Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg named co-NL Players of the Week

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by Amanda Comak

Following a week filled with dominance by both players, Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper and right-handed pitcher Stephen Strasburg were named co-National League Players of the Week on Monday.

Harper – who currently leads the National League in several categories, including: batting average (.343), on-base percentage (.470), slugging percentage (.674), home runs (41), OPS (1.143), OPS+ (206), runs scored (116), and WAR (9.6) – had quite a week at the plate. In seven games, Harper hit .519 (14-for-27) with a .576 on-base percentage and a 1.111 slugging percentage. He clubbed five home runs and one double, walked five times, drove in 10 runs and scored 12 times as the Nationals went 6-1. Harper struck out just three times in his 33 plate appearances from Sept. 14-20.

During this stretch, Harper became just the second player in Nationals history to tally 40 or more home runs in a season, joining only Alfonso Soriano (46, 2006).

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Harper’s 96 career home runs are the fourth-most for any player in Major League history before his 23rd birthday, joining only Mel Ott (115), Eddie Mathews (112), and Tony Conigliaro (104). At 22 years, 335 days old, Harper also became the sixth-youngest player in MLB history to hit 40 home runs in a season, again joining Ott (1929: 20 years, 203 days) and Mathews, (1953: 21 years, 316 days), as well as Johnny Bench (1970: 22 years, 249 days), Joe DiMaggio (1937: 22 years, 285 days), and Juan Gonzalez (1992: 22 years, 331 days).

Strasburg, who joined right-hander Pedro Martinez as the only pitchers in franchise history to post back-to-back 13-plus strikeout games with his performances on Sept. 9 and Sept. 15, set a Nationals record (2005-present) by tallying 37 strikeouts in his past three starts – the most for any Nationals pitcher in a three-start stretch.

The right-hander went 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA, allowing just one earned run over 15 innings in two outstanding performances at Philadelphia (9/15) and vs. Miami (9/20). Strasburg struck out 24 batters last week and walked just two, holding opponents to a .135 average, .167 on-base percentage and .192 slugging percentage.

During his season-best eight-inning performance at Philadelphia, Strasburg tied his career high with 14 strikeouts and limited the Phillies to one hit. He generated swings-and-misses on 30 of 55 swings, a 55 percent swing-and-miss rate – the highest by a pitcher in any start of at least 100 pitches in the past 10 seasons.

This is the third Player of the Week award of Harper’s career, following back-to-back honors in May (May 4-10, 11-17), the second of Strasburg’s career (also June 7-13, 2010), and the 16th and 17th such honors for the Nationals organization.

They join Max Scherzer (June 15-21, 2015), Jordan Zimmermann (Sept. 22-28, 2014; June 2-8, 2014), Adam LaRoche (Sept. 1-7, 2014), Jayson Werth (June 30-July 6, 2014), Ryan Zimmerman (July 16-22, 2012; Aug. 15-21, 2011; July 30-Aug. 5, 2007), Josh Willingham (July 27-Aug. 2, 2009), Cristian Guzman (Aug. 25-31, 2008), and Nick Johnson (May 31-June 6, 2005) as honorees.

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