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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Davey Johnson On Bryce Harper: “Bryce Might Be My Favorite Player Of All Time.”

Which just rocked Steve Gibralter’s world.

After last night’s game, Johnson joked with reporters about Harper. “Harp didn’t want to play against the knuckleballer,” the Nats’ skipper said, “But he got three hits, so now he realizes he can hit a knuckleballer, so we’re over that hump.” In an interview with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.‘s The Sports Junkies this morning, Johnson continued to praise his 19-year-old outfielder. “He’s an unbelievable talent and I mean, I’ve had some unbelievable talent,” Johnson said, “I had [Daryl] Strawberry and I had a 17-year-old named Dwight Gooden, I saw him throwing about 95 [mph] and painting with it. But [Harper is] a good young talent, and he’s a gamer. I mean, Bryce might be my favorite player of all time because he plays the game as hard as anyone can play it and he never lets up. He’s wonderful to watch.”

After his four-hit game last night, Harper has a .265/.337/.458 line on the year with 21 doubles, seven triples and 18 HRs in 119 games. Oh, and the four hits last night?:

Repoz Posted: September 12, 2012 at 09:36 AM | 37 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, nats

Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Benji Posted: September 12, 2012 at 10:05 AM (#4233547)
Davey is a brilliant baseball man. A lot of managers would have coddled Harper and benched him. He pushed the kid and succeeded. And it would have been the right move even if he went O for 5.
   2. Rants Mulliniks Posted: September 12, 2012 at 10:13 AM (#4233562)
Harper so far in Sept. .375/.468/.725 with more walks than K's.
   3. NJ in DC (Now with Wife!) Posted: September 12, 2012 at 10:17 AM (#4233570)
Man...there is just so much awesome young talent in the bigs right now. Machado, Harper, Trout, Profar. Has there ever been this sort of influx of teenagers? Probably hard to quantify.
   4. Joey B. Posted: September 12, 2012 at 10:24 AM (#4233581)
Harper is now officially the highest ranking 19 year old position player in MLB history in rWAR, though he is still nearly a full win behind Ott in fWAR, which seems like a pretty significant discrepancy.
   5. zack Posted: September 12, 2012 at 10:33 AM (#4233596)
So you're saying that Selig's genius idea of steroid-infused fruit loops is finally paying off?
   6. Bourbon Samurai Posted: September 12, 2012 at 10:38 AM (#4233604)
He is so much ####### fun to watch. I feel really lucky to have moved back to D.C. in 2008 to get to enjoy the whole process.
   7. phredbird Posted: September 12, 2012 at 10:56 AM (#4233630)
i saw his MLB debut!
   8. NJ in DC (Now with Wife!) Posted: September 12, 2012 at 11:00 AM (#4233638)
Is there a way to quantify WAR by age in a single season? So, seasons ranked by the most WAR accumulated by 19-20 year-olds in that season?
   9. Depressoteric feels Royally blue these days Posted: September 12, 2012 at 11:07 AM (#4233650)
Is it safe to say that Harper has elbowed his way back into the NL Rookie of the Year discussion with his late-season resurgence?
   10. Joey B. Posted: September 12, 2012 at 11:23 AM (#4233674)
Is there a way to quantify WAR by age in a single season? So, seasons ranked by the most WAR accumulated by 19-20 year-olds in that season?

Fangraphs stat leader tool with filtering is here.

B-R stat leader tool with filtering is here.

Note that some of the info on Baseball-Reference may be hidden without a premium membership.
   11. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 12, 2012 at 11:29 AM (#4233684)
Is there a way to quantify WAR by age in a single season? So, seasons ranked by the most WAR accumulated by 19-20 year-olds in that season?

he's #1 among 19 year olds
   12. Random Transaction Generator Posted: September 12, 2012 at 11:34 AM (#4233688)
Edgar Renteria?!

