Skip to content

Instinctive Harper leads Nats again

May 4, 2012, 4:30 AM EDT

US Presswire photo
Bryce Harper is hitting .375 with four doubles in his first five games.

With each passing day, we get more and more of a picture of Bryce Harper as a big leaguer. And what we learn is that the Nationals new left fielder, 19 years old or not, is more than a mere athletic specimen.

Yes, he has the god-given ability to hit or throw a baseball with enough authority to make a stadium full of fans gasp. But he also has the instincts and the awareness to do a lot of subtle things plenty of guys with far more experience have yet to master.

"He's a baseball player," teammate Jayson Werth said, using a seemingly generic term in the most complimentary sense. "When you're a baseball player, you can be 15 or you can be 50. If you know how to play the game, you can play. … He's a good player, no question about it. He's definitely going to be a force in our lineup for a long time."

He already is. As Harper showed once again Thursday night during the Nationals' 2-1 victory over the Diamondbacks, his quick ascension toRead more ยป

115 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Drew - May 4, 2012 at 4:59 AM

    Love watching the kid. What a tonic he's been for the offense. Can't wait to see the damage he'll do when he's insulated by Zim, Morse, LaRoche and Werth.Here are some career numbers to ponder: Chien-Ming Wang has 59 wins and 29 losses with a 4.14 ERA.Ross Detwiler is 9-15 career mark with a 3.72 ERA. Jordan Zimmermann has an even better case for lack of support. Imagine these pitchers' numbers if this team starts to hit.

  2. Unknown - May 4, 2012 at 5:44 AM

    I've never exactly understood this, and I've seen it countless times over the years.A guy looks totally lost in the minors, plays poor defense, can't hit lefties (or righties), shows no power, then gets called up and looks dominant. I have to think that some players are so talented that they are bored in the minors. He commits four errors at Syracuse and then gets his defense highlighted several times on ESPN. He had just six extra-base hits and a .375 slugging mark in 72 at-bats in Syracuse but already has three extra base hits and a .615 slugging percentage in just 13 at-bats with the Nationals.I'm guessing the league will figure out how to pitch to him fairly quickly, but no question this isn't the same kid that looked a little lost in Syracuse.

  3. Navy Nats Fan - May 4, 2012 at 9:11 AM

    One reason is he was pressing in AAA – putting too much pressure on himself to make the bigs. As he said, once he got here he felt much calmer.

  4. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 4, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    That, and not carrying his own luggage, hitting white balls for batting practice, ball parks like cathedrals…And that fastball he hit to left might have been higher than Kennedy wanted it, but it looked like it had plenty of movement on it (I thought it was a slider). Harper's back foot was actually off the ground at impact–his weight was totally on his front foot, and he still kept the bat back enough to get the ball, and hit it deep.

  5. JayB - May 4, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    It is like watching Pete Rose and Joe Morgan mixed with Johny Bench and some Tony Perez for batting stance and clutch hitting……Have not see anything like it in 30 years…..Really glad I moved my seat to first row on the left field line.

  6. JayB - May 4, 2012 at 10:13 AM

    Not a fan of Bob C on TV but he mentioned Roberto Clemente…..I never got to see him play….seen lots of tape…..NJack…..thoughts on who else from my past he reminds off…..Hustle, Power, Approach, Arm, Speed…….Willie Mays early?

  7. jeeves - May 4, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    I love Bryce and have thought all along he would do well sooner than later. I also understand the hype. But it's ironic that in the first win on Tuesday, Harper starts things off with a double, then two outs later Desi hits a homer that breaks the losing streak, likely the most important hit of the season. Last night Desi starts things off with a double, advances to third and Bryce brings in the eventual winning run with a double. (a fly ball would have done it too) And who,after both games, receives by far the majority of positive comments from both fans and media? Bryce of course. Great to have both of them on the team, isn't it!

  8. Dryw Loves the Nats - May 4, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    Oh, this is fun…..

  9. MicheleS - May 4, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    I want to know how the kid is being received in his own clubhouse? Is he getting dragged in front of the Kangaroo court for some of his mistakes (albiet none have cost the game). How are the veterans/older guys treating him? Just wondering, I know the kid is great, but I want the TEAM to win, not just one player. And yes, I realize the the 24 hour news/hype cycle, that he it going to get all the attention, I just want to be sure that inside the clubhouse we are developing Bryce and his 24 backup singers.

  10. Unknown - May 4, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    Too early to anoint Bryce at the level of some of the names I see above. Maybe enjoy the ride a litte and see how he does when the league has enough "book" on him that he has to adjust in turn.But as to playing hard, I did see Clemente a few times, a lot on TV in 71 Series and Harper does go all out on plays like comebackers to the pitcher like The Great One did. In fact, his hustle on a play like that helped decide the 71 Series in Pittsburgh's favor.

