Miami Marlins’ Miguel Rojas (19) is out at second as Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond (20) throws to first to turn the double play on a grounder by Tomas Telis during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Washington. The Nationals won 13-3. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
As a disappointing season winds down to its final days, the Washington Nationals are still showing life—despite the fact that no postseason pot waits at the end of the rainbow.
It’s unfortunate that, in a season when they had the chance to show the league what they were made of, the Nationals crumbled instead. Still, winning five of their last six games is an accomplishment, and Washington showed resiliency and a fiery demeanor that has been sorely lacking with a couple of tough, extra-inning wins against Philadelphia and Miami.
Bryce Harper has continued his MVP-level play—he’s leading the National League in so many statistical and analytical categories that he should easily win the award, regardless of Washington’s fate this season.
“His numbers say he is ,” Nationals starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann told reporters recently. “We’ll see at the end of the season, but
Washington Nationals’ Yunel Escobar (5) reacts with Tyler Moore (12) after he scored on a sacrifice fly by Wilson Ramos during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
I’m pulling for him.”
National Park faithful have started the ubiquitous “M-V-P!” chants for each of Harper’s at-bats. With five homers this week upping his league-leading total to 41, there shouldn’t be any doubt who wins the award. But as in any major sport, winning matters to the MVP voters as much as individual performance.
Pitcher Steven Strasburg reclaimed his role as an elite-level starter, and the solid offerings from the other starters have been alternately welcomed and maddening—almost as if, once the pressure of the pennant race was gone, they could just pitch freely. Going into next season, whoever is in the rotation must show some sort of backbone and bring this same effort when the stakes are still high. The 1-2 combination of ace Max Scherzer and Strasburg is a duo most teams would take any day of the week. Plus, when the starters are on their game, it’s less likely manager Matt Williams can make as many blunders with his use of the bullpen. That is, if he’s even still the skipper in 2016.
Hopefully this effort will continue in the final two weeks of the regular season. If anything, watching the culmination of a MVP season for Harper, a 22-year-old wunderkind, is worth the price of admission.