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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.

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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