I never would have guessed that guy would have been in the top 5 list.
   13. NJ in DC (Now with Wife!) Posted: September 12, 2012 at 11:35 AM (#4233691)
[10, 11] What I meant was combined WAR by all 19 and 20-year-olds in a given season and then ordering the seasons in descending order.
   14. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 12, 2012 at 12:15 PM (#4233746)
What I meant was combined WAR by all 19 and 20-year-olds in a given season and then ordering the seasons in descending order.

the only year in which there were more than one 19 year old with >0 WAR was 1964 with Kranepool (0.9) and Tony C (1.4), so Harper wins by his own self

if you add together contributions from both 19 and 20 year olds, then this season is #1, although 1996 is pretty close (Arod and Renteria)
   15. John Northey Posted: September 12, 2012 at 12:46 PM (#4233775)
Quite the list for 19 year olds - just 6 qualify but all 4 retired ones are in the HOF, Renteria is in his age 34 season with 2327 hits mainly as a shortstop and 5 ASG thus has an outside shot at the HOF (needs to become a regular again and get over 2500 hits I'd think), and Bryce Harper. With Harper having the best score for the group at 19. Wow.
   16. Bourbon Samurai Posted: September 12, 2012 at 01:04 PM (#4233803)
I was surprised by the asbence of Tony C, but I guess he was a shitty defender, according to baseball reference.
   17. Rants Mulliniks Posted: September 12, 2012 at 01:13 PM (#4233808)
I'm inclined to believe that Renteria is older than listed. He had one of the greatest seasons a "19-year old" has ever had, follows it up with a few more AS seasons, but is basically burnt toast by 32?
   18. cardsfanboy Posted: September 12, 2012 at 01:21 PM (#4233824)
I'm inclined to believe that Renteria is older than listed. He had one of the greatest seasons a "19-year old" has ever had, follows it up with a few more AS seasons, but is basically burnt toast by 32?


The rumor was just the opposite.
   19. Rants Mulliniks Posted: September 12, 2012 at 01:26 PM (#4233830)
You mean he was supposedly 17 or 18 in his rookie year?
   20. Fresh Prince of Belisle Posted: September 12, 2012 at 01:36 PM (#4233845)
You mean he was supposedly 17 or 18 in his rookie year?

The Miami Herald reported back in 1997/1998 or so that he was a year younger than his birth certificate (it's really hard to find the exact article now, sadly) and that the Marlins had skirted the rules so that they could sign him at 15 rather than 16. MLB didn't really get tough with this thing until it came out that Betemit was 14 when he signed.
   21. The kids disappeared, now Der-K has too much candy Posted: September 12, 2012 at 01:38 PM (#4233846)
Hypothetical: Would you rather have Harper and Strasburg or Trout?
   22. NJ in DC (Now with Wife!) Posted: September 12, 2012 at 01:40 PM (#4233852)
Harper and Strasburg and I wouldn't have to think about it. Am I crazy?
   23. Rants Mulliniks Posted: September 12, 2012 at 01:45 PM (#4233861)
Harper and Strasburg anyday.
   24. Rants Mulliniks Posted: September 12, 2012 at 01:46 PM (#4233863)
I'd probably take Harper over Trout straight up.
   25. I Am Not a Number Posted: September 12, 2012 at 01:47 PM (#4233869)
Renteria is in his age 34 season

You're looking at his 2011 line. Renteria is no longer playing.
   26. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: September 12, 2012 at 02:19 PM (#4233911)
BBref has already made the adjustment to the 1976 birthdate. Other sites give him the 1975 birthdate and that's the birthdate he was signed under.
   27. cardsfanboy Posted: September 12, 2012 at 02:52 PM (#4233960)
BBref has already made the adjustment to the 1976 birthdate. Other sites give him the 1975 birthdate and that's the birthdate he was signed under.


I wasn't sure about that, in the back of my mind, I thought I had read that the adjustment was made, but couldn't remember for sure. Just wanted to point out, that it is probably unlikely that he was older than his listed age.
   28. Eric P. Posted: September 12, 2012 at 02:53 PM (#4233963)
Is it safe to say that Harper has elbowed his way back into the NL Rookie of the Year discussion with his late-season resurgence?


Absolutely. He's #2 at worst, with his only real competition being Wade Miley. Probably Harper will take it considering the difference in recognition between the two.
   29. John Northey Posted: September 12, 2012 at 02:57 PM (#4233968)
Huh - didn't notice Renteria didn't play this year. A bit surprised as I've been watching the Jays use Omar Vizquel this year and I'd figure Renteria would be significantly better (OK, most AAA guys and a lot of AA would be better). Maybe he just wanted a full time or nothing type situation and ended up with nothing. Still, when he is as bad as it gets for that group you know it is a nice group to be part of.
   30. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 12, 2012 at 04:05 PM (#4234068)
I should have noted that the list in #11 is for position players. There are actually more 19 year old pitchers with >3 WAR. (Gary Nolan?! Seriously?)
   31. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 12, 2012 at 04:32 PM (#4234095)
What I meant was combined WAR by all 19 and 20-year-olds in a given season and then ordering the seasons in descending order.
These are the ten-best seasons for total WAR by players 20 and under, post-integration. (I set min WAR at 0, so no seasons get penalized for having young players perform poorly.)

