While baseball is an arduous sport to excel in consistently, one immensely talented outfielder has made this endeavor a routine. The number one pick in the 2010 MLB draft, Harper has lived up to the lofty expectations that were bestowed upon him when he came out of junior college. Despite having a lackluster season last year (.243 BA, 24 HR, .814 OPS), Harper has put on one tremendous performance after another thus far in the young MLB season. Although Harper won the MVP award in 2015, he still has yet to achieve his ultimate goal: winning a World Series.
Bryce Harper Player Details
Born: Las Vegas, Nevada
Weight: 216 lbs
Position: Right Field
Team: Washington Nationals
Bryce Harper Stats
Known for his impressive production at the plate and awareness as a highly capable outfielder, Harper is a well rounded athlete that constantly contributes to his teams success on a regular basis. However, Harper’s rise to fame and recognition started when he was drafted by the Washington Nationals in 2010.
The second consecutive overall number one pick by the Nationals (pitcher Stephen Strasburg was taken first overall in 2009), Harper was an impressive athlete that had predominately been a catcher before being drafted. However, the Nationals decided to draft Harper as an outfielder so he could have an extended career while expediting his development so he could play in the majors earlier.
After excelling in the Nationals instructional league (.319 BA, .407 OBP, also led his team in hits, homers, RBI’s and walks), Harper was eventually selected to participate in the Arizona Fall League. Once again, Harper was a prolific contributor at the plate as he batted .343 and had a slugging percentage of .729. As a result, his fall league team, the Scottsdale Scorpions went on to win the 2010 Arizona Fall League championship. After a fantastic spring training debut, Harper was optioned to Class-A Hagerstown Suns where he got off to a somewhat disconcerting slow start. However, after visiting an optometrist, Harper was prescribed contact lenses due to poor vision. Harper batted .480 while collecting seven home runs, 10 doubles and 23 RBI’s in his next 20 games.
After participating in spring training in 2012, Harper was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse, where he played exclusively at the center field position. In late April, Harper was called up by the Nationals after Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the disabled list. A couple of week later, Harper became the first teenager since 1964 to steal home plate in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies. His impressive output during the first half of the regular season earned Harper candidacy in the All-Star Final Vote, the winner of which goes on to fill the final roster spot in the MLB All-Star game. While Harper finished third in the voting, he was able to make the roster when Giancarlo Stanton had to have knee surgery. This allowed Harper to obtain the accolade of being the youngest position player to make an All-Star roster.
Starting the second half of the season, Harper became over aggressive at the plate and hit just .176 with 23 strikeouts in 116 plate appearances. However, Harper’s performance improved in August and his final stat line of 22 home runs, 98 runs scored, .340 on base percentage and .477 slugging percentage were the best regular season totals for a teenager in 45 years. While the Nationals would go on to lose to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS, Harper was awarded for his individual accomplishments when he won the NL Rookie of The Year award.
Starting the 2013 season, Harper picked up right where he left off as he hit two runs against the Miami Marlins on Opening Day. Over the course of the regular season, Harper improved his OBP by 20 points while maintaining the hitting prowess he exhibited during his rookie season. He was once again selected to participate in the All-Star game, this time as a starter. His power numbers also earned him a place in the Home Run Derby where he eventually lost to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. Harper became the second youngest player to participate in the event and was the youngest player ever to reach the final round.
Although Harper missed most of the first half of the 2014 season due to a torn ligament in this thumb that needed surgery, he still was productive with a BA of .273 along with 13 home runs and 32 RBI’s.
Finally healthy, Harper came into the 2015 season with a bang as he hit a 461-foot home run (longest of his career) against the Phillies on April 18. That early season blast would epitomize the type of season Harper would have as he would go on to hit three home runs in one game against the Miami Marlins on May 6 (youngest player to accomplish feat since Joe Lahoud in 1969). Harper’s electrifying performances (both on paper and on the field) allowed him to lead the majors in WAR (wins above replacement) while tying for the NL home run title with 42. On November 19, Harper was selected by a unanimous decision as the 2015 NL Most Valuable Player (youngest player to unanimously win award at age 23).
Two weeks into the 2016 season, Harper hit his first career grand slam against the Atlanta Braves. However, after a red hot start in April, Harper was walked six straight times against the Chicago Cubs on May 8, tying an MLB record for most walks in a game. After being held in check by the Cubs, Bryce Harper struggled to be a prominent hitter in the Nationals line up as he finished the season with .243 BA, 24 home runs and 86 RBI’s. While these number are not terrible, by the standards of the tenacious Harper they were fairly lackluster. Despite winning the NL East, the Nationals would eventually lose to the Dodgers in the 2016 NLDS.
In 2017, Harper has been supremely locked in as he already has seven home runs along with 20 RBI’s on the season. Unlike last year, Harper has been significantly better at being strategically aggressive at the plate (.400 BA thus far). Ultimately, Harper has to prove that he can sustain this type of prolific success throughout the course of an entire season. If Harper can be patient at the plate, he could very well have a career year while contending for the NL MVP Award.