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Bryce Harper has been in a terrible slump over the second half of the season. We probably should have seen this coming.
Angel Hernandez rung Bryce Harper up twice on Wednesday night. Harper didn't get ejected. This is more impressive than you think.
Ozzie Guillen yelled at Bryce Harper for strange reasons and called him out after the game. Harper didn't do anything in response. Looks like this really is what Harper is like.
Bryce Harper is burning up the Internet because he said a funny-sounding sentence. Why does he get so much more attention than Mike Trout?
Nationals outfielder and super-prospect Bryce Harper is new to the major leagues, but he hasn't been treated like a lot of guys who're new to the major leagues.
Bryce Harper had himself a skillset and a reputation. He came up to the majors at the age of 19, having posted just a .708 OPS over about a month in triple-A. With the Nationals so far, he's batted 8-for-26 with five doubles, five walks, a steal of home, and boundless energy at the plate and in the field. For the Washington Post, James Wagner wonders: is there anything Bryce Harper can't do?
Harper’s impact has not only added spark to the Nationals, especially at a time when the offense has been ravaged by injuries, it has shown that his game and style of play make him among the most electrifying and potent players in baseball.
"A lot of times, whether it’s coaches or media, you get caught up and you go, ‘Wow,’ " Porter said. "Is it ‘wow’ because he’s playing the game unlike other people? Or is he playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played? You ask me, he plays the way it’s supposed to be played. Not many guys have the ability he has."
"He’s been good," Werth said earlier this week. "He’s focused. I think he’s where he needs to be. Minor leagues is tough. Sometimes it’s tougher than people realize. I like him here with the right coaches, the right manager, the right teammates. I think that’s going to help his development than with him being anywhere else."
And so on. When Harper was first promoted, Nationals officials acknowledged that it was happening before they wanted it to, and there was reason to wonder whether Harper was ready to play at the highest level given his minor-league performances. Since Harper was promoted, he's answered all the questions, and though he doesn't yet have a home run, he's done just about everything else. To address Wagner's question, yes, there are things Bryce Harper can't do. The list of them is shorter than it is for most other baseball players.
The Washington Nationals intended to have Bryce Harper spend at least a significant portion of the 2012 season in the minor leagues. His timetable was accelerated by injuries to Michael Morse and Ryan Zimmerman. Even so, when Harper was promoted, it looked like it would be a short-term promotion. It looked like he'd go back to the minors when Zimmerman came off the disabled list.
"We're not dumb, either," [general manager Mike] Rizzo said. "This guy is performing admirably in the big leagues. We feel he's got a chance to really impact the ball club. He's a special talent. So you have to throw ordinary development curves out the window if you have to. You have to be able to be light on your feet and utilize the assets that you have. If he is performing the way he's performing now, there's no way in hell I can get Davey Johnson to get rid of him."
I mean, through five games, Bryce Harper has batted .375 with four doubles. He's looked outstanding in the field as well. The Nationals were probably wondering how Harper would adjust to the majors, since his numbers in the minors were fairly unspectacular. He's ... he's had no problem adjusting, so far. What Rizzo said is obvious. Of course the Nationals can't demote a guy playing like Harper's playing. Even if this wasn't the plan, a good young player is a good young player.
It's a matter now of seeing whether Harper sustains his success. I don't mean the .375 batting average, because he's not sustaining a .375 batting average. But the way I'd interpret Rizzo's statement is that Harper will remain with the Nationals as long as he's making a solid, positive contribution. Seems perfectly sensible. Harper would put himself in line to make more money sooner down the road if he lasts, but a higher priority for the Nationals than future salaries is immediate success.
Washington Nationals attendance didn't skyrocket when Bryce Harper started playing at home. Nor would we expect it to.
If the Washington Nationals had their druthers, Ryan Zimmerman would be healthy, Michael Morse would be healthy, and Bryce Harper would be down in triple-A, getting valuable seasoning and beating up on dudes. Pitchers, mainly, and not with his fists. But Zimmerman's hurt, and Morse's hurt, so Harper's in the show ahead of schedule. He's two games in, and he has two hits.