  11. Doc - May 4, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    In time Oppo Boppo would have done real well at 'Cuse. Seems to me, without really knowing, players like Harper, get better advance info on opposing pitchers (better scouting, coaching data, etc.) when they come to the Bigs. Harper, unlike many call-ups, is able to take advantage of the prepping.Baseball instincts, great ball sense, inspite of the lack of OF experience which is mostly fun to follow, combined with pure talent make Bryce Harper the player to watch.

  12. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 4, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    Can you imagine the hype if he were playing for the football team?

  13. Steady Eddie - May 4, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    MicheleS– I think you've already got most of the answer to your question in the quote from Werth, who's the team's senior voice andsort ofjudge on baseball fundamentals (especially with his family) and "been there" on a winner. (Remember his "It'sobviouswhat's going on around here" during last Year's May losing streak, referring obliquely to Riggleman's cluelessness?) I watched Harp and Werth talking before the game last night while Werth was doing stretching exercises and everything in Harp's demeanor was saying "teach me!". Harp is old school not only in his determination and 100% on every play output, but also in his recognition of how much he doesn't know, and his capacity to translate what he does into action. The greatest in any field are always learning, and that earns respect in the clubhouse.

  14. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 4, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    Desi's home run was huge, and he's a big part of why they are in first place. That said, the attention on Harper is just starting. There are some guys you can watch for 20 years, and still not want to miss an at-bat, and Harper's going to to be one of them. I remember when Willie McCovey came up, and after getting off to a ridiculously hot start, somebody said he was still "a few years away — from the Hall of Fame."

  15. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 4, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    That's another thing about baseball–when was the last time you heard of a basketball player being compared to George Mikan? Or somebody said a QB looked like Y.A. Tittle?

  16. Manassas Nats' Fan - May 4, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    The Glagship station doesn't talk much abou Harper. I wonder if his name had been Byce harper OOO they would talk about him more.Also wonder whatever poccessed Rizzo to believe Nady and DeRosa gave him a better chance to win than harper. We know Davey campaigned to bring Harper North.Final thought Harper told Christina last night that major league pitchers miss closser to the plate than minor leaguers. Tells me he prefers hitting and tired hitting bad minor peague pitches rather than hust letting them go.

  17. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 4, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    Rizzo brought Harper up the day after they guaranteed not losing a year of his service. Nothing to do with Nady or DeRosa. Whom Davey also wanted, BTW.

  18. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 4, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    And as for putting pressure on himself–he wants Rookie of the Year.

  19. alexva - May 4, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    @SP, and MVP, and 30 dingers and best of all to win every game. This kid is the real deal.

  20. MicheleS - May 4, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    Eddie, thanks for the insight. I was on the opposite side of the field so I couldn't see that during warmups. I just remember the 25 guys/25 cabs teams, and I want this team to avoid that as much as possible.

  21. Tim - May 4, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    I'm sure Kirk Gibson likes the way he plays… he reminds me of Kirk.How can this team sustain this during this unbelieveable injury string? Numbers 3-4-5, our key bench player, one of our key set-up guys and veteran leaders, plus our closer. It's a good thing the Phillies have key pieces injured, too.

  22. hiramhover - May 4, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    Harper avoided the temptation to swing from his heels and drive the ball over the Anacostia RiverGood thing, too, since the Anacostia is behind home plate.

  23. Constant Reader - May 4, 2012 at 11:52 AM

    Forgive me if I have been reading constantly enough and this has been brought up before, but have we discussed an innings limit for Detwiler? The way he's pitching right now, most of us would like to ride that horse all the way to October. He's 26 years old and has never thrown more than 124 innings as a professional. Would we let him throw any more innings in 2012 than we'd let Strasburg throw?

  24. alexva - May 4, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    @CR – last year he pitched 150+ between Syracuse and DC so he's capable of a 20% increase if you follow conventional development schedules.But given his age I'm sure he's not on a limit if he happens to go that far.

  25. Gonat - May 4, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    "I don't care if his name is Harper or whatever, or how old he is," Johnson said. "If you're swinging the bat good, we're trying to put out guys who are swinging the bat best in order to do the most damage."______________________________That's not true Davey. You sat Lombo who was on fire to start the season while Espinosa is batting worse lately than Strasburg. The same you did taking Nady over Tyler Moore.

  26. Theophilus T. S. - May 4, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    Kirk Gibson is a good comparison, even if he did go to Silo Tech. Didn't see much of either Mays or Clemente, those being the days of one National Game of the Week, and living in an AL market. Harper, at 6'3", 225#, is a much different kind of player. Both Mays and Clemente were much smaller, by current standards. Everything Harper does is mass times velocity — really BAAM. The player whose style seems most similar was Fred Lynn. Other comparables: George Brett, Dave Winfield and Dave Parker. Duke Snider was a noted wall crasher.

  27. Joe Seamhead - May 4, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    The Kid has the fastest hands at the plate that I've seen since Mattingly came up. What a joy to watch his enthusiasm, and love of playing the game. Werth said it best, " He's a ballplayer."

