Harper had a great game that night, but his efforts in that one game did not make up for the awful postseason that he had prior to Game 5. Statistically, his season ended on a high note, though, and that type of production should be what is expected of Harper in his sophomore season in MLB.
Many fans were quick to jump on Harper when he struggled in July and August, two months in which he hit .222 and .243, respectively. Despite his struggles, he was able to bounce back in the regular season in September and October, hitting .330 with seven home runs and a .643 slugging percentage.
His ability to bounce back allows the fans to be optimistic for a huge 2013. Had Harper not rebounded, there would have been a belief that the league had "figured him out." Instead, Harper showed that he is, in fact, able to adapt to the league and rebound when times get tough.
It is imperative to remember that in only 133 games started (he appeared in 139 games total), Harper smashed 26 doubles, nine triples, 22 home runs and stole 18 bases.
Encouragement for a monster 2013 also comes when looking at Harper's splits from 2012. He was not affected by playing away from home. In 70 total games at home, Harper had a .275 average and .485 slugging percentage. This is very comparable to his .266 batting average and .469 slugging percentage in 69 total games played on the road.
Harper's numbers were quite gaudy in 2012, considering that he was not brought to D.C. out of spring training and taking into account that he was the primary offensive threat when he was originally called up. With a full year in a healthy, potent Nationals lineup, Harper's numbers will skyrocket even more.
This season, the Nats benefited from Jayson Werth's hot bat upon returning from the disabled list. Most of his success came in the leadoff spot, where it seems he might have found a home.
Harper will benefit from the Nats striking gold with Werth batting leadoff. Werth batting in front of Harper will allow the team to utilize Werth's ability to get on base and will continue to give Harper RBI opportunities while getting on base for Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse behind him.
Harper can look at his statistics and try to improve areas of his game over the offseason, but no matter what he does over the next few months, there will be no way to erase the memory of the Cardinals celebrating in Nationals Park. Harper will be driven by the experience he had in his first postseason.
Harper and his teammates were on the cusp of something truly special, and Harper knows that this is his team for years to come. There will be more memorable moments for this team, starting next season.
In 2013, Harper will be driven like no other to improve, and that drive will result in a monstrous sophomore campaign.