Harper Making Curry-like Ascension to the Top

(Photo via washington.cbslocal.com)

We are only about 15 games into the regular season, but already, we are seeing numerous stars in the MLB come into the league and dominate. With former superstars like David Ortiz, Ichiro, Albert Pujols, etc. that are likely heading to their final at-bats in this league, the MLB is ready to usher in a new age of talent and excitement to the game. And no star shines brighter than Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals.

Harper, 23, was first recognized back in his high school days in Las Vegas, Nevada. Even by age 19, scouts and executives knew that this player was something special. He ended up getting drafted by the lonely Nationals 1st overall in the 2010 draft. Since then, Harper has become the youngest position player to ever make an all-star team, was the 2012 rookie of the year, and became the youngest MVP winner in league history. In his breakout 2015 MVP season, Harper batted .330 with 42 homers and 99 RBIs. But his greatness doesn’t stop there…

Bryce Harper has started his 2016 season even stronger than last year. In just 13 games, Harper has hit 7 HR, to go along with 20 RBIs, and has led his Nationals to the second-best record in the league (they are only a ½ game behind the Cubs). Clearly, Harper is ascending at an incredibly fast pace. He looks poised for the same kind of performance leap that Stephen Curry saw from last year’s MVP season to this year.

Both Harper and Curry have become the faces of their respective leagues, and both are only going to get better. While Steph has transcended the way the game is played, with more emphasis on dribbling and outside shooting, Harper has also become a trailblazer for how our national pastime is played. He is adding a jolt to this slow-paced game, making it more exciting and enjoyable for both players and fans alike. He has taken the throne atop the rest of the league’s superstars, just like Curry did, bypassing King James in the process.

It might be too early to call, but Harper looks well on his way to another MVP title this year. What remains to be seen is if his Nationals squad has the pieces to contend for a title. They always seem to look good on paper, but tend to fizzle in performance near the end of the year, or just simply underachieve. But what I know for certain is that whatever the Nationals hope to achieve over the next few years, they will have to rely on the 23 year old prodigy to get them there.

– J. Yellin

The Loaded National League

(Photo via chatsports.com)

In order to get back to the World Series, the Mets will have to get through the loaded National League. After a 2015 season which resulted in a World Series appearance and the emergence of one of the best young rotations in history, the Mets ceiling heading into the new season is sky high.  However, the road to the World Series will not be an easy one, as the National League is filled with several teams that could all challenge for a World Series title.

The Giants signed both Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija and they will be paired up with Madison Bumgarner, while the Dodgers fired Don Mattingly, lost Zach Grienke and appear to be falling behind both the Giants and the new look Arizona Diamondbacks. The Cubs signed veteran John Lackey to solidify a rotation that already consists of John Lester and reigning Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta, while also acquiring talented outfielder Jason Heyward.

The Cardinals and Pirates both come into this season with teams very similar to what they had last year, but with revenge on their minds after early postseason exits at the hands of their division rival. The Nationals, who look to challenge the Mets in the NL East, hired Dusty Baker as their manager, signed former Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy, and return this season with Max Scherzer and reigning MVP Bryce Harper.  From all of the changes that have been made, I do not see Dusty Baker turning around the disappointing Nationals right away, the Cardinals and Pirates both have not done enough this offseason to win the division over the Cubs, and I see both the Dodgers and Diamondbacks struggling in a year of change for both teams.

In the end, I see the Giants and Cubs being the two biggest threats to the Mets in the National League, as both teams boast very good rotations that could compete with the Mets’ young arms, and also have postseason experience that always seems to prove crucial come October.  Although I do believe the Mets are good enough to get back to the World Series and even win it this time around, the road back will not be a walk in the park as some fans may expect.

– C. Homola