Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
Bryce Harper hit a home run Sunday against the Cardinals. He's been hitting a lot of them, lately.
The Bryce Harper hype engine has kind of been swallowed up by Mike Trout having a vintage Willie Mays season at 20, but the Washington Nationals' 19-year-old wunderkind is having a rookie season that should be similarly frightening to their division opponents. In case you'd lost track of him, he kindly homered off Lance Lynn to refresh St. Louis Cardinals fans' collective memory.
In 136 games, the Nationals' center fielder is hitting .269/.336/.476, with 25 doubles, nine triples, 22 home runs, and—while he's at it—17 stolen bases. His supposed brashness and his mediocre average makes the comparison ultimately untenable, but all those triples and his startling hustle remind me, in my homer-dom, of Stan Musial, who led the National League in triples five times because he knew how to hit line drives and put his head down. (The Pete Rose comparison probably makes more sense, but who wants to talk about Pete Rose?)
It's a pleasure to watch Harper play—not because of schadenfreude, like I expected when everyone made him out to be some kind of teenaged pro-wrestling heel, but because he combines unmatched talent and a Pujolsian aggressiveness with all the hustling small-ball people usually only notice from slappy utility infielders. Also, he hits the ball very, very far—his home run off Lynn puts him within two home runs of tying Tony Conigliaro's record for baseball-age teenagers.