Oct 7, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; Washington Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper (34) watches his solo home run off of San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Hunter Strickland (background right) in the 7th inning during game four of the 2014 NLDS baseball playoff game at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
1. Bryce Harper
Bryce Harper needs to have an MVP season.
It is as simple as that.
Bryce is the face of the franchise. The young star that was supposed to help drive this team deep into the playoffs year after year. With the depth issues in the Nationals’ lineup, Bryce not only needs to keep himself healthy all year, but he needs to hit like he did in the playoffs.
Harper was on fire in the playoffs and was really the only effective offensive weapon during an otherwise woeful team performance. Granted, a .294/.368/.882 line is going to be hard to come by in the regular season, but he needs to outstrip all expectations for this season.
Steamer projects Bryce Harper to be a 4.5 win player with a respectable .273/.363/.490 line. Frankly, he needs to do better than that.
First, he needs to stay healthy. Bryce only had 395 plate appearances last year and hasn’t had more than 600 his entire career (he was close in 2012 with 597).
Bryce Harper also needs to come into his own in his third full season with the Nationals and start producing closer to his other young star counterpart, Mike Trout. Trout projects to be an almost nine-win player with a pretty decent stat line… .297/.393/.538.
Bryce is a player with all the potential in the world and one of the few players in baseball with the ability to reach a Trout-like level of success.
We saw glimpses of how he can single handily win a game, and even a series, for his team during the Nationals’ 2014 playoff run, but we need to see this on a consistent basis from Harper.
This makes Bryce Harper the number one player to watch next year for the Washington Nationals.