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Moore delivering in a pinch for Nationals

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Moore delivering in a pinch for Nationals

NEW YORK -- Tyler Moore was asked last night about his at-bat off the bench against R.A. Dickey.

"It was kind of quick," he said with a laugh.

That's exactly what the Nationals want from their rookie slugger when he comes off the bench to pinch-hit. Manager Davey Johnson encourages his bench players to be aggressive when summoned late in games, jumping on an opponent's first pitch instead of trying to work the count.

Moore did that to perfection last night, digging in against Dickey and then clubbing a first-pitch fastball into the left-field bleachers for the two-run homer that put the Nationals ahead for good.

The 25-year-old has had to learn how to alter his hitting approach in his first taste of life coming off the bench, but the Nationals have seen encouraging signs of progress along the way.

"He's much more aggressive when he goes up to pinch-hit," Johnson said. "An everyday ballplayer likes to go up and take a pitch and get comfortable with the timing and everything. But I talked to him about it and told him: You start swinging from the get-go, and you'll gauge your timing better. And he's handled it like a veteran. He's gotten some big hits for us."

Moore is now 6-for-24 with two doubles, two homers and six RBI as a pinch-hitter. He's hitting .303 when appearing in a game as reserve. And he's now hitting .283 overall, with nine homers in only 138 big-league at-bats.

"I think it's just like anything else: It comes with experience," he said. "I failed so many times. I succeed kind of through that, learning from myself and learning on situations from the game. By no means am I a very good pinch-hitter. I was able to come through tonight."

After clubbing 31 homers each of the last two seasons in the minors, Moore has given reason to believe he could carry his success into an everyday, big-league role. But with the Nationals already well-stocked at first base and in left field, opportunities could be few and far between.

"I think Tyler has a really good chance to be a really good everyday player, a dominant game-changer type player," right fielder Jayson Werth said. "A guy that can hit the middle of the order and do damage. And he's shown that all season, really. So much so that he's forced their hand in keeping him here. Which has been very impressive. He has a great temperament for the game. He knows his role and does it well. I think he's got a long career ahead of him."

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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.