You wanted it. You begged for it. You demanded it. Some of you got personal and sent threatening letters for it. Now, your fondest wish is granted. It's the return of the DC Pro Sports Stock Report. It's a weekly [I hope] rundown of what is hot and what is not in DC pro sports. If you've never read it before, first -- shame on you. Secondly, it's pretty easy to understand. Stock up means you're doing well. Stock down means you're not. A blue chip stock is the hottest one of all. Even those morons who ran Lehman Bros. can understand that. So let's begin.
Robert Griffin III is your blue chip stock of the week. Okay, I didn't shock you with that, did I? What did you expect? This 22-year-old kid is hotter than an iPhone 5 rumor right now. His record-breaking 19-26 for 320 yards and 2 TD performance in New Orleans against the Saints has the entire football world buzzing. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk calls it the best NFL debut by a rookie QB since Fran Tarkenton in 1961. RG3's teammates have been raving about him all summer. Since last Sunday, pros like Drew Brees and Tom Brady have been raving, too. Griffin was calm, cool and collected in the pocket, used his legs when necessary, but let his arm do most of the work and carefully avoided the sort of killing mistakes that plagued his fellow rookie passers Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden last week. Everyone who follows the NFL wants to know what RG3 will do for a follow-up. We'll find out this Sunday in St. Louis against the 0-1 Rams.
Alfred Morris - The rookie 6th round pick from little Florida Atlantic won the starting tailback job for the Redskins in training camp and then proved his mettle against a Saints defense expecting Washington to run the ball and stacked up to stop it. Morris wasn't great, but he was solid, rushing 28 times for 96 yards and two touchdowns. He also did a serviceable job pass-blocking for RG3 and gave Head Coach Mike Shanahan no reason to get an itchy trigger finger and go with a [slightly] more experienced option.
Adam LaRoche - Nationals manager Davey Johnson says of LaRoche: “He should be in the MVP conversation.” Adam isn't likely to win NL MVP, but a great case can be made for Nationals MVP. After all, LaRoche is 4th in the NL with 29 home runs, 6th in RBI with 92 and his .849 OPS is tops on the team. Unlike last year, the big-hitting first baseman has been healthy and able to show Nats fans what he's capable of doing. He's not slowing down either. In the last month LaRoche is batting .282, with 29 hits, 17 RBI, 15 runs scored, 6 homers and 5 doubles. His OPS in the last month is .853, even higher than his overall number for the season. Nats fans can only hope LaRoche keeps playing like this in October.
Gio Gonzalez - When the Nationals traded for Gonzalez many wondered if he was worth the high price in minor league prospects. Gio has gone a long way to dispelling those concerns with his performance this year. He earned his NL-leading 19th win earlier this week and combined with an ERA of 2.93 and a WHIP of 1.13, people are starting to talk about Gio winning the NL Cy Young award. With fellow ace Stephen Strasburg sitting for the rest of the season, the team is really counting on Gio to deliver quality starts almost every time out right now. Gio isn't disappointing either. In the last month he's compiled a 5-1 record with a 1.56 ERA, a 1.07 WHIP and a strikeouts to walks ratio of better than 2.5 to 1. Gio may not win the Cy Young award this year, but he's silenced anyone who doubted his worth coming into this season and proven there is a lot more to the Nats' pitching staff than just Stephen Strasburg.
Bryce Harper - The 19-year-old phenom is on fire. After smacking four base hits against R.A. Dickey and the NY Mets on Tuesday, Harper has raised his average to .265. However, in the last month Harper is hitting .317, with 33 hits, 23 runs, 17 RBI and five homers and double apiece. His OPS the last month is an eye-popping 1.006. When is this kid going to hit the rookie wall? Hopefully, no time soon.
Madieu Williams - The Redskins' new starting free safety got off to a rough start on Sunday, committing two pass interference penalties, a personal foul and got beat for a 4th quarter touchdown. With defensive backs dropping like flies to injury [Brandon Meriweather, Jordan Bernstine] or drugs [Tanard Jackson], the Redskins need a steadying veteran presence from Williams. It's only one bad game so he has plenty of time to recover. That should start this weekend against the Rams.
Leonard Hankerson - Coming into training camp and the preseason many thought Hankerson, a 3rd round wide receiver draft pick last year, would make a bid for a starting job. After all, he has the great height combined with decent speed the Redskins wanted in a wideout and he seemed to make progress last year before suffering a season-ending injury against the Dolphins in Miami. Unfortunately, Hankerson hasn't been able to get going this year. He didn't win a starting wideout job with the Skins and when starter Pierre Garcon left the game late in the first quarter last Sunday, his place on the field was taken by Aldrick Robinson, an unheralded 6th round pick in 2011 who spent almost all of last year on the practice squad. Hankerson appeared in only nine plays from scrimmage and didn't get a single pass thrown his way. The Redskins are deeper at wide receiver than they were last year and they don't need to play Hankerson if he can't earn his way on the field. The young man better step his game up or he's going to find himself a permanent fixture on the bench while guys like Robinson and Josh Morgan take passes from RG3.