Two of baseball’s top young stars will face off this week when the Washington Nationals take on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Bryce Harper, the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year will take on the 2012 AL Rookie of the Year in Mike Trout. It is the first time the two all-stars will meet.
Harper was the heralded first overall pick in 2010. His contract however, is not as big as Trout’s is at this point, as Trout signed a six-year, $144.5 million extension earlier this season. It was earned from his outstanding play and twice finishing as a runner-up in the AL MVP voting. Trout lost both times to Miguel Cabrera who is in the prime of his Hall of Fame career.
The two stars are both the faces of their respective teams. While Trout has overshadowed Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, Harper’s teammates have a little less popularity. Ryan Zimmerman has been holding down third base for the Nationals for some time now, but he has not been the standout player receiving huge contracts like Trout’s teammates.
Trout is currently hitting .307 with five home runs and 13 RBI. He has 22 strikeouts to only seven walks, but his on-base percentage is at .373.
His counterpart has a batting average of only .292 with five RBI and a single home run. Harper has not been as productive as he or manager Matt Williams would like him to be, but Harper will come around. Despite only having a career average of .273, Harper has the tools and the potential to be much better. With all of the hype that has surrounded Harper since he was in high school and was called up to the big league squad in 2012, there are few negatives to label Harper with.
Harper was benched last week by his manager for not hustling out a ground ball, something that is very uncharacteristic for the Las Vegas native. He is typically the player who is hustling no matter what the score and inning of every game. Harper may need to tone down his effort at points to ensure he stays healthy over the course of his career.
The Nationals are in second place in the NL East and need to do well against the Angels to keep pace in the division. The Atlanta Braves, currently in first place, are playing the Miami Marlins at home. Miami has yet to win a road game this season with a 0-6 record.
The New York Mets will host the St. Louis Cardinals to open the week. They have struggled at home and are currently 9-9 in the middle of the division. After trading first baseman Ike Davis to the Pittsburgh Pirates last week, the Mets are looking for some help with their lineup. Juan Largares does not come off the DL for another week or so, and the team’s leading hitter will be a welcome addition.
Sitting in last place in the NL East, the Philadelphia Phillies travel to Los Angeles to take on the Dodgers in a four-game series before heading to Arizona to close out the week. Philadelphia is only two games under .500 and could make a statement by defeating the NL West leaders. After that matchup, the Phillies take on the team in last place in the 5-16 Diamondbacks.