While the 2013 season hasn’t gotten off to a great start, the Washington Nationals will be able to breathe a sigh of relief once Bryce Harper is back in the lineup.
The overzealous Harper was sent to the disabled list on June 1st with a bruised left knee that he suffered after running into a wall on May 26th. However, the knee appears to be healing as a cortisone shot and platelet-rich plasma injection to the joint has helped tremendously. In fact, the Nationals have cleared Harper to do some walking, jogging and other weight-bearing activities.
One can only hope that the high-octane outfielder has learned to play the MLB game with not so much reckless abandon, but the sophomore should also come back more eager to steal bases.
While I don’t want to nitpick the impressive 20-year-old, Harper can become a total five-tool player if he is more successful on the base paths. With the Nats’ offense slumping, Harper should be free to let loose on the base paths and steal 18 or more bases like he did in his rookie campaign. Washington has 93 games left and Harper only has two stolen bases this season — injury has sidelined the slugger for 25 games, but the total is still low.
Even more discouraging, Harper has been caught stealing twice this season despite being nabbed just six times all of last year.
Although his power numbers have increased, Harper still should work on all facets of his game which includes base running. While manager Davey Johnson is likely to baby Harper once he returns to action, the Nationals would benefit from Harper flying around the basepaths once again.