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Bryce Harper needs to hit his way out of his recent slump.
It’s difficult to write about Bryce Harper without seeming redundant, as there has been so much web and print space devoted to him thus far.
It’s also arguable that other players such as Ian Desmond, Jason Werth and Adam LaRoche are more valuable to the team during the postseason. I wouldn’t dispute that at all; all three of those players mentioned are deserving of inclusion.
However, it is worth singling out Harper to bring him into this list. In recent weeks he has looked less and less like the savior of baseball that we were all promised. Instead he has looked like a 19-year-old rookie, which is fine because that’s exactly what he is.
As teams adjusted to Harper, it was always going to be impossible for him to continue his remarkable transition to the majors. The more pitchers saw of him, the more they could change their approach and prey on his inexperience.
When Adam Kilgore spoke to Nationals hitting coach Rick Eckstein, he was unconcerned by Harper’s recent troubles:
He expects so much out of himself that sometimes, with guys that are as talented as he is, you have to try less, and not overthink the process and try to do too much. Let your talent speak.
It’s unfair to expect him to do what he first did coming out [at his age]. Nobody in the history of the game has done that. It’s just a learning curve. I don’t think he needs any major adjustments in his swing.
Harper is in good hands in Washington and this is exactly the right attitude to take with him. His self-confidence means that he refuses to entertain the word “slump,” but if the Nats are to make a deep playoff run they will need him to recapture his form.
He has looked like an automatic out during this recent stretch, which is the last thing a team can afford if it’s in the pennant race.
He went some way toward recovery with a two-run homer in the 6-4 victory over the Mets on Friday, but was then rested until the eighth in the 2-0 loss on Saturday.
Before the arrival of Robert Griffin III, Harper was the talk of Washington. If he can help his team put together a run this year, he and the Nationals will claim some headlines back for themselves.