In the Washington Post, Adam Kilgore writes about Harper, and Harper's first two games. Here's the intro:
LOS ANGELES - After two major league games, this is what we know about Bryce Harper: He can smash line drives off fences, throw laser beams from the outfield, drive in clutch runs, crash into walls to steal doubles, face the press and boos without nerves and, if it is a day game, neatly smear about a quart of eye black on each cheek.
Sounds about right. Sounds pretty Bryce Harper-y. Now skipping way ahead, here's my favorite part:
The sellout [Los Angeles Dodgers] crowd booed him at each at-bat, and afterward he smiled about it. At least the players in the other dugout had not heckled him, a common occurrence when he began his career last season at Class A Hagerstown.
Bryce Harper got booed in Dodger Stadium when he walked up for his first-ever major-league plate appearance. He got booed! Before he had done anything! But at least he didn't get heckled by the other team, too. Bryce Harper's got himself a reputation, and even though he's only 19 and even though he could grow more humble and mature, this reputation's going to be tough to shed, if he ever wants to shed it. First impressions and everything. Bryce Harper was in the low minors. He was getting heckled by the other teams.
And let's close with the Nationals' previous super-prospect talking about the Nationals' current super-prospect:
"Hype's only going to be in the way if you care about it," Strasburg said. "He knew what he was getting into. It's L.A. He knew he was going to get booed and stuff. It comes with the territory of being one of the best prospects ever. He has to go out there and keep playing the game the way he knows how."
Given Stephen Strasburg's performance record, it's safe to say he did a good job of handling the hype and the attention. Harper looks like he's ticketed for a return to the minors in time, but if he also does a good job of handling the hype and the attention and, most importantly, performs, the Nationals could be left with little choice but to keep an outstanding 19-year-old in the clubhouse.
Bryce Harper made his debut on Saturday. You might have heard about it. Here's a look at his four plate appearances.
Washington Nationals über-prospect Bryce Harper made his highly anticipated debut on Saturday evening at a sold-out Dodger Stadium, hitting seventh in the Nationals' lineup against Chad Billingsley. Though the Nationals lost, Harper certainly made noise in his first big-league game.
After two ho-hum at-bats, a chopper back to the mound, and a soft fly out to left, Harper smoked a high 93-m.p.h. fastball for his first big-league hit, a rocket to dead center that screamed over the head of Matt Kemp and thumped into the base of the wall. He flipped the visor of his helmet to knock it off so his overgrown-mohawk thing could flow in the air as he cruised into second base standing up. The Nats' dugout retrieved the ball, but that's definitely not the only keepsake that will memorialize his first major league hit.
Harper also made good on his hype as a five-tool player, showing off his arm on an A.J. Ellis single that scored Jerry Hairston, Jr. Harper threw a perfectly placed rope right into the mitt of catcher Wilson Ramos, who couldn't hold on to the ball as Hairston slid into home, knocking the ball loose and tying the game, 1-1.
Harper came to the plate for the fourth time with a chance to break a 1-1 tie, hitting with runners on first and third and one out in the ninth inning. He attacked the first pitch from Javy Guerra and hit a liner deep enough to score Rick Ankiel from third and put Washington ahead 2-1.
That could have been the game-winning RBI, but after Ramos added another run with an RBI single, Henry Rodriguez allowed the Dodgers to score twice in the bottom of the ninth. And in the bottom of the 10th, Matt Kemp golfed a walk-off home run to center, leaving Harper with loss in his first MLB appearance.
Andy Hutchins also contributed to this post.
So the big news of the day is that Ryan Zimmerman is going on the disabled list. Wait, no, the big news of the day is the consequence of that, which is that the Washington Nationals have promoted Bryce Harper. He's debuting Saturday night. He's 19 years old. He's not even close to turning 20.
