Thursday, February 6, 2014

Bryce Harper: First Impression

It's May 27 2012 early in the morning. I've watched this kid hit now for about a month and each time I see a new AB for Bryce Harper I think I am watching greatness. HOW CAN THAT BE!?!?!?! THIS KID IS 19! How can a nineteen-year-old hitter dominate in the major leagues? He hits like Tony Gwynn. Harper sprays the ball to all fields like a seasoned veteran. He hit a home-run in Atlanta to the opposite field alley on a line last night. Atlanta's power-alleys are 390 feet, he hit a low line drive over that fence. I don't know if I'm watching a reincarnate of Lou Gehrig, Stan Musial or a left-handed throwing and hitting version of Willie Mays? But this guy Harper is the real deal for sure.

Right now he's only hitting .278, but its the greatest .278 I've ever seen. I guarantee you Tony Gwynn watches this guy hit and just smiles and says, "Wow." His at-bats are unlike any other 19 year old you've ever seen in the Big's. If you watched Barry Bonds hit during his prime HGH years, that is how good Bryce Harper's hitting approach is. He takes pitches that are inches (or maybe quarter-inches) off the strike zone. I swear for the first month I've watched him play, I've watched in complete disbelief. Like, "How is this possible?"

A month ago I was gushing at how good Matt Kemp is. Now I'm watching Bryce Harper in his first year, at 19, and I'm thinking there is no ceiling for this kid. He already stole home on Cole Hamels after Hamels hit him intentionally in the first inning on the first pitch. Hamels admitted he did it on purpose after the game and got suspended. Harper stole home on Hamels as if to say, "That's all you got Cole?"

3 HRs, 10 RBIs, a .278 average and a .366 on base% never looked so damn good as they do for Bryce Harper's first 26 games in the Major Leagues. He runs, throws, hits, competes and interacts with the field of play as if he knows he is the best player, not only on the field but in the entire game. I know this sounds like hype. I know this article sounds like an over-excited column about a ball-player having a great first month, but no one can deny what we're seeing. This is not hyperbole, this is reality. Bryce Harper believes that no one on a baseball field can touch him.

Right now the numbers are not great. They don't even project into a 'rookie of the year' type season. But when you watch Bryce Harper play, when you watch him hit or run the bases or make a throw from the outfield, U CAN SEE IT. The guy IS better than everyone else on the field. Ok, his stats probably won't prove him to be the best this year... but next year and the year after, watch out. Bryce Harper's talent is freakish. You know how Lebron James fills a stat sheet like no other & how his player efficiency is tops by far. Bryce Harper will fill stat sheets just like that. The new statistical ratings that measure player efficiency like Wins Above Replacement (WAR) will prove Harper to be a top 10 player as soon as this year.

Is a slump even possible for a guy with an approach this good? It's not as if he's tearing the cover off the ball at .278. I just can't remember seeing a batter hit a baseball better. Not for power, but for sheer hitting ability. For pure batting skill and swing fluidity. For a 19 year old to possess this type of prowess is astounding. He won't have the best numbers in baseball this year, but for talent level and overall ability, he just might be the best player in the game. ALREADY.

Update: Ok Mike Trout is better.

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