  28. sjm308 - May 4, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    some excellent thoughts to ponder this morning. I also got to see Clemente on TV (not much but in the WS) and its plain to me that Bryce has a long way to go on that call. Where he does resemble someone right out of the box though is Pete Rose. I realize he has fallen in many eyes but when he started and was running to first on walks, breaking up double plays, throwing his helmet off on doubles, and playing multiple positions, he energized the Reds just as Bryce has energized us.Great thought on Detwiler, I had never thought about his innings but I bet Rizzo has. Also glad Sofa came to Rizzo's defense about when to bring up Bryce. They say it was that latest injury but isn't odd that it was just one or two days after the date for keeping him an extra year.At some time, we are going to hit (even Danny) and when that happens things are really going to get exciting.Go Nats!!

  29. Theophilus T. S. - May 4, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    I suppose others have noticed but Detwiler's velo has been creeping up, from 92 in his first start to 94-95 last night. Hitters must be rubbing their eyeballs to see a pitch that fast coming off a motion that relaxed. (Zimmermann was up in his last start, also, to 96.) According to my count, Detwiler has four more starts before they have to bite the bullet w/ Wang. Be interesting to see the Pitcher of the Month for May (probably not, but a nice idea) going to the bullpen.

  30. ehay2k - May 4, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    If Harper crushed a ball down the first base line, just missing the foul pole, as it went out of the park, the ball would indeed land in the Anacostia river just as it passed RFK stadium. It would be about a 2.2 mile shot.

  31. Theophilus T. S. - May 4, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    Don't compare Harper to Pete Rose; it's an insult. Rose was a mediocre defender (on his good days), a shameless narcissistic self-promoter — and that's before he was exposed as a lying SOB. What you hope Harper won't turn into. If you listen to Joe Morgan talk about the Big Red Machine, the guys he praises are Tony Perez and Johnny Bench, which says a lot.

  32. baseballswami - May 4, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    As much as I am enjoying watching Bryce play , it kind of annoys me to have so much attention on one ( new) player on a 25 man team. Last time I checked this was not an individual sport. Detweiler looks fantastic – they cannot possibly think of pushing him to the pen or up to syracuse.Desi has been an energetic catalyst also.Last night the video of Harper's double was all over the net, but Desi's was nowhere – and by the way – how did Desi end up on third? Does anyone know? The team really needs the National Det and I don't feel that we should be CMW's own personal rehab and redemption support group. I don't know what they are going to do but they get paid the big bucks to figure it out. Seems like other teams are whining much more about their DL than the Nats are – Mo Rivera is a classy guy, but you just know the Yankees are going to milk this for all the sympathy and pathos that they possibly can.

  33. Zach - May 4, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    Why does he always run the bases with a pair of batting gloves *in* his hands, and a pair in his back pocket?

  34. 320R2S15 - May 4, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    6'-3", 225 and still growing. What wasr Pete, 6'-0"?

  35. NatsLady - May 4, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    Adam Dunn hitting .247 w/ OBP of .385 (19 walks! none intentional). Seven homeruns including one last night that I saw, looked SO easy.Point is: Danny will hit. Hope it doesn't take all season, but he will.

  36. Gonat - May 4, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    Zach said… Why does he always run the bases with a pair of batting gloves *in* his hands, and a pair in his back pocket? May 04, 2012 8:29 AM ___________________________Because that's what Bryce does and has no rhyme or reason. It seems it annoys people. Not sure why it would annoy someone.

  37. NatsLady - May 4, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    Zach, I had the same question when I saw Harper on second base the other day twitching the gloves. What if he drops one while running and a guy slips, is that interference?

  38. natsfan1a - May 4, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    Perhaps not entirely coincidental on the Rose comparisons, as there have been a number of pieces citing him as a favorite player of Harper and his dad.

  39. natsfan1a - May 4, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    hmmm…Brycie Hustle? Maybe not. :-)

  40. Gonat - May 4, 2012 at 12:38 PM

    NatsLady said… Adam Dunn hitting .247 w/ OBP of .385 (19 walks! none intentional). Seven homeruns including one last night that I saw, looked SO easy.Point is: Danny will hit. Hope it doesn't take all season, but he will. May 04, 2012 8:34 AM _____________________________Of course Danny will hit again but this is a game for MLBers where its mind over matter and it does make a large difference and these games "count".Danny may need the game slowed down. I think AAA could be a needed diversion and he needs to crush there and get called back up when he gets hot.His last AB last night he put a good swing on the ball. How long do you stick with a guy who basically hasn't hit well in Spring Training or the regular season. Its the same thing with Nady except in Danny's case, he has MiLB options left.

  41. hiramhover - May 4, 2012 at 12:38 PM

    Excellent point, ehay2k.And, I might add, he also forbore trying to knock it over the Chesapeake Bay and the state of Delaware.A rare and mature baseball wisdom, indeed.