It's exciting - not just for the Nationals, but for fans everywhere, who will get to see a tremendous raw talent with their own two eyes. But this isn't quite like when the Nationals promoted Stephen Strasburg. For one thing, a starting pitcher is more fun to watch than a starting position player, because a starting pitcher is involved in half of the plays. And for another thing, Strasburg had destroyed the minor leagues. He had beat the minor leagues, stringed them up, and drained their blood. Harper hasn't quite done that.
In 82 plate appearances with triple-A Syracuse, Harper has batted .250 with one home run, nine walks, and 14 strikeouts. Last season, in 147 plate appearances with double-A Harrisburg, Harper batted .256 with three home runs, 15 walks, and 26 strikeouts. Harper mashed last year in single-A Hagerstown, but the real challenge is in the upper minors, and Harper has yet to conquer those. Statistically.
If you care about spring training, Harper's batted .326, but he hasn't gone deep, and besides, that's spring training. I shouldn't even be talking about it.
None of this is to say that Bryce Harper isn't outstanding, or potentially outstanding. Bryce Harper has been a 19-year-old on the Syracuse Chiefs. The next-youngest player on the Syracuse Chiefs is nearly-24-year-old Carlos Rivero. Harper's extraordinarily young for someone so high, and that's a consideration.
But when the Angels promoted super-prospect Mike Trout last summer, he returned a .672 OPS. That after annihilating the double-A Texas League. Harper could and should be fantastic. He probably won't be fantastic right away, and he'll probably be back in the minors before much time has elapsed.
The Nationals and their fans certainly didn't want to see Ryan Zimmerman end up on the disabled list, because Zimmerman's probably the best player on the team. But Zimmerman's injury isn't serious, and it doesn't get a lot more interesting than promoting Bryce Harper in his stead. Some were clamoring for Harper to make the Nationals out of camp. Now he's made the Nationals shortly after camp.
Of course, given that Harper is still a raw prospect, some might be concerned what this promotion means for his service time and future team control. Answer:
For those wondering, Harper just barely spent the minimum 20 days in AAA to ensure he can't become free agent until after 2018 season.— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) April 27, 2012
If Harper were to remain with the Nationals all season long - which is not what's expected - the team would still have six years of control over him, not counting this one. So the Nationals aren't running the risk of costing themselves a season of Bryce Harper's future. There are Super 2 concerns, as Harper has been promoted well in front of the projected cutoff, but again, Harper would have to stick. He could stick, but from many indications, this is probably more of a short-term move.
The Washington Nationals are off to a fantastic start, even without too many contributions from their best position player, Ryan Zimmerman. The third baseman's shoulder has been bothering him, and the initial prescription was for rest. But when things didn't improve, the Nationals decided to make things a little exciting, calling up phenom Bryce Harper:
On Sat., the Nationals will place 3B Ryan Zimmerman on the 15-Day DL & recall OF Bryce Harper, who will make his MLB debut at Dodger Stadium— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) April 27, 2012
Harper will make his debut tomorrow, according to Adam Kilgore, which suggests he'll be in the starting lineup.
Harper, 19, has had a middling-to-decent start to the year in triple-A -- impressive, of course, when you consider he's still a teenager, but nothing suggesting that he was a no-brainer call-up who had the best chance to help the Nationals right away.
Zimmerman shouldn't be out beyond the required 15 days, as an MRI on his shoulder came up negative earlier this week.
One of the most intriguing Washington Nationals storylines heading into 2012 Spring Training was how top prospect Bryce Harper would fare. There was rampant speculation that the polarizing phenom might be able to force himself into the Opening Day lineup with an enormous spring.
Now it appears that, although Harper may indeed make it to the Major Leagues during the 2012 season, he won't be on the team on Opening Day.
The official Washington Nationals PR Twitter feed announced on Sunday that Harper was one of three players cut from the Spring Training roster and reassigned to AAA Syracuse.
We will definitely be seeing Harper's formidable bat and questionable personality in the majors sooner or later, but barring some catastrophe, it appears we will have to wait at least a little longer.
For all news and information regarding the Washinton Nationals, please visit Federal Baseball.
