Can Bryce Harper Live Up to His Insane Hype?

by 5 years ago

This phenom may have captured the attention of a nation, but let’s take a closer look at his chances of living up to all the hype.

Why Harper will make it

His attitude demands that he play hard all the time
Even more astounding than his natural physical tools and skill set is his will to be known as one of the best to play the game. See this quote from an interview with GQ earlier this year:

“When I hit the ball…I do want to hurt it … I want to play the game hard. I want to ram it down your throat, put you into left field when I’m going into second base.”

That’s badass. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to be the shortstop fielding a throw on a close play at second base with this hulking 6’3” behemoth bearing down on me. Good luck to the poor souls who get paid to do so.

He switched from playing catcher to the outfield, a move that will likely prolong his career
Catchers have it tough in baseball. They squat on their knees longer than a cheap hooker in a seedy Times Square hotel room, and they get banged with baseballs traveling at extremely fast speeds with regularity. In the outfield, Harper will be free to showcase his trademark speed with little-to-no risk of long-term serious injury. Hooray managerial decisions!

He’s already a game-changer at the Major League level
Opposing shortstops already are adjusting their defenses to Harper, and opposing pitchers already are throwing him 2-0 sliders. Roughly a month into his career with the Nats, he is already the team’s No. 2 hitter and is leading the team in slugging percentage. What more needs to be said about this teenager who isn’t even old enough to go the bar post-game with the boys after his hit leads them to victory?

He hangs with hot babes, which will help keep him relevant even during his cold spells on the field
Harper has been linked to Playboy Playmate Brittney Palmer, as well as this hottie. Realtionships or not, the mere fact that he is already being pictured with and linked to women like these are promising signs. Because every guy knows the key to a successful man is a supportive woman smoking-hot chick.

He’s shown he is resilient and can bounce back well from a bad situation
On May 6, Harper was hit in the lower back by Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels in the first inning on the first pitch of the at-bat. Harper would steal home plate that same inning, off of Hamels. Hamels subsequently admitted to hitting him intentionally to send a message and was suspended by MLB for five games. But, Harper had sent his own message back to the veteran pitcher, loud and clear: I’m here to stay, so you’ll have to deal with me. Hamels can’t plunk Harper every time he comes to the plate and other pitchers looking to get into his head will face an uphill battle.{pagebreak}

Why Harper won’t make it

He has a pretty gnarly temper in a game in which cooler heads usually prevail
If you haven’t heard of or seen one of Harper’s patented temper tantrums, here is a video of him getting ejected after fervently arguing a called third strike during a Minor League game last season. He also recently received 10 stitches above his left eye after slamming his bat in frustration against a wall, and having it bounce back and slam him in the face. Smooth move, ex-lax.

He’s Mormon
And you know what that means. No, not that he is allowed (entitled?) to have multiple gorgeous brides at his every beck and call. It means he will have to go on his two-year mission soon, a tradition required of every young Mormon. Rockies pitcher Jeremy Guthrie is also a Mormon and he went on a mission during college, spending two years in Spain before transferring from BYU to Stanford. Orioles reliever Matt Lindstrom served a mission in Sweden after graduating high school and before going to college. Harper may have to put this blossoming baseball career on hold for a bit, and what will happen then? It can’t be easy to step into a Major League batter’s box after a couple years away from the game, prodigy or not.

He plays for the Nationals
The relatively new Washington franchise may be up-and-coming, but they are still not a marquee team that people will pay to see. They also boast a modest payroll of about $80 million, which is significantly less than those of most perennial contenders. If the Nats can’t spend with the big boys in order to get better, Harper cannot improve without better talent surrounding him in the batting order. (Note: It’s still possible that in six years, when his current deal is up, he signs a monster deal with the Yankees. In that case, this point will be moot as every other hitter in that lineup can clearly mash.)

He’s a burnout waiting to happen
His supreme talent has made the game always seem easy – and almost boring — for Harper. His dad, like many other fathers before him, spent a plethora of time during Bryce’s childhood trying to “breed” him to be a pro ballplayer. We have seen this before in sports, and it doesn’t always end well. When you’ve been branded as “Baseball’s Chosen One” by Sports Illustrated, that’s a lofty goal to live up to, no matter how cocky you may be.

His defense could use some work
For someone who is billed as being the top prospect of his generation, playing the outfield may not come as naturally to Harper as everything else seems to. And, as mentioned earlier, the Nationals intend to keep him out there for a long time to prolong his career. A few more embarrassing plays like this one, though, could really cause Nats management to scratch their heads and ree-valuate the game plan. Again, this point is moot once he gets that Yankees contract and is comfortably DH-ing for the Bronx Bombers in six years.

TAGSbaseballBryce HarperhypeMLBWashington Nationals

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