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Stock Watch: Harper’s hot streak continues

May 13, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

May 12, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper celebrates with teammates after hitting a solo home run in sixth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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

Record: 5-1

Team slash: .357/.396/.619

Team ERA: 5.26

Runs per game: 7.8

 

STOCK UP    

Bryce Harper, RF: 7 HR/ 16 RBI/ 2.181 OPS

The way he’s going these days, we’re not sure if he’ll ever not be on this list. Harper, at 22, looks to be blossoming into the elite talent many projected him to be when he was drafted first overall in 2010. His power potential has always been there, but it’s his patient approach at the plate this season that’s taken his game to the next level. Even in at-bats when he’s not launching bombs, he’s opting not to over-swing, instead taking close pitches and showing that he’s perfectly content shooting a single the other way if need be. What’s scariest about Harper’s ascension is that no one truly knows what his ceiling is. If this is just the beginning, what’ll his numbers look like by season’s end?

Wilson Ramos, C: .350 AVG/ 5 RBI/ .500 SLG

Speaking of reaching potential, Ramos’ 15-game hitting streak highlights something Nats fans have been thinking for a few years: If only he can stay healthy. The 27-year-old catcher has played in more than 100 games just once in his career, and that was in 2011. So for the past few seasons, he hasn’t really been able to show what he could do over the course of a full year. The Nats believe he can be one of the best hitting catchers in the league, and so far, he’s proving them right. His .320 average is tops among qualified NL catchers, and is second in baseball only to Oakland’s Stephen Vogt.

Ryan Zimmerman, 1B: .409 AVG/ 2 HR/ 8 RBI

Of all the Nats who are currently on a hot streak, Zimmerman’s recent run at the plate has to be most satisfying for the club. Not only is it a reminder that, when healthy, the veteran infielder’s still got it, but that his potential return to form makes this offense as lethal as any in the NL. For the season, he’s hitting .349 with runners in scoring position, so while his season average isn’t super high just yet (.244), he’s doing more than enough to protect Harper in the lineup.

Max Scherzer, SP: 14.0 IP/ 2-0/ 16 K

Scherzer may be the perfect example of why a looking at a pitcher’s win total doesn’t tell the whole story. He’s been tagged with three losses, but has still been unquestionably the team’s best starting pitcher thus far. He leads the rotation in seemingly all the major statistical categories, whether it’s ERA (1.99), strikeouts (55) or WHIP (0.93). Sure, he’s had a few blemishes here and there, but for the most part he’s been the ace the Nats hoped he’d be when he was given that $210 million contract in January.

 

STOCK DOWN 

Stephen Strasburg, SP: 0-1/ 3.1 IP/ 18.90 ERA

It might officially be time for Nats fans to start worrying about Strasburg. After Tuesday night’s outing, he’s now been unable to get out of the fourth inning in consecutive starts. The first time was understandable, as he was taken out of the game as a precaution for fear of further injury. But in Arizona he turned in what was by far his worst start of the season, surrendering seven earned runs in just 3 1/3 innings. As always with him, it’s hard to pinpoint the primary culprit for his struggles. Sometimes it’s command, other times it’s his mechanics, health, or any combination thereof. Whatever it is, it’s put Strasburg in one of his biggest funks ever. His ERA on the season is an alarming 6.06, which as Mark Zuckerman noted earlier this morning, is good for 106th out of the 112 qualified major-league starters. Ouch.

  1. Bruxtun - May 13, 2015 at 11:20 AM

    Strasburg also doesn’t give you very much in the way of indicators so it’s impossible to ever tell from the outside what the issue might be, more so than with other pitchers. The guy hates to smile. I don’t care about what his personality is like so I’m not complaining that he’s a reserved, intense guy, but he’s a closed book so we are left to fill in those pages ourselves. Can never tell when he’s injured or just pissed off, even when things are going well.

  2. homeparkdc - May 13, 2015 at 11:39 AM

    As of this morning, Bryce Harper is leading the NL in BB (29) RBI (31) and HR (12). He’s third in OPS following M. Holliday (age 35) and Anthony Rizzo (age 26).
    Dear Bryce, Please stay healthy. We’ll overlook the #20 spot for BA. Thanks.

  3. Doc - May 13, 2015 at 11:47 AM

    Bryce is on pace for 57 17647 HRs this year! If he gets to 57, I’ll be happy

    Clint Robinson for Pitcher Of The Week! He’s sneeky fast and has a slider that fools LH battters. LOL

    • Doc - May 13, 2015 at 11:48 AM

      That should have read 57.17647!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 12:25 PM

        That’s the stuff of baseball mortals to get above 55 HRs. Last night’s homer had the sound but the swing was not pretty. The kid is special.

      • Eugene in Oregon - May 13, 2015 at 12:30 PM

        A lot of players get that 0.17647 of a HR…I think that’s called a tapper back to the pitcher.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 12:32 PM

        http://m.bbref.com/m?p=XXleadersXXHR_season.shtml

        Look at the names on this list at 55 HRs or more if you disregard Bonds, Max, Sosa, A-Rod from the list.

        Names like Ruth, Maris, Greenberg, Foxx. Wow!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 12:53 PM

        Eugene, good one!!!!

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 13, 2015 at 12:58 PM

        Interesting, if irrelevant, note: no one has ever hit exactly 55 home runs in a season.

  4. Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 12:22 PM

    Wil Nieves to the Barves. Gross.

