Talented rookies, breakout seasons, injuries, oh my!

This year’s MLB season is off to an eventful start, marked by young stars, phenomenal performances and unfortunate injuries.

One player who has risen to new heights this season is Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper. Almost seven years ago, at the age of 17, Harper was selected as the first overall pick in the MLB draft. He was regarded as the best prospect the game had ever seen and reached the Majors by the time he was 19 years old. Harper has been a good Major League player but had not quite lived up to the hype until 2015. He had a great season but then regressed in 2016. However, Harper turned things around this year, coming out of the gate hotter than ever. As of Tuesday, May 2, his batting average was .391, and he rests just two home runs behind the League home run leader. This has been a phenomenal start to the 2017 season for the young star, and it will be exciting to watch him continue to develop as a player.

Young players like Harper get a lot of attention for their performances, but it is not only the young players in the game that are making waves. 32-year-old Ryan Zimmerman and 30-year-old Eric Thames are also having breakout seasons. Zimmerman has been far and away the best hitter in Major League Baseball, despite having a previously mundane career. This year he is leading the League in nearly every offensive statistic, most notably holding a league-best .420 batting average, and is tied with Eric Thames for the home run lead with 11. Thames, who was a career Major Leaguer, has had a very different path to stardom than Zimmerman. He played in the Majors in 2011-12 before travelling to South Korea to play professional baseball there. After the 2016 season, he signed a contract with the Brewers and later earned the role of starting first baseman, excelling in his role.

Washington Nationals corner infielder Anthony Rendon has also been a subject of much attention lately. A career .274 hitter, Rendon could be considered an average Major League player. He had a strong 2014 campaign, finishing fifth in the National League MVP voting, but has otherwise not been all that impressive. This season was no different until he posted one of the most impressive stat lines in MLB history: On April 30, Rendon became the first player to go six for six, with three home runs and 10 RBIs in a major league baseball game. He also scored five times and hit a double, making his performance that much more impressive. It was an incredible showing, and certainly an unexpected one. To put it in perspective, Rendon had zero home runs, two extra base hits, five RBIs and five runs scored through the first 22 games of the season. This is certainly one of the most exceptional performances the game has ever seen.

As seems to be the case every year, injuries plague some of the most talented individuals in the game. This year, New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard has become the latest pitcher to go on the disabled list due to a throwing injury. After posting one of the highest average fastball velocities in 2016 (98.3 mph), Syndergaard came to spring training bigger and stronger, claiming he wanted to throw harder. This proved to be detrimental, as Syndergaard had to cancel one of his starts due to bicep tendinitis. He returned to face the Washington Nationals, the game where Rendon would have his historic day. The game got off to a rough start for Syndergaard, and in the second inning he had to be pulled out of the game due to pain in his lateral. It has since come out that he tore the latissimus dorsi muscle and will likely take several months to fully recover.

Despite unfortunate injuries, this season has been an exciting one so far. The game is being played better than ever before, and there have been some incredible performances by the athletes. With this kind of start, 2017 is shaping up to be an outstanding season of Major League Baseball.

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