Tonight, Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper will be playing in the third All-Star Game of his career. It will be the second time he starts the game as he will be batting third for the National League and will get to bat against American League starter, Dallas Keuchel.
Harper batting third in the order is nothing new for him. This is nothing new for him as he has hit .310 out of the number three spot in the lineup this season with nine home runs and 13 RBI’s. Plus, in the first inning, he is hitting .444 with five home runs and 15 RBI’s. Tonight, Harper has the chance to have a great night that hasn’t been too common for the Nats position players in their brief All-Star history.
Since the Nationals had two pitchers (Chad Cordero and Livan Hernandez) get selected in 2005, there have been six position players selected to the Midsummer Classic since 2006. Those six are Harper, Alfonso Soriano, Dmitri Young, Cristian Guzman, Ryan Zimmerman, and Ian Desmond.
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If you look at the collective stats of those six players, they are a combined 2-for-11 and have never recorded an extra-base hit. The last Nationals/Expos player to record an extra-base hit in an All-Star Game was Moises Alou back in 1994. Ian Desmond didn’t even play when he was selected in 2012 and Harper was 0-for-1 as a starter in 2013 with a walk and a strikeout.
The Nationals haven’t had many great All-Star moments in their short history. The only thing that stands out are relievers Matt Capps and Tyler Clippard winning the 2010 and 2011 All-Star Games respectively. Jordan Zimmermann was selected each of the previous two All-Star Games, but did not play in either game.
This season, everyone has seen the maturation of Harper as both a power hitter and as someone who will wait for his pitch and take the walk if he doesn’t like what he sees. However, Keuchel has only given up four runs in the first inning all season, which is the same amount Max Scherzer has given up.
Harper has two at-bats against Keuchel lifetime and is 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout. If Harper is going to win MVP, he will have to contribute to the NL’s success right out of the gate. If he were able to win MVP, it would add another good chapter to the great season he has had. Plus, he would be able to be a main contributor in the Nats having home field in the World Series, should the team end up getting there.