Bryce Harper is young. Observations that Bryce Harper is young are about as fresh as observations that Jamie Moyer is old. But, just to put this in perspective, the last time the Pirates finished over .500 was 1992, and their subsequent playoff run came to an end on October 14. Two days later, Bryce Harper was born.
Maybe that doesn't make Bryce Harper seem that young, because to me, the last time the Pirates were good feels like forever ago, so Bryce Harper was born forever ago, minus two days. But Bryce Harper is 19 years old, and he's trying to make the Nationals' roster out of spring training.
Having been briefly sidelined by a calf injury, Harper recently admitted that he probably wasn't going to make the team. But Wednesday, the team said he still has a chance. Adam Kilgore:
"We have a lot of games left," Rizzo said. "There’s 19 or 20 games left in spring. It’s kind of set him back a little bit as far as getting his at-bats. I don’t think it will be part of the decision-making process. We feel he has enough time to get back into the swing of things."
Asked point-blank if Harper still had a shot to crack the Nationals’ roster, Rizzo said: "We haven’t any made any decision to the contrary. He’s still in the picture. We’re still early in the decision-making process."
Here's what that actually says: the Nationals have not specifically decided that Bryce Harper won't make the team out of camp. It's March 14. Why would they have decided that already? There's time to let things play out. Maybe Harper bats .500 and slugs .900. Maybe somebody else gets hurt. Maybe Harper buys everybody in the front office a new car.
It never really means that much to say someone hasn't ruled something out. Watch this: the Boston Red Sox haven't ruled out trading Jon Lester to the Blue Jays. I'm almost certainly right. The Nationals haven't ruled out Bryce Harper making the team. There exists some chance that isn't zero percent.
But it's close to zero percent. Remember that Harper's young. Remember that there are service time concerns. Remember that, the last time Harper faced meaningful competition, he batted .256 in double-A. In a season in which they're expected to be decent but by no means phenomenal, the Nationals don't need to rush this. Harper would have to be unbelievable from here on out, and even then, he could probably use a little more time in the minors.
So Bryce Harper probably isn't going to make the Nationals. He could, though. It isn't absolutely impossible.
Legend has it that Bryce Harper could hit six home runs between the time Cool Papa Bell turned off the lights and got in bed. The hype-machine's a runnin', and there was talk that the 19-year-old super-prospect could start the season in the major leagues, with the Nationals hoping he could channel his inner Mel Ott.
But a calf strain might ruin the narrative. From Jon Heyman:
Slugging wunderkind Bryce Harper, 19, admitted today he doubts he can make the Nationals after missing a few key games with a calf issue. "Probably not,'' he said in answer to a question about whether he can still has a chance to be picked to go north with the team.
So instead of doing what most 19-year-olds are doing right now -- getting ready for graduation or planning spring-break shenanigans -- Harper will likely go to triple-A and wait for the call. This is probably better for the Nationals, both on the field and for future balance sheets, but it sure isn't as much fun for us.
Bryce Harper is ... colorful. He has ... a lot to say. And until he does or says something really, really stupid, he'll force writers ... to put ellipses in place of what they're really thinking. But Deron Snyder of the Washington Times wants everyone to leave the kid alone for a while:
Can we let Bryce Harper be Bryce Harper for now, when he’s 19 and still learning the ways of the world? Can we appreciate his personality, letting him grow and mature, without asking him to be a plastic player filled with false humility? Can we encourage him to be as honest and open as possible, letting him experiment with the boundaries, instead of turning him into a colorless cliche machine who never says anything remotely interesting or stimulating?
Harper's two latest sins: preferring the Cowboys over the Redskins, and saying he admired Joe Namath. Wait, wait. Settle down a bit before you overreact and do something you regret. While liking the Cowboys does cause syphilis and cold sores, it shouldn't be a big deal if a player does a little good-natured trolling of his Twitter followers.
Alas, Harper already deleted his Twitter account and started in with the clichés.
Harper made that clear upon arriving in Viera when he was asked what he most needed to do this spring: "I'm going to come in here, work as hard as I can, keep my mouth shut and play."
