In part two of what is sure to be at least a two part series, the curious eye of Getting Blanked looks at the projections for young studs from around the baseball world. Today, Bryce Harper.
Keith Law released his top 25 under 25 ranking today for ESPN Insiders. Always an interesting exercise, Law place Mike Trout at the top and Bryce Harper second. This should come as no surprise, as Mike Trout is your father now. Bryce Harper might be tougher to take for some fans, as the NL Rookie of the Year looked good in 2012 but didn’t break records and faces like his AL counterpart.
Law points to Harper’s midseason struggles, where pitchers adjusted to his strengths and sent the Nats outfielder into a prolonged slump. Calls to platoon Harper came quietly, as the Nats battled for a playoff spot. Luckily, Washington was far enough ahead that Harper got to keep playing – and adjust.
And adjust Harper did, turning his season around and bringing his yearly stats up to respectability. Harper finished with a .352 wOBA, with 22 home runs and 18 steals as a 19-year old. The question we ask the projection systems: what will he do for an encore?
Fangraphs unveiled the ZiPS projections for the Nationals just after Christmas, wherein the deepest deep in baseball come off like a bouquet of roses. Harper leads the way, projected to post the highest WAR on the defending NL East champions. How does he get there?
ZiPS – .274/.346/.486, .357 wOBA, .316 BABIP, 29 2B, 7 3B, 26 HR, 21 SB, 4.6 WAR
As they are ZiPS projections, those numbers look a little…tame to my eyes. Call me crazy but I feel like Bryce Harper is going to go crazy in 2013, laying waste to the National League in an uncommon way. His obvious physical ability jumps off the screen when I watch him play.
Interesting that the system projects a very similar BABIP to Mike Trout for a player who, while speedy, occupies the “power hitter” part of my brain.
CAIRO is even less bullish than ZiPS, suggesting (to me) that Harper’s mixed bag of minor league success weighs heavily on the projection’s mind.
CAIRO – .266/.338/.458, .346 wOBA, 30 2B, 6 3B, 22 HR, 19 SB
Very conservative compared to ZiPS and even Harper’s numbers in 2012. The same number of home runs over an entire season? No more steals than 2012? I’m puzzled. This is puzzling yet understandable.
Perhaps the Bill James projections will inject the sort of head-in-the-clouds optimism felt for Harper by many baseball watchers. If there is any system we can count on for crazy, it’s the Jameseseses.
Bill James – .272/.347/.476, .356 wOBA, .305 BABIP, 31 2B, 9 3B, 24 HR, 20 SB.
Where is my crazy? I WAS PROMISED CRAZY! 24 home runs for a 20-year old outfielder in his second full season? That seems entirely…reasonable. NOT WHAT I (don’t) PAY FOR! Give me a 30/30 season with a .375 OBP, I demand it!
The fan projections for Harper are more what I’m after. Fangraphs readers “project” a healthy bump in ISO and BABIP, powering Harper to 29 homers and a .362 OBP – that’s more like it. Truthfully, it is very tough to get an accurate projection for Harper into the future. With just 500-odd big league plate appearances under his belt but next to nothing in the high minors, the dearth of data makes getting an accurate read on his true talent difficult.
True talent or accurate projections, I stand behind my prediction of big things from Bryce Harper in 2013. Really going out on a limb, you know. The plucky underdog who was the number one overall pick in the draft and a consensus top-2 prospect in baseball alongside the man now considered the best player in the game. Edgy stuff from Getting Blanked, as you have no doubt come to expect.