue an upward trend at the plate going into the final weeks of the season. He must be able to adapt to pitchers come playoffs.