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Harper thwarted by Yankees pitching

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Harper thwarted by Yankees pitching

Bryce Harper struggled mightily on Saturday against the Yankees, striking out in five of his seven at-bats. But the pitchers who had to face the 19-year-old with a penchant for quick in-game adjustments at the plate weren't about to ease up on the slugger.

"You know he's a real aggressive hitter," said Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte. "I felt like I had a pretty good cutter going and he was swinging and missing at them early. I tried to throw some balls into him at his first at-bat and after that just tried to expand the zone on him."

It worked.

Harper struck out in three at bats before practicing a little patience in the seventh: waiting through two cutters to connect with a fastball down the middle, which he sent straight to centerfielder Curtis Granderson. The contact, Pettitte later admitted, prompted the 40-year-old to let his relievers take care of the rest.

Harper would go on to strike out two more times before approaching the plate with two on, two out, and down by two in the 14th inning.

The sellout crowd of 41,287 had thinned out significantly as the game wore on through extras. They rose to their feet hoping to witness heroics like those displayed less than two weeks earlier in a 12th inning walk-off victory over New York's other team.

He'd already accounted for nearly half his team's strikeouts on Saturday, but that didn't calm any nerves in the Yankee duggout.

"You start thinking, 'OK this guy's had a really tough day,'" said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "People are cheering for him, it could change his whole day."

"It's like one of those kind of storybook endings --you're hoping it wasn't going to be," Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "That would've just been too good to be true, for Harper to hit a walk-off right there. The place might've fallen down."

Harper grounded out to second and the Yankees took their second in the series. Sometimes though, it's not all about hitting. Harper's repeat performance of Friday night's ESPN Top 10-worthy diving grab in the 13th inning caught plenty of applause.

"I tell you what," said Girardi, "The kid --even though he had his struggles at the plate-- played tremendous defense for them. He's fun to watch."

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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.

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Nats' Max Scherzer wins second straight NL Cy Young Award

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Nats' Max Scherzer wins second straight NL Cy Young Award

Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals has coasted to his third Cy Young Award and second straight in the National League.

Scherzer breezed past Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, drawing 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

The honor was announced Wednesday on MLB Network.

Scherzer earned the NL honor last year with Washington and the 2013 American League prize with Detroit. He became the 10th pitcher with at least three Cy Youngs.

RELATED: WIETERS WILL RETURN TO NATS IN 2018 

Scherzer was 16-6 with a 2.51 ERA and a league-leading 268 strikeouts for the NL East champion Nationals.

Kershaw has already won three NL Cy Youngs, and was the last pitcher to win back-to-back. He was 18-4 with a league-best 2.31 ERA and 202 strikeouts.

Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians easily won his second AL Cy Young Award earlier in the day. He got 28 of the 30 first-place votes, with Boston's Chris Sale second and Luis Severino of the New York Yankees third.

Kluber led the majors with a 2.25 ERA and his 18 wins tied for the most in baseball.