Friday night the Nationals lost for the fourth time in their last six games as they had no answer for Mets righty Noah Syndergaard in his return from the disabled list (NYM 4, WAS 2). The loss dropped Washington to 47-47 on the season.
In the fifth inning of Friday's game, Bryce Harper hit a tailor made 6-4-3 double play ball with two men on base to end the inning. Harper did not run out of the box and the Mets turned the double play with ease. Would he have beaten it out? Maybe. Either way, the optics were quite bad.
Bad enough that, on Saturday, manager Dave Martinez talked it out with Harper. From the Associated Press:
"I've spoken to Bryce and that's a conversation that will stay between Bryce and I," Martinez said.
"He wants to win, that's all he cares about," Martinez said. "Regardless of his average, he has 23 home runs and 53 RBI. I believe that he's going to hit 40 and drive in 100. I'm a big fan of Bryce. I love the kid because of what he brings every day. He's a good kid, that's all I can say."
Harper, not surprisingly, was not in the mood to talk about the ground ball or his chat with Martinez on Saturday.
Harper was frustrated to be asked about not running out the DP ball last night and whether Davey brought it up today like he mentioned he would.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) July 14, 2018
“After I hit the ball 108 miles per hour?”
He ended the conversation shortly after.
On a list of problems with the 2018 Nationals, I'm not sure Harper failing to run out a potential double play makes the top 10. The larger issue is that Harper ranks 11th among NL outfielders with a .836 OPS and 33rd among NL outfielders with 0.3 WAR. Even with all the homers, Harper's had a down season to date and he's frustrated, so he didn't run out a grounder. You don't like to see it, but it happens.
Bottom line: Harper screwed up and Martinez addressed it, which is his job as manager. The Nationals have much bigger problems than Harper not running out a double play, though it is something that had to be addressed, and it was Saturday.