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Is Harper already among NL’s best?

Jun 5, 2012, 2:48 PM EDT

US Presswire photo
Bryce Harper rounds the bases Sunday following his fifth career home run.

With each passing day, Bryce Harper looks more and more like a legitimate major-league player. Actually, with each passing day, the 19-year-old looks more and more like a legitimate major-league star.

Yes, it's only been five weeks since Harper made his much-ballyhooed debut at Dodger Stadium. And yes, plenty can change over the remaining four months of the regular season. But if he keeps this up, Harper is going to threaten some of baseball's most significant records for teenagers.

Through 32 games and 137 plate appearances, Harper currently boasts a .922 OPS. How impressive is that? Well, only 15 teenage players in modern history have ever amassed 400 or more plate appearances in one season. And only two of those players ever finished with an OPS higher than .757: Mel Ott (.921 in 1928) and Tony Conigliaro (.883 in 1964).

Among those same 15 teenagers, Ott is the only one to post an on-base percentage higher than .358. Harper's current mark: .380.Read more »

  1. Clip&Store - Jun 5, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    Good article, very true. I try not to get too high on guys with good starts to their careers as rookies. But the difference I think is that its not like Harper is catching people off guard, or that he's smoke and mirrors.

  2. NatsLady - Jun 5, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    Here is some good news.Hagerstown Suns ‏@HagerstownSunsMLB Rehab Alert: Former Sun and now Washington National, CHRIS MARRERO will begin a rehab assignment with the Suns tonight at 7:05 vs KAN!

  3. Steady Eddie - Jun 5, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    Answer: yes, at least at the plate. Not only per Mark's stats but the great respect he's shown by the rest of the league — fewest fastballs, many pitch-around walks. In the field he makes some good plays but is still a star-work-in-progress, especially in reads, routes, and judgment on where to throw. But all that will come, and soon. The Kid is nothing if not a quick study.

  4. Tcostant - Jun 5, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    Well major league pitchers seem to think he elite already. They pitch around him not wanting to make a mistake. He hardly ever sees a fastball. So I don't know if he is among the games best yet, but most pitchers he faced already seem to think he is based on how they have been pitching him.

  5. Section 215 Row A - Jun 5, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    Let me be among the first to say…I am amazed at his success at this stage in his career. Ott and Conigliaro set a pretty high bar for 19-year olds…unequalled by the likes of Mantle or Junior or ARod. I didn't expect Harper to exceed the numbers of so many HOFers when they were still a tender 19. It's still possible that Harper will cool off as pitchers find his weakness but I am not seeing any signs of it. His plate discipline is impressive. My biggest concern now is … can he stay healthy? I am afraid his aggressive pedal-to-the-metal style of play may result in a concussion running into a wall or dislocated shoulder sliding into second…but barring that, we are in for a some historic fun watching Mr. Harper's early years.

  6. JamesFan - Jun 5, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    He is amazing as a 19 year old in all aspects of the game. However, he has a lot to learn, especially in the outfield and on the bases. He is adequate in the outfield, but a little scary since his inclination is to go all out on everything. I fear a wall crash in center or a collision with a player. On the bases, his running has potentially cost a couple of runs lately, but you have to admire his hustle. He just needs a little better judgment on when to go for it and when to back off both in the field and on the bases. That will come with experience. I hope he knows that one extra base, one spectacular catch or one game is not worth an extended period on the DL. This is a very long season.

  7. JD - Jun 5, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    'On the bases, his running has potentially cost a couple of runs lately' It's also produced a several runs. This is how he rolls.

  8. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 5, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    Way too early to annoint young Bryce amongst the best but the projections in Fangraphs put him in the same company as Double X and Mel Off.

