Despite being just 22 years of age, it seems that Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper has been playing the game of baseball forever. Although he has had to battle through multiple injuries early on in his career, Harper is finally healthy and living up to all the hype that has been following him for years. If Harper can continue to stay in the lineup on a night to night basis, there is no doubt that he will be one of the leagues premier players for years to come.
Harper was selected first overall in the 2010 MLB Draft, which was loaded with elite talent. After signing a five year deal worth $9.9 million, which also included a signing bonus of $6.25, Harper made his MLB debut on April 28th, 2012. He finished his rookie season hitting .270 with 22 home runs and 59 runs batted in, which was ultimately good enough to win him National League Rookie of the Year honours.
After a stellar rookie campaign Harper struggled to stay healthy the following two years, and this showed in his statistics, as his production substantially dropped. In 2013 and 2014, Harper hit a combined 33 home runs and started to show that his health could be an issue to his development as a player. However, in 2015 Harper has silenced his critics, and has had himself a year to remember. In 123 games, Harper is hitting .329 with 31 home runs and 92 runs batted in. He has also accumulated 77 runs and has an astounding on base percentage of .458.
What makes Harper such a special offensive player is his ability to hit the ball all over the field. He excels at finding holes in opposing defences uses this to his advantage as he is often on base. Patience at the plate is another strength of his, as he has already walked 98 times this season, which is a new career high. When Harper gets down in the count, he doesn’t panic and excels at keeping at bats alive. He is an extremely difficult batter to get out, and this drives opposing pitchers crazy.
Defensively, Harper is just as solid as he possesses exceptional speed and range in the outfield. Whether he is defending a line drive or a deep fly ball, Harper is quick to locate the ball, track it down and make the out. He also one of the strongest arms in the league, as he can gun out runners from anywhere on the field. The more he plays, the better he will continue to get on the defensive side of the ball.
At just 22 years of age, Harper is joining elite company when it comes to the home run department. After his first four seasons in the MLB, Barry Bonds, the all-time home run leader recorded 84 total home runs. Alex Rodriguez, who is fourth on the all time home run list, had 65 home runs in his first four seasons in professional baseball. Harper, in just about four seasons has accumulated 86 homers, putting him ahead of the games best very early in his career. Although he still has ways to go, it will be intriguing to see what Harper can do in years to come and see if he can continue to produce at an impressive level.
As the 2015 MLB season is quickly coming to an end, one thing is for sure: Bryce Harper is for real. Harper has had his best year to date in he MLB, and looks to fish the season on a strong note and lead the Nationals to the playoffs. 2015 was just a coming out party for Harper, as we are just witnessing the start of something special.