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Stock Watch: As usual, Harper leading the way

Jul 8, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

Jul 7, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) singles during the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-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: 3-3

Team slash: .182/.270/.304

Team ERA: 2.64

Runs per game: 3


Bryce Harper, RF: .381 AVG/ 8 BB/ 1.218 OPS  

It’s been quite an eventful week for the Nationals’ superstar outfielder. He led the team in average and OPS (like he does most weeks), but as is usually the case with him, he did it in style. The 22-year-old broke out his patriotic bat on Independence Day and, naturally, hit a two-run home run in his very first at-bat that sent the sold out Nats Park crowd into a frenzy. A day later, it was announced that he would start in the All-Star Game as he (unsurprisingly) led the NL in fan voting. Harper’s ascent to becoming one of the top faces in the sport has been fascinating to follow over the years, and now that he’s just begun to realize his potential, you wonder if — assuming good health — we’re beginning to see the start of an unforgettable career.

Drew Storen, RP: 2 GP/ 0.00 ERA  

Speaking of the All-Star Game, Storen has a legitimate gripe about not being selected to go to Cincinnati next week. He’s been about as good as any closer in the NL, so you really have to comb through the statistics to try and find discrepancies between he and the relievers who got selected by Bruce Bochy. The only thing you could think of is his ERA, which currently sits at 1.97. And as Mark Zuckerman pointed out earlier this week, Storen allowed a three-run homer in a blowout win over the Rays several weeks ago, ballooning his ERA from 1.11 to 2.16 at the time. If that wound up being the difference between getting an All-Star nod and staying home, then Storen probably has a good reason to be a little upset.


Max Scherzer, SP: 0-2/ 4.85 ERA  

This is not a typo. And no, we can’t believe it either. But Scherzer has proved he is indeed human over his last two starts, suffering a tough luck walk-off loss in Atlanta and following that up with an uncharacteristically bad outing Tuesday in a loss to the Reds. Of course, one bad week doesn’t take away from the type of season the 30-year-old ace is having thus far for the Nats. But the numbers are the numbers, and over the last seven days he’s had the highest ERA of any of the starters.

Ian Desmond, SS: .095 AVG/ .190 SLG/ 8 K 

The Nats have to hope that Desmond isn’t reverting back to what he was during his prolonged slump. But at this point, it’s hard to merely call it a “slump” and probably more appropriate to say that it’s simply a down season thus far for the three-time Silver Slugger winner. Of the Nats with at least 110 at-bats, Desmond has the lowest average (.214), on-base percentage (.254), slugging percentage (.341) and leads the team in strikeouts with 97. That’s about as alarming as it gets for a player who is hoping to cash in on a big contact next offseason.

  1. Nats Fan Zee - Jul 8, 2015 at 12:11 PM

    Desi needs to ride the pine once Escobar and Rendon get healthy again. He is not helping this team OR himself by screwing himself into the ground every at bat. I feel bad because in many respects, he is the soul of this team considering his length of service and past contributions. Unfortunate but I see a real team batting slump when the walking wounded return and try to fund their groove again. Can’t afford to carry Desi too.

    • Nats Fan Zee - Jul 8, 2015 at 12:12 PM

      Shoul have been find not fund … Sorry

    • mauimo22 - Jul 8, 2015 at 1:53 PM

      Don’t forget Desi’s abysmal defense and penchant for errors leading to runs!

  2. Eugene in Oregon - Jul 8, 2015 at 12:12 PM

    The ‘down’ for Max Scherzer may not be a typo, but it does suggest an over reliance on numbers and a complete lack of appreciation for context.

    • Steady Eddie - Jul 8, 2015 at 12:34 PM

      Eh, it’s just the very limited context of the week-long stock watch concept, which doesn’t necessarily have any greater meaning beyond the very SSS numbers it contains. Equally true of the “Desi down” numbers, which don’t have all that much meaning in themselves, and are only significant because there have been so many weeks where he was or could properly have been (“still bad” may not be relatively down) on the down side of this page.

    • NatsLady - Jul 8, 2015 at 12:34 PM

      Exactly. When he had the CG loss, he himself said he executed his pitches. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the master, and if that’s how he evaluated his work, I go with that. The fair/foul ball call–whew. The Cards had one too, against the Cubs, also led to a loss. Same deal, no replay/review.

      He had a dud last night on a really humid evening, and wasn’t helped by sloppy play and a close call in the first inning.

  3. Ellie - Jul 8, 2015 at 12:34 PM

    It’s not a slump OR a down year for Desmond. It’s who he is as a player. It’s who he’s always been as a player. The difference this year is literally no one is throwing him first pitch fastballs any more so he’s always getting behind in the count swinging from his heels at off-speed pitches two feet off the plate.

    I’m glad he turned down the Nats’ offer of 5/$90M. That would be a colossal waste of money along the lines of what the Phillies and Yankees have been spending on underperformers, or what the Barves spent on Uggla.

    At this point, Desmond will be lucky to get signed at all by anyone, and he’s certainly not going to make close to $90 million over the next five years. Maybe someone will take the risk and sign him to a one year deal for a few million, then extend him if he figures out how to hit. Either way, with Escobar here for another year, Espinosa hitting reasonably well, and Trea Turner waiting in the wings, that certainly won’t be the Nationals.

