The Case for Bryce Harper as the 2012 National League ROY

Friday September 21st, 2012

Sam Evans: Bryce Harper is two years removed from high school and he is a young leader on a team leading the competitive N.L. East. Baseball has never seen a high school prospect draw as much attention that Harper got yet somehow, he has managed to live up to the hype at every level he’s faced. As with any rookie, Harper has had struggles. What has impressed me the most about him is how he responded to those slumps. Harper has a 181 wRC+ in the month of September and he is showing no signs of slowing up. For these reasons and others, I believe Bryce Harper deserves to be the National Rookie of the Year.

Bryce Harper ranks first among National League rookie hitters with 4.0 WAR. Wade Miley, who is first among all National League rookies with 4.3 WAR, is six years older than Harper and his numbers have benefited from a relatively low BABIP (.286). Harper’s WAR doesn’t tell the full story. His defensive performance probably hasn’t been as great as you may think looking at his stats. Even though numbers suggest Harper has been one of the best rookies in baseball, Harper’s overall performance might have actually been better than his numbers suggest.

The hustle Bryce Harper plays with makes for fantastic television. As Mark Judge wrote for the Daily Caller, Harper’s new style of scrappy, aggressive and hard-working baseball makes him somewhat of a conservative hero. Harper’s desire and hustle is obvious in almost every play he makes. You can tell Harper would rather be nowhere else in the world when he is playing baseball. How many other players in the majors can you say that about?

Harper is second among NL Rookies in homers with nineteen. However, the leader, Wilin Rosario, has played laughable defense behind the plate. Norichika Aoki, who is quietly having a terrific season in Milwaukee, leads National League rookies with twenty-seven steals. Harper is second with thirteen. Harper is a better choice for the award than Aoki because he is superior defensively and has made a bigger impact on his ballclub this season.

Todd Frazier of the Cincinnati Reds also has a fairly good shot at the NL ROY. Playing for the N.L. Central-leading Reds, Frazier has posted a 120 wRC+ over the course of 118 games. Still, Frazier plays for a team that leads the National League in doubles, Frazier, who hits in the back-end of the Reds’ lineup, hits with runners on base very often. Harper on the other hand, hits near the top of a Nationals lineup that doesn’t have as many hitters that incite fear in opposing pitchers. It’s very probably that Todd Frazier has seen a lot more hittable pitches this year than Harper.

Bryce Harper is younger than some freshman in college. He is changing history everyday and hopefully changing the way the game is played. Harper’s numbers are just as good as almost any rookie in the National League. However, Harper’s effect can’t be fully measured by numbers. Without Bryce Harper, the Nationals might not be playing postseason baseball this season. If someone can make a case for another NL rookie having a bigger impact on their team than Bryce Harper, I’d love to see it.

(* The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com *)

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter (@RJA206)***

 

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About samevans87

I love writing, talking, watching, and playing baseball. I am a baseball writer for MLB Reports and Fish Stripes. "No game in the world is as tidy and dramatically neat as baseball, with cause and effect, crime and punishment, motive and result, so cleanly defined." -Paul Gallic

Posted on September 21, 2012, in MLB Player Profiles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I agree with your assessment. Harper has helped his chances since this article was published, scorching the ball (.321 with 7 runs and 7 rbis) over the past week, pushing his WAR to 4.3. I don’t believe his age should warrant consideration; it speaks to his career potential but shouldn’t factor into comparisons with other rookies in determining the award for this season. His undeniable energy and hustle aren’t seen in the numbers, and that is unfortunate. Here’s hoping that he can generate another 6 runs and 3 stolen bases over the final 6 games; for the stat hungry who are still on the fence, 100 runs and a 20-20 season would be tough to ignore. I haven’t researched batting averages out of ROY winners, but sub.270 would probably be unusually low.

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