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Werth happy to back with winning Nats

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Werth happy to back with winning Nats

Jayson Werth returned to the Nationals lineup on Thursday night 88 days after he broke his left wrist sliding to catch a line drive in right field at Nationals Park. The day was May 6th and the Nats were playing the Phillies and pitcher Cole Hamels. On the day of his return, Aug. 2, the Phillies were the opponent once again and Hamels was on the mound.

Asked whether the significance of the game had anything to do with the timing of his return, Werth instead spoke of an almost impatience to get back in the lineup of a team that has maintained first place ever since he went out.

It was just a coincidence. I felt like I was ready, I didnt really see what the point was to continue to play games in the minor leagues. I wasnt getting a whole lot out of it, he said.

Like I never missed a step, it was good.

Werth said he felt nothing special in his major league return, but did acknowledge the road back got interesting at times.

The first game I played in Potomac, the first game in rehab, that was kind of surreal because I was back in the minors. I played in that field in like 99 or whatever so that was a little strange, he said.

As far as tonight goes, I felt better and Im just glad to be back with my guys.

Werth reached base twice in the Nationals 3-0 win over the Phillies, he singled to left field off of former teammate Cole Hamels in the second inning. He also earned a walk off Michael Schwimer in the eighth.

The highlight of Werths night was an RBI in the third inning to give the Nats their third run. With Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche in scoring position, Werth poked a sleepy grounder to Chase Utley whose only play was to first as Morse was already steps away from home. He also made a rangy catch in center field to cap an all-around productive night.

Werth was able to contribute right away and help the Nats avoid a series sweep by Philadelphia, but players afterwards said just his presence makes a difference.

Hes huge in the clubhouse, in the dugout, out on the field. He is just a leader, hes a gamer. Regardless of what we saw last year, regardless of what is going on statistically, LaRoche said. Weve been waiting a couple of months for this. It has been great.

Its great, he is a leader for us. Especially against his old team, he always seems to do a little more against them for whatever reason, Ross Detwiler said. You have a leader out there and a great outfielder, and you know what he does with the bat thats why he gets paid.

The Nationals moved to 62-42 on the year with the win, once again an even 20 games above the .500 mark. When Werth suffered the wrist injury they were 18-10 and had played just 28 total games. 58 games and two months await the first place Nationals, but at this point Werth is just happy to be back in the mix and a part of the team.

Weve won a lot of games with that talent and going forward, we have two months to go, he said. When we get healthy and when Desmond gets back we are going to be tough.

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Bryce Harper will compete in Home Run Derby, but only on one condition

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USA Today Sports

Bryce Harper will compete in Home Run Derby, but only on one condition

It’s happening.

When the 2018 All-Star Weekend comes to Washington, D.C. in the middle of July, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper will compete in the 2018 Home Run Derby, but only on one condition: He has to be a member of the 2018 National League All-Star Team.

Though Harper is having a down year, only hitting .213 thus far, he leads the NL in home runs with 19.

In the June 18 update of All-Star game voting, Harper sat second among all outfielders with just north of 1,000,000 votes.

That means he’s not only going to make the All-Star team, but he’ll likely start in the outfield.

Harper, a five-time All-Star, competed in the Home Run Derby once before. He was the runner-up to Yoenis Cespedes in 2013, losing by just one long ball, 9-8.

The 2018 Home Run Derby will take place on July 16 at Nationals Park.

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It's time to start paying attention to Trea Turner's sneaky-great season

It's time to start paying attention to Trea Turner's sneaky-great season

Remember when the Nationals put Trea Turner in centerfield so they could keep Danny Espinosa at shortstop?

Two years later it's Turner who leads all N.L. shortstops in fWAR, as you surely know if you follow the Nationals on literally any social media platform. 

So while Juan Soto and Bryce Harper continue to dominate all of The Takes, it's Turner who's been the Nats' best position player this season. 

We'll start with some basics: 

Did you know that Trea Turner leads all N.L. shortstops in fWAR? He's currently sitting at 2.4 WAR, above the likes of Brandon Crawford, Addison Russell, and Trevor Story, to name a few. (We'll ignore the fact that the top six shortstops in the A.L. all have a better fWAR.) He's a top-10 shortstop in baseball during one of the strongest eras in the position's history.

Even after a dreadfully slow start, Turner's still on pace to have the best season of his career. He posted a WAR of 2.9 last year and -- barring injury -- will realistically eclipse that by the All-Star game. 

At the plate, two stats jump off the page in regards to explaining Turner's stellar season. 

First, Turner is drawing a *bunch* of walks. His current BB% clip (10.6 percent) would be far and away the best of his career and up four percentage points from last year. It's a factor that helps explain - partially, at least - why his on-base percentage has risen and his BABIP has dropped. More walks mean fewer swings, fewer swings mean less contact, less contact means lower BABIP, etc. It's not the whole picture, but it's a big part of it. 

Secondly, Turner is making impressive contact on pitches out of the strike zone. FanGraphs calculates out-of-zone contact using a statistic titled O-Contact, which is a blessing considering some of the titles they choose to give their other stats. 

The average O-Contact across MLB in 2018 is 64.7 percent. Trea Turner's career O-Contact is 62.4 percent (although realistically it's closer to the high-50's - a small-sample-size from his abbreviated first season mucks up the number a bit). 

This season, Turner's posted an O-Contact of 69.3 percent. Not only is that 10 percentage points higher than his O-Contact from last season, but a top-50 clip in all of baseball. He's one spot ahead of Mike Trout!  Put both of these together with some encouraging Statcast numbers (rise in HardHit%, already matched his total 'barrels' from last season) and you can see why Turner's been thriving at the plate. 

Defensively, he's improved across the board as well. His UZR and DRS - considered the two most reliable fielding statistics, if such a thing exists - are both up from last year. He has the 10th-best UZR of all major league shortstops and ranks 1st in DRS. 

Last season, he finished 17th in both UZR and DRS (of all shortstops with at least 800 innings; Turner didn't log enough innings to be considered a qualified fielder). He ended the season with both numbers in the negative. 

You may be skeptical of defensive stats, which is fine. But if nothing else, the fact that Turner is turning literal negative stats into positive ones is encouraging. 

Lastly, Turner continues to be an elite baserunner. At this point in his career, his speed is arguably his best tool:

You'll note that purple dot allllllllllll the way on the right. That's Turner! Now, let's take a look at how his speed compares across all positions:

Essentially, Turner is faster than like, 98 percent of baseball. In fact, by Sprint Speed, he's the 6th-fastest player in the game. He also ranks 2nd across all of baseball in FanGraphs "Baserunning" measurements, only behind fellow teammate and mindbogglingly good baserunner Michael A. Taylor. 

So, Trea Turner an elite baserunner (maybe the best if you combine his raw speed with his baserunning stats), a top-5 shortstop in the field, and an All-Star at the plate. 

Juan Soto's been great and Bryce Harper is still extremely talented, but this year, Trea Turner has been the Nationals' best player. 

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