In This Corner: I Love Bryce Harper
No matter how many kisses he blows, helmets he flips off, or mohawks he shaves into his head, I will always be one of Bryce Harper’s biggest fans.
As a Nationals fan since they came back to D.C. in 2005, I must say that the 19-year-old phenomenon provides a spark to the Nationals that I have never seen before.
With a .300 average, .500 slugging percentage and .405 on-base percentage, Harper is off to a great start in his Major League Baseball career, and has come through in the clutch in numerous occasions for the Nats.
Beyond the numbers, Harper goes above and beyond for the team night in and night out to give them the playmaking ability that they haven’t had since Alfonso Soriano hit 46 homeruns and 95 RBIs and stole 41 bases in 2006.
Take, for example, the final game of the Nats’ series against the Phillies (in which the Nats successfully took the park back, for you Philly fans out there) in which Harper took a pitch to the back, which Cole Hamels eventually said was intentional, and eventually stole home when Hamels attempted to pick off Jayson Werth at first.
Stealing home is something little league coaches teach you to do so you become a better base runner. Rarely does it ever happen in the big leagues.
But because of Harper’s age and skill set, he never backs out of a situation, and he has so much confidence built up, he feels like he can do almost anything on the ball field, which he can.
However, one of Harper’s downsides is his attitude. With all of this confidence, Harper’s head is huge, and it often gets him into precarious situations with other players, such as the blown kiss incident in Class A Hagerstown.
As much as I love Harper’s skills on the field, I can’t help but feel like he isn’t the greatest guy in the world off the field, and he would never be one of my friends had I gone to high school with him.
Going back to the Hamels incident, when I saw the scene unfold on TV, I was afraid Harper would do something stupid, like charge the mound or start swearing at Hamels. But he kept his cool and let his play on the field do the talking. Sadly, Harper’s teammates couldn’t do the same that game.
Either way, that incident may be a sign that Harper is starting to grow up a little bit, which would be great, since Washington could use a bright young face who treats fans fairly and is open to the D.C. media.
Harper has been a rare offensive bright spot on the team this year, which usually relies on strong pitching to win games, and hopefully will continue to hold this team together as it deals with injuries to first baseman Michael Morse, outfielder Jayson Werth, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and first baseman Adam LaRoche.
If he can keep his emotions in check, Harper has the potential, along with Stephen Strasburg and Zimmerman, to lead the Nats to their first pennant and playoff berth since they returned to Washington.