Looking at Harper and the Rookie of the Year race

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Looking at Harper and the Rookie of the Year race

As the MLB playoff race began to heat up after the All-Star break, and as Bryce Harper cooled down, comparing Harper and fellow rookie Mike Trout faded away as the seasons biggest storyline. Trout ascended to a prime MVP candidate and Harper started looking like the 19-year-old rookie that he was.

But though Trout has continued to outpace Harper over the course of the entire season, recently it has in fact been Harper with the better numbers. Over the last month the Nationals outfielder has outplayed Trout in nearly every statistical category, including batting average and runs.

Take a look at their statistical splits over the last 28 days:

Harper (831 to 927)

25 G - .305 BA - .988 OPS 6 HR 23 R 13 RBI - 4 3B 4 SB

Trout (831 to 926)

24 G - .247 BA - .750 OPS 3 HR 18 R 4 RBI 0 3B 5 SB

Notice Harpers batting average is over .50 points better and his OPS is higher by more than .200. Not only are the differences significant, but so is the timing. Both players bat at the top of the order on teams in playoff races with the Nats looking for a division title and the Angels chasing the wild card.

Harper may not be in consideration for the National League MVP award, as Trout will be in the A.L., but he has perhaps turned into a favorite for N.L. Rookie of the Year. The two other players most consider to have a chance are Todd Frazier (26 years old) of the Reds and Wade Miley (25 years old) of the Diamondbacks. Frazier is the easiest to compare directly as a position player, but his stats just dont stack up.

Harper

133 G - .264 BA - .799 OPS 21 HR 94 R 58 RBI 9 3B 17 SB

Frazier

123 G - .278 BA - .845 OPS 19 HR 55 R 65 RBI 6 3B 3 SB

Harper has more homers, 14 more stolen bases, and nearly 40 more runs scored than Frazier does. Both players are on first place teams, but Harper has made more of an impact on his teams success.

Miley has been the favorite for the award for much of the season after going 9-5 with a 3.04 ERA in the first half. But since being named an All-Star he has gone 7-6 with a 3.65 ERA. His numbers still look good for a rookie with a 16-11 record and 3.32 ERA in 187.0 innings, but Harper has contributed to a much better team. The Diamondbacks are a .500 club, but won't be participating in the playoffs.

One other player that could have a say is Colorado Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario. Rosario has come on strong in September and leads all rookies in homers (27) and RBI (70). He does, however, play on the second worst team in the majors and has not displayed the variety of tools Harper has shown. Harper has been one of the best defensive center fielders in the game and also ranks second among N.L. rookies in stolen bases.

It could come down to Harper and Miley who likely has one more start before the season comes to a close. The Nationals have six games left on their schedule so Harper will need to continue his surge. But whether he earns the award or not, his pick up in play couldnt have come at a better time for Washington.

VIDEO: Carlin walks off over 'contract year' argument with Brian Mitchell

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VIDEO: Carlin walks off over 'contract year' argument with Brian Mitchell

Watch the full exchange from SportsTalk Live in the video player above, which will begin momentarily.

Stephen Strasburg is off to a strong start with the Washington Nationals as he sets the foundation for how much his next contract will be worth. 

That became a point of contention Wednesday night on SportsTalk Live when co-host Rob Carlin brought up the idea that, if Strasburg indeed finishes strong, the Nationals will need to discern whether this is the start of a sustainable uptick in production or the product of a contract year. 

Brian Mitchell took exception to that entire notion, saying that it is illogical to think that players play better simply because they are in a contract year. 

The argument evolved from there until Carlin couldn't take it anymore -- and walked off the set. Watch the exchange above.

Revere expected to return to Nationals for series vs. Cubs

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Revere expected to return to Nationals for series vs. Cubs

By DAVE SKRETTA

TRAINER'S ROOM:

OF Ben Revere (right oblique strain) will join the Nationals in Chicago on Thursday and be evaluated before being activated. He played nine innings in centerfield for Triple-A Syracuse in his fifth rehab game on Tuesday.

Nationals blow out Royals to continue strong road trip

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Nationals blow out Royals to continue strong road trip

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 13-2 win over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium: 

How it happened: After letting Tuesday night’s game slip out of their hands, the Nationals wasted no time on Wednesday afterrnoon making sure the series finale at Kansas City was theirs right from the jump. The Nats exploded in the first inning with six runs off Royals starter Kris Medlen and never looked back, cruising to a 13-2 blowout victory to move to 19-8 on the season to match the 1979 Expos for the best start in franchise history. They also matched the best 27-game record for a D.C.-based team, tying the 1925 and 1932 Senators.

Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper homered, Ryan Zimmerman had three hits and Daniel Murphy had four to tie a career-high. Stephen Strasburg went six innings with just two runs allowed on five hits and a walk. He moved to 5-0 on the season and now holds a 2.36 ERA through six starts. 

What it means: The Nationals recovered well from their disappointing loss on Tuesday night just in time for a huge series at the Cubs. The Nats now hold some positive momentum as they prepare to face the team with the best record in baseball. The Cubs and Nats will battle in what is about as exciting a series you can find this early in the season. And whatever happensin those four games, the Nats will finish this supposedly scary road trip with at least a .500 record after winning on Wednesday.

Another huge first inning: The Nationals once again got off to a blazing start in the first inning, this time putting up six runs off Medlen. Amazingly, five of those runs came across before Medlen even recorded an out. Harper and Jayson Werth had RBI singles, Zimmerman and Murphy had RBI doubles and Clint Robinson added a sacrifice fly in the frame. The Nationals have scored 32.5 percent (39 of 120) of their total runs this season in the first inning.

Harper has big day: Harper had been in a major slump lately with multiple strikeouts in three consecutive games and just one hit in his previous five outings. On Wednesday, Harper had two hits including his 10th homer of the season, a solo shot to right field in the fifth inning. It was Harper’s first multi-hit game since April 23.

Zim continues to heat up: For the third straight day, Zimmerman posted a multi-hit game. On Wednesday, it was a season-best three hits including his first inning RBI double. Zimmerman is now batting .264 on the season and is 7-of-14 in the month of May. 

Murphy’s career day: Murphy homered for the second straight day, but that was just a small part of what was overall one of the best games of his entire MLB career. He matched a career-high with four hits, had three RBI and scored a career-best four runs. Murphy now has hits in 23 of his 26 games this season with multiple hits in 13 of those outings. He was a triple short of a cycle in the win.

Up next: The Nats move on to Chicago to begin a four-game series at the Cubs. The opener is an 8:05 p.m. ET first pitch at Wrigley with Joe Ross (3-0, 0.79) and Kyle Hendricks (1-2, 3.52) set to start.