The 2015 season may have been a story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for the Washington Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg, but he was firing on all cylinders Tuesday night, striking out 14 and giving up one hit over eight innings. He wasn’t the only former number one overall draft pick who had it working for the Nats, however, as MVP-candidate Bryce Harper hit two home runs and drove in all four of Washington’s runs on the night. The 2009 and 2010 first rounders have had their share of struggles over the years, but both put it all together in dominant fashion Tuesday.
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Strasburg (9-7, 3.98 ERA) has spent two separate stints on the disabled list this season, while struggling for a majority of April and May. Entering June, he sported a 6.55 ERA, the second highest mark in the league at that time among qualifying starters. Many began to question whether he was a bust, as he was considered Cooperstown-bound when he was drafted. While he has not displayed Hall of Fame-esque talent thus far, he has certainly been one of the better starters in the league since his debut in 2010.
Harper, on the other hand, has been by far one of the best hitters in all of baseball in 2015. Owner of a .338/.467/.667 slash line and 39 home runs, Bryce ranks in the top of the league in nearly every offensive category. While there is a possibility that he may not receive the MVP award as a result of his team’s place in the pennant race, he is certainly deserving. At the ripe young age of 22, Harper is certainly fitting the bill of a number one pick.
While Strasburg’s time in D.C. may be coming to an end after the 2016 season, his impact on the team cannot be forgotten. No one can forget his 14 strikeouts in his major league debut in 2010 and how it marked a turning point for a franchise that had been in the cellar of the National League East nearly every year since it had moved to the District in 2005. Harper has provided a sparkplug for a team that has made two playoff appearances in the four years he has spent in the league. While plagued by injuries in his 2013 and 2014 seasons, he has undoubtedly made an impact on the team that is immeasurable. With three more years left on his rookie contract, Washington fans surely have a lot to look forward to.