Baseball, it appears, must prepare its collective self from Bryce Harper. Not because Harper is one of the game’s very best prospects, a plus plus power bat with great speed and all the tools to become a star for years to come.
The concern is, of course, Harper’s attitude. He makes words like “confident” and “brash” seem quaint. He is richer and most and, at age 19, larger than life. Will Leitch’s GQ piece on the former first overall pick doesn’t demonize Bryce Harper, it does a great job of getting out of its own way and letting (this version) of the real Harper come through. The question remains: is this a bad thing all of a sudden?
The sub-headline for Leitch’s profile of Harper begs the invisible powers that be “Please don’t muzzle the most entertaining prospect since Babe Ruth. Thank you, fans everywhere.” In seemingly the next breath, we are told Harper was born to “piss off the baseball establishment.” Each point seems valid.
Fans of the Nationals fear stuffy MLB suits clamping down on their favourite son though “fans everywhere” likely disagree. Make no mistake: the vast majority of fans in every other Major League city are going to hate Bryce Harper. Most of them probably already do.
They will hate him because he’s good and they will hate him because he tries as hard as he can to make you hate him. It’s in his nature. His case is not unlike that of Brett Lawrie, in a way. Blue Jays fans rave over his high energy approach and “I’ll stick’em” attitude, knowing full well in any other circumstance they would scream for his blood at every opportunity.
Athletes of this magnitude have no room for self-doubt. As much as fans love introspective everymen like Dirk Hayhurst, the self-aware nebbish doesn’t bring them out of their seats like a walkoff home run off the bat of a cocky SOB whose every muscle fibre exists to play the game on previously unimagined levels. Sorry, Dirk. The meek shall inherit the publishing deals, at the very least.
And the Rest
Last week Getting Blanked wrote of Trevor Bauer’s long toss routine. Our friend Kevin Kaduk has the video. If it looks like it was shot from outer space, that is only because that is how far away you need to be to fit a guy throwing foul pole to foul pole in the frame. Not the cutoff man position to get the catcher’s throws back to Bauer. [Big League Stew]
Jeremy Hellickson doesn’t believe in BABIP and that’s okay. As Parkes and I said months ago, he will end up pitching better this year but will end up with worse results. Maybe. [HBT]
J. Hellickson does not believe in BABIP. I did not believe in syphilis. Funny how those things turn out.
— Old Hoss Radbourn (@OldHossRadbourn) March 15, 2012
Speaking of Bryce Harper, he played centerfield the other day. And was eager to play for the Yankees. AGAINST, sorry. Whoops, little Freudian slip there. [WaPo]
A look at Brett Cecil’s struggles with location and the long ball. [Baseball Analytics]
Albert Pujols hit two home runs yesterday. Spring fluke, will not translate. [OC Register]
The Pirates are at their Piratest when they contemplate Neil Walker as their cleanup hitter. [Trib Live]
Who is Joel Carreno? A solid reliever without a real shot at making the big club, sadly. [Tao]
The long and winding journey of Octavio Dotel. [ESPN]
Lance Lynn started and it was awesome. [St. Louis Dispatch]
Stephen Strasburg started and it was ugly. Fear not, he has it under control. [Washington Post]
Adeiny Hechavarria is now in minor league camp but the Cuban shortstop is turning heads. [DJF]