  42. NatsLady - May 4, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    Nice to see Clip have an "easy" inning, but as Ankiel and Werth were catching fly balls, it brought a question to my mind.Werth sometimes plays shallow (could he have caught a ball yesterday playing deeper?). Does he make the decision to play deep or shallow based on the pitcher or the hitter? Detwiler is not a flyball pitcher, particularly, so maybe that is why he was playing shallow. Clip is a flyball pitcher, so does he back up? I'm thinking it's a combination of pitcher/hitter/game situation, and maybe even wind.Any outfielders here who could shed light?

  43. natsfan1a - May 4, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    Swami and MicheleS, agree re. all the focus on one player, not that Harper isn't a presence and fun to watch. Bright side, the glare of the spotlight doesn't seem to bother him as it did Strasburg. otoh, agree with SteadyEddie re. Werth's comments on the kid.

  44. A DC Wonk - May 4, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    Why does he always run the bases with a pair of batting gloves *in* his hands, and a pair in his back pocket? I remember years ago another very good player used to do that (and for the life of me I can't remember who it was!) — at the time the announcers explained that it was a way to force oneself to keep one's hands balled in a fist, so as to minimize the potential of injury to one's hands, particularly fingers, when sliding into a base. (Obviously, this doesn't apply when sliding head-first)

  45. NatsLady - May 4, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    You have to stick with Danny for his D as long as we have these injuries. As I said in an earlier post, I think RZ will be in-again-out-again all year (and perhaps have surgery in the fall), so Lombo will be at 3rd. If you can find a 10-day period (I think you have to stay down at least ten days, right?), maybe Danny could have chance at 'Cuse to work on his hitting, but, really, spring training is over, we are in a race now with nothing to spare–he's just going to have to fix it here.

  46. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 4, 2012 at 12:49 PM

    Some players like to carry gloves in their hands while running the bases to remind themselves to keep their fingers tucked when sliding–you jam fewer fingers that way. Using a different pair is just personal preference. And no, it's not interference if he drops one, unless the umpire thinks he threw it at the ball. And whatever you might think of him as a person, Pete Rose was an All-Star at five different positions. One of the greatest ballplayers ever. An alpha hotel, probably, but a great ballplayer.

  47. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 4, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    Dang.OK, Wonk, IOU a coke.

  48. A DC Wonk - May 4, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    all the focus on one player…ehhh . . . it happened to the Nats and Strasburg two years ago. No biggie. And like with Strasmas, it'll die down. (Unless he continues to hit .350+ and make stellar plays in the field, in which case he'll deserve the attention (like, say, Barry Bonds did that year (before we knew about the steroids)), and nobody will begrudge him.)

  49. A DC Wonk - May 4, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa said… Dang. OK, Wonk, IOU a coke.Well, I liked the back-up — I know I'm not totally out to lunch! ;-)But, I'll take you up on that. I'll be at Sunday's game . . . you?

  50. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 4, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    NatsLady, if I understand your question, yes, no doubt Werth is positioning himself based on the hitter, how they discussed pitching that hitter, and other conditions, including game situations. The general rule of thumb is, if it falls in front of you, you were too deep; if it's over your head, that was the pitcher's fault.

  51. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 4, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    Wonk, sorry, but I will be there Saturday (315). I'll leave it for you at will call?

  52. Tcostant - May 4, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    Drew said… "Here are some career numbers to ponder: Chien-Ming Wang has 59 wins and 29 losses with a 4.14 ERA.Ross Detwiler is 9-15 career mark with a 3.72 ERA." Me – Most of Wang starts where in the AL, with a DH. Moreover, most of career was when more guys were juiced.

  53. natsfan1a - May 4, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    Just looked at our tix for Saturday, and we're in 224. Would have preferred our usual section(s), but they weren't coming up.

  54. A DC Wonk - May 4, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    Fun (silly) stats re "the Kid"After five games:- He's fourth on the team in doubles- Has as many RBI's as two of our _regulars_ put together- Has 20% of the team's sac flies

  55. SCNatsFan - May 4, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    NatsLady I really respect your opinion but we are in completely different camps with Espi. I don't think you can compare him to Dunn, who had a bad year; Dunn had been doing for years while Espi had a good – not great – couple of months and since then has looked lost. Another 2 Ks last night, he whiffs almost 50% of the time. I really hope he gets it together but trying to fix things up here against the best pitchers in the world is a daunting task. While Zimm is out we have no choice but to keep him but when he returns I don't know how much longer we continue to pencil in a guy who is doing nothing with his bat to help us win. And I don't think he stays in Syracuse for 10 days; he stays until he shows he should be here. If Desmond was posting Espi like numbers then every thread would be devoted to running him oput of town.

