Sportress of Blogitude

Bryce Harper on Nationals: ‘We’re the team to beat. Everybody knows that’

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Bryce Harper had a breakout game during the Washington Nationals’ 7-5 victory over the Miami Marlins on Wednesday, homering in each of his first three at-bats and finishing the game 3-for-4 with five RBI.

After starting May on a 1-for-17 slump, the young superstar might be starting to surge, as have the Nationals. After starting the season with a troubling 7-11 record and a six-game losing streak, the Nationals have rebounded, winning seven of 10 games. While Washington remains one game under .500 at 14-15, the team seems well on its way to righting the ship.

Harper after the game essentially echoed thoughts he previously expressed about Washington’s role as the top team in the league.

“We’re such a great team,” Harper said about the Nationals, via D.C. Sports Bog. “We’re the team to beat. Everybody knows that. We’re going to get hot. Everybody knows that too.”

It’s arguably way too early for anyone to make grandiose claims about how the season will ultimately play out for the Nationals, but that clearly didn’t prevent Harper from echoing previous boasts he has made about the team’s potential.

When discussing in February the team’s offseason acquisition of Max Scherzer, Harper bluntly asked, “Where’s my ring?” He then refused to back down when his comments generated some criticism while suggesting that “people want to see us fail.”

Harper obviously is a brash personality, some may even say cocky, so his comments shouldn’t be all that surprising. What’s more, the confidence in the team displayed by the outfielder seems to be running through the entire clubhouse, as Jayson Werth expressed almost the exact same thing before Wednesday’s game.

“We know who we are,” he said. “We know our identity. We are the team to beat in the National League. Everybody knows it. We know it. It’s just how it is. It doesn’t change anything.”

Harper clearly doesn’t mind being a lightning rod for criticism as a result of expressing his unfiltered and candid opinions. It’s perhaps why he was voted the most overrated player in baseball by his colleagues. But continuing to put up performances like the one on Wednesday certainly will help change perceptions and silence the critics.