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Which Nats deserve to be All-Stars?

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Which Nats deserve to be All-Stars?

Fan voting for the 83rd All-Star Game officially came to an end at midnight, so if you were planning a last-minute ballot-stuffing barrage in support of the Nationals, you're too late.

Not that it was likely to do much good. The chance of any position player getting voted in as an All-Star starter is miniscule, considering none of the eight guys on the ballot (Wilson Ramos, Adam LaRoche, Danny Espinosa, Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman, Michael Morse, Rick Ankiel, Jayson Werth) ranked even in the top five at his position when the most recent totals were announced Tuesday.

That doesn't, however, mean the Nationals won't be well-represented 11 days from now when Kansas City hosts the midsummer classic. Quite the contrary, they're poised to send multiple players to the game for the first time since 2005 and perhaps even send more than two players for the first time since the franchise arrived in town. Those selections will just have to come from fellow player balloting or the selection of National League manager Tony La Russa.

Rosters will officially be announced Sunday afternoon, so there's not much wrangling or posturing left to do. With that in mind, let's run through the Nationals' candidates and put some odds on their eventual All-Star selections. (And be sure to cast your own votes in the Nats Insider poll. You may vote for more than one player.)...

STEPHEN STRASBURG
The case for: He's tied for ninth in the NL in ERA (2.60), tied for fifth in wins (nine) and leads the majors in strikeouts (118). Plus, he'd be a big-time draw as a first-time All-Star.
The case against: Not much of one, but perhaps his lack of innings (he's averaging only six per start) could turn a few people off.
Odds of being named an All-Star: 90 percent

GIO GONZALEZ
The case for: He's tied for second in the NL in wins (10), is second only to Strasburg in strikeouts (108) and is sixth in hits allowed per nine innings (6.25). An All-Star last season with the Athletics, he's already well-respected around the game and has raised his profile even more this year.
The case against: He isn't exactly closing out the first half of the season in top form. After winning NL Pitcher of the Month honors in May, he's 3-2 with a 4.34 ERA in June.
Odds of being named an All-Star: 75 percent

IAN DESMOND
The case for: He's second among all MLB shortstops in home runs (13), RBI (41) and slugging percentage (.485) and is first in extra-base hits (37). And he's played sparkling defense, ranking fourth among NL shortstops in UZR150 (7.8).
The case against: Desmond's .276 batting average isn't anything spectacular, and his .304 on-base percentage is not good at all.
Odds of being named an All-Star: 50 percent

BRYCE HARPER
The case for: He's taken the baseball world by storm at the tender age of 19. He's on pace to hit more homers (20) than any teenager other than Tony Conigliaro, and produce an OPS (.850) higher than any teenager other than Conigliaro and Mel Ott.
The case against: After a hot start, he's cooled off in the last two weeks, hitting only .220. And at age 19, with only two months of big-league service time, he hasn't quite established himself as being worthy of standing alongside the game's very best.
Odds of being named an All-Star: 30 percent

ADAM LaROCHE
The case for: Leads all NL first basemen with 15 homers and 48 RBI while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense.
The case against: Though he's continued to hit for power, he's otherwise been in a prolonged slump at the plate, hitting just .167 over his last 35 games.
Odds of being named an All-Star: 25 percent

TYLER CLIPPARDThe case for: He's the only reliever in the majors with at least 10 saves and 10 holds. He's a perfect 12-for-12 in save opportunities since taking over as closer, surrendering one total hit during that span. An All-Star last season, he's already recognized as one of the game's best relievers.
The case against: Because he didn't take over as closer until late-May, he hasn't compiled nearly as many saves as the league leaders. Because he was an All-Star last season as a set-up man, some might believe he doesn't need to be recognized again.
Odds of being named an All-Star: 20 percent

SEAN BURNETTThe case for: He's got a 1.71 ERA and 0.987 WHIP while stranding 73 percent of inherited runners this season.
The case against: For a non-closer to get the nod, he's got to have overwhelming stats. His stats are very good, but probably not overwhelming.
Odds of being named an All-Star: 10 percent

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This year's Nationals roster is stacked with glorious facial hair

This year's Nationals roster is stacked with glorious facial hair

The following is a list of things the 2017 Washington Nationals appear to have: A talented outfield led by Bryce Harper and Adam Eaton. A rising superstar at shortstop in Trea Turner. A possibly major hole at closer.

The following is a list of things the 2017 Washington Nationals appear to not have: Razors. Shaving cream. A desire to groom their faces.

A fun tradition at each team's spring training is the annual photo day, because photo day forces professional athletes to pose in front of cameras like they're being featured in the poster of an upcoming blockbuster movie. And after poring through the snapshots from the Nationals' photo day, a single trend emerged.

This year's team is a hairy bunch.

Among that bunch are the usual suspects, such as Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth:

But there are some surprises, most notably of which is Stephen Strasburg. The right-hander tends to keep his mug 100-percent clean-shaven, but for now, at least, he's allowed his face to become quite fertile:

Then there's newcomer Adam Lind, who has a goatee that Duke's Blue Devil logo would be forced to respect:

Shawn Kelley, meanwhile, who's pictured below, has a beard that looks like...

...Derek Norris' beard, before Derek Norris' beard hit puberty and grew up to be the strong, mature beard it is today:

There are scraggly ones, such as Daniel Murphy's:

And fuller, more complete ones, like Eaton's (full marks, by the way, for the trade acquisition's ability to seamlessly connect 'stache to beard):

The most wild photo of all, however, was this one of Turner. Is this the Nats stud, or a picture of Leonard DiCaprio from a scene in The Revenant? Hard to tell with all that stubble the infielder's cultivating:

One potential positive of this team-wide movement: If Turner and his teammates keep what they're growing down in Florida going throughout the season, their faces will be plenty warm by the time playoff baseball comes around. 

RELATED: HARPER GOES YARD IN FIRST AT-BAT OF THE SPRING

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Nationals' Bryce Harper mashes monster homer on second pitch of spring training

Nationals' Bryce Harper mashes monster homer on second pitch of spring training

The Nationals played their first game of spring training today against the Mets. They won, but that's not nearly the biggest story of the day. It was Bryce Harper's first at-bat that stole the show. 

On just the second pitch he saw of spring training, from lefty Sean Gilmartin, Harper mashed a ginormous home run to right center field. MLB.com shared video of the bomb. 

According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Harper smacked the ball at least 400 feet. In his second at-bat, he hit a line-drive single on the first pitch. 

Let's just say it was an exciting start to the year for Harper, who won the 2015 NL MVP only to endure a let-down last season. As Castillo points out, the slugger hit .226 against left-handed pitchers in 2016. 

Harper enters spring training at 230 pounds, up 15 pounds of muscle from last year. 

“I just felt going into the offseason you want to get as strong as you can, try to maintain your weight the best you can and just do everything the right way,” he told the Post. 

MORE NATIONALS: Baker thinks DC sports teams can win a championship this year