  56. NatsLady - May 4, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    Sofa, see, that's where I'm not so sure. I think Werth takes into consideration the type of pitcher in addition to the hitter, and plays shallower when he's expecting more ground balls. So when you have Clip out there, you back up so fly balls don't turn into doubles against the wall (or home runs). It may be the pitcher's fault, but if you know your pitchers…

  57. Brother Juniper - May 4, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    What did y'all think about FP and Carp speculating that Harper should inherit Gary Carter's nickname "The Kid" since that is what Davey Johnson (& many others) are calling him? I rather like the Wash Post article by Dan Steinberg saying that Harper looks like someone with "a muskrat on top of his head."http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dc-sports-bog/post/bryce-harper-plays-softball-on-the-mall/2012/05/01/gIQAfQNytT_blog.htmlMy wife and I have been calling him the muskrat, but he'll eventually get a better haircut, right?

  58. Tcostant - May 4, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    I saw some comments about Harper playing better in the bigs. I remember Wade Boggs saying it was easier to hit the majors than the minors for several reasons including:1 – Pitchers throw more strike, and you have a better idea where your be pitched.2 – Better lights in the ball park.3 – Soucting reports and video.

  59. A DC Wonk - May 4, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    Wonk, sorry, but I will be there Saturday (315). I'll leave it for you at will call? Nahh . . . on your way out, stick it under a seat in Sec 309 for me ;-)

  60. NatsLady - May 4, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    SCNats, not comparing Espi to Dunn–obviously they are completely different players. Just saying, unless you have a better alternative, you have to wait it out. And, if you recall, Desi WAS posting those numbers, and people WERE calling for Desi's head, and Davey stuck by him.

  61. pdowdy83 - May 4, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    This team is reminded me a lot of the Giants team that won the World Series in 2010. Excellent pitching and scraping by on offense. They were enfused with life from a rookie that year, Buster Posey. He carried them on his back offensively for much of the year. I know it is too early to talk about that but the comparisons are staggering.

  62. NatsJack in Florida - May 4, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    JayB….you asked so I'll answer. But first let me commend you for a post that didn't start out with "Rizzo fail….Bench stinks …..or no center fielder".Bryce Harper plays the game with the intensity of Pete Rose with the raw power of Josh Hamilton and the ability to shorten his stroke and hit with power to the opposite field like Adrian Gonzalez.Defensively, he is still a work in progress but his speed in the outfield reminds me of Andrew Jones as a 21 year old and his arm is more like Rocky Colavito than Clemente.In the end, he reminds of no individual player as it shoud be because Bryce Harper is truly a generational player and all we can do is sit back, cheer like hell and enjoy this.

  63. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 4, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    Danny is a great kid. He came into the season last year and crushed, even with mechanics that were suspect. What changed? His swing & miss numbers got worse and worse. He fouls off pitches he crushed last April. He gets into 2 strike counts and generally Ks on a swing and miss or breaker on the outside corner.If his eyesight is perfect, then work to get his confidence level up. How do you get his confidence level up? A quick trip to AAA. Let him rake there.

  64. MicheleS - May 4, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    NatsLady/SCNatsFan…The fact that Mark put a post up tells you that AAA is a possibility for Espi and he knows it. Lombo's defense would be a suitable replacement at 2B until Danny gets his act together. Granted,they can't ship him down until RZ comes off the DL and possibly until they know what is up with ALR.Remember last year when Werth was pressing and we all said at the All Star break he needed to go on a bender and relax (and he subsequently did better post all star break). Maybe Danny needs that as well. Even last night I could tell from Left Field that he was gripping the bat so tight his knuckles were turning white.

  65. Ann Ominous - May 4, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    "Why does he always run the bases with a pair of batting gloves *in* his hands, and a pair in his back pocket?"Lots of players hold batting gloves or something in their hands while running the bases in order to keep their hands closed up and avoid breaking a finger while sliding. As for the other pair in his pocket, maybe Harper uses one set of gloves to hit and an older beat-up set to hold in his hands on the bases.

  66. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 4, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    Sofa, see, that's where I'm not so sure. I think Werth takes into consideration the type of pitcher in addition to the hitter, and plays shallower when he's expecting more ground balls. So when you have Clip out there, you back up so fly balls don't turn into doubles against the wall (or home runs). It may be the pitcher's fault, but if you know your pitchers…Well, of course he does have an agenda that includes more than simply not getting blamed–he wants the out, and he'll play where he thinks he's most likely to get to the largest percentage of possible balls hit his way. If he's positioning himself (or the bench is positioning him) based on a specific hitter's tendencies against a given pitcher, then maybe he backs up or comes in, case-by-case, but as you say, if the wind is blowing, he is bound to consider that. Wrigley, Opening Day, for instance.Pitchers who give up a higher percentage of fly balls on balls in play don't necessarily give up deeper fly balls, though.

  67. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 4, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    OK! Hey Wonk, Ann now owes you the coke. I'm off the hook!

  68. LoveDaNats - May 4, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    I must admit it has been fun watching Harp play. He has brought an excitement to the game that hasn't been there since Morse got hurt. (my opinion).That said, I hope the other guys don't come to resent "the kid" for his moment in the sun. I don't know if Bryce can do "humble" but it wouldn't hurt to practice.

