Another year, another blazing start for Bryce Harper in spring training.
Can Harper keep up his great start and turn it into an MVP campaign? Harper's past spring training performances tend to suggest that he can keep this up for the majority of the season.
In 2011, Harper participated in his first spring training for the Nationals and hit .389 in 13 games with five RBI. Harper was doing his best to prove that he was ready to make the team in 2012 but ultimately was left off the roster when the team departed for D.C.
Harper started last spring 5-for-11 before being forced to miss time with calf tightness, which essentially derailed his hot spring. He still managed to finish with a .286 spring average in 2012.
He is quickly making it a routine to begin the spring red-hot.
Harper is off to yet another great start in 2013, a fantastic sight to those who believed that he would not be able to replicate his success from the regular season last year. Despite being less than a week into spring games entering Wednesday, Harper has been able to tally a league-leading six hits in three games.
The six hits, two of which were doubles, have come in only eight at-bats, good for a cool .750 average. Harper has also yet to strike out this spring.
Harper was able to prove last season that his spring success was not a fluke in terms of results in the regular season.
He burst upon the scene in the MLB in late April, hitting .333 in the month, .271 in May and .274 in June while collecting 22 RBI and eight home runs through the first few months.
Harper began to lose steam, however, as the summer got underway. He slumped in July, only hitting .222 and carried his slump into August, hitting .243. The Nationals watched as Harper's average plummeted from .283 on July 7th to .245 on August 15th.
But Harper finished the season with a bang by hitting .330 in September and October.
It appears that Harper has the tools to become a threat for the duration of the season, even if he hits a lull at some point. His power and ability to steal make him a constant 30/30 threat. He slugged 22 home runs while stealing 18 bases last season in only 139 games.
A hot start when the games count will help Harper ease into his sophomore season and have fans even more excited in Washington.
The 2012 NL Rookie of the Year is going to face many challenges this season, but if he can get out of the gate strong when the regular season begins, he might be able to eclipse his totals from last season and be on his way to an MVP-caliber campaign.