Bryce Harper turned 20 yesterday. Just take that in for a minute. The player who hit second for most of the season on the team with the best record in baseball was a teenager who finished with a .270/.340/.477 slash line. We can no longer say that Harper is the first teenager to do something new, but we can certainly look back on his 2012 campaign now that he’s no longer a teenager.
We’re talking about a 19 year old with an .817 OPS behind only Mel Ott and Tony Conigliaro. He finished with 22 home runs, second only to Conigliaro, and his 57 extra base hits were the most in history. He was the first teenager in postseason history to hit a triple and the second to hit a home run.
His 4.9 WAR on FanGraphs is the second-best for all Nats position players, bested only by Ian Desmond, and his 9.7 UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) ranks best on the Nats. It’s even better than Danny Espinosa and Adam LaRoche, who had phenomenal defensive seasons. Even the Sun Monster can’t get in the way of that number, but that’s probably because those dropped flyouts aren’t considered errors.
He did this despite pedestrian July and August numbers, which makes it that much more impressive. Harper is going to be a staple to this Nats team for years to come as he matures as a hitter and a fielder. The only difference is now we can’t describe the amazing things he does by saying “Bryce Harper is the [insert number here] teenager to....”
Harper is more than just a number of extremely impressive stats. He’s a key figure in the Nats clubhouse and a force in the lineup. Now, just imagine where he’ll be in five years if this is how he started his career.