Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press
Especially on Wednesday, Washington’s last home game of the season.
Nationals on MASN @masnNationals
Bryce Harper: “I wanted to be here, put the uni on right away and just cherish that moment if it’s going to be the last time or not.” https://t.co/V2WSeBUeeq
“It’s definitely crazy walking in today and knowing this could be my last game at Nats Park in my white jersey,” Harper told reporters Wednesday. “It’s definitely something that you’re not sure how you’re going to react, and not sure what it’s going to be like, if that’s after the game, or even before. I knew I wanted to get here and put the uni on right away and just cherish that moment, if it’s going to be the last time or not.”
In the event it winds up being his final home game at Nationals Park, he made sure to salute the fans, via Jake Russell of the Washington Post:
Jake Russell @_JakeRussell
Bryce Harper takes the field in what may be his last home game as a Washington National. Harper takes a bow for the home crowd in the process. https://t.co/z6RBY9KqoH
And when it came time for his first at-bat, the fans returned the love, via the Team 980’s Aaron Oster:
Aaron Oster @TheAOster
Bryce Harper was given a long ovation from the crowd before stepping in the batter’s box for his first at-bat. #Nats https://t.co/0IVR8L0PKP
If this is Harper’s last season in a Nationals uniform, it will end on a disappointing note.
Harper has had a solid year, hitting .246/.393/.498 with 34 home runs, 32 doubles and 100 RBI. Although his overall average doesn’t stand out, he is hitting .298 since the All-Star break, which is when he defended his home turf at the 2018 Home Run Derby:
That would be the highlight of the Nationals’ season, one that started out with World Series aspirations.
Washington spent most of the summer trying to hang in the playoff race, but it was ultimately eliminated from contention as the Atlanta Braves ran off with the National League East. This is only the third time in Harper’s seven seasons that the team has failed to qualify for the playoffs.
Harper’s Nationals career has been nothing short of spectacular. Not only does he have a Derby title on his resume, but he has six All-Star nods, the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year award, the 2015 NL MVP award and a Silver Slugger. Unfortunately, his time in the nation’s capital could also be remembered by a lack of postseason success, as his team never made it past the division series in any of its four playoff appearances.
The 25-year-old Harper and Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Manny Machado will be among the most coveted players this winter in what could be an all-time free-agent class.
Harper recently told the Washington Post‘s Barry Svrluga, “I think about other cities, but I love it here.” However, he isn’t sure if or how he fits into the organization’s long-term plans.
For now, Harper will have to relish the last few days of the season in case it’s the last time he ever puts on a Nationals uniform.