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Harper deserves to be All-Star

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Harper deserves to be All-Star

The notion was first offered about two weeks ago, and it's since picked up considerable steam. There remain 17 days until Major League Baseball announces its 2012 All-Star teams, but let's just say this now for the record.

Bryce Harper deserves to be an All-Star.

And not simply as a token publicity stunt to boost ratings. No, he truly deserves to be named an All-Star.

Start with the raw numbers. Following a monster road trip to Boston and Toronto, Harper now boasts a .303 batting average, seven homers, 19 RBI, a .384 on-base percentage, a .548 slugging percentage and a .933 OPS in 41 games with the Nationals.

The only statistical argument going against Harper is that he hasn't played in enough big-league games yet. And that's true. But he's going to play in a lot more before the Midsummer Classic rosters are announced July 1. In fact, he's on pace to amass enough plate appearances to qualify for league leaderboards in the next 7-to-10 days.

If you've played enough to qualify for the batting title, you've played enough to qualify for the All-Star Game.

And once he does qualify, Harper is going to find his name littered all over the National League offensive leaderboards. His current numbers would rank in the top 10 in on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS.

Harper's merits, though, extend far beyond the numbers. His defensive play has been superb, especially for a rookie who has been asked to bounce between all three outfield positions since he debuted. His baserunning skills and overall hustle have been lauded from every corner of the sport.

Harper's ability to learn on the fly, meanwhile, are second to none. Is there any hitter in baseball -- no matter the age or experience level -- who is able to make in-game adjustments the way Harper does? In his first at-bat against an opposing starter, he's hitting a solid .273 with a .375 on-base percentage and .809 OPS. In his second at-bat against those same starters, he's hitting an incredible .419 with a .500 on-base percentage and 1.468 OPS.

All of that makes Harper worthy of a trip to Kansas City come the second week of July.

But if you needed any more convincing, here it is, plain and simple: Harper right now is the best everyday player on one of the best teams in baseball. Shouldn't that by definition make him an All-Star?

Harper is far from the only deserving player off the Nationals' roster. For the first time since it arrived in town, this franchise merits at least three (perhaps more) All-Stars, with co-aces Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez at the top of the list. Cases can also be made for Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson, Tyler Clippard, Ian Desmond and Adam LaRoche.

But with each passing day, it becomes more and more obvious that Harper has as strong a case as anyone for an All-Star berth.

Not because of his star power. But because he truly deserves to share the field with baseball's very best.

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Ivan Rodriguez becomes first former Nationals player to be voted into Hall of Fame

Ivan Rodriguez becomes first former Nationals player to be voted into Hall of Fame

Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez became the first former Nationals player (2005-present) to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday. He was inducted in his first year of eligibility, marking the 52nd first-ballot hall of famer in history. 

Rodriguez, who was the first free agent signed by current Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, played the final two seasons of his career with Washington in 2010-11. During his time in D.C. he hit .254 six homers and 68 RBI. Pudge's greatest contribution to the Nationals came from his leadership and work ethic. He guided Stephen Strasburg through his rookie season and also helped develop Wilson Ramos so he could pass the torch to him. 

During his 21-year career, Pudge made 14 all-star teams, won 13 gold gloves, won seven silver slugger awards, led his league in caught-steeling percentage nine times, and was named American League MVP in 1999 with the Texas Rangers. He became a World Series champion in 2003 with the Florida Marlins. Pudge's 13 gold gloves are the most ever by a catcher, and his 2,844 career hits are the most ever by a player who appeared in 50 percent or more of their career games as a catcher.  

In addition to Rodriguez, former Montreal Expos great Tim Raines was inducted to the Hall of Fame. Raines is the franchise leader (Expos/Nationals) in walks (793), runs (947), stolen bases (635) and triples (82). Raines was an all-star seven times and he won a silver slugger in 1986 with the Expos. He is the only player in MLB history with at least 100 triples, 150 homers and 600 RBI in a career, and the only player to steal at least 70 bases in six consecutive seasons. 

Related: Bryce Harper wants Nationals to spend money on players, not team store

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Bryce Harper wants Nationals to invest in Matt Wieters, Greg Holland more than facilities

Bryce Harper wants Nationals to invest in Matt Wieters, Greg Holland more than facilities

Bryce Harper isn't one to keep his opinions to himself. The Nationals slugger is outspoken about what he wants, whether that's to "Make Baseball Fun Again" or to make at least $400 million on his next contract

On Wednesday, he gave his take on how the Nats should be investing their money this summer. Here's Harper responding to a tweet from ESPN's Jim Bowden.

Harper's message: Players over everything else. Sorry, gift shop. 

It's plain to see where the 2015 NL MVP is going with this. Obviously, he wants as much talent around him as possible for a chance to win the World Series. 

Matt Wieters, a four-time All-Star catcher, and Greg Holland, a two-time All-Star closer, could be significant additions to Washington's roster. 

Harper is set to become a free agent in 2018, at which point an organization like the New York Yankees will be prepared to offer him both a massive salary and a massive investment in the players around him.

The slugger probably hopes his current team will try to surround him with winning pieces in an effort to keep him. But if a report about the Nationals' reaction to his contract demands proves accurate, they may have another agenda. 

There's Harper drama around the Nationals? Just a regular Wednesday here in Washington.

MORE NATIONALS: Nationals avoid arbitration with Harper, three others