If Harper turned into another 110-percenter before he even got a chance to really annoy us, that'd be baseball's loss.
When Bryce Harper was a kid, he didn't have an SNES. That was old technology. When he came of age, he was probably a 5-year-old with a Playstation. That's how young he is. Sure, you can list his exact age, but where's the fun in that? Point is, he's young.
But he could start for the Nationals as soon as this season. He could break camp with the team. Pete Kerzel of MASN Sports lists five things Harper has to do to make the 25-man roster, and suggests that the decision will be a tug-of-war between manager Davey Johnson and GM Mike Rizzo:
Both sides have some history on the side of their arguments. As the New York Mets' manager in 1984, Johnson worked hard to convince then-GM Frank Cashen that a 19-year-old flame-throwing pitcher named Dwight Gooden was good enough to advance from Single-A to the bigs. Johnson won, Gooden dominated and the Mets were World Series champs by 1986. Rizzo's got a long history as a talent evaluator and scout and knows a thing or two about developing players.
Kerzel's list of five things is one part physical, and four parts mental. Harper has the five tools, and he can probably hit right now, but not being a jackass is an underrated sixth tool. Whether or not he has that one is still an open question.
While it seems as if Nationals phenom Bryce Harper will get every chance to prove he can make the major league squad out of spring training at age 19, MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince says he should start 2012 in Triple-A. He explains:
Harper needs real time in the real grind that is a professional season. He’s played just 37 games above the Class A level, and his first full season was cut short by a hamstring injury suffered in early August. It’s not merely about some clichéd notion of “paying your dues”; it’s also about, you know, proving you can hit a big league caliber breaking ball. Harper has yet to face one.
And what of those dues? Would Harper be embraced in his own clubhouse if promoted prematurely, or would he face backlash from guys who breathed in the bus fumes that line the long road to the Majors?
Castrovince notes that players like Dwight Gooden and Ken Griffey Jr. made the majors at 19 and had success. It should be mentioned that Gooden’s career was later derailed; Griffey’s should have him on a dais at the Hall of Fame in five years or so.
The Nationals are likely to be an improved team, possibly a contender, without Harper. With him, they’ll have to play Jayson Werth out of position in center field. Castrovince’s point, which also includes a mention of ignoring spring training stats due to their very nature, is valid.
But Davey Johnson was the manager who insisted Gooden was ready at 19. Now, Johnson will have input into the same decision regarding Harper. It won’t be an easy call.
But could it be in 2012, when he’s just 19? Manager Davey Johnson is going to give Harper that chance, according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com:
“But I think that the main thing is … could he handle it mentally? And I think in his mind, he’s already figuring to be starting on the club, if you ask him,” Johnson said recently about Harper. “And I haven’t talked to him, but I know that he’s done everything in his whole life to succeed at a higher level and compete with the best. But I think [Harper is] pretty mature. I don’t look at him age-wise, as I probably should.”
If Harper does make the team, it would be as the starting right fielder, with Jayson Werth playing center field. Harper has a lot of confidence in his abilities:
“I feel really positive about going to Spring Training this year,” Harper said via telephone. "I really feel I have a legit shot at making the club. We have a lot of guys coming in — veteran guys that could really teach me how to approach the game. … I’m really excited for this year.
“I’ve been working my butt off this offseason, getting ready to go out there and doing outfield stuff, working on running and jumping — everything that consists of trying to make this team. To have Davey on my side, that a very big plus going in there.”
Harper would be the youngest player in the major leagues if he makes the team out of spring training, since there don’t seem to be any other 19-year-olds anywhere close to major league jobs. Harper hit .297/.392/.501 combined between High-A and Double-A in 2012 and added six home runs in 93 at-bats in the Arizona Fall League. Many AFL players make it in the majors the following season, so who’s to say that Harper won’t be the next?
Bryce Harper turned 19 during the 2011 playoffs. Could he be starting for a major-league team several months before he turns 20?
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