  9. baseballswami - Jun 5, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    I remember how Danny started off like a firecracker and then everyone figured him out. I really don't think that is the case with Bryce. Agree with Tcostant that the real evidence is in the way pitchers handle him. Stats are one thing – respect from cy young candidates is the real deal. He did have a mini-slump in there somewhere – he was just swinging at everything and fussing and fuming – after his "eye opening" experience with the bat he seemed to calm down and refocus. One thing I see in Bryce – he seems to get through phases pretty quickly and make fast adjustments. I kind of hope he stays away from Eck — well, he and Lombo – they seem to have simple approaches that work for them – I would hate to see things over- complicated for them.

  10. NatsLady - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    Mark Simon ‏@msimonespnBryce Harper faces #Mets tonight. Only teenager to homer against the #Mets– Rusty Staub in 1963!!

  11. JaneB - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    I think it's really interesting that the opposing pitchers are scared of him, already. That's what made $#$%# Cole Hamels plunk him (insert rant about bullies here). I also love that he contacted the next Gio to welcome him to the Nats. I was in SUCH a "prove it me" mind frame about him, from the start. Now I am in the "must see each at-bat" phase, That was quick.GREAT news on Marrero! I thought he'd be out of play for much longer than this. I hope he rehabs fast. Not that we have any where to put him.I am counting the minutes till we head to the stadium.

  12. Avar - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    I think it's fair to say that Harper is having a fantastic year and that few, if anyone, thought he would do this well this fast. I wrote a couple of posts here, on the Post and on Federal Baseball pointing that out VERY few 19 year olds have done anything. So, I am very pleasantly surprised that he so far is among the best of all time at his age.And those lists of very early bloomers tended to pan out great. Guys who do great this young, tend to keep producing at very high levels. So, my gut is that we have a star on our hands.

  13. JaneB - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    Just saw Nat's Lady's stat about Rusty Staub: What's funny is I remember him only as a Met. Just like I remembered Casey ONLY for his Mets days. Myopic baseball fan, that's me.

  14. peric - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    MLB Rehab Alert: Former Sun and now Washington National, CHRIS MARRERO will begin a rehab assignment with the Suns tonight at 7:05 vs KAN!Who does Davey pick? The still young hitting prospect Marerro that he liked last season? Or too oft injured but somewhat better fielding Mark DeRosa his replacement?

  15. peric - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    Harper is becoming an impact bat. To get even better he will need Morse to get hot, fast and hit right behind him. Right Davey? Sandwiched by LaRoche and Harper I think its possible.As for Zim, Davey you have more or less admitted that the shoulder is still bothering him when you said he would never admit. Don't you think he should be batting sixth or seventh until he gets past that?

  16. NatsLady - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    Never kid yourself that character doesn't matter. Look at this record of first picks who didn't make it.first-overall-picks-without-mlb-experiencehttp://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/06/first-overall-picks-without-mlb-experience.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

  17. NatsLady - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    I hope it's Marrero. If he can hit, he can spell LaRoche without the D suffering too much.

  18. NatsLady - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:38 PM

    MLB Public Relations ‏@MLB_PR#ASG NL balloting leaders: Votto, Uggla, Wright, Tulowitzki, Molina, Kemp, Beltran, BraunOK, people, get your votes and write-in Brycie-boy. You can pick up 100 votes at a table near the picnic area and turn them in before the bottom of the 5th inning (you get a bobblehead). If you do 500 votes you get a Nats goodie package. VOTE VOTE VOTE.

  19. baseballswami - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:38 PM

    JaneB — and on that note about where we put Marrero — where the heck are we going to put Lidge? I hope they keep him on rehab assignments as long as possible, especially if he struggles. I guess the new Gonzalez can go. But what about Mattheus? Then Storen? I don't want to give anyone up right now. It's tough if the guy coming back can't give you as much as you have on the bench right now. Then DeRosa? Who goes? I just don't want to see someone young and playing well get sent down for a veteran that doesn't have it anymore. Once again with the crazy depth.

  20. NatsLady - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    Nats second-round pick is Tony Renda 2B Cal-Berkley B/T R/R. "Gritty, grinder" "plays hard." Little bit of power. 5'8" with pop and a "chip on his shoulder." Was a 42nd round pick out of HS so he has come up quite a bit."Nice pick and good value."