  69. Ann Ominous - May 4, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    "Last night the video of Harper's double was all over the net, but Desi's was nowhere – and by the way – how did Desi end up on third? Does anyone know?"Lombo sac bunt – although he may have been bunting for a hit rather than trying to sacrifice.

  70. Tcostant - May 4, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    Detwiler's inning limits? The gold standard for shutting a guy down is Tom Verducci's yearly Year After Effect atricle. One thing to keep in mind, Detwiler is 26 and the common wisdom is guys are risk at 25 and young because they are not fully developed yet.With all that said, still in Wang comes back and Detwiler goes to the pen until Stras hits his inning limit; that wouldn't be the worse thing in the world limiting his innings. Just a though. If you haven't read the attached before read it. You might want to read prior year too. I amazing how dead on these are… http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/tom_verducci/01/18/year.after.effect/index.html

  71. Gonat - May 4, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    Ghost Of Steve M. said… Danny is a great kid. He came into the season last year and crushed, even with mechanics that were suspect. What changed? His swing & miss numbers got worse and worse. He fouls off pitches he crushed last April. He gets into 2 strike counts and generally Ks on a swing and miss or breaker on the outside corner.If his eyesight is perfect, then work to get his confidence level up. How do you get his confidence level up? A quick trip to AAA. Let him rake there. May 04, 2012 9:05 AM ____________________________Good point. He fouls back many pitches that he isn't centering. He has been seeing a lot of pitches in his at-bats.I am rooting for Danny. Painful to watch a good kid fail.

  72. D'Gourds - May 4, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    I think Capenter's point about the comparison of Harper and Clemente was their running style–flapping arms and legs everywhere. And Clemente often lost his helmet when he ran the bases. It also helps that they both have cannons for arms. One thing though, I hope Harper doesn't take after Clemente's injury history!

  73. NatsLady - May 4, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    Ghost, maybe. But would he rake in AAA? We just reviewed why it's "easier" to hit at the ML level (I'm not sure I buy it, though.) And why it would help his confidence to get demoted baffles me. What would help his confidence is a few sharp doubles and a home run or two, preferably hitting LH. I do think if he doesn't improve LH, then they should consider sending him to Syracuse to learn to be only a RH hitter. If he can even marginally improve his LH stats, I'd leave him be and decide over the winter whether he really needs to be a switch hitter.

  74. natsfan1a - May 4, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    Generally, I tend to think that nicknames are organic and develop on their own with time. Also, seems to me that lots of young players are referred to as "the kid" as opposed to "The Kid." On a historic note, wasn't Ted Williams also known as "The Kid" (among other things)?Brother Juniper said… What did y'all think about FP and Carp speculating that Harper should inherit Gary Carter's nickname "The Kid" since that is what Davey Johnson (& many others) are calling him? I rather like the Wash Post article by Dan Steinberg saying that Harper looks like someone with "a muskrat on top of his head." http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dc-sports-bog/post/bryce-harper-plays-softball-on-the-mall/2012/05/01/gIQAfQNytT_blog.html My wife and I have been calling him the muskrat, but he'll eventually get a better haircut, right? May 04, 2012 9:00 AM

  75. natsfan1a - May 4, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    Maybe he should choose "Muskrat Love" as his walkup music? (Great, now I'll have to live with that musical soundbite for a while. I have only msyelf to blame. Well, there's always "Davey, Davey Crockett.)My wife and I have been calling him the muskrat, but he'll eventually get a better haircut, right?

  76. D'Gourds - May 4, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    Concerning Espinosa, it can be a brutal game and there is no place to hide. He's missing balls by a foot! He's not making the necessary adjustments and you can tell by his body language it's just killing him. I wish him well because he's a good kid who hustles. But to keep him up much longer is almost cruel. He's got to get out of the lime light and work on his hitting approach.

  77. natsfan1a - May 4, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Oh dear. Firefox really let me down on that one. myselfand I dropped this "

  78. natsfan1a - May 4, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    hmmm…his initials are B.A.M. Harper. I'm just saying…

  79. Ann Ominous - May 4, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    Ted Williams was The Kid until the day he retired. Ask John Updike. Of course, now he's a cryogenically frozen head. Williams, that is. Not Updike.

  80. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 4, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    Which reminds me, we've been sorely neglecting Pops lately:Muskrat Ramble

  81. natsfan1a - May 4, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    My own impression is that he's done that pretty well since spring training.I don't know if Bryce can do "humble" but it wouldn't hurt to practice.

  82. couch potato - May 4, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    So much talk about Harper's baseball instincts. Harper's instincts are what they are because the guy is SMART. Combine Harper's intelligence and his native athletic ability with the fact that he has been living, breathing, sweating, and studying baseball since he was a kid and you get what people are calling his superb instincts. By saying they are instincts makes it sound as if he were born with these talents and didn't have to work for them. I suspect he has worked harder at baseball per hour he's been alive than just about anyone else.

