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Giancarlo Stanton is on fire going into 3-game series against Nats

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USA Today Sports

Giancarlo Stanton is on fire going into 3-game series against Nats

MIAMI — During his home run binge, Giancarlo Stanton is also content to settle for singles.

Stanton went eight for 10 to lead the Miami Marlins to a three-game weekend sweep of San Diego, raising his average to a career high .296. He hit three homers, increasing his season total to 50, along with three singles and two doubles.

"A lot of people from the outside are probably thinking he's just going up there trying to hit a homer every at-bat, but that's not the case," teammate Christian Yelich said.

The series raised Stanton's average in 23 games since Aug. 4 to .402. That includes 13 singles, five doubles and 17 homers for an OPS of 1.531.

"It's unbelievable," Yelich said. "You feel everything he hits is an absolute rocket, and if it gets up in the air, it's a homer."

A recent tweak in Stanton's stance has helped him lay off outside breaking pitches, long his biggest weakness. Swinging mostly at strikes, he's willing to hit the ball the other way or on the ground or both, depending on the situation.

The goal, he said, is to make the most of every trip to the plate.

"That is the biggest key," Stanton said. "You never know which at-bat is going to give you a chance. If you don't give in, you're set up for something good."

The home runs make the headlines, but the surprising Marlins have surged into the NL wild-card race because Stanton seems to do damage almost every time he bats.

It's no fluke he's flirting with .300, manager Don Mattingly said.

"You're seeing a more disciplined hitter in the sense of covering zones and laying off bad stuff," Mattingly said. "He's taking what they give, and for him, taking what they give can go all over the ballpark."

Opponents continue to pitch to Stanton. He had 66 bases on balls through Sunday, which tied for ninth in the majors, and may fall short of his career high of 94. His walk rate hasn't risen lately even though he has hit 17 homers in August, one shy of the major league record for the month.

When Dee Gordon singled to start the eighth inning Sunday in a tie game, Padres manager Andy Green decided to pitch to Stanton. The result: his 50th homer and a Marlins win.

"Every time he comes to the plate, you contemplate walking him," Green said. He decided not to because of the hitters behind Stanton.

In May, Mattingly moved Stanton up to the No. 2 spot in the order, and he has hit .317 since. With Christian Yelich (15 homers, .283) and Marcell Ozuna (31 homers, .309) batting behind Stanton, he has been tough to pitch around, Green said.

"It's a byproduct of how Donnie has put that lineup together," Green said. "If he is deeper in the order, it's much easier to get around him."

Stanton began the week on pace to finish with 63 homers. By continuing his pace since Aug. 4, he would finish with 74, one more than Barry Bonds' 2001 record.

Meanwhile, he's leading a remarkable turnaround by the Marlins, who started 14-27 but have a shot at their first postseason berth since 2003. For Stanton, who is in his eighth season, that means playoff-race pressure for the first time.

"There's no pressure for me," he said. "I have to be prepared as anybody, but that's standard. That's not pressure."

He'll continue stepping to the plate prepared to hit homers -- or singles.

MORE NATIONALS: Mets and Nats split the series, ending with a double-header

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Max Scherzer Giving Away Memorabilia For Good Cause

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Max Scherzer Giving Away Memorabilia For Good Cause

By Ryan Wormeli

Max Scherzer is the ace of the Nationals staff, a fan favorite, and the 2017 National League Cy Young award winner. He's also a soon-to-be father whose wife, Erica May-Scherzer, once accidentally threw out the jersey he wore when throwing his 2nd career no-hitter. This time around, I'm guessing they talked it over first before deciding to sell some of his memorabilia garage-style for a new fundraiser.

We don't have any more information about the fundraiser yet, but May-Scherzer posted some photos on Twitter this afternoon. 

And in case you're wondering, no, the Scherzer family cat featured in one of the pictures isn't for sale (we assume). Plus, even if they were willing to part with their cat, considering Scherzer is on a contract worth over $200 Million, their price would probably be pretty steep. How much would you pay to adopt the cat of a 3-time Cy Young winner?

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Why Bryce Harper would be a bargain at $500 million

Why Bryce Harper would be a bargain at $500 million

$500 million.

That number is so hard to wrap your brain around, but it's a number a lot of professional baseball players may soon start seeing on their contracts.

One player who could be the first to see that amount within the next year is Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper.

Harper will become a free agent in 2018 and people are already projecting his market value at close to $500 million, if not more.

Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton signed a contract back in 2014 for 13 years, $325 million, holding the league record.

For Fancy Stats writer Neil Greenberg, $500 million is a bargain for someone of Harper's caliber.

"Harper is every bit as good [as Stanton] but he's also young," Greenberg told the Sports Junkies Friday.

"I mean, we don't see a player that's as good as Harper, that's as young a Harper, hit the market almost ever I want to say. You look at how many years of his prime he has left and then even if you start to give him just the typical aging curb off of that prime, he's probably worth close to 570 million dollars starting from 2019 and going forward ten years. And that includes also the price of free agency going up and other factors."

Harper, who is only 25 years-old, brings more to a team than just talent. He's one of the most recognizable figures in baseball, bringing tremendous marketing opportunities to an organization. Greenberg dove deeper into how that will increase his market value.

"And that's just for the on-the-field product. You talk about all the marketing that's done around Bryce Harper [and] what he does for the game. In my opinion, and based on the numbers that I saw, he's a bargain at $500 million."

Don't we all wish someone would say $500 million is a bargain for us?

After crunching the numbers, the biggest takeaway for Greenberg is the return on investment the Nationals have gotten out of Harper.

"Like if you look at his wins above replacement throughout his career, he's given you 200 million dollars in value for 21 million dollars in cash and he's due what another 26 or 27 million this year. I mean he's already given you an amazing return on investment."

"So, if you're the Nationals having - benefited from that - you know you have a little bit of, I guess, wiggle room in terms of maybe you're paying a little bit for past performance 'cause, you know, when a player is on arbitration in their early years they don't really get paid that much."

The Nationals still have Harper for one more season and many feel they need to make him an offer sooner than later. Whenever and whoever he gets an offer from, it's going to be a nice pay day for him.