  21. NatsLady - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:44 PM

    Seems like the "new Gonzalez" is a hedge against Lidge/Mattheus being delayed. Even though he has an option, I can't see them sending Stammen down. (a) too valuable; (b) is a righty–strange to say we have a lot of lefties in the pen right now..

  22. peric - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    I hope it's Marrero. If he can hit, he can spell LaRoche without the D suffering too much.Great bat off the bench last season. His problem is he will never be able to play any other position besides 1st base. Given the sudden rise in left-handed bats, especially Corey Brown's potential as an outfield solution perhaps Marerro ends up at first base. Depends on how he looks in rehab especially in the upper minors.

  23. Doc - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    Yeah, Harps is a genuine #11 this year!Some MLB scouts thought that he could have been a #11 last year too!So much for those duffus old farts NI Neganons that were always harping on the Oppo Boppo Kid spending years in the minors.While being #11 in the NL, he's closing in on being #1 on the Nats! Davey was right again!Goooo Bryce! Goooo Davey! GooooooooooNats!!!

  24. TimDz - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    Marerro seems destined to be packaged in a trade to an AL team as a DH. Just my opinion…

  25. NatsLady - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    peric, agree, Marrero may not be permanent. But for this season, he could be quite useful. Get him up here, get him ML experience, trade him.

  26. NatsLady - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    Ha, TimDZ==> same thought!

  27. baseballswami - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    I was one of those that was very hard on Gorzelanny — my words are quite tasty now that I am eating them for breakfast. Stammen has been a nice surprise. Haven't seen enough of the new Gonzalez – the nats must be driving the scorekeepers nuts, by the way with the double names. When Jordan hit his home run , one of the websites credited it to Ryan. Sadly, at one time that would have been a no-brainer. Now – not so much. This goes under the category of things you never thought you would say — that Jordan has more home runs than Ryan in a significant period of time. How long has it been? Do I even want to know? ( since ryan hit one out?)

  28. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:52 PM

    baseballswami, I am laughing for all the wrong reasons about your Eck comment. Unfortunately some truth in that statement.

  29. peric - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:53 PM

    Seems like the "new Gonzalez" is a hedge against Lidge/Mattheus being delayed. Even though he has an option, I can't see them sending Stammen down. (a) too valuable; (b) is a righty–strange to say we have a lot of lefties in the pen right now..If you look at it logically … Stammen makes the most sense if they decide to bring on Lidge (mistake, mistake, mistake) … but Matthueus? Yes.1. Stammen has options.2. Stammen is long relief / spot starter. Right now the Nats have "overloaded" with right handed starters with Wang replacing Detwiler. So, if you pull a right-hander out early you want to swap in a left-hander possibly forcing the opposing manager to use his bench early. In other words: Gorzelanny, Detwiler, and Gonzalez. Mattheus is a setup / closer. He can perform in both roles. With Clippard moved up to closer Mattheus would fit like a glove into Clipp's old role. Mattheus is a power pitcher.3. They could use a decent YOUNG starter in Syracuse right now. May seem less important to fans … but not to the system. Stammen is a valuable commodity in the minors … especially given Lannan's flop.

  30. NatsLady - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    I still have doubts on Mattheus, though trying to remember (always) that he is still technically a rookie. He has the "stuff," that's clear, but he makes me nervous–not as nervous as Henry, but still nervous. Just doesn't seem sure of himself out there.

  31. JD - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    My 2 cents on Marrero. Not enough power to be either DH or 1B. Defense is just barely ok. I agree that he can be a major leaguer but I think he's fringe at best and not really an impact player. I think DeRosa is exactly the kind of player you need off the bench if you hope to contend this year.

  32. ehay2k - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    No doubt that Harper belongs in the big leagues. I am very surprised that both he and Strasburg not only lived up to, but even surpassed their hype. And they dealt with it in two completely different ways. OK, enough about how awesome our youngsters are. We need a big win against the Mets tonight. All our 25+ year old "gray beards" need to start hitting!

