As the Dodgers start a three game series against the Washington Nationals Monday night in Los Angeles, let’s take a look at one of the opposition’s star players: Bryce Harper.
Some call him a baseball prodigy. Others, a whiny, over-privileged brat of a ballplayer.
He is 20 years old, making headlines constantly, and at the young age of 16 he made the cover of Sports Illustrated alongside the heading, “Baseball’s Chosen One.” He is Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals, and he will not be going anywhere for a long time.
Harper is an explosive ballplayer with a swing that is routinely compared to baseball legends and an attitude that rubs many opposing fans, players and even umpires the wrong way. In fact, his recent ejection from a game for a temper tantrum toward an umpire gained more headlines and media attention than his stellar play on the season.
Last year, in his rookie year, Harper put up great numbers that many rookies can only dream of. With 22 home runs, 59 RBI and a .270/.340/.477 slash line, he was a no-doubt Rookie of the Year award winner.
In 2013, he has shown signs of increased patience at the plate, which will make him an even greater threat. He is seeing more pitches per at bat, looking at 10 percent less strikes, fouling off 11 percent more pitches, and allowing 33 percent more at-bats to reach a 3-0 count.
In general, he is walking more and striking out less which is an ability that can be difficult for a young batter to develop, especially one of Harper’s caliber who may want to display his power with each at bat.
Critics say that Harper’s attitude will make him un-coachable, but his increased plate discipline argues otherwise and may help him avoid the dreaded “Sophomore Slump.”
In just 33 games, Harper is well on his way to beat his 2012 numbers, with 10 home runs and 73 total bases. His .619 slugging percentage ranks him sixth in the MLB.
If you’ll be watching this week’s Dodger games against the Nationals, Harper will be impossible to miss.
He is an incredible talent that will make his presence known whether it is with a monstrous home run or his monstrosity of a haircut.
Has any other ballplayer gotten more attention over a mohawk before? No they haven’t, and that is just part of what makes Bryce Harper, Bryce Harper.