Nationals

Phillies sweep Nationals as Harper leaps into MVP conversation

Nationals

Washington fans' worst nightmares continued on Thursday when their former star Bryce Harper took another stride to propel his ball club to a four-game sweep of the Nationals and toward the top of the divisional standings, now just half a game out of first place in the NL East.

It hasn't been pretty for Washington fans almost a full week removed from when the 49-60 Nationals tore it down at the MLB Trade Deadline, and now Harper is kicking them while they're down. In total, Harper hit two home runs, four RBIs, six hits on 15 at-bats and scored six runs in their four-game series. 

In the second inning in the fourth Nats loss to Philadelphia, Harper's 250th career home run made it 2-0 for the Phillies.

After the Nats split their series with the Cubs, who similarly found themselves as sellers at the deadline, Philadelphia brought their brooms to the nation's capital to complete the four-game sweep. In doing so, the Phillies leapfrogged Washington to first place in the NL East and now a new NL MVP candidate has emerged seemingly out of nowhere. 

Fans inside Nationals Park still fill the stadium with boos three years after Harper left D.C. for a 13-year deal with Philadelphia. He's tormented them home and away with his powerful left bat, hitting a home run before blowing a kiss to his former fans on Tuesday night as well. 

RELATED: Harper blows kiss to Nationals fans after hitting home run

With the Nats trending fast the other way, Juan Soto's remarkable run in the second half of the season is unlikely to reward him with individual accolades. Harper, on the other hand, has been a consistent figure for a Philadelphia squad that has surged up the standings despite a bevy of challenges. 

 

With a subpar defense and bullpen, nonexistent production from center field, shortstop and third base, not to mention the team's low vaccination rate leading to some COVID-19 issues, Harper's been vital to the Phillies' success. 

Harper's MVP candidacy also hinges on the fact a lot of his main competitors from the NL, from Fernando Tatis Jr.'s shoulder to Jacob deGrom's elbow, are or have been dealt award-ruining injuries. 

Though Harper missed two weeks himself after getting hit with a pitch, he's one of just three players sporting a .400 OBP and .500 slugging for the second straight season. With 17 homers, 41 RBIs and 94 hits to his name this campaign, it's officially time to look away Nats fans.