  33. JD - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    Short term solution for the pen. Put Henry on the DL.

  34. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 5, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    I'm with you JD. Marrero fringe at best.

  35. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 5, 2012 at 5:02 PM

    DeRosa needs to come back and show he belongs. If he does than not sure Marrero has a spot. DeRosa replaces the 3rd catcher or Nady I would guess. Still have to get rid of someone when Werth returns. Just don't see room for Chris Marrero who probably has to wait in AAAA limbo.Does Lidge replace HenRod who goes to the DL? Then there is Mattheus and Storen.

  36. JD - Jun 5, 2012 at 5:05 PM

    What is everyone so excited about as far as Marrero's stint last year? .248 .274 .294 – no home runs in 117 AB's and an overall -0.7 WAR. Also 14 home runs in 546 AAA at bats (as a comparison Brown has 13 HR's in 229 at bats so far this year and plays solid defense in a tough CF position).

  37. NatsLady - Jun 5, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    Not "excited." Marrero not an exciting player. Just think he is solid, pretty unflappable for a prospect and will bring us something in a trade if teams get a chance to see him at the ML level.

  38. baseballswami - Jun 5, 2012 at 5:18 PM

    I seem to remember Marrero as being very "solid" – nothing too exciting, but correct. I also remember him being a pretty good situational hitter, though — he knew out to sac fly to get a run in – that kind of thing. It doesn't show up in the stats, but he did his job and held his own. Not everyone is a superstar.

  39. Section 222 - Jun 5, 2012 at 5:18 PM

    I agree that Marrero is a fringe player. No way he's ever our starting 1B. But he's also a far better right handed bat off the bench than Nady. Last year, he showed he can be a decent singles hitter and situational hitter. I think he was close to the team leader in sacrifice flies even though he played only a few months. I expect they'll bring up DeRosa first. Hope his injury recovery time has improved his hitting. He was pretty awful until he went to the DL. As for the bullpen, it's very hard to imagine Stammen being sent down because he's been so effective this year. But he has options, as does Mattheus. Unless the Nats can justify sending H-Rod to the DL, they'll probably both end up in AAA when Lidge is ready, which is unfortunate. Gonzalez is too experienced to have options, right?

  40. David - Jun 5, 2012 at 5:21 PM

    i still don't understand why Brown isn't playing CF with Harper in right and Morse in LF while Werth is hurt… instead we have Bernie, Nady, Ankiel??? he's not some kid who needs to learn how to play baseball. he's 25 and a natural CFer who's got a better glove than all 3 of those guys. i just don't get it.

  41. NatsLady - Jun 5, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    Nats 3rd round pick is Brett Mooneyham LHP Stanford (re-draft) son of a ML pitcher. Comments: it's his third draft, 15th round two years ago, 38th round last year, so has moved up. "Boom or Bust" control issues, but on the right day, looks like a 1st round pick. "Frustrating" for scouts.Sounds like a "project" to me. Get the minor-league pitching coaches ready.

  42. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 5, 2012 at 5:26 PM

    uh…JD….I haven't seen much clammoring for Marrero.

  43. NatsLady - Jun 5, 2012 at 5:29 PM

    If you want to see our new boy, take note of this.Chase Hughes ‏@chasehughesMooneyham and Stanford play Friday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2 and Saturday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2. #Nats

  44. peric - Jun 5, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    DeRosa needs to come back and show he belongs. If he does than not sure Marrero has a spot. DeRosa: injured for the most part of the last 3 years including this one? .083 batting average? Prefer to see Marerro, Moore, or if it must be a veteran, Mark Teahen who is leading the Chiefs in RBI and can actually still play the field … including the outfield something that seemed beyond DeRosa probably due to his age and mileage!

  45. Section 3, My Hitterish Sofa - Jun 5, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    Gonzalez is too experienced to have options, right? Right. Players with 5 or more years of service time do not have to accept a minor league assignment.

  46. Section 3, My Hitterish Sofa - Jun 5, 2012 at 5:38 PM

    Of course, Gonzalez signed on a minor league contract initially, so maybe he doesn't have a lot of choice, practically speaking.