    • NatsLady - Jul 8, 2015 at 12:37 PM

      Yes, BUT. Maybe not on the first pitch but they are throwing him plenty of fastballs and he’s not getting to them. To my untrained eye his bat speed doesn’t look slower, it looks like he’s not tracking/seeing the ball. He’s also had more called strikes, right down the center, than I remember him having in past years.

      • Guapo - Jul 8, 2015 at 12:43 PM

        It’s more his front side that’s the issue. When your front side exits, it pulls the bat out of the strike zone and hittable pitches are missed. When Desmond stays on the ball and has an up the middle type approach he’s fine.

        The frustrating part about #20 is that he’s fully capable physically of being one of the most impactful players in the NL, but his approach to hitting and fielding holds him back. It’s all between his ears.

  4. natsnatsnatswoo - Jul 8, 2015 at 12:40 PM

    “you really have to comb through the statistics to try and find discrepancies between he and the relievers who got selected by Bruce Bochy.”

    Here’s the discrepancy that matters. Papelbon and K-Rod, the two guys who were selected instead of him, play for bad teams that are required by rule to have a representative on the All Star team. Storen doesn’t.

    • zmunchkin - Jul 8, 2015 at 2:10 PM

      Well other than HRs, the Galvis of the Phillies and Crawford of the Giants have comparable numbers.

      Likewise, Hernandez of the Phillies has comparable numbers to Panik of the Giants.

      Surprise , surprise. Bochy choose both of the Giants players instead of one of the Phillies.

      So I am not buying that argument.

  5. bc4314 - Jul 8, 2015 at 1:02 PM

    I know that Desmond has a significant offensive track record that suggests he is better than what we are seeing in 2015. Folks with the team, in the media, etc. cite his track record to support Matt Williams’ decision to pencil him into the lineup every night. I get that.

    My question is, when does that track record become irrelevant due to his poor performance in 2015? After how many plate appearances, or is it dependent on the alternatives available on the bench? I wonder how MW and Rizzo look at this situation. Anyone have any thoughts?

    • micksback1 - Jul 8, 2015 at 1:11 PM

      it is irrelevant now and the only reason he is still on roster is due to rendon and escobar injuries.

    • jfmii - Jul 8, 2015 at 2:58 PM

      There is a point in time when the team has to give up, cut it’s losses. And it could tend to be hastened with his poor fielding. That said, it not known, as the ever-strident Micksback1 asserts. He could be on the verge of a tear.

      • micksback1 - Jul 8, 2015 at 3:36 PM

        I hope you are correct, believe me. I would love to be wrong on Desi, the evidence suggests that am not at this time

  6. micksback1 - Jul 8, 2015 at 1:06 PM

    Bil lLadson of MLB just said that as of now Bryce is NL MVP and Max is CY young winner

    Interesting talka boyt Werth being leadoff while Span is out as he was in 2012. I would rather see Rendon leadoff, but, who knows when he is back.

    I believe and I could be wrong that if Rendon were healthy, Rizzo would have traded Desi by now. I really hope Desi is not here in in September and that the Nats get at least a good prospect for him

  7. tcostant - Jul 8, 2015 at 1:08 PM

    I thought Harper only led the NL in voting?

  8. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 8, 2015 at 1:44 PM

    From WaPo:

    Nats RHP prospect Nick Pivetta promoted to AA Harrisburg. Had 2.29 ERA in 15 games at A Potomac. Team impressed with his command & stuff.

    • Doc - Jul 8, 2015 at 1:56 PM

      Even more importantly GhostMeister, Nick keeps the Canadian snow-backs line moving. He’s from my hometown of Victoria, British Columbia.

      Hasn’t been much southern movement since Matt Stairs left town.

      Gooooooooo Nick!!

    • ArVAFan - Jul 8, 2015 at 2:05 PM

      Anyone guessing on his debut date in The Show? (Assuming no more DL stints for our rotation).

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 8, 2015 at 2:22 PM

        AA is where the talent is. I expect Giolito to join him after the Futures game

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 8, 2015 at 2:23 PM

        Look at you Doc

  9. Doc - Jul 8, 2015 at 2:33 PM

    Speaking of farm movement and farm talent, I checked out the Top 30 Prospects and couldn’t find any real OF power talent. Time for Riz to get busy on the trade market.

    Where’s our guy Souza when we need his bat—wasting away in Tampa, I guess!

    • natsjackinfl - Jul 8, 2015 at 2:36 PM

      And on the DL. He’d fit right in.

      • Doc - Jul 8, 2015 at 2:38 PM

        Yeah but, Steven Jr. was on track to hit 30 big ones this year.

        What’s he on the DL for natsjack?

      • therealjohnc - Jul 8, 2015 at 2:45 PM

        Souza has a lacerated finger. Not sure how he got it.

        So Doc, you’re planning to give Turner (#9 prospect in all of MLB according to Baseball America) & Ross (#31)back to reacquire Souza? I say no, thanks to that idea. I’ll always wish Souza well, but that trade looks like one of Rizzo’s best (and he’s had a lot of good ones!) so far.

    • Danny - Jul 8, 2015 at 2:40 PM

      Souza has been flat out awful since the Rays-Nats series.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 8, 2015 at 2:52 PM

        He’s had a few mini slumps and K’s a lot. I wouldn’t say awful. He’s got 9 GW RBIs for them.

      • jd - Jul 8, 2015 at 3:03 PM

        1.4 WAR player in half a season. Far from awful.

      • Danny - Jul 8, 2015 at 3:25 PM

        “Since the Nats-Rays series.”





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