Was I the only one less than wowed by last night's Home Run Derby?
Sure, Prince Fielder put on a show, and it was fun watching Mark Trumbo demolish a few baseballs, especially since I hadn't gotten much of a chance to catch the Angels outfielder doing his thing out west in the first half of the season.
But Robinson Cano and Matt Kemp - the two derby team captains - combined to hit just one home run, and my sleeper pick to win the competition, Andrew McCutchen, was eliminated in the first round. To me, at least, the whole event just seemed to lack a little sizzle.
Drew Storen had plenty of sizzle last night during a rehab appearance at Single-A Potomac. Only problem was, for the second time in three rehab outings, he didn't exactly give himself much of a chance to test his arm out in game conditions.
Storen needed just six pitches to get through a scoreless inning of work, striking out a batter and getting a double play ball. He tossed just eight pitches in his first rehab game with the P-Nats, and the Nationals hoped to see Storen get tested a bit more in his subsequent outings.
The reliever is scheduled to get one more appearance with Potomac and then could possibly rejoin the Nats when they kick off the second half Friday.
Xavier Nady, rehabbing from wrist tendinitis, went 0-for-3 for Potomac last night and played seven innings in right field.
During a radio interview yesterday afternoon, I was asked who I would pick for the Nationals' first-half Most Valuable Player. I stammered my way through an answer for about a minute before realizing that I didn't really have a clear-cut pick in my mind.
There are more than a few guys who would certainly be worthy of the honor.
Ian Desmond put up a ridiculous first half, hitting .285 with a team-high 17 homers and 51 RBIs. He leads all major league shortstops home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage and is tied for the sixth-most homers in the National League, all while compiling a personal highlight reel defensively.
Adam LaRoche carried the offense for much of the first half of the season, providing big knock after big knock when seemingly no one else around him was able to deliver. LaRoche goes into the break with 15 home runs and 53 RBIs and he, too, has been a major factor defensively.
Both Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg have been stellar, posting 12 and nine wins, respectively, with each putting up a sub-3.00 ERA.
Fourth-string closer Tyler Clippard has provided incredible stability at the back-end of the bullpen, recording 14 saves and failing to blow a save since taking over the closer's role.
Then there's Craig Stammen, who's a little more under the radar but leads Nationals relievers in innings and wins and put up a 1.74 ERA.
If I was forced to pick one guy to take home first-half MVP honors, I would probably go with Desmond, just because he's been so effective and reliable after a couple seasons in which he was anything but. His defense has improved by leaps and bounds and he's finding a power stroke which Davey Johnson knew he had all along.
Now that I forced myself to make a pick for first-half team MVP, I'm going to force you.
Who's your selection and why?