The 2012 season featured some outstanding rookies all around Major League Baseball. The 2013 season will demonstrate that those rookies are for real, as they each try to avoid sophomore slumps. Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is one of those players.
Harper came into his rookie season as one of the most hyped rookies that the game has ever seen. For the most part, he lived up to that massive billing, but the 2012 campaign wasn’t without its ups and downs.
The summer months were not so kind to Harper. He hit just .222 in July, followed by a .243 August, which included an on-base percentage under .300. Had it not been for those two months, his overall numbers may have been even better than they ended up.
Harper finished the year with a .270 batting average, .340 OBP, and 22 home runs. He finished with a WAR of five, mostly due to what he did at the plate. That’s good for any rookie, but it’s basically unheard of for a kid that was 19-years old for almost the entire season.
The question will be whether or not Harper can continue his success into 2013, or if we’ll see a regression of some sort. The numbers may indicate that it could actually be the former that we will see.
Harper finished the regular season with a .330 batting average in the final month, along with seven of his 22 home runs. He’s been tested with a major slump, as we saw in July and August, and managed to break out of it. He also got on base to the tune of a .400 OBP in September, by far his highest of the season.
Harper bulked up this offseason, which should help to increase his power numbers a bit, potentially to 30-plus homers. He’s also making the transition to left field, a far easier position to hold down compared to when he was playing center last year, which means an increased focus on his approach at the plate.
Bryce Harper is already a star. He was a huge name before he even reached the bigs. With any rookie, though, there’s going to be a that shadow of a concern over a potential sophomore slump. But with the way Harper finished 2012, combined with his workouts in the winter, there’s no reason to think that he won’t be even better in 2013.