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Instant analysis: Nats 5, Phillies 1


Instant analysis: Nats 5, Phillies 1

Game in a nutshell: Knowing they could clinch the No. 1 seed for the NL playoffs with a victory today -- regardless of the result of the Reds' game tonight in St. Louis -- the Nationals went out and took care of business. Edwin Jackson tossed 6 23 strong innings to rebound from his disastrous last start. Ryan Zimmerman, Tyler Moore and Michael Morse all blasted home runs to pace the offensive attack. Shoot, they even let Teddy win the Presidents Race for the first time, eliciting a huge roar from the announced crowd of 37,075. And by finishing off the Phillies, the Nationals finished with a 98-64 record, locking up the top seed for the postseason. Game 1 of the NLDS will be Sunday at the winner of Friday's Wild Card game between the Braves and Cardinals, with Game 2 on Monday. The series will come to Nationals Park for Games 3-5 Wednesday through Friday. The Reds and Giants will open their NLDS on Saturday in San Francisco.

Hitting highlight: Who knew all it would take to bring the Nationals' bats alive was a giant-headed Teddy winning the Presidents Race? Whether that had an actual impact or not, facts are facts: Moments after the fourth-inning race, Zimmerman crushed his 25th homer of the season, tying the game 1-1. Morse and Moore immediately followed with back-to-back doubles, giving the Nationals the lead. Two innings later, Moore belted his 10th homer of the season, providing a key insurance run. And then Morse added the final blow, a two-run shot in the eighth. Ah, the power of Teddy.

Pitching highlight: Coming off a disastrous start in St. Louis, Jackson was in serious need of a bounce-back performance. He delivered big-time. The right-hander allowed one run over 6 23 innings, walking only one batter while striking out six and keeping his pitch count at 97. And thanks to some run support, he was rewarded with his 10th win of the season, joining the other four members of the Nationals' Opening Day rotation in double digits. Would Jackson have been in danger of losing his rotation spot for the postseason based on his September struggles? Probably not. But this standout performance should ensure he starts either Game 3 or 4 of the NLDS next week.

Key stat: With an announced crowd today of 37,075, the Nationals ended the regular season with a total attendance of 2,370,794 over 79 home dates. That averages out to 30,010 per date, the franchise's highest total since the inaugural 2005 season at RFK Stadium.

Up next: The regular season is over, but now the real fun begins. The Nationals will get the next three days off, then they'll hit the road for Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Sunday, facing the winner of Friday's Wild Card game between the Braves and Cardinals.

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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.


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.