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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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Nationals set franchise record for runs in an inning, blow out Rockies

Nationals set franchise record for runs in an inning, blow out Rockies

DENVER -- Bryce Harper hit a three-run homer as part of an 11-run seventh inning, Trea Turner enjoyed another big game at Coors Field and the Washington Nationals routed the Colorado Rockies 16-5 on Thursday.

Turner proved to be a pitcher's nightmare throughout the four-game series. He hit for the cycle on Tuesday, finished a triple shy of another cycle Wednesday and added a double and two singles in the finale -- in all, he had nine extra-base hits, scored 10 runs and had 11 RBIs.

Washington finished 9-1 on its road trip, taking three of the last four at Colorado. What's more, the Nationals scored 11 or more runs in three straight games for the first time since July 1986 at Atlanta, when the team was the Montreal Expos.

Leading 4-2, the Nationals broke the game open in the seventh by sending 15 batters to the plate and pounding out eight hits, including Harper's eighth homer.

Gonzalez (3-0) scattered seven hits over 6 2/3 innings to improve to 4-0 all-time against Colorado. He also had a good day at the plate with two RBIs, including a bases-loaded walk in the big seventh.

Rockies rookie Antonio Senzatela (3-1) couldn't find his typical command in surrendering four runs over six innings.

Turner, who came off the disabled list less than a week ago, made himself at home.

"This ballpark, for whatever reason, feels pretty comfortable to me," the second-year player said. "It's fun hitting here."

His teammates felt the same way as every starter had a hit Thursday.

Before the game, Rockies manager Bud Black said he was going to talk to Senzatela about not walking the pitcher, which he termed a "bad sin." Both Tyler Chatwood and German Marquez did just that the previous two games, paving the way to costly innings.

Senzatela didn't walk the pitcher, but reliever Carlos Estevez did in the seventh.

The damaging play, though, was earlier in the inning, when first baseman Mark Reynolds fielded Harper's grounder and instead of stepping on the bag, threw home to get the runner he figured was breaking for home. Only, the runner wasn't going and the throw wound up in the dugout.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg was reinstated from the paternity list after the birth of his second daughter. Strasburg is scheduled to throw Saturday against the New York Mets.

Rockies: OF Gerardo Parra made a leaping catch in the sixth just before hitting the wall. Parra was shaking his right hand, but stayed in the game.

RESTING SLUGGERS

Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman and Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez didn't start. Both had planned rest days, although manager Dusty Baker struggled with the decision with Zimmerman.

"It's hard to rest him because he's hot," Baker said.

THIS & THAT

OF Charlie Blackmon had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. ... 3B Nolan Arenado hit a solo homer in the first -- about the only mistake Gonzalez made all afternoon.

UP NEXT

Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (3-1, 1.95 ERA) starts Friday when the Nationals open a three-game series against the New York Mets. Scherzer has 55 strikeouts in his last five games against the Mets, who will throw RHP Jacob deGrom (0-1).

Rockies: LHP Kyle Freeland (2-1, 3.32 ERA) starts Friday at Arizona. The Diamondbacks will throw LHP Robbie Ray (2-0, 3.42).

Related: Nationals place Koda Glover on Disabled List

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Nats' bats remain red-hot in freezing cold Denver

Nats' bats remain red-hot in freezing cold Denver

DENVER  -- Trea Turner nearly hit for the cycle for a second straight night, finishing a triple shy, and Bryce Harper had four more hits to run his average to .432 as the Washington Nationals beat the Colorado Rockies 11-4 on Wednesday.

Turner lined one of three Washington homers, with Ryan Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy also going deep, to help the Nationals improve to 8-1 on their 10-game trip.

Tanner Roark (3-0) worked his way out of several jams to throw five solid innings. He allowed two runs and struck out four.

Never quite settling in on a cool night, Tyler Chatwood (2-3) surrendered five runs in five innings.

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Turner followed his cycle the night before with a solo shot in the fifth for his second homer of the season. Zimmerman hit a two-run shot later in the inning to give Washington a 5-0 lead.

Harper kept up his torrid pace at the plate with four hard hits, including a double. It was his fifth four-hit game of his career and third this season.

Roark ran into trouble in the fifth when the Rockies loaded the bases. He walked DJ LeMahieu to force in a run and gave up another run on Nolan Arenado's fielder's choice. With two outs and two on, Roark struck out Carlos Gonzalez with a 77-mph curve. Gonzalez broke his bat on the ground in frustration.

For the second straight night, a two-out walk in the second inning to the pitcher came back to haunt the Rockies. After Chatwood missed on a 3-2 fastball to Roark, Adam Eaton followed with a two-run single.

On Tuesday, German Marquez issued a two-out walk that turned into a five-run frame in a game the Nationals won 15-12. They have taken two of three in the four-game series with Colorado

RELATED: NATS PLACE RELIEVER ON DL