With their fifth win in a row Friday night, the Washington Nationals remain the hottest team in baseball. The streak has been fueled by outfielder Bryce Harper, who has hit safely in all five games for a .632 average and a .652 on-base percentage.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be the first to admit when a team falls on a fortuitous stretch of the schedule. This streak began with a home walk-off win over the Philadelphia Phillies in the finale of a three-game series, then the middle three wins were taken from the 6-10 Atlanta Braves.
However, Harper isn’t simply reaching base, he’s getting on base and driving in runs when it matters. He’s either getting the Nats up early, finding a way to plate runs late or scoring runs himself.
Over the five-game stretch, Harper has driven in 12 runs and scored nine, having crossed the plate at least once in each contest. Harper has either homered or been driven home seven times when the Nationals were tied or trailing. All four dingers he has hit during this stretch have been go-ahead home runs, including a grand slam in the top of the second to spark a 14-4 blowout over the Braves.
Though we’re just 16 games into the season, Harper is on an absolute tear. Sitting with an incredible slash line of .407/.521/.864 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage), Harper could be setting himself up for a historical season. Yes, he’ll cool off eventually. Yes, there’s a good chance he’ll slump at some point. But when he does, he’ll still be on pace to hit more than 50 home runs, drive in at least 140 RBIs (he can slow down quite a bit here) and score over 140 runs. In Harper’s 2015 MVP season, he led the league with 118 runs scored and 42 homers. We could see him surpass those numbers this year.
Harper’s already on pace for some astronomical numbers, but even after he comes back to Earth, we could be in for a treat this season. Maybe I should be knocking on wood to make sure he stays healthy all season.
Photo by Brigham Berthold