Bryce Harper: Why Rookie's Home Run Barrage Will Continue
Now that 19-year-old phenom Bryce Harper is hitting home runs, don't plan on him stopping anytime soon.
The hyped rookie followed up his first career big league dinger on May 14 by turning around and mashing another one the very next day. After going homerless in his first 14 big league games, Harper has two home runs in just as many games—a trend that should only be the beginning.
At his current pace, Harper is projected to finish the season with nine home runs—he will definitely exceed that total. At this young stage in his career, Harper is still a very raw prospect. His bat hasn't been phenomenal, as he has struggled at the plate with a meager .233 batting average and .309 OBP.
While Harper may struggle to raise his average, his OBP will get better as he becomes more seasoned and patient at the plate, and his power should continue to shine through in his rookie season.
When you look at some of the best power hitters in baseball, they were able to hit home runs early in their careers, even if the rest of their games were still under development.
Mark McGwire, Albert Pujols and Ryan Braun all got called up at relatively young ages and hit well over 25 home runs during their rookie seasons.
So, there is precedent for a rookie to put up great power numbers. Even if Harper's poor average doesn't come up throughout the season (it should), he could still develop into an Adam Dunn or Jim Thome-type player who will drive in runs and hit home runs despite a poor average.
As the Nationals No. 5 hitter, Harper won't face the pressure of being in the three or four spot, which will also allow him to see plenty of good pitches behind Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche. LaRoche is having a quality season for an otherwise anemic Nationals offense. Zimmerman has struggled early in the season but should improve his numbers once he gets into the swing of things.
That will only make Harper a bigger threat in the lineup.
With the Nationals only a half-game out of first place in the NL East, Harper's continued power surge is just the shot in the arm this Nationals offense needs.
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