Harper looks to join trio of Nats in Kansas City for Midsummer Classic

It was a continuous debate, at least for the past month or so, whether Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper should/would make the All-Star team.

So with the announcement of the rosters for the 83rd annual Midsummer Classic, I'm happy to report the debate has been settled - kind of.

Harper wasn't selected by the fans or National League manager Tony LaRussa - that honor was reserved for Nationals pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, along with infielder Ian Desmond.

But Harper is among the five contenders vying for the senior circuit's final spot. Fans will have until Thursday, July 5 at 4 p.m. to vote one of the five Final Vote candidates. Joining Harper on the list are Braves teammates Michael Bourn and Chipper Jones, St. Louis' David Freese and Arizona's Aaron Hill.

For Harper, his .274 average, eight home runs and a team-leading four triples are impressive marks, and the fact that the Nationals are atop the NL East certainly helps the 19-year-old's case.

Fortunately for Harper's trio of teammates - Strasburg, Gonzalez and Desmond - there's no need to campaign for a spot on the roster.

Strasburg and Gonzalez are the anchors of the NL's top rotation. Strasburg is tops in the big leagues with 122 strikeouts and a strikeout ratio of 11.807 Ks per nine innings. Gonzalez isn't far behind, though. His ratio of 10.721 strikeouts per nine innings is third, while his 10 wins lead the Nationals.

Desmond, meanwhile, has risen from the pitfalls of inconsistency to be named to his first All-Star Game. After eight home runs and 49 RBIs in all of 2011, Desmond has 43 RBIs and 13 home runs before the All-Star break.

It's been a historic season for the Nationals to this point. With each passing week, the franchise's inaugural postseason appearance since moving to Washington becomes a realistic possibility. So help Harper join his teammates in Kansas City for this year's All-Star Game on July 10.

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