    • Eugene in Oregon - May 13, 2015 at 12:34 PM

      Glad he’s got a job, at least.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 12:45 PM

        The way Butler and LeRud are playing I’m kind of thinking Rizzo could’ve snagged him for AAA Syracuse.

    • therealjohnc - May 13, 2015 at 12:54 PM

      Weirdly, he’s taking the “former Nats backup catcher” spot that Jesus Flores occupied in Spring Training. Nice to see Nieves getting some work, nice to have the Braves taking the Nats’ castoffs rather than the way it used to be.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 13, 2015 at 1:12 PM

      Who?

      • cvillegoodtimes - May 13, 2015 at 1:31 PM

        Wil Nieves!

        Thank you, I love that commercial

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 13, 2015 at 3:02 PM

        I KNOW who Wil Nieves is! (eyeroll). I meant the other guy, “BAR-vess” I guess it’s pronounced. Didn’t he used to be good?

  5. chaz11963 - May 13, 2015 at 12:24 PM

    Great to see the Buffalo hitting so well. I’m a little concerned about his drop in power though.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 12:27 PM

      I’m not. His HRs will come back eventually if they pitch him in and make a mistake. They are jamming him and then going away.

      I will take a .320 BA with a .380 RISP BA all day long.

      • Doc - May 13, 2015 at 12:42 PM

        Ghost, real or not real, there is also the hamate recovery stuff for the Buffalo. The true tale of which might be observed best in his batting practice smacks.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 12:54 PM

        Doc, I’m sure the hamate doesn’t help.

      • chaz11963 - May 13, 2015 at 1:19 PM

        I hope you are right. If you look at his Batted Ball numbers, they are all close to his career numbers except his BABIP is ridiculously high and his HR/FB% is way low so far in 2015.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 1:27 PM

        They are pitching him like Gattis. You don’t give the Buffalo a chance to extend his arms. Gattis can pull in his hands and still get balls on the inside and Ramos used to do that and get the pull HRs. That might be where the hamate has affected his strength.

        I like all the Ramos line drives and he will start to jack those opposite field hits over the wall as right now they are wallscrapers like that double in the corner on Sunday that scored the game winner.

        There seems to be an evolution to Ramos power as you start seeing more line drives the HRs will start to come.

  6. langleyclub - May 13, 2015 at 12:42 PM

    Strasburg is clearly not right physically (or mentally). He does not seem like the kind of guy that the team can reasonably hope that he will battle through it. Would think that a DL stint to resolve all lingering ankle, shoulder and back issues makes sense. The Nats have two off days next week, and another off day the week after. Realize that they would need to bring someone up to start Sunday in SD (where I am sure SS wants to pitch), but after that, the Nats would only need a 5th starter once until June.

    Suggest that:

    – SS go on the DL;
    – Nats bring up a reliever to bolster an overworked pen until Sunday;
    – Bring up Cole, Hill or Jordan for the Sunday start and for one start against the Cubs in late May;
    – Bring SS back in June with all ailments cured and SS feeling fresh.

    • adcwonk - May 13, 2015 at 1:02 PM

      I particularly like your fourth suggestion:

      Bring SS back in June with all ailments cured and SS feeling fresh.

      Yeah, it’d be awesome if he came back and made a huge recovery like, say, Storen did in 2013. (Meaning: it can be done — depending, obviously, what the issues are)

    • sec105rowwseat28 - May 13, 2015 at 1:16 PM

      Did you consult a doctor in Texas to get that opinion?

  7. TimDz - May 13, 2015 at 12:57 PM

    I think SS’s issues are between the ears….

    • bowdenball - May 13, 2015 at 1:10 PM

      Did he get a brain transplant in the offseason after being outstanding for his entire career?

      • nattyboh1 - May 13, 2015 at 1:23 PM

        Wouldn’t need to, he’s always been a head case.

    • chaz11963 - May 13, 2015 at 1:13 PM

      Don’t you think that’s unfair? The kid has posted some truly solid numbers. I know we all are a little disappointed that he has not become the elite pitcher as advertised, but SS is unquestionably a very good pitcher.

  8. scnatsfan - May 13, 2015 at 1:12 PM

    Stock down – SS chiropractor

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 1:30 PM

      +1

      I just watched the Mad Dog show (can’t stand the guy) and he bashed Strasburg. He says he just isn’t good on the road blah blah blah.

  9. senators5 - May 13, 2015 at 1:14 PM

    If that is true (and I certainly don’t doubt it) then it will be a tough nut to crack. (really?). This guy has been spoiled since day one and I see little mental growth on his part.

    • masterfishkeeper - May 13, 2015 at 1:19 PM

      How does one see mental growth?

      • scnatsfan - May 13, 2015 at 2:04 PM

        hat size

    • chaz11963 - May 13, 2015 at 1:22 PM

      Good grief, what evidence do you base that on? The kid’s career numbers are excellent. He is a bit quiet and seems to shun all the attention. That makes him immature and spoiled?

  10. Section 222 - May 13, 2015 at 1:37 PM

    Worth a look — Stanton hit one out of Dodger Stadium last night. 475 feet according to StatCast.

  11. Section 222 - May 13, 2015 at 2:01 PM

    I’m fear Stras may have a physical issue. I just don’t think his poor performance this year can be attributed to being a head case.

    Can Bryce’s stock get any higher? Are there stock splits in this series?

    • ArVAFan - May 13, 2015 at 2:37 PM

      If you manage to clone Bryce, I’m sure Rizzo and Matt would figure out how to give him two roster spots!

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