Bryce Harper and his “ferocious brand of baserunning”

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Last night’s benches-clearing scuffle between the Nationals and Cubs got all the headlines, but before things got ugly when Bryce Harper was nearly hit by a pitch in the sixth inning the 19-year-old rookie showed once again that he’s perhaps MLB’s most aggressive baserunner.

Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post did a great job describing Harper’s pre-scuffle work on the bases, which included stretching a double into a triple followed by this:

Ryan Zimmerman followed and tapped a dribbler to the left of the mound, which [Justin] Germano fielded. Just off third base, Harper froze as Germano looked him back. Germano, satisfied Harper would behave like the other 99 percent of major league baserunners, turned his back and threw to first.

Harper did not behave like other major league baserunners. He did not take two quiet steps back to third base. He ran like the fastest kid in Little League, the one who runs until he is tagged out and makes other parents want to look at his birth certificate. He ran like someone dared him to. Harper darted, hell-bent for home.

Harper was safe, tying the game at 1-1. And the Nationals spent the rest of the night making the Cubs look and act like they were the Little Leaguers.

Daniel Murphy had microfracture surgery on his right knee

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The Nationals announced today that second baseman Daniel Murphy had surgery on his right knee. The surgery: a debridement and microfracture procedure, which is pretty major.

The team’s comment about Murphy’s prognosis makes it sound major too: “rehab will begin immediately and will progress throughout the offseason.” No timetable. Just that it “will progress.” Well, I’d hope so. Let’s see if he’s ready for spring training.

Murphy hit .322/.384/.543, hit 23 homers and knocked in 93 RBI. Assuming he’s ready for the 2018 season, he’ll ply his trade for a new manager.