Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper should be voted NL Rookie of the Year. He proved critics wrong who said that at 19 Harper was not ready for the Major Leagues. Along the way, Harper helped the Nationals to their first NL East championship and post season appearance. This is not to say that no one else deserves to win the award. This is simply making a case for Harper.
When Washington went into spring training manager Davey Johnson hinted that Harper might make the opening day roster. Skeptics said that Johnson was crazy. There was no way that a 19 year old with less than two years of pro baseball experience was ready for the big leagues. It was believed that the Nationals only wanted to bring Harper up to keep him happy. People are already making assumptions that Washington will lose him to the New York Yankees when his contract runs out in 2016.
Harper started the season at Triple A Syracuse and was called up in late April. He was immediately put in the starting lineup and remained there for the remainder of the season. In all Harper played in 139 games. He finished the season with a .270 batting average 22 home runs and 59 RBI. By season’s end Johnson had so much confidence in Harper that the manager had him batting second in the lineup.
Though not a true center fielder, Harper played it well enough that he will probably start there next season. Harper was a catcher in high school and moved to the outfield after being drafted in 2010. It is a transition that he is still making. Harper’s biggest problem is throwing to the wrong base. He has so much confidence in his arm that Harper will try to throw out the lead runner instead of hitting his cutoff man. In time he will learn the philosophy behind throwing to the right base and hitting the cutoff man.
Harper’s confidence showed on the base paths as well. The Nationals offense got a boost from him taking the extra base whenever he could. There were times where he was overaggressive, but Johnson knows that this is a product of youthful enthusiasm. Washington would much rather deal with an aggressive Harper than a player who thinks he has already made it.
Harper brings confidence to the ballpark every day. He never thinks that the game is too hard. There is nothing that Harper thinks he cannot do on a baseball field.
All of this led to a 19 year old proving his manager right and the critics wrong. Harper was ready for the majors and helped the Nationals to their best season ever.
This is why he should win the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year Award.