The Washington Nationals and the rest of the MLB are watching two of the best young players in baseball develop before everyone's eyes this season. The Nats are enjoying the success of Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg while being in the midst of a playoff race.
Strasburg is coming off of an impressive 13 strikeout performance on Thursday night while Harper continues to pile up phenomenal numbers in the early part of his career.
Strasburg is easily one of the best pitchers thus far in 2012 and Harper is shaping up to be the best rookie in the National League.
Harper will take home the Rookie of the Year award at this pace while Strasburg will battle and claw his way to the Cy Young, as long as they Nats stay in contention.
Why Bryce Harper Will Win Rookie of the Year
Harper seems to have the easier road in front of him in his quest for an award.
In a small sample size this season, Harper has hit six doubles in 10 games. Over the course of the rest of the season this pace would result in terrific numbers. Harper has yet to hit a home run but he has certainly come close.
When Harper gets his home run swing down then he will have no problem putting up great numbers and running away with the rookie of the year award. It also is a bit easier for Harper to win the award considering there are less candidates in competition than for Strasburg in the Cy Young race.
A name that might come to mind for Harper's competition is Bryan LaHair, the Chicago Cubs breakout first basemen. However, LaHair does not qualify as a rookie this season as he accumulated just enough at-bats and games played in 2008 for the Seattle Mariners to be considered a rookie in that season.
He qualified with 136 at-bats, six more than required and played in 45 games when it is required a player is on the active roster for at least 45 days.
Without LaHair being eligible, Harper is going to take home the award.
Harper only has one steal thus far, which was a steal of home, but has shown the tremendous speed to pile up many more steals as the season progresses.
Between his power, speed and hard work, Harper will be the leader in the award voting at the end of the season.
Stephen Strasburg's Dominance
As for Strasburg, he will have a great amount of competition for the NL Cy Young but the biggest competition he will face is from the men who sign his paychecks.
The Nationals have been suggesting that an innings limit of around 160 innings would be in place this season for Strasburg. This would greatly decrease his chances of being taken seriously for the award.
If the Nats are in contention in August then it would be hard to believe they would shut Strasburg down and risk their chances to make the playoffs for the first time since moving to D.C.
Therefore, a good Nats team means a trophy for Strasburg to take home this season.
Strasburg's been spectacular in 2012, pitching a quality start in each of his seven starts this season. He has a 3-0 record and leads the league in strikeouts with 51. His ERA is a minuscule 1.64 while his WHIP sits at 0.91.
Strasburg also has the highest average fastball this season for starters, with an average fastball velocity of 95.7 MPH, a full MPH greater than the next closest pitcher.
The Nationals are legitimate this season and the wealth of young talent that they have is worthy of accolades at the end of the year.
Strasburg and Harper have the potential to be the leaders for their respective awards when all the dust settles on the 2012 season.