The Washington Nationals are cruising in the National League in 2012 and have done so, for the most part, without their ideal lineup on the field at one time. Assuming that Jayson Werth can remain healthy going into the playoffs, the Nationals might have a dynamic duo in Bryce Harper and Werth.
While there are many duos in the majors, one of the best is the TNT boys (Version 2), Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo in Anaheim. They have been the best players on the Angels and could carry the Halos to the playoffs this season as the offensive leaders.
The Nationals can be a serious contender in the playoffs if Werth can assume the role of Trumbo and if Harper heats up again and provides the energy that Trout has given Anaheim all season and that Harper gave the Nats early on.
Ultimately, what do Harper and Werth have to improve upon to become a duo of their own that imposes fear in the opposition?
There are areas of their game that they can work on in order to try to mirror the success of the Anaheim duo.
The Super-Rookie debate was raging strong when Trout and Harper were called up this season. The two will always be compared going forward in their careers, and to this point, a Trout is winning the battle in most categories.
One area that Trout is gaining ground on Harper is in OBP. Through Tuesday, Trout sat at .404 compared to Harper's .328.
Why are the Angels dominating with Trout and Trumbo? Part of the reason is that Trout is on base over 40 percent of the time, while Harper has been struggling to get aboard.
The first step in Harper and Werth becoming a force that should be feared is Harper getting on base more.
The biggest change in Werth's game since coming to D.C. is hit lower slugging percentage.
Werth has a .402 slugging percentage while in Washington compared to a .506 in his four years in Philadelphia. This season, Werth has started to raise it again (.459 through Wednesday), and if this trend continues, then it will provide some more power in the middle of the lineup.
One of the staples of Trout's game is his incredible hustle day in and day out. Harper has to find the energy again that everyone loved when he was called up.
He provided the team with the boost that they needed when their stars went down. Although he is not looked at anymore as the guy that will keep this team going, he certainly can help it go further with the energy that he provided earlier in the season.
Even if it means getting thrown out a couple times on the basepaths, he has to look to turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples to give the Nats that spark. Through August 14th, Harper has had only one extra base hit in August, a home run.
He has the ability to turn singles into doubles, and he has to start trying to do that again when the opportunity presents itself.
The potential is there for these guys to become a duo like Trumbo and Trout, but it won't be possible if Werth continues to battle injuries this season.
Werth missed time after having wrist surgery and is now battling an ankle injury.
The most important way for Harper and Werth to try to be that dynamic duo is for Werth to remain healthy all season.
The stolen base is as much a part of Harper's arsenal as the long ball. He needs to pick up his steals and provide situations as Trout has done for his teammates.
Trout has stolen 38 bases compared to Harper's 13. Harper has yet to have a steal in August.
Harper has the potential to steal a ton of bases and get in scoring position for Zimmerman, Morse and Werth. Harper can help his slugging slumps, as long as he turns singles into doubles via the stolen base.
Trout has primarily been the leadoff man in Anaheim, and Trumbo has succeeded batting in the fourth and fifth spot in the lineup. This outline is a possibility in Washington as well, and Harper and Werth have the potential to make it work.
Even if Harper continues to bat primarily out of the second spot, he can get on base and set the table for the rest of the guys in the lineup.
Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse sandwiched between Harper and Werth will provide a rewarding situation, such as the one the Angels have.
Sabermetricians have formulated a way to determine a player's impact on a team called WAR (wins above replacement). The number that is given is the amount of wins the team would have with a certain player over a replacement.
This is where the biggest difference in the two duo's lie.
Trout leads the majors with a 7.7 WAR, and Trumbo boasts a healthy 3.0. Harper has a 1.9 and Werth is at 0.7 and in 150 games for the Nats last year, only had a 1.0 WAR.
The collective total for these duos and their respective teams are the Angels' 10.7 to the Nats' 2.6.
Harper and Werth will become a legitimate duo when they have the kind of impact on their team that Trout and Trumbo have had on the Angels.