  47. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 5, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    Peric, I think DeRosa will have 1 more chance to show he isn't the 2012 version of Matt Stairs. Short rope.

  48. Section 222 - Jun 5, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    Of course, Gonzalez signed on a minor league contract initially, so maybe he doesn't have a lot of choice, practically speaking.Good point, though it's by no means clear to me that not being able to command a major league contract in the spring means that there's no team that would claim him on waivers now. Injuries and bullpen blowups being what they are, I'll bet someone out there would like our servicable leftie.Rizzo also seems pretty averse to cutting ties with anyone once he signs them, at least when there are alternatives. That's why Stammen and Mattheus, not mention Corey Brown, may be destined to spend more time in Syracuse than most of us would prefer.

  49. pRAA - Jun 5, 2012 at 6:32 PM

    I expect they'll bring up DeRosa first. Hope his injury recovery time has improved his hitting. He was pretty awful until he went to the DL.DeRosa had an outstanding spring, and then got off to a terrible start in April once the season started. Before he had a chance to turn it around, he got hurt.Except for the getting hurt part, his 2012 performance is reminiscent of a certain other player's 2011 performance during spring training and April. That would be Michael Morse.Morse got a chance to turn his season around, and so will DeRosa once he returns from the DL. And I doubt his leash will be as short as his many shortsighted detractors here hope, either.People who think DeRosa and Lidge will be walking on thin ice when they return do not understand Davey Johnson's mindset. He is a player's manager first and foremost, and very patient with veteran players who are trying to re-establish themselves after an injury or a slump. He is not going to pull the rug out from under them prematurely in favor of some youngster, no matter how much of a hotshot. Davey was an aging player himself once, so he knows the value of giving veterans every possible vote of confidence before cutting ties with them.

  50. rabbit34 - Jun 5, 2012 at 7:00 PM

    Statistics, Statistics, Statistics….just watch him play and you know he is one of the best players in the game. Geesh.

  51. Knoxville Nat - Jun 5, 2012 at 8:34 PM

    "He is a player's manager first and foremost, and very patient with veteran players who are trying to re-establish themselves…."Sounds like Jim Riggleman to me.

  52. Manassas Nats' Fan - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:10 PM

    Harper is number 11 at everything. I wish our number 11 would start playing like Harper.

  53. Joe Seamhead - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:10 PM

    Knoxville Nat, sorry, I don't see too many similarities between Johnson and the quitter.

  54. Tim - Jun 6, 2012 at 2:23 AM

    Harper has a chance to be on the All-Star team. He is definitely playing well enough to be considered by NL's manager.He does EVERYTHING well. He has great instincts. He rarely has bad at bats. He handles himself well, actually better than expected. (see: Brett Lawrie)He is a star now and I am soooo glad he's on my team.

  55. 164abb6e-9075-11e1-aba1-000bcdcb471e - Jun 7, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    In addition to the stats, which alone I believe qualify Harper for the All-Star team, there is the important if intangible fact that he is a STAR. Who is the guy you go to the ballpark to see now? Who is the guy you make sure not to miss when it's his turn to hit? Who's the guy you holler into the next room and say, "Come in here and watch, he's coming up!"? Harper.I love Zim, and I have confidence he'll come around at the plate, and he's always great in the field. But when it comes to electrifying, megawatt star power, it's Harper. And I would love to see him on the All-Star team.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 91 64 --
ATLANTA 76 79 15.0
NEW YORK 76 80 15.5
MIAMI 74 81 17.0
PHILADELPHIA 71 85 20.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Sunday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON (4) 91 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 89 67 2.5
y-ST. LOUIS 87 68 4.0
-------------------------
SAN FRANCISCO 84 71 7.0 --
PITTSBURGH 84 71 7.0 --
MILWAUKEE 80 76 11.5 4.5
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Sunday's early games

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MON: OFF
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
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FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Marlins at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Marlins at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
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