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Stock Watch: Harper’s power display caps bounce-back week

May 7, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

AP

Each week this season, we’ll take the temperature of the Nationals roster to see whose stock is rising or falling.  

Record: 5-2

Team slash: .262/.322/.373

Team ERA: 2.32

Runs per game: 3.42

 

STOCK UP    

Bryce Harper, RF: 3 HR/ 8 RBI/ 1.047 OPS  

Was there any way he wouldn’t make it on here? Harper’s memorable three-homer game Wednesday afternoon was obviously the high point of what’s been a very solid start to his season. We’ve been used to seeing him put on power displays in the past, but we probably haven’t seen him as locked in as he is right now. Though he’s not hitting .300 just yet (his average sits at .265 at the moment), his NL-leading 26 walks is a telling sign of of both the 22-year-old’s increasingly patient approach at the plate as well as opposing pitchers’ respect of him. For all that’s been said about him since he’s been in the big leagues, it’s easy to forget that he’s still nine months younger than the Cubs’ Kris Bryant, this year’s “it” prospect. It’s still really early in the year, but perhaps we’re on the cusp of watching Harper transform into the transcendent player many expect him to be.

Yunel Escobar, 3B: .345 AVG/ 4 RBI/ .355 OBP   

Maybe it’s the fresh start with a new team, maybe it’s the added protection in the lineup, but Escobar seems to be feeling right at home with the Nats thus far. Over the last week, he notched the highest average of any of the everyday players, keyed by Monday’s career best 5-for-5 effort in a comeback win over the Marlins. For a player whose track record suggests he’s a solid-but-not-spectacular hitter, he sure seems to be in the middle of nearly every big rally the club has had over the last few weeks. And as an added bonus, he’s been able to hold down the fort at third base while Anthony Rendon has been out.

Drew Storen, RP: 4 GP/ 3 Sv/ 0.00 ERA

A lot of fans still get shivers when Storen comes on in the ninth to close out a game, but more often than not he gets the job done. In what was a bounce-back week for the beleaguered Nats bullpen, he was especially dominant; he allowed just two base runners in four innings, struck out four and walked none en route to earning three saves. On the season, his ERA is at 1.50 and has a 13-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. As with any closer, a few bad outings will stick out in the minds of many, but Storen has turned in far more good than bad so far in 2015.

Gio Gonzalez, SP: 7.0 IP/ 0.00 ERA/ 9 K

On a night where the Nats offense mustered just one run, Gio picked a nice time to turn in his best performance of the season. He shut out the division-leading Mets in seven innings of work while striking out nine and walking two to earn his second win of the year. He was putting hitters away with his entire arsenal: Whether it was the curveball that fell off the table, the changeup or the fastball that hit 94 mph at times, Gonzalez looked like he had everything working in the Big Apple. It was the type of start that’d make other clubs envious that he’s considered a “back of the rotation” guy for the Nats, when he could easily be much more if he were on practically any other team in the league.

 

STOCK DOWN  

Jayson Werth, LF:  .227 OBP/ .227 SLG

With Werth landing in this spot three weeks in a row, it might be time for the Nats to wonder what’s wrong with their three-hole hitter. Matt Williams opted to rest him two days in a row due to a “cranky” shoulder, and perhaps the time off would do Werth well. But if he’s still feeling the effects of offseason shoulder surgery, what’s to say he won’t struggle again once he’s reinserted into the lineup? That’s the worry here, and if that’s the case, you wonder how long it’ll take before he gets back to being his old self.

  1. tcostant - May 7, 2015 at 11:15 AM

    “… Wednesday afternoon was obviously the high point”.

    I’ll still take the come back from 9-1, as the high point.

  2. Eugene in Oregon - May 7, 2015 at 11:24 AM

    I objected to including Jayson Werth in the ‘stock down’ category in his first week back from the DL. This time, as you note, it makes a lot more sense.

  3. homeparkdc - May 7, 2015 at 11:53 AM

    With no game today, you’ll have time to look at this article. Has serious info about Bryce Harper’s improvements. Also, didn’t know he’s 9 nine months younger that Trout (if that’s relevant). btw, we call Michael A. Taylor a “kid” but he’s about 1 1/2 years older than Bryce. Maybe he needs a beard?

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-latest-stage-of-bryce-harpers-development/

    • Section 222 - May 7, 2015 at 12:01 PM

      Awesome stuff. Thanks for positng. Even someone who doesn’t worship SABR and Brian Kenny can enjoy this.

    • adcwonk - May 7, 2015 at 12:10 PM

      Mrs Wonk swears that MAT’s been lying about his age, and that he’s really 12

      • dryw4nats - May 7, 2015 at 12:23 PM

        I think she may be right.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 7, 2015 at 2:23 PM

        Been playing like it. His baserunning has much room for improvement.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 7, 2015 at 5:25 PM

      “Maybe he needs a beard?”

      Where would he go to buy one? Maybe if Michael buys the testosterone Danny could grow one for him.

  4. natsjackinfl - May 7, 2015 at 1:24 PM

    Tell me something. How does a guy who is on a 12 game hitting streak not be on a stock up list? Even if he was on last week’s he still should be on this week’s.

    • ArVAFan - May 7, 2015 at 1:56 PM

      Pixel shortage?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 7, 2015 at 2:24 PM

        Something got axed by the editor so the Caddies ad could move up.

    • Section 222 - May 7, 2015 at 2:53 PM

      In case anyone, like me, was wondering who NJ is referring to, I think it’s Wilson Ramos. He has a 11 game hitting streak, and during that time he has 18 hits, including 2 doubles. His slashline is .419/.444/.465/.910. I suppose one reason he’s not getting more attention for this is that he’s mostly hitting singles and has only 3 RBIs. But still, it’s nice to see the Buffalo come to the plate and not immediately expect a double play ball. He’s keeping the line moving at least.

      • Bruxtun - May 7, 2015 at 3:12 PM

        Any thoughts on swapping Ramos and Zim until Ryan gets rolling? Better protection for Bryce for the time being, I think.

      • Section 222 - May 7, 2015 at 3:50 PM

        I wouldn’t do it. He’s not hitting for power enough to make it worthwhile. Plus, he’s slow. I’d rather keep him at No. 5 or 6 where the pressure to produce an extra base hit isn’t as great.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 7, 2015 at 5:27 PM

        Besides, you really don’t want to get into playing gin rummy with the lineup. It’s like trying to time the market: always a low-percentage move.

      • Bruxtun - May 7, 2015 at 5:39 PM

        @Sec 3

        Don’t think that analogy (or both analogies you used) really makes sense here… The low percentage move is currently Zim at clean up. He’s near the Mendoza line. Nothing to do with timing the market.

  5. Ghost of Steve M. - May 7, 2015 at 2:20 PM

    How did Ramos miss the stock up list?

  6. ehay2k - May 7, 2015 at 4:23 PM

    Ramos’ stock isn’t up, it’s just steady and high!

  7. therealjohnc - May 7, 2015 at 5:03 PM

    Stock up:

    Doug Fister, SP: 6.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 5H, 3K, 0BB

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