  83. couch potato - May 4, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    So much talk about Harper's baseball instincts. Harper's instincts are what they are because the guy is SMART. Combine Harper's intelligence and his native athletic ability with the fact that he has been living, breathing, sweating, and studying baseball since he was a kid and you get what people are calling his superb instincts. By saying they are instincts makes it sound as if he were born with these talents and didn't have to work for them. I suspect he has worked harder at baseball per hour he's been alive than just about anyone else.

  84. NatsJack in Florida - May 4, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    LoveDaNats…..I defy you to find one single quote by Bryce that warrants your comment on "humble".

  85. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 4, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    Cousin Couch, amen. There are lots of guys with talent, and lots of guys who work hard, and a fair number who are pretty smart. Two out three will get you a nice career. It's so rare to see them all at a high level.

  86. JaneB - May 4, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    BamBam! Nice.Part of me thinks he is too good to have a nickname. But whatever he gets called, I am gkad he is ours.

  87. JaneB - May 4, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    As gkad as I am, I'm even more GLAD. Stupid fat typing fingers.

  88. JamesFan - May 4, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    I have never seen a player with this much raw talent play this hard every game. I hope this magic can continue for a long time. What a player. I don't know how long this magic can last, but it is a joy to watch right now.I also notice the mentor role that Werth has taken with Harper. Speaks well of both players.

  89. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 4, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    Wasn't Hensley Meulens called "Bam-Bam"?

  90. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 4, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    There are lots of guys with talent, and lots of guys who work hard, and a fair number who are pretty smart. Two out three will get you a nice career. It's so rare to see them all at a high level. Of course, "time and circumstance happeneth to all." Healthy and lucky help, too.

  91. NatsLady - May 4, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    Wow, Nats heavy favorites to win (-200). SO glad I'm going tonight with friends who are not real baseball fans–they will have a chance to see both phenoms.I want to crush the Phillies, of course, but it doesn't have the same feel when they are a struggling .500 team as it did when they were the arrogant unbeatables and we were the sad underdogs. Now I just want to crush them because I want the Nats to be in first place on Monday morning.

  92. Gonat - May 4, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    NatsLady, Trout was sent down twice to the Minors. It happens often. Danny is just lost right now. Nothing is working. He is clearly hurting the team. Can he come out of his deep slump? Sure hope so. What if it takes 2 more months?

  93. MicheleS - May 4, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    NJ.. agree, I think as fans we need to sort through the garbage that we get fed from the Press/Sports Talk Radio. So far the only things that are documented is blowing the kiss (which was apparantly provoked by the Opposing Pitcher) and the fact that he is a Cowboys/ Lakers/Yankees fan, which upsets the Flagship station since they only know about the redskins and in general are buffoons.Some more national pressDavey & Bryce

  94. Steady Eddie - May 4, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    As for all the media attention to Harp, that's the culture we live in, and everyone in the clubhouse knows it. As long as he keeps talking about mechanics in his interviews in the old' Crash Davis fashion, and not self-promotion, I don't think the others will resent it.Davey did a very important thing last night in naming Det (deservedly) his player of the game for dominating a threatening and normally productive lineup. I'm sure that's just the tip of the iceberg in the clubhouse conversations that have gone on to keep team chemistry in balance. Having all the DL'd stars there has helped too.

  95. NatsLady - May 4, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    Gonat, you and I are not going to agree on this. Right now, according to WAR, if Danny is hurting the team, it isn't by much, and just when Desi is coming around it's not the best move for morale to send his best buddy and double-play partner down. Danny'll be out of the limelight because guess who is in it. Yes, it's tough and maybe cruel to learn your job in the majors. Ask Henry.

  96. waddu eye no - May 4, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    Instinct & talent, yea. But as w any performing medium, it's 10% inspiration and 90% perspirationAnd i'd love to see a first ML HR against the P'sGyfng

  97. MicheleS - May 4, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    On the clubhouse note. I think when we see the Rookie Hazing later in the year will be a true tell. They dressed Ramos up as Smurfette and Stras as Papa Smurf. i can only imagine what they would do to him.

  98. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 4, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    What worries me more about Espinosa is, at what point does his confidence take such a beating that it will take a "change of scenery" to restore it?

  99. Scott from Burke - May 4, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    Theophilus T. S.: I was very young when the yankees played the reds in the series…mickey rivers was up, a guy who bunted a lot, and pete rose moved WAY up towards the plate..never seen anyone play that close, trying to humiliate rivers…rivers managed to hit one hard at rose, who gloved it. The reds smashed new york…the guy also got more hits than anyone else in the history of the game..off the field he was a mess, and he had no power and some flaws on the field…but what a ballplayer…just cause you're a michigan guy you shouldn't hate on Charlie Hustle…GO BUCKS!

  100. NatsLady - May 4, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    MicheleS, that was great fun and hard to top! I'm done with my Danny-worrying for today, off to the gym, and then get ready for THE GAME! Go Nats!

  101. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 4, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    WAIT, I'VE GOT IT!! THE RALLY MUSKRAT!

  102. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 4, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage!

