Bryce Harper: 5 Reasons Everybody Should Love the Nationals Young Star
The entire baseball community seems to have gotten off on the wrong foot with 19-year-old phenom Bryce Harper.
I'm only 20 years old, so maybe I relate better to Harper's youth than some of the other writers and readers of Bleacher Report, but I love what Harper brings to the game.
I see a lot of people talk about Harper on here, and some of it is disturbing, to be honest. I read comments and articles and see people actually wishing for Harper to fail as a baseball player.
Maybe I'm alone in this feeling, but it's pretty pathetic to wish failure on a 19-year-old young man who's been in the national spotlight since he was about 15 years old.
Here are five reasons why everybody should stop hating Harper and embrace him for the talented young ballplayer that he is.
He Plays the Game the Right Way
I'm sure you read the title of this slide and thought immediately of Harper blowing a kiss at the opposing pitcher he blasted a home run off of in his first season.
Take that out of the equation, though, because Harper hustles his ass off every game. You'd be hard pressed to find a game where Harper doesn't walk away with a jersey covered in dirt. He runs everything out.
The video cuts off him running between home and first, but look how aggressive the turn is at first base.
If you're a Nationals fan, you've gotta love Harper, right? He's a throwback to guys like Ty Cobb and Pete Rose, who played their hearts out and had nothing left to give by game's end.
He's Super Talented
This seems rather obvious, but unless you've missed the last five years of baseball news, Bryce Harper is incredibly talented.
Harper was on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2009 as a 16-year-old and was called, "Baseball's Chosen One" by Tom Verducci in the issue's lead article.
He's excelled at every single level he's played at. He left high school after his sophomore year, got a GED and went to play junior college early.
Harper was drafted first overall in the 2010 MLB Draft, tore it up his first year in the minors and has been the top rated prospect in Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects list each of the last two years.
Look at his stat line from college.
Put aside the astronomical batting average, OBP and SLG percentages and look at the peripherals. Harper hit 31 HR with 23 doubles, four triples, 98 RBI and 98 runs. Those are good numbers for a full 162-game MLB season. He did all that in 62 games and was supposed to be a 17-year-old junior in high school.
Harper won the 2010 Golden Spikes Award given to the game's best amateur.
This is what Harper did in the minors. That would have been his senior year of high school.
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You all knock him for being cocky and overconfident, but if you don't think you're the best at what you do then how good can you really expect to be?
Harper talks trash, I mean, he blew a kiss at a pitcher after absolutely destroying a pitch for a HR. However, all the greats talk trash. Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Reggie Miller were all top performers in the NBA, and each one of them was a superb trash talker.
Aside from the trash talking, though, Harper is confident in his abilities and has set very high goals for himself. In his 2009 interview with Sports Illustrated, Harper said his goals were to "Be in the hall of fame, definitely. Play in Yankee Stadium. Play in the pinstripes. Be considered the greatest baseball player who ever lived. I can't wait."
As an avid Yankee hater, I'd rather not see him in pinstripes, but none of those goals are really that far out of reach when you consider how ridiculously talented Harper is.
If you or I were in Harper's position, we would be just as openly confident as he is. It's time everyone stops knocking him for it.
He Respects the All-Time Greats
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One thing about Harper that sets him apart from other players his age is his profound respect for the game's all-time greats.
Harper models his own game off the best to ever play. In that same Sports Illustrated article, Harper said, "I'm going to play against you the way Pete Rose did, I'm going to try to rip your head off. That's just the way I am. Old school. If I could play for a guy like Lou Piniella or Larry Bowa, I'd love it."
What's not to love about a player like that? I'm a die-hard Reds fan who never got to see Rose play, but I love the way he played the game. Harper called Rose his favorite player in an interview with GQ magazine.
The guy picked his No. 34 because the two digits add up to Mickey Mantle's No. 7.
Harper's respect for the game's all-time greats is something that all young fans and players should possess.
He's More Humble Than People Give Him Credit for
I don't know how many people realize it, but Harper has a pretty good head on his shoulders. The humbleness he shows goes hand in hand with his respect of baseball legends, but there's more to it than that.
Harper gives back to his fans, and he'll spend over a half an hour signing autographs if he has the time.
In an interview with Bob Parasiliti of The Herald-Mail (Hagerstown, Md.) last year, Harper said, "I love the smell of the grass. I love the way the dirt smells after it rains. I love the feel of the dirt and the chalk in my hands. I love the smell of the crowd, the concessions and the field during a game. There is nothing better than going out and playing baseball.”
Harper's made it known that he loves signing autographs for kids and would do it all day if he could.
Have I Changed Your Mind at All?
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I sure hope so.
He may like to brag and talk a little smack, but Harper does a lot of things that make him far more deserving of praise as opposed to the constant bashing I've seen on Bleacher Report and other sports media sites around the web.
The important thing to remember with Harper is that he's really still just a kid. If he had stayed through high school and gone to college, he'd be a freshman this year.
It's downright despicable the things that people say about him. Next time you wish for Harper to fail, just remember two things: you're just adding fuel to the fire and motivating him, and you're wishing failure on a 19-year-old kid.