Bryce Harper's confidence and swagger have reached an all-time high, and with good reason. The Washington Nationals' slugger positioned himself as a Triple Crown contender with a massive offensive burst over the last three weeks of the season and even felt comfortable enough to take "selfies" with fans in the outfield during a loss against Toronto. Harper is leading the National League in home runs while being second in RBIs and fourth in batting average. Those huge numbers haven't necessarily translated into wins for the Nationals, who do lead the NL East but are doing so with the worst record of any division leader.
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Let's take a closer look at Washington, how they have performed during Harper's hitting streak and figure out the best spots for bettors to make a profit wagering on the team.
Washington Nationals' Last 10 Games
Harper produced a stellar month of May with 31 hits, 13 home runs and 28 RBIs while batting .360. Overall, Washington ended May with an 18-9 record but cooled off during the end of the month and managed to win only three of their last 10 games. Harper did get 10 hits, two home runs and five RBIs, but that production did little to help the team. Betting-wise Washington has essentially broken even for bettors during the first third of the season, and anyone wagering on the team's moneylines would be up just $10 at the moment, mostly thanks to that early-May surge.
Washington Runline Results as a Favorite
The most surprising thing about Washington's record as a runline favorite is that the team has been favored in 44 games this season, which amounts to 83 percent of the time and is a huge number. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers have been favored more often than the Nationals this season. Overall, the team is not producing a great mark against the run line, and bettors should probably stay away from those spreads. Washington seems to be overrated because of their market and star power. Harper is flashy and on pace to hit 60-something home runs (which he will probably not do), but those stats, coupled with media attention, are creating a situation where the squad seems more dominant than they really are.
Washington Runline Results as an Underdog
The Nationals are rarely a runline underdog, but when they are, bettors can expect the team to cover and stay within one run. The club has a 6-3 runline record as an underdog receiving +1.5 runs and continues to provide bettors with excellent value in those situations. The only trouble is actually finding a spot where Washington is an underdog. The club is set to begin a four-game homestand against the Chicago Cubs (where it will probably be favored) and then hit the road for eight straight games against the New York Yankees, Milwaukee Brewers and Tampa Bay Rays. Expect the Nationals to be an underdog in a couple of those spots.
Conclusion : Bryce Harper is a star, and his profile is only going to rise over the rest of the season. He might be in contention to win a Triple Crown, but don't let the media overhype the actual team. Washington is good, not great, and can struggle with their starting pitching at time-Stephen Strasburg is all over the map. The Nationals might get wins but not necessarily be a good wager for bettors.
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Read more articles by George Monroy
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