He's only 19 years old, but Bryce Harper is already one of the most talked about players in Major League Baseball.
At age 16, Harper graced the cover of Sports Illustrated and was named "the most exciting prodigy since LeBron."
Harper made his much anticipated debut with the Washington Nationals on April 28 and has earned his spot as an every day starter in DC.
The phenom is the first name to come up in discussions for National League Rookie of the Year and has even been mentioned when discussing the best players in the game.
In my mind, that is preposterous.
Throughout his career, Harper will be compared to fellow phenom, 21-year-old Mike Trout, of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. At this point in their young careers, Harper is not on the same planet as Trout, and to suggest otherwise is an insult to the do-it-all Angels outfielder.
Trout is hitting .348 with 19 home runs and 59 RBI. He has an on-base percentage of .411 and has stolen 36 bases. If he keeps this up, he may be the newest member of the 30-30 club, which is an impressive stat for anyone, let alone a guy who just became old enough to go out for a beer with his teammates.
Let's do a little blind player comparison, shall we?
Player A has had 259 at bats in 2012. He has a .270 average with 12 home runs and 38 RBI, as well as a .848 OPS.
Player B has had 343 at bats this year and has a .257 average, 10 home runs, 30 RBI, 13 stolen bases and an OPS of .752.
It seems rather obvious that Player A is the better choice. The mystery player? Matt Joyce of the Tampa Bay Rays. Player B? The golden boy, Bryce Harper.
Harper will be a great player one day without a doubt, but he is not great right now.
A relatively new stat that has been used to judge a player's value is OWAR, or offensive wins above replacement, which, just as it sounds, measures the value of a player to his team in terms of wins. You can read more about calculating WAR here.
Anyway, Harper's OWAR is 1.2, which puts him in a tie for 129th in baseball. Some players that he is tied with are Quintin Berry and Darwin Barney.
Harper seems to be the popular pick to win the National League Rookie of the Year already, but compare him to other candidates.
Colorado Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario has more home runs and RBI than Harper, but his .239 average isn't Rookie of the Year caliber; Harper wins this one.
Zack Cozart of the Reds has more home runs than Harper, but his on-base percentage is only .293; another victory for Harper.
But sticking with the Reds, how about 26-year-old, Todd Frazier? Frazier has a better batting average than Harper, more home runs, more RBI and a much better OPS, yet you don't hear any mention of Frazier.
Rookie pitchers are flying under the radar as well.
So, not only is Harper not even close to one of the best players in baseball, but he isn't even the best rookie in the National League.
I get it. The hype is because he is only 19; I understand that. But, there is a difference between saying someone is very good for their age and saying someone is one of the best players in baseball.
Don't put Harper in the same category as Trout when he isn't in the same category as Matt Joyce.
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