After things quieted down a bit last night I was able to catch a few innings of the Phillies-Nationals game on ESPN. And I have to admit Bryce Harper is a helluva lot of fun to watch. Sure, he may have fantastic tools and already maybe one of the better players in baseball (and will probably become of the best), but his all-out effort really surprised the hell out of me.
At one point late in the game – somewhere around the seventh inning, before the Phillies blew the game wide open – he fisted a blooper about 140 foot into left field that landed in front of Juan Pierre. Harper, who was immediately thinking two, slid head first into second with a double and caused the hurried-Pierre to throw offline. Granted, Pierre has a noodle for an arm, but I can’t imagine a whole lot of MLB players would have been thinking double right out of the box, maybe one percent or less I suppose. It was nice to see that.
Then at another point in the game, with a runner in scoring position a groundball got through the infield and Harper charged the ball with some kind of ferocity that I haven’t seen in a long time. His throw was a bit offline and the runner scored, but he showed that same all-out effort again, same with the misplayed ball in right during Philadelphia’s big eighth inning.
I missed his first inning steal of home, but it sounds like it’s the same type of play. There were runners on the corners and Cole Hamels tries to pickoff the guy at first. Harper instinctively heads for home, where he beats Chad Tracy’s throw for Washington’s first run. Fantastic heads up play.
Harper may be ruffling some feathers already – Hamels admitted he plunked him on purpose in the first – but I genuinely enjoyed watching him play. In fact, I imagine that it’s the way I would play if I had any measureable amount of talent.
I hope he continues to play this way his entire career.
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