On Opening Day in 2013 the future of the Washington Nationals was as bright as its ever been. While the prior season ended in a five game division series loss to the Cardinals (in which Stephen Strasburg did not pitch due to an innings limit) it marked the franchise's first ever postseason appearance. Additionally Bryce Harper won Rookie of the Year at just 19 years old and the team had him under club control for six more years. Fast forward to the video above where Bryce began his age 20 season with not one but two consecutive homers to open the season. That day Strasburg pitched seven shutout innings and the question around baseball became not if the Nationals would win a World Series, but rather how soon it would be until they did
It has now been four years since that Opening Day and the Nationals have zero playoff series wins. As for Harper, well, he's had an interesting ride. He got hurt in 2013, underperformed (and got hurt again) in 2014, and then had the best offensive season since Barry Bonds in 2015. In between he did his part for the Nats in the 2014 playoffs when he hit three home runs in four games before the team fell to the "even year" Giants. The key to his 2015 Bonds impersonation was an increased walk rate thanks to a much better understanding of the strike zone.
He got off to a similar start in 2016 and was so good that the Cubs wanted nothing to do with him in a weekend series in early May. Then it just...stopped. Harper was terrible and made nothing but weak contact from that point on. There are many theories as to what happened. Some say it's proof he's overrated but he most likely explanation is that he was hurt. Not hurt enough to require a disabled list stint, but hurt enough to affect his swing. Now with just two years left until free agency he has a major opportunity to quiet the critics starting Monday. In four career Opening Day games Bryce has four home runs.