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Monday, January 20, 2014

Zuckerman: Roster preview: Bryce Harper

Harper’s unforgotten realms…

2014 outlook: Harper’s 2013 hardly was a disaster — he did post the 9th-highest OPS by a 20-year-old in MLB history — but it was a disappointment, mostly because he was plagued by injuries throughout. After knee surgery in October, the Nationals expect Harper to report to spring training 100 percent healthy. Now it’s up to him to keep himself healthy all season. Harper may have to alter his game a bit to avoid major collisions, but more importantly, he’ll need to know when to take a day or two off with a nagging ailment and not risk it becoming worse.

...Best-case scenario: How high are we willing to aim here? Might as well go all the way. If Harper keeps his body close to 100 percent, there’s no reason to think he can’t be everything he — and we — expect him to be. So, let’s say … 40 homers, 120 RBI, a .300 batting average and National League MVP.

Worst-case scenario: It would probably involve injury, which is always a concern with Harper. He also would get frustrated at the plate and start pressing, trying to do too much. He ends up hitting .260 with 15 homers, 60 RBI, 125 strikeouts … and plays in only 110 games.

Most-likely scenario: If he’s on the field, Harper is going to be productive. There’s really no reason to believe otherwise. He’ll probably have to deal with some minor injury along the way — like most players do — but he still ends up playing in 140 games, hitting .285 with 30 homers and 90 RBI and finishing in the Top 10 in MVP voting.

Repoz Posted: January 20, 2014 at 09:26 PM | 7 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: nats

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   1. Danko Posted: January 20, 2014 at 10:23 PM (#4642936)
I always have a hard time with the concept of "Worst Case Scenario" in these player previews. The "Worst Case Scenario" should always really be "plays horribly; career-ending injury." Or to take it to its logical extreme, "dies in a silo explosion." Of course, I know it really means 'REASONABLE Worst Case Scenario', but anything to amuse the mind in January.

Harper's Age 20 year was really quite similar to Jason Heyward's. Heyward's Age 21 year was basically the worst-case scenario described here -- injuries, pressing at the plate, 15 HRs and a lot of missed opportunities. I'm a Phils fan, but it'd be a shame to see Harper's career take a step back in a similar way.
   2. JimMusComp only hires men and lesbians Posted: January 20, 2014 at 11:58 PM (#4642966)
Coming into 2013 I thought Harper had the advantage on Trout because he was younger. Basically, I thought Harper would be the guy that - season to season - would be the guy to watch. But after the season played out, it's apparent that injuries are a bigger part of the game than I anticipated.

Obviously, Harper is a HUGE talent, but staying healthy is part of the game. So, while season to season Harper is a must watch, Trout has already shown more staying power than Harper...

   3. madvillain Posted: January 21, 2014 at 12:15 AM (#4642971)
It's possible that Harper is "just" a 4-5 WAR player, right? Haven't people looked at this and found that it's not necessarily the case (or even probable) that if you're a 5 WAR player at 19 you're a 8 WAR player at 25?

I certainly wouldn't bet against a few monster years (say 310/390/600) as his body matures, and at 21 you're maybe halfway along the curve to "grown ass man" (say from a spindly 17 to fully puffed up at 24), so it's possible his durability will increase along with his training.

Curious as to what some of the people who have studied this sort of thing think.
   4. Colin Posted: January 21, 2014 at 08:06 AM (#4643011)
For players like this - those who debut young with a lot of talent - what's the expected path of development if the guy has a significant platoon split? Do they typically close the gap over time, or is it likely to persist?
   5. Bourbon Samurai Posted: January 21, 2014 at 08:51 AM (#4643037)
The "Worst Case Scenario" should always really be "plays horribly; career-ending injury." Or to take it to its logical extreme, "dies in a silo explosion."

"Center of worst ever steroid scandal as he is discovered to be clone of Bud Selig given Captain America's super soldier serum"
   6. Rants Mulliniks Posted: January 21, 2014 at 09:09 AM (#4643053)
so it's possible his durability will increase along with his training.

I'm no Harper, but my own durability has steadily declined since about age 18, and I'm no less active now than I've ever been.
   7. PASTE Will Notice Harper When He Hits .467 (Zeth) Posted: January 21, 2014 at 11:45 AM (#4643242)
As special as Harper's bat is, if he struggles with injuries again in 2014 I'd be minded to park him at first base for the remainder of his career.

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