Bryce Harper Steals Home: Star Proves Nationals Are a Team to Be Feared
Ian Desmond hit the nail on the head when he explained why Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels plunked Bryce Harper on Sunday.
The Phillies, finally, are scared of the Nationals.
After seasons of mediocrity and failure, the Nationals are in first place in the NL East. Yes, it's early in the season and even the Orioles are on top of their division, but the Nationals look different this time around.
Harper is a big reason for it. Obviously. Or else, why would Hamels have deigned him with the honor of an HBP?
The 19-year-old rookie has only played in eight games thus far for Washington, but he is the toast of the MLB for stealing home after getting plunked on Sunday.
With Jayson Werth on first and Harper on third, Hamels became preoccupied with Werth, and when Hamels tried to pick him off first, Harper saw his opportunity and bolted for home. He made it.
There were plenty of downsides to the game.
For one, the Nationals lost 9-3. Werth broke his wrist and will be out indefinitely.
But Harper's steal gives the Nationals hope that this could be a bright season for them. Perhaps he's the star they need to truly give the Phillies a run for their money in the division.
Ian Desmond, for one, thinks so. After the game, he told the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore:
Usually it seems the Phillies aren’t that hyped up to come play us. I think that they realize that they needed to step up a little bit, and that’s nice. It’s nice to have that feeling where, 'Hey, they’re intense over there.' Usually when we play them, they’re not. I think that they realized that we’ve got a good ball club and they needed to kind of take it up a notch.
And Desmond is right: With a player like Harper, the entire complexion of the Nationals changes. No longer are they the punching bag of the NL East. They are a team that will burn you with a 19-year-old rookie who has enough speed to steal home if you turn your back for too long.
Can Bryce Harper keep the Nats on top of the NL East?
After taking two of three from the Phillies in this weekend's series, the Nationals have solidified that this is a rivalry, and it's one the Phillies are going to have to dominate if they want the division crown.
It's the second month of the season. No one knows how things will be playing out a month or two from now. But as of this moment, Harper is the face of the new-look Nationals, and they are a team to be feared.
As long as Harper stays strong, so will the team.
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