From the time Bryce Harper was 16, everyone knew who he was. Whether it was him hitting 500 foot home runs at Tropicana Field while still in high school, or ESPN hyping up “baseball’s Lebron James” as they called him. A lot of expectations have been put up for the young Harper.
At only 19-years-old, it seemed unlikely that Harper had any chance of making the Washington Nationals out of spring training. But manager Davey Johnson said that if Harper performs, he could make the roster.
The Nationals were hit by the injury bug early in the season. Leaving them short on offense, the Nats called up Harper on April 27th. The young phenom had only saw a little over a years time in the minors, and was set to make his debut against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In his first game Harper went 1-for-3. The one hit being being a double off of Chad Billingsley. Harper also had a sac-fly that was the go ahead run. He also displayed his rocket for a throwing arm. Showing the rest of the league that not only his he fast, but can play defense and can play in a hostile environment. Every time he stepped to the plate, Dodgers fans booed Harper loudly. Letting him know they don’t care how good he is supposed to be.
After his debut, Harper continued to play well. Even making an all star team in his first year. But in July and August Harper cooled off. The league began to figure him out. In July Harper only hit .222, then in August .243. Like any good hitter, he has made some adjustments. In September the young left handed hitter has belted out four home runs and has hit .327.
After a rookie season where everyone got to see what this young man can offer to a major league roster, what should the rest of the MLB expect next year?
Not many 19-year-olds have had a lot of success in the history of the MLB. Mickey Mantle was so bad at the age of 19 he was sent back down to the minors mid-season. Ken Griffey Jr. hit only .264, and even MVP and Rookie of the Year award candidate Mike Trout didn’t have much success in his age 19 season. But it was age 20 when they broke out.
This year Trout was called up at the same time Harper was. The now 21-year-old made a huge impact on the Angels’ line up and is a big reason why they are in a playoff race. Griffey Jr. hit .300 with hitting 22 home runs and drove in 80 RBIs in his age 20 season. Mantle gave the rest of the American League a little preview of his power in his age 20 season. Hitting .311 while clubbing out 23 home runs and driving in 87 runs.
Now don’t get the idea that I am saying Harper will put up those kinds of numbers and he is the same caliber players as two Hall of Famers like Mantle and Griffey Jr. But Harper is a special talent. After a year in the major leagues, no one should be surprised if Harper has a breakout season in 2013 and shows the rest of the league that he is going to be a premier player for a long time.
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