MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Harper confident in Nats' World Series chances

Outfielder reports to camp gushing over Washington's starting rotation

Harper confident in Nats' World Series chances

VIERA, Fla. -- Outfielder Bryce Harper badly wants to help the Nationals win a World Series title. In fact, Harper sounded pretty confident Wednesday afternoon that the Nationals could go all the way this year. It helps that the team signed right-hander Max Scherzer to a long-term deal.

Harper, 22, even joked that the Nationals have such a solid staff that he doesn't have to worry about playing defense.

"To be able to have a guy like Scherzer coming, I started laughing," Harper said. "I was like, 'Where's my ring?' It's absolutely stupid how good our staff is. To add a Cy Young, to add a guy that is unbelievable in the postseason. If you have to go to a five-game set, you have to face [Jordan] Zimmermann, [Doug] Fister, Scherzer and Stras [Stephen Strasburg]. Good luck. That's insane. ... It's hilarious having to go there and face them. It's absolutely stupid. We have the best staff in all of baseball. I don't care what anybody says."

Rizzo discusses the rotation

The Nationals need more than just the pitching staff to go deep into the playoffs. A healthy Harper would do wonders for Washington's offense. If last year's postseason against the Giants was any indication, Harper could be the guy who carries the team offensively.

Harper hasn't played a full season since 2012 because of injuries. However, manager Matt Williams believes Harper is on the path to a wonderful career.

"He had a fantastic postseason. That gets some confidence going in him," Williams said. "He looks great. He reported today. He looked in great shape. His swing is there. I threw him batting practice today, and we almost had to get a bucket of balls."

Harper came into camp leaner than last year. He had problems with his left knee and it wouldn't allow him to work on the lower half of his body.

With Harper healthy, he will find himself at a new position -- right field -- while Jayson Werth switches over to left field. Harper believes he has a better chance throwing runners out than he did while he was in left field.

"I'm just excited I can show off my arm a little more," Harper said. "I love to throw guys out. It's hard to do that on the left side of the field. You don't get that first to third or second to home a lot, depending on where you play unless it's in a corner. To play right field, pitchers better watch out on a ground ball to right field. They better be hustling because I'm coming with it."

But the biggest goal for Harper is to win a World Series title in D.C.

"Five years ago, when I first signed here, I [wanted] to bring back a title to D.C. no matter what. I'm getting chills thinking about it," Harper said. "I absolutely want to do that for this city. I don't care how long it takes, I'm going to do what I need to do to help this organization. ... I'm excited to get going this year and do the things I need to do to bring a title back to D.C. and place that trophy over monuments."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.