In case you haven’t heard, Bryce Harper will hit free agency next offseason, meaning the entire baseball industry will be watching his every move for the next six months. And if Harper’s performance so far this season is any indication at all, the man is about to get paid big-time.
As of this writing, Harper is 3-for-3 with two walks and a home run Sunday night in the Nationals’ game against the Mets (which is headed to extra innings), a performance that improved his slash line on the season to .370/.548/1.037. Ten days into the season, he leads baseball in home runs, slugging percentage, OPS and OPS+. In other words, he’s been really, really good.
Harper’s big swing Sunday came in the bottom of the first inning off Mets starter Matt Harvey. It was the type of towering shot Nationals fans have seen dozens of times.
The weather is cold but Bryce is on ?. pic.twitter.com/xrDbkwg6mp
— MLB (@MLB) April 9, 2018
Harper held the MLB lead in home runs even before that blast, his sixth of the year. Now he’s got more dingers than the Dodgers, Rays, Tigers, Royals and Marlins’ entire teams.
Though Bryce has been somewhat boom or bust this year (with five of his seven hits entering Sunday coming on long balls), he wasn’t against Harvey and the Mets. In the third inning, he singled to centerfield. In the fifth, he scorched another single to left. In the seventh, he walked on four pitches. And in the ninth, he walked again, pulling him into a tie with Freddie Freeman for the MLB lead in that category.
Now, we’ve seen this before. Harper routinely posts terrific stats in April before regressing to some degree or another in future months. But if you still think Harper is overrated, you haven’t been paying attention.
- In 2015, Harper was the unanimous NL MVP, leading his league in home runs, runs scored, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS.
- In 2016, he struggled by his standards, amid reports that his should was bugging him.
- In 2017, he bounced back nearly to his 2015 form, with a fearsome .319/.413/.595 slash line that would have left him right in the MVP conversation if not for a knee injury that cost him more than six weeks late in the year.
- And in 2018, he’s been the best hitter in baseball over the opening days of the season.
Add that all together, and you’ve got a reality that has been on full display Sunday night: Bryce Harper is one of the very best baseball players on the planet.