Bryce Harper hit .286/.406/.714 with nine home runs through March and April with more walks (17) than strikeouts (13), and opposing pitchers seemed afraid to challenge him, a trend that peaked in early May when the Cubs walked him six times over seven plate appearances in one game. Nagging injuries began to pile up though, particularly to his neck and shoulder, and by the second half he seemed to be a shell of his usual self as he hit just .226/.336/.373 with five home runs after the All-Star break. Harper recorded the first 20-20 season of his career and walked more than 100 times for the second straight year, but the end result wasn't close to what anyone expected. With a full offseason to rest and recover, Harper should be able to come out taking and raking in 2017, and given Trea Turner's emergence and the addition of Adam Eaton ahead of him in the order, health could be the only thing standing between Harper and another MVP-caliber campaign.
Harper is not in the lineup for Monday's game against the Rockies, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports. It appears manager Dusty Baker is looking to keep Harper properly rested as he continues to build on his scalding start to the season. The superstar outfielder will almost certainly be back in the lineup when the Nats face off against Colorado again on Tuesday.
Harper went 2-for-4 with a walk, a double, a home run, two runs scored and two RBI in Friday's 4-3 extra-inning win over the Mets. He kicked off the scoring with a two-run blast -- his seventh home run of the season -- off Matt Harvey in the first inning and then doubled and scored on Trea Turner's bases-loaded walk in the 11th to produce the winning run. Harper came into the game with the fourth highest career OPS in the month of April in baseball history -- behind only some guys named Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Barry Bonds -- and Friday's performance exemplified how the 24-year-old has earned his place alongside those legends.
Harper went 4-for-4 with a walk, a double, two home runs, three runs scored and five RBI in Wednesday's 14-4 rout of the Braves. Both blasts came off Julio Teheran, including a no-doubt grand slam in the second inning. Harper now has a .455/.538/1.182 slash line with seven home runs in 33 career at-bats against the Atlanta ace, but his overall numbers so far this season aren't too shabby either: .404/.516/.846 with six homers, 18 RBI and 16 runs scored in 14 games.
Harper finished 3-for-5 with two home runs and five RBI during Sunday's 6-4 win over the Phillies. Harper launched a two-run homer in the third inning before going deep with two men on to win the game in the bottom of the ninth. It had been six games since Harper drove in a run, but this performance vaulted him into a tie for second in the big leagues with 12 RBI to go along with four home runs and 12 runs scored.
Harper went 1-for-2 with three walks, a double and two runs scored in Tuesday's win over the Cardinals. It's easy to understand the Cards' reluctance to give him a chance to hurt them, as Harper has started off 2017 by slashing .393/.541/.679 through eight games to go along with two homers, eight RBI and nine runs scored. With Daniel Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman just as hot behind him in the Nats batting order, though, teams may find they have little choice but to give the 2015 NL MVP some hittable pitches.
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