17.5 - 1959 (Vada Pinson, Jerry Walker, Bob Miller)
17.5 - 1971 (Bert Blyleven, Don Gullett, Cesar Cedeno, Greg Luzinski)
15.8 - 1957 (Don Drysdale, Bill Mazeroski, Dick Drott)
15.6 - 1985 (Dwight Gooden, Jose Rijo)
14.9 - 2012 (Mike Trout, Bryce Harper)
14.3 - 1996 (Alex Rodriguez, Edgar Renteria, Luis Castillo)
13.2 - 1975 (Dennis Eckersley, Claudell Washinton, Rick Manning)
12.9 - 2010 (Jason Heyward, Mike Stanton, Madison Bumgarner, Starlin Castro)
11.8 - 1955 (Al Kaline, Pedro Ramos)
11.4 - 1974 (Frank Tanana, Robin Yount, Dennis Blair)

This is a somewhat problematic method - 1959 and 1971 rate at the top not so much because lots of great young players debuted, but more because for some reason tons of unimpressive kids got playing time and got 0.4 WAR apiece.

But the thing that sticks out for me is the way you get some generations being distinguished. There were really great young players debuting in the late '50s, mid 70s, and now again at the beginning of the teens.
   32. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: September 12, 2012 at 04:38 PM (#4234110)
Weird how only one "great" player every year comes out of this good list (thanks Matt), although you could make a case for Drysdale and Mazeroski. 2012 is going to be the exception, I believe.
   33. NJ in DC (Now with Wife!) Posted: September 12, 2012 at 04:45 PM (#4234120)
[31] Thanks, Matt, that's exactly what I was looking for. I assume the names listed in the parentheses are just the standouts and the totals reflect all players? Adding up Trout and Harper's brefWAR I only get 14.3 but Machado is at .6 so that would make it 14.9 and Profar is at 0. Are there any other 19/20 year olds? Looks like this group should be able to get to 3rd place.
   34. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 12, 2012 at 04:48 PM (#4234127)
Are there any other 19/20 year olds?
Tyler Skaggs is the only pitcher to make the list.

(And, yes, the names are just the guys with 1 WAR or more, except for the years when there were a bunch of 1-2 WAR seasons, then I picked just the most interesting names with 1-2 WAR. Everyone over 2 WAR should be listed by name.).
   35. phredbird Posted: September 12, 2012 at 05:29 PM (#4234165)
the funny thing about renteria, and this is totally subjective, but i never thought he looked very athletic. he seemed kind of swaybacked and had a large middle when he played for the cards. it always surprised me that he could (sort of) field his position. quick hands and reflexes make up for a lot i guess.
   36. Walt Davis Posted: September 12, 2012 at 11:54 PM (#4234420)
MLB didn't really get tough with this thing until it came out that Betemit was 14 when he signed.

don't know about that. The Braves (Andruw? or was it Furcal?) and the Dodgers (Beltre) both got in some trouble with the league over this.

As to Renteria off a cliff at 32 ... early demises (in age terms) for early starters are not uncommon at all. Through age 30, Renteria had over 7400 PA. That's nearly as many PA as, say, Jim Edmonds or McGwire had in their careers. A body probably only has so much ML-level baseball in it before the toll becomes too much. Even a lot of the greats.

Leaders in PA <=30:

Ott -- finished at 36
AROD -- far from finished but much diminished as a hitter and hasn't played 150 games since 2007
Yount -- retired at 37
Renteria
Pinson -- retired at 36, only 2.3 WAR ages 32-36
Griffey -- injury-riddled in his 30s, done as a stud hitter after 35.
Foxx -- done at 33
Andruw -- left as an exercise for the reader
Cobb -- aged well
Kaline -- aged well
Aaron -- aged pretty well
Mantle -- injuries galore and retired at 36
Santo -- retired at 34
Mathews -- diminished and essentially done at 35
Ripken -- he was pretty durable
FRob -- made it to 38, might have gone on if not focused on managing

that's all the guys with 7000+ PA through age 30. None of them had short careers obviously, generally making it to 9000+ PA, but a lot of them retired "early". Given that most on that list were still damned good players at age 30, I think (but don't know) that a simple age curve would have projected better overall outcomes for them.
   37. Rants Mulliniks Posted: September 13, 2012 at 08:20 AM (#4234510)
Thanks Walt, I guess its not very unusual.

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