Archive for March 2015

Bryce Harper Underrated

March 20, 2015

According to an ESPN MLB player poll, Bryce Harper was voted the most overrated player in baseball at 41%- an honor he is receiving for the second season in a row. Many fans and columnists also seem to agree with the players, most likely because 1) He was on the Sports Illustrated cover as a 16 year old 2) He speaks his mind and is confident which scares people and 3) He is not Mike Trout. So what does all this backlash make Bryce Harper? One of the most, if not the most, underrated player in baseball.

When Bryce Harper made his Major League debut, he was 19(!) years old. He played 139 games putting up a slash line of .270/.340/.477/.352/121+ with 22 HR and a 4.4 fWAR (4.8 fWAR/650PA). Where was Mike Trout at 19? A ball. At age 20 Harper performed even better with a line of .274/.368/.486/.371/137+ with 20 HR and a 3.8 fWAR (5.0 fWAR/650PA). Mike Trout was still in the minors for most of his age 20 season. The year Bryce Harper was legally allowed to drink, he took a step back, but not a major one. He hit .273/.344/.423/.338/115+ with 13 HR and a 1.3 fWAR (2.1 fWAR/650PA). Mike Trout should have won the MVP when he was 21.

As a whole, Bryce Harper has played in 357 games with 1489 PA and a line of .272/.351/.465/.355/125+ with a fWAR/650PA of 4.1 (which is considered great, and All-Star caliber). So Bryce Harper has been an All-Star caliber player for his age 19-21 seasons and people still expect more from him. I don’t think people realize how amazing that is for a person that age. Everyone is gushing over the current #1 prospect in MLB, Kris Bryant, who isĀ olderĀ than Harper and hasn’t even had a single ML at-bat yet! So put that into perspective the next time you want to say Bryce Harper is overrated. Yes, he has been hurt a lot. But if anything, that goes to show just great he has been- that his numbers still look this good despite nagging injuries and some more serious injuries that sidelined him for weeks at a time. It’s not fair to compare him to Mike Trout for his success at a young age and it’s not fair to expect a Mike Trout level of production simply because he was on the SI cover as a teenager. Bryce Harper is a once-in-a-lifetime talent and it would be a shame if baseball players, writers, and fans were to hold that against.

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