Nationals OF Bryce Harper named NL Player of the Month

Beginning the encore to his MVP season with a superb opening month of 2016, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was named the National League Player of the Month for April on Monday. Major League Baseball made the announcement on MLB Network.

Harper, 23, hit .286 with a .406 on-base percentage and a .714 slugging percentage (best in MLB) in 23 April games. In that period, he drove in an MLB-best 24 runs, clubbed nine home runs (3rd in MLB), stole five bases, clobbered 15 extra-base hits and struck out just 13 times in 96 plate appearances. Six of those 24 RBI gave the Nationals a lead, and three of the 24 won the game for Washington, which posted a 16-7 record in the season's opening month.

The month featured milestones and personal feats for Harper, who clubbed the 100th home run of his career with a grand slam swing vs. Atlanta on April 14 at Nationals Park, and posted a career-best eight-game RBI streak that ran from that game through April 21 at Miami and accounted for 17 Nationals runs. In that stretch, Harper tied a Nationals record (2005-present) by hitting home runs in a career-best four consecutive games, and hit .379 (11-for-29). Eight of his 11 hits went for extra bases (six home runs, two doubles).

At 23 years, 181 days old, Harper became the eighth-youngest player in MLB history to reach the 100-home run mark, joining Mel Ott (22 years, 132 days), Tony Conigliaro (22 years, 197 days), Eddie Mathews (22 years, 292 days), Alex Rodriguez (23 years, 16 days), Andruw Jones (23 years, 62 days), Miguel Cabrera (23 years, 127 days), and Johnny Bench (22 years, 161 days). Harper was younger than Albert Pujols (23 years, 185 days), Hank Aaron (23 years, 191 days) and Ken Griffey Jr. (23 years, 206 days) when he hit the 100-homer mark.

Harper then found himself right at home in Philadelphia, joining Ernie Banks (1955) as the only visiting player in modern MLB history to hit a home run in six straight games in Philly. Harper's home run streak dates back to 2015, and in 31 career games at Citizens Bank Park Harper is now hitting .325 with four doubles, three triples, 11 home runs, 23 RBI and 12 walks. Homering in all three games the Nationals played in Philadelphia April 15-17, and including his home runs in three straight at CBP to close 2015, Harper tied a modern MLB record for any visiting player at any stadium, matching most recently Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, who clubbed home runs in six straight at Coors Field from 2011-2012.

April also featured the first pinch-hit home run of Harper's career, a ninth-inning, game-tying swing that propelled the Nationals into extra innings in their 16-inning affair vs. Minnesota on April 24.

This is the second Player of the Month award of Harper's career (also May, 2015), and the 10th Pitcher/Player monthly honor for the Nationals organization. He is the third repeat monthly winner, joining Jayson Werth, who took home the July Player of the Month honors in 2013 and 2014, and Max Scherzer, who earned back-to-back Pitcher of the Month nods in May and June, 2015. Other Nationals who've earned a monthly award are: Chad Cordero (June, 2005), Stephen Strasburg (April, 2012), Gio Gonzalez (May, 2012), and Jordan Zimmermann (July, 2012).