  103. A DC Wonk - May 4, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa said… OK! Hey Wonk, Ann now owes you the coke. I'm off the hook!Not so fast, guy. I think you both owe me a coke. And, as I don't drink coke, you both owe me a beer. Please see to it that it gets delivered to Sec 309 Sunday night ;-)natsfan1a said… Maybe he should choose "Muskrat Love" as his walkup music?Oh my! You'd better watch it! If he does that, there are going to be 25,000 fans coming for you with pitchforks for making that suggestion!(OTOH, I think you're safe. Harper doesn't strike me as someone who's into "Captain & Tennille".)(Yowza: even using "Harper" and "Captain & Tennille" in the same sentence made my keyboard bark at me!)

  104. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 4, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    Two! Rally Muskrats!

  105. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 4, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    We'd probably get sued. Better call them The Commodore and Chenille…

  106. natsfan1a - May 4, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    Good calls, sec3, on Meulens and rally muskrats. And, yeah, I knew I was on shaky ground with that musical selection, DC Wonk, but agreed that it doesn't seem to be Harper's style. Whew.

  107. whatsanattau - May 4, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    I find it interesting that so many people are looking for the problem with Bryce. Will he irritate his teammates? Will he aggrevate the opponents? Is he too cocky? (this one really cracks me up ->) Do his teammates think he is showing them up? Is he too cocky, too soon. Does he show enough deference to established stars. He's getting too much attention. And no I don't think "many people" includes many who post on this site. But there does seem to be almost joyful anticipation among some that there will be some sort of Bryce-gate. You can almost here the curmudgeons muttering "dang whippersnapper comes in here thinking he owns the place…"Others, are giving him his well earned 15 minutes of fame or even suspect they are witnessing the second coming of [fill in the blank].The comparisions are fun. I'm going with – just enjoy it, enjoy watching him, watch him grow up, excel, make mistakes, learn, correct them, etc… I don't need him to be humble, just human. Respectful. And awesome. Conintue being awesome.

  108. UnkyD - May 4, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    Couch potato: you've a favorite observation of mine: the difference between your garden variety all-star, and your generational-elite-rarified air -all time great… Is Work. Prolly 1/4 or so(don't ask to see my math) of professional athletes have a similar degree of raw talent as the all-timers, and almost all of them work hard… But the Jordans and the Mannings and the Gwynns, they never stop working on their game. They don't gain weight offseason, they dream about work, and they practice practice practice. It's the lifelong drive, that seperates them from everyone else. I think that's why it's rare for these transcendental talents to be great coaches; Larry Bird prolly wore out goals on his garage in French Lick, developing a flawless jumper, and his rebounding chops

  109. UnkyD - May 4, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    …whys he gonna waste his time on a bunch of clowns who need a couple of weeks of calisthenics before they canRun a practice, with out passing out?Seems like The Kid is one of these fellows…..

  110. UnkyD - May 4, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    ….and then there's Babe Ruth…..never mind….

  111. Scott from Burke - May 4, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    "there does seem to be almost joyful anticipation among some that there will be some sort of Bryce-gate"Dude..there are over 300 million people living in the USA..some eat poop…don't stress

  112. sjm308 - May 4, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    No matter how much Theo dislikes "charlie hustle" I still have images of him in his younger days playing all out and that was what I was refering to. I am not a fan of how Pete's career played out, or his personality, but getting more hits than anyone in the history of the game is significant and should be recognized. Not saying Harper will approach that kind of status but he sure has been fun and he has further energized this club along with the continued great pitching.I am also in the camp of liking how Werth seems to be helping him.Sofa!!! I will be in my usual spot (308) on Saturday, would love to meet you. Which upholstery will you be wearing?? I realize 7 sections is a bit to travel but if we are up by 6 runs or so come on by.

  113. peric - May 4, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    A guy looks totally lost in the minors, plays poor defense, can't hit lefties (or righties), shows no power, then gets called up and looks dominant.As Rizzo said from what I could see he was just about to break out in Syracuse … his pattern has been consistent, in Hagerstown and Harrisburg. It takes Harper a bit of time to adjust to the league early on … but once he does watch out!

  114. UnkyD - May 4, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    Peric… Looking forward to seeing The Kid play, after he "adjusts to the league"… "watch out!"?….. You're damn skippy!

  115. Brother Juniper - May 4, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    Speaking of Pops, didn't Country Joe and the Fish swipe the melody from "Musrat Ramble" for their famous Viet Nam protest song?

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 90 64 --
ATLANTA 76 78 14.0
NEW YORK 75 80 15.5
MIAMI 74 80 16.0
PHILADELPHIA 71 84 19.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Saturday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON (5) 90 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 88 67 2.5
ST. LOUIS 87 68 3.5
-------------------------
SAN FRANCISCO 84 70 6.0 +1.0
PITTSBURGH 83 71 7.0 --
MILWAUKEE 80 75 10.5 3.5
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Saturday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
MON: OFF
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Marlins at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

Follow us on Twitter