Bryce Harper continued his MVP-caliber season Saturday night with a 2-for-4 performance in the Washington Nationals’ 3-2 loss to the New York Mets. Harper raised his batting average to .332, which is good enough for second in the National League. Early in the season, many jokes were made about Harper possibly making a run at the NL Triple Crown. However, with 102 games in the books, this joke may just be a reality.
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The Triple Crown is the title given to the player who leads his respective league in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in. The last player to win the Triple Crown was Miguel Cabrera, who did it in the American League back in 2012. The last player to win it in the National League was Joe Medwick in 1937 for the St. Louis Cardinals. In the National League, Harper currently ranks second in batting average, first in home runs (29), and is tied for third in RBI’s with 68.
While Nats fans may be cheering Bryce on in his quest for the Triple Crown, his opponents haven’t been making it easy. Other players who may prevent the Nationals right fielder from accomplishing this feat include Diamondbacks’ first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (.346 batting average, 77 RBIs), Reds’ third baseman Todd Frazier (27 home runs), Rockies’ third baseman Nolan Arenado (80 RBIs), and Giants’ catcher Buster Posey (68 RBIs). While Harper may lead the home run race for now, it has been neck-and-neck all season long.
Not only is Bryce leading the way in traditional offensive categories, but he is taking the NL by storm any way you look at it. He currently ranks second in on-base percentage (.458), first in slugging percentage (.677), first in .OPS (1.135), first in WAR (6.8), third in walks (74), first in runs scored (69), third in extra base hits (54), and first in isolated power (.345). He also ranks third among NL right fielders in defensive WAR (0.5), behind only the injured Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton (0.6) and St. Louis’ Jason Heyward (0.8).
Bryce Harper’s breakout season is finally upon us, so with the speculation and hype behind us, we can now just kick back and enjoy the show. Whether or not Harper brings home the Triple Crown, he will undoubtedly be one of the top candidates for the NL MVP. Plus, he will certainly have put together the best season in Washington Nationals history. With the trade deadline passed and the pennant race in full swing, the Nats need Bryce now more than ever. A strong finish and some more timely hitting by the superstar outfielder could go a long way towards securing Washington a playoff spot.